Monday, May 28, 2012

Successful in Silicon Valley

It's funny to be called "successful" in Silicon Valley. So often, we think of success as being measured by liquidity events or other markers of worldly success.

The reason I think I'm successful is that I have everything that money can't buy: love, family, friends, health. Yet these are things that we rarely hear about in Silicon Valley (unless you think your Klout score measures your friendship...and if you do, I think you may want to take a vacation).

In fact, I think that success becomes more likely after you realize that money and fame aren't the goal. I was fortunate to realize this shortly after I turned 30.

I think it's pretty clear that I've experienced more worldly "success" since abandoning my frantic efforts to achieve it, and focusing instead on the kinds of things that actually make us happy.

As many philosophers (and now scientists) have noted, "success" doesn't make you happy. Become happy, and you'll improve your chances of "success."

UPDATE: Eric Barker has a good summary of The Happiness Advantage on his blog.

(This post originally appeared as a comment on Adam Rifkin's, a very cool online community)


Michele Pesula Kuegler said...


I will sum up my thoughts in two words:

so true.

Foobarista said...

I always regarded technical success in the Valley by whether stuff you did is being widely used, whether or not you got rich off it. In my case, the db engines I've worked on, PostgreSQL and an embedded engine few have ever heard about, are (indirectly) used by hundreds of millions of people daily.

Frankly, I'm far less impressed by someone who coaxed someone out of a few mill or goosed an IPO, followed by a quick exit and tech death. If tech is about changing the world, the verdict of the wide world is what ultimately matters.

Chris said...


I'm glad you liked the post!


There's a reason I put "successful" in quotes. People put far too much emphasis on money, simply because it's the easiest way to keep score.

Making a difference makes people far happier than making a buck.