Last week, the entire Trustwork team gathered in Austin to blitz SXSW. For me, it was an exhausting eight-day marathon, complete with an air mattress in the office, questionable food, and hundreds of rejections a day — not something I’d want to repeat. But, having beat our goal and taken some time to rest, it was a fantastic experience, and I’m really glad it happened.

This is an edited version of a personal blog post. The original is available here.

A little background: Trustwork, in its current form, is essentially a jobs marketplace, backed by professional profiles for each user…

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Learning fast is a superpower

“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” –Eric Ries

I really don’t like secrets. Unfortunately for me, the world keeps many of them, hidden in the bowels of skills and arts and accessible only to those with that ever-elusive experience. But I’m a curious fella with a compulsive urge to dig into everything and lay their secrets bare. With so many fascinating fields to be explored (and a healthy dose of impatience), I’ve become interested in metalearning — learning how how to learn. Accelerated learning, the practice of learning anything relatively quickly, is a fundamental…

Many of us are creatives, founders, college students — people compelled to craft and create. We’ve gotten used to the concept of risk tolerance. We’ve been trained to think about and plan for what could happen, to hold on when things don’t go as planned, to have a strong Plan A backed up by a solid Plan B–Z (…maybe your parents weren’t quite that pragmatic). It’s a part of “growing up” and “becoming an adult”.

But beyond the world of risk tolerance, there is uncertainty tolerance. It’s a pernicious beast.

In one week I’ll be leaving Cornell for what is…

How AWS won me over in 43 minutes

This is a story about fantastic customer service. I’m writing it on the Shortline bus, which features a soul-sucking level of horrific customer service.

About a year ago I signed up for AWS’s free tier. I played around with the service, created a simple app or two…and didn’t do much more with it. Lately I’ve been working with Heroku (an AWS competitor), and didn’t really think about using AWS. Then I got a bill last night for the first month of paid service beyond the free tier.

My apps were not being used/accessed, and I dreaded the idea of crawling…

You don’t know what a computer scientist is.

Computer Science isn’t what most people think it is. Every day I come across job postings looking for CS people to help them develop an app, or a website, or a Wordpress template, or something of that nature. There’s an assumption — perhaps an expectation — that any CS major will of course be able to create an app or a site, because it’s all just code.

But there is a difference between a “computer scientist”, and someone who can build a good version of an app or a site, the kinds we think of and use around the consumer…

A vaguely-ordered collection of lessons and thoughts on life I’ve learned as a kid in college

Find friends, not networks.

There’s a moment when someone crosses over from someone-you-know to a friend. It’s a palpable difference. Friends provide a new perspective — a new dimension — that an acquaintance isn’t inclined to do. And, for me at least, it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to maintain a network. I’m a lot happier with a handful of good friends than hundreds of contacts in my address book.

College isn’t worth the investment. But it’s the best investment you could make.

No amount of classes are worth $60,000 a year. Especially not when…

Feifan Zhou

Mostly blogging at • Broad interests, narrow identity • Engineer @stripe

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