First of all let me start by apologizing to all 13 of my readers (I kid, I kid) for this post taking so long, I have been doing a lot of … well, not working lately and so the blogging sort of fell to the wayside as well. But with the holidays over and real life back in full swing I expect I will be doing much more blogging in the weeks and months to come.
For those of you who clicked on this title looking for an insightful post I certainly hope not to disappoint. This is one that has been a long time coming.
All too often as a computer programmer (hacker,techie,or whatever else you’d like to call me) I run into people who claim to be developers, video game programmers and all around tech gurus yet when i ask them where they are working I seem to hear one answer way too often. “I’m looking for a job right now”, or “I can’t really find anything in the field I want to be in”.
Why is this a problem some might ask? That’s where the title of the post comes back into play. The answer really is simple.
If you are a hacker, you should be HACKING … End of Story!
I don’t care if you are still in school, have been out of work for two or three years or just got laid off yesterday. You have one of the most valuable skills man is capable of possessing simply because you do not NEED to have a “job” to create cool and useful things, you do not need high powered super computers or overly expensive equipment, all you need is the desire to create something useful and the ability to sit still long enough to make it happen.
Probably my least favorite phrase among the friends I have made that work for the larger tech companies are statements like “I am still a very junior programmer”. If you are the person making those statements you may want to stop reading now since I very likely won’t sugar coat this enough for your tastes. If you continue to feel that way and you continue to only work on the very junior tasks given to you at the office you will ALWAYS be very junior.
However some of the best programmers I know have not even graduated college yet and many probably never will. They didn’t become senior engineers or rockstars because they are mad geniuses (though some really are). They did it because they knew one thing above all else. They were capable of creating things greater than themselves.
The Lion is the king of the jungle for one reason, It is capable of nearly anything it puts its mind to. As a hacker you should see yourself the same way. If you want something added to your favorite program don’t write the company an email, figure out how to do it yourself!
If you are out of a job build an iPhone or Android app and put it in the app stores, build something for your friends or automate a daily process. It is these things that will ultimately land you that senior role or transform your confidence and help you become the person worthy of envy instead of the envious one.
Confidence is key in programming. Every successful programmer has made mistakes and will continue to, learn from your debugging process and do not be afraid to fail. In the end you may even look back at how naive you were to believe something would work, but the first time it does the only thing you will regret is what took you so become so blinded.
One final thought I will leave you with on this post is one that came from a top tier Angel investor in the recent past directed at me after almost an hour long series of prodding questions in which he was intending to break down my idea and I just would not let him. It is a phrase I will never forget:
“Zach, you know why I like you? You are too arrogant to fail.”
Now while they can certainly be taken in many different ways, The one I preferred to interpret was that while talent is important, persistence and the belief in your idea goes a very long way. You can teach lots of things, but desire is not among them, sometimes just wanting it bad enough can propel you farther than anything else.
So Now I’ll challenge you, are you out of work? go forth and build something, become the king of the jungle and not the Mayor of your couch on your local foursquare.