Weird Stuff

Friday, 21 June, 2019


It is the one-year anniversary of my post regarding the things about which I am Deeply Passionate.

I’m still looking for that dream job.

In the mean time, I’m reading Neal Stephenson’s Fall; or Dodge in Hell.

In the book I am reminded of the concept of weird stuff from REAMDE. It was not my clever recollection that reminded me, but a solid page or so where the concept is explained.

A quote from Fall where Richard “Dodge” Forthrast is trying to explain the concept of weird stuff to the HR department so they can give Corvallis “C-Plus” Kawasaki a job title and pay him to do weird stuff.

Floating above all of that, however, in a realm that was out of the scope of “you people,” was “weird stuff.” It was important that the company have people to work on “weird stuff”. As a matter of fact it was more important than anything else. But trying to explain “weird stuff” to “you people” was like explaining blue to someone who had been blind since birth, and so there was no point in even trying

Dodge, C-Plus, and Corporation 9592 are all fictitious. So I can’t point to their successes as evidence that Dodge’s theory about weird stuff is correct. But I have a feeling that it is important.

At the very least, I have a feeling that weird stuff is going on and that people are paid to work on it. The problem is that it truly is out of the scope of “you people” (HR folks trying to actually run a company). My problem is that even if it is happening, and even if it is super important, there are zero job postings called “weird stuff.” So how can I even get a job doing it?

Some Ideas


Trust is Important

For a person like Dodge to hand weird stuff to a person like C-Plus, he has to trust him. Partly he has to be willing to share with him sensitive information. But mostly he needs to trust him to figure out something valuable about the weird stuff.

A good way to earn trust is to work together on a lot of different stuff.

Many Hats can lead to Weird Stuff

The chances of getting into weird stuff are much greater when there are fewer people trying organize and manage everything.


Good startups have small groups of people working on a lot of different things. They also have little management and organization.

I don’t mind putting in the hours, sweat, and tears for a startup. But at this point in my life it will have to be the right startup. Meaning two things:

1. I have to believe in the vision

The startup has to be working to solve a problem that I see, or building a product that I want. Otherwise, it’s just a job and I’m no better at it than the next guy.

2. I have to be convinced that success is possible

If I’m convinced that a company is a sinking ship, I’m going to spend my time putting on my life preserver and trying to signal a rescue ship. But if I am convinced that we can succeed (and that we should succeed), and if I’m as good at weird stuff as I think I am, then I can help steer the ship towards success.


Sometimes when a good company encounters weird stuff and they realize that they don’t have enough weird people, they call in consultants.

And I’m not talking about “contracting” or “staff augmentation”, I’m talking about actual consulting where various experts consult with one another about how to approach a problem or opportunity.

Perhaps that’s where I belong. I’m available if you’re interested.