Are you a rule follower or a rule maker?


From the moment when we start school we’re taught to conform to ‘the right way to do things’. We have exams and homework that remind us that we have to do X in order to achieve Y. We’re asked to follow a well worn process so that we deliver the right outcome. The target we’re aiming at was given to us by someone else.

We humans are experts at playing by other people’s rules.

Most traditional career paths involve learning to act within a set of rules. The most successful players on each career path are the ones that follow the rules the best – outplaying the other players in the game.

This is the unnamed narrator from the 1999 cult classic ‘Fight Club’ – dejected by the meaninglessness of his work he found temporary solace in buying the latest furniture from Ikea. It didn’t help him feel any better and he remarked that the ‘…things that you own, end up owning you.’. Sure, this is a dark view of the world but many of us feel like we’re living in a milder version of his world…don’t we?

What if you played by different rules?

If you’re tired of playing by someone else’s rules, rest assured, there is another way.

In fact, there is a whole industry of people that make a living from making up their own rules. That industry is called startups.

If you’re wondering what skills startups need you can read this article – what skills are high growth startups looking for?

“If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.”
(Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk 1996)

My story

I watched this movie for the first time about 6 years ago, while I was working as a business services accountant, and I have to say it sounded familiar to me.

I spent much of my time doing repetitive, rule-driven tasks – it wasn’t that I was terribly unhappy but I wasn’t terribly happy either. I also felt like I could do more.

One day I decided to play by a different set of rules and joined the startup world. I’m happier now.

As a four time startup founder/ early employee and coach of over 30 startups, I know first hand the value of:

  • Delivering in the face of real challenges and in the process learning a lot about how strong I really am.
  • Being instrumental in creating new futures for myself and those around me
  • Seeing my ideas grow into products and services that customers value

If you want to join my world we can help – at Masterly, we specialise in helping professionals transition to the world of tech and startups without writing a line of code.

To find out more about how, check out our website.

Jacob Muller

Jacob is the Co-Founder and CEO of Masterly