Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sorry Marco; You're Pretty Cool

It's not arrogance if you really are better than everyone. - Jordanism #1
There is this phenomenon where a person is in the right place at the right time, gets incredibly lucky, and attributes success to their personal amazingness. The majority of business books are case studies on this: get incredibly fortunate and then attribute success to your particular way of working (getting up at 5am, GTD, etc). Being smart and a hard worker helps so that when you are in the right place at the right time you can take advantage of that opportunity, but that whole right place/time thing is really the important part.
Marco Arment is one of the developer "celebrities" I listen to a lot, and I thought he fell into the bucket of being lucky and full of himself (tl;dr - he doesn't). I've heard him talk before and the impression I had gotten was of a guy who thought he was too smart for college (dropped out), managed to serendipitously get in at the ground level as Tumblr was being built and learned to be amazing through his own amazingness. He launched Instapaper being very lucky to be first to market in a new medium (iOS) and thus succeeded again.
Marco just launched Overcast (which I love) and I listened to him do the promotional rounds on so many Podcasts. I realized something: the guy understands how incredibly lucky he is. He mentioned he had a leg up by being born a white male in America and that getting to be at Tubmlr as it exploded up was luck AND that he felt lucky. I have no doubt he worked really, REALLY hard, but it made me feel good to hear him talk about both the hard work AND the lucky opportunities.
The other thing is that Marco convinced me he probably is a rockstar developer. Hearing him talk about the work that he put into Overcast, the low level audio stuff, the server side configurations and controls, totally impressed me.
The overall summary is simple: Sorry I was biased; Marco, you're pretty cool.