Friday, March 30, 2012

Life Hacks for "A"-players Living in SV and SF

Over the last few years, I've observed how some local "Entrepreneurial A-players" execute so-called "life hacks" to make their lives easier, more efficient, and quicker.

I've outlined some of them below, as if they were written as a guide for "A-Players".  And I'm wearing my Hat of Disdainful Sarcasm while I write this.

Starbucks hack
A-players don't wait for coffee - they're too busy working to change the world. Here's a great hack at Starbuck's, or any other coffee place, so you can keep changing the world and keep ahead of the competition without having to waste time.

Grab a seat with your laptop, and start working. Since you're an A-player who can focus on several things at once, keep listening for the coffee you'd like to drink. This shouldn't be a problem - you already have several windows open on your desktop: a spreadsheet, your email, your browser with several tabs open, and either Spotify or YouTube. or both. Go the extra mile and listen for "double cafe mocha with extra whip" or whatever else floats your marshmallow.  Casually stand up, make sure you look like you're thinking about something extremely important and entrepreneurial, grab the coffee and return to your chair. Score!

It doesn't matter who ordered that drink, only that they're too slow to get it when called. They're probably not paying attention and are gabbing on their phone or playing "Sudoku with Friends", unable to focus on more than one thing at a time (hey, they're B or C players). A-players don't wait, they seize the moment.  Or, in this case, they seize the caffeinated water-of-life.

Extra credit: If you're in a place that's actually calling orders by a person's name, just wait until you hear a name that could be you. But pay attention - don't go for a "Linda" when you look like a "Sergei".

Extra extra credit: This also works at the grilled-cheese or hipster curry restaurants. Wait for some order that sounds good, walk up like you're late for a meeting, and take the food. Leave a dollar in the tip jar, though, because it's not nice not to tip.  Go have your lunch while you're working on your deck. A-players eat A-lunches. B players starve.

Queue barger (or: queues are for sheep)
A-players don't wait in line. You know who waits in line? Sheep. Sheep wait in line. You know who else waits in line? Hogs on their way to getting turned into bacon. Don't be waiting for bacon. Queues are for sheep. And bacon-providing hogs.

A-players are much too busy working on changing the world, so don't wait in line. Look for a gap large enough to shoulder-in, look like you're late for a very important meeting, and barge the line. Better yet, time it so that you jump the line entirely - get to the head of the line, right to the service-person, just as the previous servicee is leaving. Ignore anyone who barks at you, you're too busy. The probability is high that the service-person won't want a confrontation and will get you in and out of there as fast as possible. Let the unwashed masses grumble about you as you're leaving - while the door is closing behind you, you've gotten what you needed to get done done. The rest of the sheep-hog-waiting-for-bacon people are still back there. Standing in the line.

Extra credit: if your company has a cafeteria, look up and down the line and find some neckbearded engineer-looking type and shoulder in front of him to get at the "green-means-healthy" labeled almond-encrusted sea bream. It's more probable than not that he's some Asberger's afflicted socially-inept asshole who's already pissed-off all of his co-workers, so no one will care that you've barged the line in front of him. And even if he's not an Asberger's PhD-degree-in-CS poster-child, he's still a neckbearded engineering asshole who couldn't deliver product on time if you tied an exploding, loudly-ticking alarm clock to his ass, so who cares? What's the worst he's going to do? Probably call you a "noob level three troll" and some other equally incomprehensible names. Yeah right. Whatever, 'bro, sticks and stones. You're way ahead of him - you're going to go eat lunch while he's still standing in line.

Red lights are for other people
You know that A-players don't wait, right? You don't succeed if you're not aggressive.

When walking, keep walking. Get to a corner and hit a red light? Keep walking. This is a pedestrian-friendly state, therefore cars have to stop for you. We know that the rule says "red light means STOP", but A-types break the rules.  A's are rule-breakers, not rule-followers.  A-types don't ask permission, they apologize later (but only when absolutely necessary. They should be too busy to apologize).   While all of those people are stopped at the corner, waiting for the light to turn green and for the green-walky-guy to light up, you're already way ahead of them.

You can't beat the competition by stopping at the red light.

This also applies when riding a bike. Don't stop for reds, and remember: you can ride on either side of the road and in either direction. Rules are for B and C players.

Get that referral bonus you know you deserve.
Does your company give referral bonuses for referring new employees? If so, here's a great hack. A-players don't wait around for someone to claim the goods. When a new employee is hired, march straight to HR and claim the referral. In most cases, HR is too busy to notice who referred whom, and won't bother to look for an actual email from you or anyone else. Look earnest, sell it to Ms.or Mr. HR with a humble brag about the amazing depth of your professional network (hell, everyone loves you anyway, so it shouldn't be a tough sell), and get that extra money next pay cycle. Score! The lesson: snooze and lose - if the referring party isn't fast enough to get their ass out of the Aeron chair and haul to HR to make their claim, lulz too bads.

Note that this will not always work. Sometimes, HR will have an email from an actual referring employee, so you're out of luck. Look innocent, quickly excuse yourself, and try again next time.

Closing commentary
This kind of behavior really irritates the hell out of me. Over the last few years I've experienced or observed this behavior from aggressive "A-player" startup people, and my love for humanity decreased a few centimeters each time. Stealing coffee? Really? Intercepting referral bonuses? Really??

The bottom line is that this is selfish, rude, anti-social behavior, and these people aren't "A-types". They're just jerks.  I'm all for "don't ask permission, ask forgiveness" in the creative context for which it was intended, not in the social context where you end up "pwning" the people around you.

This behavior sucks. In fact, these "hacks" should be included in a collection that could be called  "How To Be An Asshole", because the people who've done this crap are.. well, you know.

Are these experiences anecdotal examples of individual jerks, or are they examples of symptoms of a deeper problem in our society where rude, selfish behavior is increasingly becoming the accepted standard?

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