How can I help you to push the edge on what’s possible?

Hacker News LinkedIn Facebook Twitter by Abby Fichtner

In packing to move to my new home (3 weeks!!!) I stumbled over a pile of thank you notes I’ve gotten from student hackers & entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with (seriously, students are the best. Hand-written thank you notes! Who does that?!).

Thank you letters

And all these memories came flooding back…

I’ve been so crazy, over-the-top, fortunate to have been in roles at both Microsoft and Harvard Innovation Lab where my entire job was dedicated to helping hackers and entrepreneurs with their craft. With creating things that no one had ever created before and putting them out into the world to expand the realm of what is possible for all of us.

I honestly can’t think of anything more incredible.

Creating the world you want to live in

As I look forward to my whatever-is-next, I’m equal parts excited, fascinated, and terrified to do it on my own terms. To start all over from scratch and put together… something that’s designed specifically to help people push the edge on what’s possible.

To help people really create (because I think we’re all a little dead if we’re not creating) the clever and inventive and quirky and useful and wonderful things that I know every one of you has inside of yourself. And to help you share your creations with the world. Because that, I believe, is what makes the world such a colorful and beautiful place.

That is the world that I want to live in.

And, as my friend Ange Friesen (she’s amazeballs, you should check her out) says, “I want to create the world I want to live in.

Create amazing and share it with the world

I want to help techies, makers, creative folks who are looking to push the edge. To do more then you ever believed was possible. People who are looking to discover this unique creativity and inventiveness that you all have inside of you so that you can use these gifts to create amazing art/software/hardware/companies/whatever(!) and put them out into the world. To help you create the world that you want to live in.

I want to share what I’ve learned about innovation and creativity and getting out of your comfort zone to where the magic happens.

Where the Magic Happens

I want to help you to do things that equally fascinate, excite, and terrify you. And to help you make that leap from where you are today… to where you want to be.

I know I’ve talked about it before – but I am so inspired by this TEDx talk by Caroline McHugh called The Art of Being Yourself.

In the talk, Caroline is flashing all of these larger than life people up on the screen — Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Eleanor Roosevelt, The Dalai Lama.

And as these faces are flashing behind her she says, “What is it that all of these amazingly successful people have in common?”

“The ONLY thing they have in common… is that they have nothing in common.

These are people who’ve figured out how to use the unique gifts that the universe has bestowed on them.”

And our job, she says, is NOT to be better versions of them. Our job is to be as DIFFERENT from them as possible.

“Our ONLY job while we’re here on this planet is to be the best damn version of ourselves that we can be.”

How can I help you to CREATE with those gifts that the best damn version of yourself has to offer?

So this is what is keeping me up at night. Keeping me up when I realized “oh shit! It’s almost midnight and I haven’t done my post for today yet. What the hell am I going to write about?”

(side note – does anyone else’s level of profanity rise and fall with their level of excitement? I spoke to someone today who said I was a little “edgy” for them. By which, I realized, was his polite way of saying I was cussing too fucking much. oops)

And then I thought duh, cuz I’m not super smart sometimes.

I have YOUR bad ass selves. I don’t know how you guys have hung in with me through all of my ups and downs, but I love you all for it. You’re the ones that I want to be working with.

So… can I ask you a favor?

Would you tell me where YOU struggle when it comes to creating what you want to create?

And what can I do to help you to push the edge and do more than you ever believed was possible?

Reply in the comments below or, if you want to keep it on the down-low, you can tweet at me or shoot me an email (abby at hackerchick dot com).

Thank you thank you! You all rock! I will keep you posted as things unfold.

  • schiffbruechige

    Hmm, my other, top-level comment seems to have vanished.. any particular reason?

    • Hmm, I don’t know – do you maybe mean your comments in reply to Eric? Those are the only ones I saw :-

  • Eric Nehrlich

    What stops me from creating is my insidious Inner Critic that whispers “you don’t have time” or “why even start since you won’t finish” or “it won’t be good enough to put in the world”. When I have the opportunity and time to create, I just don’t get started and end up avoiding entirely by playing a phone game or escaping into a fantasy book. I keep struggling with procrastination for that reason, even though I know it’s as simple as “Just Get Started!!” Maybe I need a public declared self imposed deadline like your 30 posts in 30 days goal. But how do I choose from all the things I want to do?!

    I’ve found that having an accountability partner helps immensely. Just knowing that I’ll be talking to somebody in a week makes me do the thing I was avoiding. Amusingly, I’ve become very good at being such a.partner and checking in on others to see if they have done what they were avoiding, but I haven’t been able to do that for myself yet.

    So I’m not sure what my ask is of you to help me create. If nothing else, watching you _choose_ to create and carry forward on this 30 day mission is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    • Okay, so we just clone you and then… :)

      I’ve found that, for me at least, having a class or a 90 day program or whatever, that provides structure, accountability, and guidance and just others I can talk to who are doing the same thing to keep me encouraged and help me work through challenges, is really invaluable. I’ve been doing it for things to change my business around and I guess there’s a lot of those.

      On my brief stint doing websites, I did one for how to do contracts and proposals and manage customer expectations, etc – which was SOO freakin useful (if anyone reading this does websites, check out Even if I never do websites again, what I learned was invaluable for just having my own business in general. And I did another on branding from Pia Silva, who is the goddess of bad ass brands.

      So I think why can’t I put one together around innovation and creativity? What would that look like? Who would that be for? I know I could aim it at “creating the next facebook” but there’s a billion people doing that already. I want the focus to be on the creativity and innovation side – on building things that nobody has ever built before, and sharing them out into the world. I mean, I can help people with the business side too – cuz, startup girl, but it’s the former that really gets me excited!

      What do you think?

      • Eric Nehrlich

        Your suggestion of cloning myself is a hilarious (yet thought-provoking) solution :) Why can’t I hold myself accountable the same way?

        Totally agreed that having a community or class to provide structure and accountability and guidance. I’m in a year-long coaching certification program, and it’s a lot of work, but my classmates are incredibly supportive and we are all struggling through together. Sharing the journey makes it easier.

        I love the idea of a virtual hacker space, where people can post what they’re working on, and others can chime in, and offer support, guidance, links to resources, etc, as well as accountability. “Hey, how are you doing with your project? Anything I can do?” My first thought was that the software could generate such reminders automatically, but that wouldn’t have the same impact; I think it would be more impactful to generate notifications to other members to write an accountability reminder e.g. the system tells you to write me to ask how my project is doing. Hrm….

      • Well, if someone is going to figure out cloning, it will probably be your employer ;)

        that’s cool about the coaching program – what do you want to use it for?

        And hahaha, automated support. That is the engineer in you!! I’d hope I could pull together something a bit more organic…. but, I suppose it’s always good to have a little help.

      • Eric Nehrlich

        Per your entrepreneurial post, I don’t know what I’m going to use coaching for yet. I’m just taking the training because I enjoy coaching others and want to learn more about how to do it well. Call it career tinkering – as somebody wise once said “entrepreneurs make progress by allowing their goals to EMERGE over time, rather than defining them up front.” :)

      • haha, that’s so funny you used the word tinkering – i was just thinking what I really should do is create a Tinkering School for adults. I came here to share my idea and saw your comment. :)

      • Eric Nehrlich

        Just using your words!

    • schiffbruechige

      Part of the practicality with the 30days idea, is that you can commit yourself for 30 days to try a thing – and then stop. You could pick one of your ideas, try it out, see what happens with it.

      • it’s been really interesting. I thought it would just help me get into the habit of getting more comfortable with writing regularly. Instead, in just a little over 10 days it’s started changing how my brain works so that now, without even realizing I’m doing it, it’s constantly scanning for interesting things to write blog posts about. So. Cool! And totally unexpected.

      • schiffbruechige

        Yup, I heard that some somewhere/one else too (tho I forget whom).. You see all sorts of things / look closer at everything..

      • Eric Nehrlich

        I was talking with a friend yesterday about how when we make small changes in our behavior, most of the impact comes not from the changes themselves, but the mindset changes that result (“I’m a person that does X”). I love that idea of shifting our own perspective using behavior change.

      • Yes! I’m a big believer in self-fulfilling prophecies. Our brains don’t like to be wrong and so will do things, often subconsciously, to ensure that whatever we’re saying to ourselves holds true – good or bad ;)