This is my definition for becoming a hacker and achieving desired outcomes in the modern economy….
- Things perceived to be completely under your control: OK
- Things perceived to be somewhat under your control: OK
- Things perceived to be out of your control: ERR
Things Perceived to be Somewhat or Completely Under Your Control
Forget things that are out of our control. If the company is getting sued for $5T, it’s in the lawyer’s hands, not the engineers or salespeople. But, there are things we can control, this is what we get paid for. Sales, Marketing, Engineering. Achieving results with things perceived to be, at least somewhat, under our control. Same applies to kids, house, relationships, etc.
How We Achieve
We leverage and obtain knowledge in three main ways. We do this to achieve desired outcomes – building things, selling things, suing people, defending people, healing people, making war, etc:
- Things that are commonly known: Google it or use other specific knowledge bases
- Things that are known by peers: Ask a peer
- Things that are unknown: We figure this out ourselves, then make it common knowledge (write blogs, books, teach) or share it with peers (possibly too nuanced, complex or specific for knowledge bases aka tribal knowledge, wisdom, or mentoring).
Junior vs. Senior
- Junior people use Google a lot
- Junior people ask people around them a lot
- Junior people figure out things that are unknown, but these are typically things that could be figured out by most other junior people
- Junior people are productive, but do not tend to contribute a lot of “knowledge” in quantity or quality compared to a senior person
- Senior people use Google a lot
- Senior people ask other senior people around them a lot, especially experts in other fields
- Senior people figure out things that are unknown as well as things that are TOUGH to figure out quantitatively (specific skill) or qualitatively (wisdom). Junior people cannot typically figure these tough things out in an efficient amount of time, nor in a way that would provide proper risk/reward. These things can be so hard that perhaps, even other senior people cannot figure them out. Imagine sending a newb to lead 1000 tanks in Iraq – not going to happen efficiently.
- Senior people are productive, and they are expected to contribute to mentoring (peers), as well as creating knowledge bases which can be used commonly (building their brand)
- Unicorns are senior people that can also force themselves to do things for which they have no passion
- They understand the psychological principle that you like what you do, not you do what you like
- These people will become passionate about almost anything and hence, can do almost anything well
Being able to achieve desired outcomes by figuring things out at an efficient velocity and sufficient quality is important to becoming senior. Essentially, this is my definition of hacking. Whether it’s breaking an encrypted hard drive, figuring out how to program something in a new language, program something you have never programmed before, selling a specific dollar amount of goods and services, losing weight and gaining muscle, or leading 1000 tanks in Iraq, these are all hacking.
When you are good at hacking, you are good at figuring things out that are both unknown and quite difficult, then quickly leveraging these new things to acheive your desired results. When you gain this skill in any specific discipline, you are a hacker. When you have been hacking for 20 years, and have achieved mastery in 5, 10, 20 or 30 “technical” disciplines, you may be considered senior. The more disciplines you master, the quicker you master new ones, essentially increasing your rate of mastery in new disciplines. When your skill of mastering new disciplines achieves a certain velocity, say one a year, it will be difficult for the job market reward you with appropriate financial compensation. Most technical disciplines lead to a financial ceiling on compensation in the job market. Hence, when people become very senior, they look for other rewards. Great and productive people, lax lifestyle, free time, free food, notoriety (Google, Amazon, Microsoft) whatever. This can lead to laziness.
That is, of course, unless you choose the disciplines of entrepreneur, salesperson, or bandit. These disciplines are basically unlimited in financial compensation or reward. Your ability to contribute is not limited, so your ability to garner a cut is also unlimited. A salesperson can sell $100M, then sell $200M, then $1B year after year. A bandit can steal as much as he likes. An entrepreneur can grow the company as big as his skills allow. Your ability to achieve is only limited by your hard work, creativity, quality of product, and ability.
That is, at least, until you bump into things that are out of your control (cancer, global war, macroeconomic problems, etc)……