the secret lives of successful people

By now we all know failure is a part of success. “Fail more” and “fail better” are common mantras among silicon valley types. I remember when I first learned about this trend, I thought it was kind of funny – I had been ‘failing’ all this time. If other people weren’t, what the hell were they doing?

Failure for me is less about the ‘failure’ part of it and more about the doing part.

I’ve probably built over a thousand working products. I really don’t think of them as failures.

I like building stuff. I’m proud of those thousand products with few users, maybe more proud than my few products with millions of users.

In the software world, we look at success through the lens of market fit, profit, users, revenue or growth. These are all interesting challenges that I’m very passionate about – but if I’m being honest – my first passion is and always will be: just building. Building for the sake of having built something. Building because you were given the gift to think and design and make. Building because it’s your purpose.

I’ve often built things that I thought were pretty cool, and when I started thinking about the market for the product, I would get bored. So I would move on, and build another thing. There are things that I built that I look back and think “yeah, that was an early prototype of product X now valued at billions, pretty cool” but it wasn’t X – because the work that goes into actually turning a product into a product valued at billions is different than just creating a functional application.

I’ve found that all successful people I admire really enjoy some part of the work they are successful in, and they enjoy it regardless of ‘success.’ We all put our best foot forward and put our successes in our bios, but I’ve found that if you dig a little deeper, every successful person has a passion that drives them irrespective of the world around them. Not only do they love to do what they do, they’re really proud of things that weren’t successful. But to anyone who loves what they do, doing it is never failure, or at least, it doesn’t feel like it.

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