Hackers/Programmers/Developers (a.k.a Geek/Nerd) are currently some of the most sought after innovators and doers of our time. They include everyone from Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Tony Hsieh of Zappos and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, among others. And as leaders, many of them are extremely intentional in their business approach.
Some of the success of these entrepreneurs can be attributed to a hacker mindset, one focused on coding, systems, processes, analysis and logical reasoning. When the time I start studying computing, I am not into coding, however, I do love to taking things apart and putting them back again, sometimes also enjoy building things from scratch. Until second years of my university studied, I get exposed to computer hacking. I was so hooked into the adventure of the hacking game, doing it for a number of years even though it became illegal. It was thrilling, adventurous. It was all about solving the puzzle, using intellect to get around obstacles. It was like a huge game.
A lot of tech savvy today have done some not-so-ethical things in their past during their learning process, especially the older ones because there was no opportunity to learn about security. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was all self-taught. So a lot of the old-school hackers really learned on other people’s systems.
I used to travel around the world to do IT audit, penetration testing and vulnerability assessment all the time–and forensic investigation, where I go into the most complicated infrastructure of the company to see if I can get to the crown jewels. I see what I can do as an ethical hacker. I really enjoy this work because when is it that you can take a criminal activity, legitimize it, and get paid for it! In order for me to qualified and complied to take up the responsibility and task, I started to take up a lot of IT and security training and certification. To obtained the credential and qualification from different vendors.
As an engineer/consultant specialise in InfoSec for the past and the founder of few startups, I see the connection between entrepreneurship and hacker mindset. As someone running my own business, I also recognize when I use both skills to solve business challenges. As a developer, we are always looking to add value to the products we are building. We call this a spike, a technical equivalent to a small research project. Spikes are permitted experiments, where the developer is encouraged to try something new and different.
We need the freedom to experiment and try new things for potential, long-term benefits. By having this flexibility, programmers are able to explore better solutions, rather than being pressured to immediately produce a shippable product, that may not be up to par. As a business owner, give yourself permission to explore those crazy ideas that may not immediately contribute to the bottom line. The future payoff could be worth your while. Many programmers will tell you that they choose to write code because they can see the impact of their efforts almost immediately.
As a hacker, if you move too quickly without putting the correct measurements in place, it becomes increasingly hard to isolate the problem. As an entrepreneur, identify leading indicators that can quickly measure whether your team’s efforts are in the right place. Changes you implement can be distributed to customers at moment’s notice, and with proper instrumentation in place, you can see the impact of that effort in a short span of time.
At first glance, some of the technical problems hackers face can be overwhelming. And it’s the same with running a business. When this happens to me, I jump on a whiteboard and try to identify the smaller pieces that would get me to a complete solution. By breaking down this issue utilizing a smaller step strategy, hackers (and entrepreneurs) can see where there are hang ups, what each milestone entails and take adequate actions to complete the task, all while not feeling completely overwhelmed.
Take a cue from our leading tech titans of today. Thinking like a hacker can lead to more meaningful services and products and mean serious growth for your startup.
The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is very complete.
– Mark Zuckerberg