The Essential Paul Graham

Description Paul Graham is a software developer, entrepreneur, writer, and founder of the venerable VC/incubator Y-Combinator. His writing is legendary for its conversational, concise, witty, and incisive style that conveys the nature and promise of, above all, craft. The “what” and “why” of this document Over the past decade, I’ve read the majority of Paul’s essays. But like all great writing, it deserves reading and re-reading. I was delighted to discover that David Senra, host of one of my favorite podcasts, Founders, has reviewed many of Graham’s best essays over the course of 4 episodes.
After listening to his distillation of these essays and re-reading them myself I organized my favorite takeaways as well as my favorite takeaways from David’s favorite takeaways. Like a double distillation of whiskey, the remainder is “the essential Paul Graham”.
Personal thought
The insights in here would be useful to anybody. But because there is great emphasis on the imperative and difficulty of finding work that one is actually excited to do, these lessons have magnificent compounding potential. Make the ambitious teens, college students, and 20-somethings read these essays.
The takeaways are grouped according to topic. They are mostly direct excerpts from Graham but Senra’s reactions are mixed in as well. Senra has terrific taste in passages and is masterful at tying ideas back to common themes across many other founders.
Making Wealth
Finding and doing your work
Determination & Relentlessness
Insidious forms of waste

I strongly recommend listening to the 4 Founder’s episodes that inspired this document. Hearing Senra’s rising enthusiasm at resonant passages makes them more memorable.
  1. The Essays of Paul Graham — part 1
  1. The Essays of Paul Graham — part 2
  1. The Essays of Paul Graham — part 3
  1. The Essays of Paul Graham — How To Do Great Work