Show HN: Principles for Success


It’s been 20 years since I started working as an engineer and researcher (mostly in SF Bay Area). Thought I should share what I’ve learned from my mentors and through my life experiences. Happy to elaborate, hear any critique or answer any questions. Best.

i) Work with great people. You’re only as good as the people around you. Try to find them, associate with them. Avoid working for 2nd tier groups, projects or companies.

ii) Build a career. Think long term. This could mean developing expertise in an area that will carry you in the next 10 year or more. Become a go-to person for whatever you’re doing. This could also mean prioritizing depth over breadth. But it could also mean being a manager in a team that does a bunch of things. Gaining skills slowly over a long term adds up to something much bigger.

iii) Bet on momentum. If things take a turn for the worse (say, in terms of valuation or employee morale), look around or pivot. You should discount broad market fluctuations, and focus on idiosyncratic factors here.

iv) Think multifactorial. Say, you take a job or a project and things don’t work out, where will you be? Between options: write down pros and cons, add them up, see how they compare. Consider Plan A and also Plan B.

v) Be close to the money (+ quantifiable impact). Try to be part of the core team that makes (or influences) the majority of profits for the firm. Try to be not replaceable. Have leverage. That said, working for a great company + being lucky sometimes matters more than being close to the money.

Last but not least, never underestimate how much luck plays a role in your success. Be lucky. Those who achieve oversized success are above a threshold intelligent. But presumably they had some skills or situations that made them incredibly lucky. Also don’t be fooled by randomness. Many things in life aren’t predictable.

PS: This post was inspired b

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