You weren't meant to have a boss

Roam on Sundays VII

Hey guys, last week’s Zoom meeting was the best one yet, and you can check out our lively discussion on YouTube. Thanks to those who joined, and we’ll be hosting another Zoom meeting tonight at 8PM EST.

This week’s notes are on another one of my favourite essays from Paul Graham. If you want the full notes and highlights, you can always read them here on [[Roam Research]].


  • Humans work optimally in groups of 8

    • Groups bigger than 20 are very hard to handle

  • Normal jobs are as bad for our brains as sugar is bad for the body

  • Working for yourself is better for you the same way eating like hunter-gatherers is better for you

  • You are afforded very little individual initiative when working for a big company

  • Always work for a small company, because it always sucks to work at a big company

  • If people have the choice between something cheap, heavily marketed, and immediately appealing vs. something expensive, obscure, and only appealing in the long run, most will choose the first option

    • Same with work, most graduates want to work at safe brands like Google where they will get a good salary and benefits, only to have the drawbacks appear later

  • Bosses and big companies are bad for us in the same way that modern food is

    • We aren’t supposed to be working in big groups because they are hard to manage and you have less freedom

  • Companies use a tree structure to keep small groups intact but then have a boss represent everyone in that one group as a manager when interfacing with other managers

    • Problem with this model is that managers can’t embody multiple people at once

  • Best way is to get rid of tree structure is to:

    • a) Have independent groups work together like a market system (Amazon model)

    • b) Keep your company as small as possible (Basecamp model)

      • Only hire the best

        • Mediocre hires do less and force you to hire more

  • Big companies are especially bad for creative jobs that inherently involve doing new things every day because the tree structure sucks the freedom out of them

    • If you aren’t allowed to implement new ideas you stop having them

    • When you can do whatever you want you have more ideas about what to do