Aynul Habib

Co-founder & CEO of Alum

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Napster for Jobs

Looking for a job feels like Napster used to. Unstructured text boxes, variable results in surprise formats, nights and weekends spent staring at screens, not listening to music. The musicians want to sing and the people want to listen. You end up listening to the same old stuff as everyone else or staring at a download bar.

A typical conversation

  1. “Have you heard this song?
  2. You should listen to this.
  3. We should set aside some time to listen to this.
  4. How is a week from now?
  5. Yeah, I’ll start the download.

Interfaces

  1. Open to every file at once.
  2. 1-1, unstructured conversations lead to variable reward to extract our time
  3. Potentially malicious results to dig through or nothing at all
  4. Still mostly gets the job done. You have to be exposed to a better alternative to get the pain. People thought Napster was the ceiling at the time.
  5. Lots of room for improvement for specific flows...

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Beautiful Quotes

“The internet is a reflection of our society and that mirror is going to be reflecting what we see.

If we do not like what we see in that mirror the problem is not to fix the mirror, we have to fix society.”

― Vint Cerf

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Bryan L.

My greatest fear is “fantasy plateau” (capping the future) not competitive differentiation: (assuming reality isn’t editable and that everything is frozen in time).

Let’s follow the fantasy: a future son and daughter, Ariana G. Habib ’41 and Jaden Ty Dolla Sign Habib ’39 interacting with a Jarvis-like assistant named “Bryan L.” about their first product idea. Don’t do the math.

NCSSM has offered a resource called “Bryan L.” a “concierge for continuing education, career changes and otherwise self-actualizing, level up like endeavors” to offer anyone that goes through the system, help. Forever.

People don’t shoot the shit on it. They double, triple, quadruple their salaries. They switch industries. They U-turn from U-turns. They learn things, fast. They disseminate information. They get drowned in help. Anything social is a side effect of both being drawn to those things.

Let’s...

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Cupcakes, At-A-Glance

Suppose 30 people from your senior class of 150 have late-stage Cancer. You don’t know who they are and it’s the Friday before a 4 day weekend, so campus is at 50% capacity. The great news: there are 30 rare, Cancer curing cupcakes, with more on the way. The onus is on you to route these appropriately.

People tell you to pretend like they aren’t there, to get back to your homework. You understand how critical it is because you went through treatment yourself, so you start running and screaming. You pick up 4 Cancer experts who just flat out believe you, they’ve done this before.

While you are running, many see the cupcakes and attempt to grab them, just in case! They see the exhaustion and crazy eyes, you are clearly onto something important. A story leaks, so some people kinda sorta know why you’re running around but don’t do anything. Others latch on for the quick hit of...

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Support Networks

For any initiative, there are:

A. Promoters - People who are about it. They will find bugs and tell you about them privately. They will fix your tie so to speak.
B. Passives - People who could care less. Oh, look there’s that person doing that thing again, whatever.
C. Detractors - People that fight the cause. Dementors.

This categorization is earned by behavior over time. This is highly unlikely, but logically, your mom or best friend (s) could be detractors to your cause.

One can have a very lucrative business with a small number of promoters. e.g. weapons manufacturing. “Bad” example. One deal could keep you in business forever. Obviously, there are other costs to doing something like that and you have to have a very large deal size, to offset those tolls. If you can’t stomach it, you shouldn’t sell tanks. Easy enough. I won’t.

It is imperative to find every degree of the...

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House of Green Cards

In the late 1980s, the US let at least two attractive, immigration lottery winners in from “hey, can you say that again?”. She, in hot pursuit of a masters in English Literature and Nutrition. He, a brilliant Mechanical Engineer. They ended up in a state called “Ali-bama” with a 7-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy in tow.

Let’s call my mother “Ruby”, like her friends. Ruby has always been Jane Hawking in the flesh. She’s lived a life of service to my father at the cost of living her own. She is at peace with this decision but now and forever, it’s bothered me to my core. As an adult I would learn that to do a few things well, you have to clear the table.

She and I were seldom at odds, I was the rational liaison between the hyperbolic immigrant and the American world and she was the golden child’s enabler. Together we were the decision makers for our kingdom, which was often straight...

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Your English is Impeccable

I worked in fine dining & hospitality from age 16-24 in various contexts. The worst shift you could take was Saturday morning brunch: very low traffic, very high probability of a headache from the night before. The silver lining was the variable reward in conversations and Jalapeno cornbread.

A couple of salt of the earth women walked in one morning. After a bit of introductory chitter they erupted in “Your English is impeccable! You are beautiful! Where are you from? You have to meet our daughters.” I was taken by their candor but also literally taken at the time.

One of my mom’s favorite phrases is “Ahm-ra kee grahm-ehr theke?”…which in Bengali literally means “Are we from the sticks?”…semantically adjusted…“We are not hicks”. She would cast this spell at me as a kid when I needed to clean my room. I could always tell she wanted a better life for us.

Sometime in 2007, a first love...

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Amuse Bouche

There is more evidence of a wider spectrum of emotion in animals. In many ways, you’re an animal. We’re not even that great at comprehending each other, so why have we been limiting cows? Speciesism, if you ask me.

I’ve been guilty of assuming simplicity on the other side. This other person, but not me. Is there even a path to discovering a cow’s narrative if we assume this stance? What is buried in their hopes, ambitions, and dreams? What if a cow could write? If you assume that I am as complex as a cow, in return I will raise the steaks.

You may be curious about what this is and where we are. A novel, think-piece, manifesto, white-paper, business proposal, marketing content, diary, word vomit, etc. I’m not worried about labeling it and I wrote the damn thing, so maybe you should relax. Think of this as my 10% time, narrating the reveal of my 90% time, that I never intend to...

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America Offline

In 10 years, we won’t constantly be referring to when we are on the line and off the line. Some of us already there. I don’t think we should call it ncssm online vs ncssm not online…ncssm over there vs ncssm not over there, over here, hello. I get why people might think we should…

Post academia, when you pay a talented engineer six figures to work from home, you don’t constantly refer to them as a remote employee vs a non remote employee. Are you remote right now? How about now? How about now? You do if you want to demoralize, divide and make that person quit or the non-remotes tense.

These vibes are not constructive to learning, but I think a vestigial status game for parents to pad burgeoning social capital portfolios, defeating the entire purpose of removing class rank and democratizing a utility in the first place.

If we’re going to stick to labels, we should think of ncssm “on...

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Gesamtkunstwerk

When I applied to NCSSM in 2005, there were single digit applicant and alumni perspectives out there on the line. I remember a handful of threads in a LiveJournal somewhere, but otherwise it was still very “blackbox” and word of mouth. The internet just wasn’t as poppin. Could a rumor of a private social network for NCSSM generate more applications? Could public facing slices of this property literally get indexed into search engines?

Immediately after ncssm, I had a hard time finding the same level of motivation from my surroundings. I was simply not very enthused by the career or major/minor catalogs of my era, but I found myself moved by crazy stories of the people that I knew or kinda sorta knew. Could our product accelerate that awareness?

It was non-trivial to find a list of ncssm alumni, where they worked, what they did and where they lived on one page. I knew I could dig...

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