90% of Everything is Crap

I have been listening to DHH's 2014 Railsconf today. DHH is a very opinionated person since he invented the highly opinionated "Convention over Configuration" Ruby on Rails framework.

I love opinionated things. Unlike ExpressJS where there are so many ways to structure your app, I simply love to learn the "correct way" to build an app on Rails and shipping production-ready code fast.

Anyway, DHH was speaking about how "90% of everything is crap" such as Test Driven Development (TDD), a software development philosophy highly recommended in the industry (and taught in my undergraduate) is basically bulls**t. By being highly focused on writing modular tests, software developers often neglect the system-level priorities, such as ensuring the whole codebase is readable and structured in a way that works, instead of focusing on "passing the tests".

Back to First Principles

If you haven't realised already, the world works in an illogical way. For example, everyone says SPA frameworks like ReactJS and Microservices Architecture are the industry standard, so most software developers chose those tools by default when they just started (including myself!). However few people have the experience of using those tools and also using a traditional monolith framework like Rails/Django to be able to give a good comparison. In fact, Amazon Prime video went from Microservices to Monolith architecture and cut its cost by 90%.

I came from using Serverless Architecture + ReactJS background to Rails. While I can see the appeal in the first approach for some situations, I prefer Rails anytime now.

Another example will be automatically assuming the school you graduated from represents your abilities. During my travels, there is a huge difference in how people perceive me when they find out I am a Cornell graduate. But I am really just the same guy with or without that Ivy League degree.

The point I am making is that... the world runs on hype. Crypto, Generative AI, FAANG, Ivy League... you get it. Look through that hype-smokebomb and figure out the 10% that really matters.

Back to basics

Another quote from the video is "Everyone wants to be told how to cheat the basics". There will always be a "new diet" that says it will help you get ripped, or a "bootcamp" that get you rich.

The only way to get ripped is to put in the hours in the gym and track what you eat over a long period of time. The only way to get rich is to build up your marketable skills and take risks.

Maybe its the asian in me, but I am a very no-bulls**t person, and maybe that's why I do not fit the typical startup founder persona (extroverted and pitching all the time). I focus my time on moving the progress needle forward such as finding out what customers want and building it.

Know and focus on what matters

I have been scrolling Instagram Reels recently and 1 quote hit me hard: "A man without purpose distracts himself with pleasure". So true!

I have been in jobs I did not enjoy and I remember those dreadful days when the things I looked forward to the most was watching Netflix at the end of the day.

Isn't that such a waste of life?

What makes me really happy isn't endless vacation or money (those are still important though!), but a sense of purpose, even if it means waking up early and grinding the whole day away. My happiest days so far was working on my first startup out of coffeeshops in Vietnam. I would wake up at 630am, rush to a coffeeshop to grab a seat, code until 9pm for 6-7 days a week. I was poor and tired but looking forward to the grind everyday.

Even though the startup didn't make it, that sense of purpose made me really happy. Related to the Superpowers in my first post, staying consistent and focused on what matters is key to fulfillment.

So, filter through the crap and listen to your heart.