Ship It

I joined Square in October of 2014. The company was still relatively small, as I was only the five-hundred-and-somethingest employee. Small enough that there was still a company all hands every Friday afternoon. Small enough still that the deck included a slide introducing each new employee1. Jack would ask each person to stand as he read aloud the profile they had created during on-boarding. He'd often ask follow ups or poke fun at something someone had written. Luckily, I hadn't known this was going to happen beforehand. I was agonizing over the words all week already, knowing they'd be read aloud to the entire company would have only made it worse. There were a lot of early drafts that included inane details about my life, hobbies, or past employment. Unable to find any satisfactory way to summarize myself, I eventually settled on "Ship it". That's all, "Ship it" was the whole profile. When Jack read it at the all hands he said something to the effect of it being the best profile he'd ever seen.2 Which is funny because it's not a profile at all.

"Ship it" has been a part of my vocabulary only as long as I've been working in a professional environment. Maybe the past decade or so. And even during this time has meant a lot of different things. At first it meant something like "I don't really know how to test things so this is probably good enough". Sometime later it became closer to "I have a lot of confidence due to previous successes and am feeling very productive". Later, as a manager, it became a fun, semi-ironic way to end meetings. Being unemployed3, I am in a different place now and, therefore, "ship it" has taken on new meaning once again.

January, being the Monday of the year, is a good time for planning. For a lot of people, this is some sort of "resolution". Which I think is really just a fancy word for "goal"4. I've had daily/weekly goals for a while5, in various forms. So for me, this is a good time to revisit, reflect on, and refine these goals. Because I am otherwise unemployed and have been listening to a lot of Akimbo, I've decided to make it a weekly goal to "Ship it". This time around, "Ship it" means "to complete a piece of work that can be shown to others". The "complete" part is important because it means I can't put it off to finish later or keep tweaking it and never calling it done. And the "shown to others" part is important because there is some accountability and it makes the work have to be something concrete. You may be wondering what "the work" is, or maybe what qualifies as work. But that's actually less important.

Part of the reason I am still unemployed6 is because I don't yet know what I want to do with my life. I've always admired writing and those who do it well. It's both an art and a useful tool and something I've always wanted to try and do more of. So shipping can mean (like this very post) a way to scratch that itch in a more tangible way. It can also mean practicing photography in the way that engages the entire process to produce real works, as opposed to just posting something casually on Instagram. Or, if I want to try consulting, to promote my services and find actual clients. I intend for this to be an exploration, as a way of iterating on my life. Getting better at something requires practice and so, this year, shipping will be my practice.

  1. Other traditions at the time included flip cup and parting intern requests 

  2. At least that's how I remember it 

  3. Or self-employed, or retired, or... 

  4. Ok maybe it's a "really big goal" + "motivation required to even commit to it". 

  5. Whether or not I've actually consistently hit goals is a different topic 

  6. Wow have I mentioned I'm unemployed?