Since I came across Paul Buccheit’s “Serendipity Finds You“ blog post yesterday, it has been difficult to stop thinking about it. It’s a great read, so definitely go check it out. Go ahead, I’ll wait. While you are at it, read through the Hacker News comments on the article, they are just as enlightening as the article itself.
For those of you that don’t know, Paul is an engineer at Facebook, and has had extraordinary success in his relatively young career. As one of the early employees at Google, he was in at the ground floor of one of the most successful companies of the last decade, and he was one of the reasons for their ginormous success. It almost seems unreal when you hear that one single person came up with GMail, AdSense (Google’s primary source of revenue), and their famous “Don’t be evil” motto. That is quite a trifecta. Paul eventually left Google to co-found Friendfeed, which was acquired by Facebook.
You’d probably say Paul has been lucky in his career, and he may agree with you to an extent. However, there are various interpretations of what defines “luck”. Crediting his success to mere random chance discredits Paul’s knack for putting himself in fortunate positions. Some peoples’ version of “luck” is when opportunity meets preparation, and they pounce.
I’m not even going to try to compare my career to Paul’s here, they’re on completely different levels. But what I will say is that in my mind I have achieved a level of success in my career that I am happy with, so far. When I look back at what brought me to my current position, it has been a series of events that separately, seem pretty random. In reality though, they are all woven together by a continued pursuit towards things in life that I am passionate about. One, leading to the next, leading to the next, leading…
- I started playing soccer at the age of 5 and didn’t slow down until 10 years later, so soccer is something that I loved growing up. (Thanks for your encouragement Mom & Dad)
- That interest in soccer turned me into a rabid Kansas City Wizards fan and a member of their supporters group. (Thanks for your passion Sam)
- As a side-project we created a non-profit advocacy organization, Heart of America Soccer Foundation. We needed a website, so I volunteered my time to create one. The result of that was the hoasoccer.org website, and that was first website that really demonstrated my skills as a web developer. (Thanks for your help Chad)
- When I interviewed for my first programming job out of school, I had just completed the hoasoccer.org website, and was able to use that as evidence that I knew how to webdev. That evidence was key to me being hired. (Thanks for your confidence Hillary)
- Fast forward a few years, a friend of mine from the Wizards games became a web designer and we occasionally did freelance work together. One client we did work for eventually hired me as the lead developer for his new company because of my experience in the startup world. (Thanks for your entrepreneurial spirit Jeff)
- It was at that startup where I convinced my boss that sending me to Zendcon ‘08 would be well worth the expense. He agreed, so off I went. (Thanks for your generosity Fred)
- That just so happened to be the weekend of Yahoo! Open Hackday ‘08. It was at that hackday on the Y! campus where I met the recruiter who eventually got me into the interview process and hired. More details @ Return to Sunnyvale. (Thanks for the opportunity Shawn)
So, this all began with a 5 year old chasing a ball around a soccer field? Well, that is certainly one interpretation.
Often times in life, you might not know what awaits you at the end of a journey. But as long as the roads are leading to fun & challenging adventures, you are doing something right. Keep doing it, and do more of it when you can. We are naturally driven towards what we seek, even unconsciously. If you seek nothing, you’ll find nothing. Serendipity is everywhere, so maximize your chances of finding it.