#HuntedHunters #5: Chris Messina hints, 'don't miss out on 'the journey'
This is part five of #HuntedHunters, a series of interviews with top members of the Product Hunt community. If you don’t know anything about it, read what got us here.
Haven’t we all wanted to be a cooler version of ourselves? Acting, thinking, looking, talking, living...a little bit better? We’re sure you have, it’s an essential part of being human. We may not have been cognisant of this while we were growing up, but we made our own role models and motivators anyway. Not until we were adults did we realise that their journey, no matter how enticing and similar it may seem, is still completely different to your own.
If we spent their lives wanting to be like someone else, we’d still be stuck in figuring out what’s not right. At some point we have to find our own path through the wilderness. Fortunately, here at The Omni Calculator Project, we happened to meet someone who brought things into perspective, so our young entrepreneurs have a trailblazer to teach them how to survive in this ever evolving technological jungle.
While Omni was in talks with @bramk about his experiences on Product Hunt and the new age of No Code websites, we dared to ask if he can introduce us to our next top hunter. We were in luck because we heard back from Bram, that Chris Messina would like to do an interview with us. Believe me there is no hashtag for how it feels when the ‘father of hashtag’ wants to participate in your project.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our honour to bring to you our interview with a great mind, Chris Messina, he is an ace designer of products, platforms, and experiences for Google and Uber. He founded many startups, and changed the world by giving away many of his creations, including the hashtag.
Omni Calculator: You’ve been part of an impressive list of projects in the past (I’ll be here all day if start listing them). Your interview on 'Story in a Bottle' podcast was amazing. How do you manage to steal time and search thousands of new projects on PH? Is MessinaBot for real?
My motivation for participating in the Product Hunt ecosystem is really to surf the edge of the future and to see what new and emerging trends are happening before they hit mainstream. There are so many makers on Product Hunt who are working on digital products to scratch their own narrow itches. There really isn’t a better concentration of people sketching the contours of the future publicly than on Product Hunt. And the good news is that they’re all pretty available and open for feedback, so, when I reach out, I’m often able to get insights about the problems they’re trying to solve, why they’re doing it, and what their plans are. This helps me in my own product design projects and in counseling other makers.
Since I’ve been active on Product Hunt for so long, now most of my hunts come to me directly — or else I spot interesting new apps in the App Store or on Twitter. It’s very organic.
And, MessinaBot once was real, but now it’s in hibernation. I hope to one day revive him!
OC: What do you relish doing while don't feel like being the tech guru sometimes? Do your hobbies affect the kind of products you hunt?
CM: I was asked this question recently and felt a little bashful because I feel like I haven’t focused on hobbies lately… but then when I looked at the activities I engage with regularly, I actually have a specific set of things that I enjoy, including discovering great food and drinks (wine and cocktails), exploring cities through travel (I just became a nomad after living in San Francisco for nearly 15 years!), listening to tons of podcasts and audiobooks, being curious about ideas, people, relationships, and contemplating the subjective experience of reality (🧠). I of course also love design, products, technology — and staying up to date on world affairs and politics. I guess you could say I’m a bit of an infovore.
OC: What does the future of tech look like to you? What are we looking at 5 years from now?
CM: I recently had the insight that humans are technology. So this question should be rewritten, “what does the future of humanity look like?” I care less about gadgets and gizmos and new ways of forming sand into internet-connected jewelry, and more about the evolution of human behavior and relating. Certainly technology external to us will continue to co-evolve with us, and we will shape it, and in turn, it will shape us — but I’d prefer to start with how we think people should behave to maximize understanding, cooperation, opportunity, and learning.
This is especially key as it becomes more natural to conversate with AI companions like Alexa and Siri. These products are being worked on by 10s of thousands of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest — to have personalities and expressiveness that is adaptive to each individual that engages with them. We have a long way to go, but it seems inevitable to me, like going to Mars is inevitable to Elon Musk. In that world, given what we’ve learned from the seductive powers of social media, I think we have to learn to program ourselves, individually, to become better humans. If we don’t, I fear for the future of humanity — I really do.
OC: Do you have any suggestions for the young kids trying to make their way to the startup industry?
CM: Spend time exploring your own interests and passions — and develop a deep sense of curiosity and awe for the world and for people. The most successful founders are on the relentless pursuit to bring something novel into the world — but the only way to sustain that drive is to find the journey the reward in and of itself. If you spend too much time imitating others and not becoming curious and introspective about your own motivations, desires, needs, and ambitions then you’re more likely to find yourself floundering, confused, and frustrated years later.
It's important for all of us to eventually strike out and find our own way through life; we are all unique and have our own specific desires and thoughts on life, meaning no one else’s track is going to fit you as well as your own. However, do not take this as meaning you cannot look at other people’s lives and learn from them, the best way to learn a lesson is to learn it from someone else’s mistakes.
Chris throws emphasis on self-reflection and nurturing your drive to achieve things that matter to you the most. After all it was never about being like someone else, just the better version of yourself. We thank Chris for this moment and I hope to stumble into him on one of his nomadic journeys.