“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”
Three weeks ago I quit my job at Apple and joined Strobe Inc. as a full-time engineer. My job is to start work on a new project under the SproutCore 2.0 umbrella called SproutCore UI. The goal of the project is to provide a UI layer for building complex, app-like experiences on the web.
When I was trying to decide which company to join, I had the mother of all first-world-problems: I had to choose between multiple amazing offers from amazing companies with amazing people. During the process of deciding where to go, Einstein’s quote played a part in shaping my decision. Of all the choices, I decided to join Strobe for its combination of ambition, people, and focus. All qualities I think are essential for a company’s success.
Strobe is attempting to provide a platform for web developers to build, deploy, and maintain amazing web apps. It’s no small task and involves multiple moving parts coming together, but the promise is great. If Strobe succeeds, the web will be a better place. The task isn’t simply to build the “Heroku for ____”, rather, it’s to change the way people think about architecting and building applications, and to set the tone for how the mobile web will evolve.
I never want to question the impact of what I’m working on. I never want to feel like I’ve settled for something, nor that I’m content with my current situation. I found a company trying to achieve the improbable in Strobe. When I told people about what Strobe was trying to do, I was faced with skepticism regarding the challenges it faced. That skepticism served as a validation to me: Don’t try to do the doable, try do the impossible.
I work with some brilliant people at Strobe. Not only is everyone accomplished, but they are also humble, approachable, and friendly. I knew most of the people in the engineering team before I joined, so I knew what I was getting myself into. Regardless, it’s much different in the trenches. Nobody at Strobe eats lunch alone. No uncertainties go unquestioned, no statements go unheard, and no ideas go un-vetted.
There are a few reasons why that played a role in my decision to join Strobe: Firstly, it allows me to absorb an immense amount of technical knowledge from people much smarter than I am. Secondly, it provides me with unprecedented access to the web community. To affect change at scale, I believe you need to not only have the will, but also the means. At Strobe, I believe that we have the means to change things for the better. Finally, I believe that the type of people you work with can have a dramatic effect on the happiness and the quality of work I produce, and I’m confident that my coworkers at Strobe will bring out the best in me.
The most important lesson I learned from my time at Apple is focus. I’ve seen large companies flail and waste their time and energy in vain, I’ve seen teams break apart because of a lack of direction, and I’ve seen driven people grow complacent because of a lack of vision.
Late last year, I got a chance to spend a day working at etsy’s offices in Brooklyn. I was taken aback by the focus of their team, and the do-or-die attitude that I sensed in their office. I had the same sense talking to the different people at Strobe, and it has turned out to be very true.
At Strobe, everyone knows what we’re building, why we’re building it, and who we’re building it for. This laser-like focus ensures that talent isn’t wasted, and resources are put to good use.
I’m writing this at 11 PM on a Thursday. The office is full, and everyone is excited. There’s a sense of urgency in the air, and everyone is working towards a single end-goal. I live for moments like this. Everyone on the engineering team understands what’s at stake, and believes that we are in a position to deliver the best solution.
I don’t know how everything will play out, but what I do know is that everyone involved will work their butts off and whatever we do produce will have an impact. There’s no way for it not to.
Gruber recently linked to a quote that rang very true to me:
“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”
– Daniel Burnham
I can’t wait to come to work tomorrow.