Developing Perspective

#100: Showing Up.


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:05   Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing news of note in iOS development, Apple, and the like.

00:00:08   I'm your host, David Smith. I'm an independent iOS and Mac developer based in Herne, Virginia.

00:00:13   This is show number 100, and today is Wednesday, December 12th.

00:00:17   Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes, so let's get started.

00:00:21   Like I just said, this is episode 100 of Developing Perspective,

00:00:25   which is certainly an opportunity to take advantage of the kind of odd thing that people love to do,

00:00:29   do where we latch onto nice big round numbers and give them extra weight and extra value

00:00:34   because they're nice, big, and round.

00:00:37   And so basically, yeah, I've been doing Developing Perspective for quite a while now, and it's

00:00:41   kind of exciting to actually get to episode 100.

00:00:44   I think I started with a few beta episodes and I've done a couple of interviews, so I've

00:00:48   done more than 100.

00:00:49   But this is certainly episode 100 of the main episodes that I do, and it's kind of exciting

00:00:55   to arrive there.

00:00:56   and to at this point to have an audience,

00:00:58   to be the people who are listening to this right now,

00:01:00   to hear hopefully the experiences I've shared

00:01:03   and the things I've learned from being an independent iOS developer.

00:01:06   It's kind of exciting.

00:01:08   I don't know where this is going to go.

00:01:10   I don't know how long I'll be doing the show,

00:01:12   but at least for a while this has been something that's kind of cool,

00:01:15   and it's nice to hit a big milestone and see what it took to get here.

00:01:19   So for today, what I'm going to talk about is,

00:01:24   I guess, I think the title of this episode is probably going to end up being "Showing

00:01:28   Up."

00:01:29   I make up titles at the end of the shows just kind of based on my gut, based on, you know,

00:01:33   so I just talked for 15 minutes and see kind of what sticks.

00:01:36   You know, there's no complicated other methodology.

00:01:39   It's not like a 5x5 show with this whole system and voting and thing.

00:01:43   I'm just thinking about it as I go, and my guess is sometimes ahead of the time I know

00:01:47   what I'm going to do, I think this one's just going to be "Showing Up."

00:01:50   And I think about that because it is episode 100,

00:01:53   and it's an interesting opportunity to kind of think about that,

00:01:56   and to think about how do you get to a place like this?

00:02:00   What are the steps that it takes?

00:02:02   And this applies to anything. It applies to apps.

00:02:05   I'll probably be using a lot of app examples just because that's what I do.

00:02:08   But you think about it as recently and often,

00:02:12   there's all these articles that tend to get sent around or get written about,

00:02:17   I think there's a recent one titled,

00:02:20   "Is this the end of the indie app developer?"

00:02:24   There's a couple about looking at the success of Fantastic

00:02:28   Hal and Letterpress and talking about,

00:02:30   is that a pattern that you could repeat?

00:02:33   Or are those the outliers?

00:02:36   And the thing is, whenever I see all of these things,

00:02:39   it creates this funny set of expectations that it kind of

00:02:43   It comes from a place that your goal in creating something

00:02:47   is for it to be wildly successful.

00:02:50   Broadly speaking, I would say if that's your goal,

00:02:54   if you're developing something for the purpose

00:02:58   of it being wildly successful,

00:03:00   you're almost certainly going to fail.

00:03:02   I don't say that to be harsh or to be unkind,

00:03:05   but in my experience, and this is kind of the flow

00:03:07   that I've walked through as I've been an app developer,

00:03:10   as I've gone through this process.

00:03:12   I remember when I was first starting out,

00:03:14   I was always all focused on the money.

00:03:18   I was focused on can I make enough revenue,

00:03:19   can I make enough revenue, it's the business side of it.

00:03:23   And what I found very quickly is that

00:03:26   money is a terrible motivator, at least for me,

00:03:30   mostly because it's nice that it's countable,

00:03:34   it's nice that it's measurable,

00:03:35   it's nice that it's something that you can kind of

00:03:37   wrap your head around, but ultimately,

00:03:39   Money is something that you'll never have enough of, probably, and you'll never be content

00:03:44   with how much you have.

00:03:46   I mean, struggling with contentment is a whole life, broader life question.

00:03:51   But broadly speaking, I've never known anybody who was kind of like, "You know, I make enough

00:03:55   money.

00:03:56   I'm good with where I am."

00:03:58   Very few people kind of have that mindset, and I think especially the entrepreneurial

00:04:02   type of person is very rarely going to fall there.

00:04:05   I mean, I think there was a great--

00:04:06   I think it was Larry Ellison.

00:04:07   And it's like, how much money do you want to make?

00:04:11   And he was talking about it's like, well,

00:04:12   I just want to make at least one more dollar.

00:04:14   It's like, you have that mindset.

00:04:15   It's like, no matter how much money you have,

00:04:16   you have billions of dollars.

00:04:18   If you're a kind of person who has an entrepreneurial spirit,

00:04:20   you're probably always going to be wanting

00:04:21   to be seeking out that next thing, the big next thing.

00:04:25   And so money then becomes a terrible motivator

00:04:28   because you'll never get there.

00:04:31   And as soon as you--

00:04:32   if your goal and your thing that you're reaching for is something

00:04:34   you'll never achieve, you'll kind of fall flat.

00:04:39   It gets very depressing very quickly,

00:04:41   or it just kind of loses its edge.

00:04:44   And so then for me, after I kind of came to grips with that

00:04:47   and stopped focusing so much on the money,

00:04:48   I started focusing a little bit on the,

00:04:52   I guess you could call it popularity.

00:04:54   And this gets into, you know,

00:04:56   how many total downloads can I get?

00:04:59   How many followers do I have on Twitter?

00:05:00   How many people listen to my podcast?

00:05:02   You know, these kind of things that are also measurable.

00:05:04   maybe it's just my gut, I'm a bit of a spreadsheet nerd,

00:05:09   but I love thinking about and talking about things

00:05:12   that I can measure, and so I started to kind of

00:05:15   focusing on that, and that's great, and that's interesting,

00:05:17   but the problem is ultimately,

00:05:20   you end up building things for the wrong reasons.

00:05:23   It's very, the things that you would do to build an app

00:05:27   that, if your primary goal is volume,

00:05:31   if you're trying to get in front of as many people as possible,

00:05:36   you know, kind of, which is essentially how popular can you get,

00:05:38   you'll end up chasing things that are probably not worthwhile,

00:05:41   and worthwhile in a very subjective way,

00:05:45   but worthwhile, you know, not worthwhile, nevertheless.

00:05:47   You know, you think of, you know, just go to the top list in the store,

00:05:50   and you'll see a lot of junk.

00:05:55   You'll see a lot of things that are catering to people's sort of base instincts,

00:05:56   that are catering to, you know,

00:05:58   sometimes taking advantage of people,

00:06:02   sometimes you may have misleading people.

00:06:04   There's all kinds of things that you can do

00:06:06   if you're just trying to do volume

00:06:07   that really, at the end of the day,

00:06:09   make you not necessarily the person you would want to be.

00:06:12   And, you know, this is, being from my experience,

00:06:13   and these are all sort of value judgments,

00:06:15   but, you know, in my experience,

00:06:17   that's not a great thing to be pursuant.

00:06:19   I mean, it's sort of, you know, and similarly in anything,

00:06:21   like, being popular means you're optimizing for popularity.

00:06:25   I don't know if as an engineer that's something that I want to be optimizing for.

00:06:30   There's hopefully other things that I'll talk about later that are better.

00:06:33   And so the next phase that I went into and the next thing I started talking about,

00:06:36   I'm thinking about was,

00:06:40   maybe instead of optimizing for popularity, I want to optimize for respect.

00:06:44   I had to find success for myself as being a respected member of the community.

00:06:48   And this started to get a lot closer to something that was motivating, something that was interesting.

00:06:52   I think of the now famous talk at South by Southwest

00:06:57   with Merleman and John Gruber,

00:07:01   where they were talking about keeping an ideal

00:07:04   sort of audience in mind when you're creating something

00:07:08   that you want to have in your mind,

00:07:10   a picture of who it is that you're trying to impress,

00:07:12   who it is that you're trying to reach out to

00:07:14   and kind of grab onto.

00:07:17   And that was much, for a long time,

00:07:20   that was much, much, much more helpful

00:07:19   was to be thinking in those ways. I'm trying to write an app that the designers I admire

00:07:23   would think is good and nice looking. The developers I admire would think

00:07:27   is well built. That the reporters and authors

00:07:31   I would like would think is worth reviewing. Those types of things.

00:07:35   And again, you get, having that externality of

00:07:39   quality is certainly helpful, especially as you're trying to define and navigate your own tastes.

00:07:44   That got me pretty close, and for a lot of people,

00:07:46   I'd say that's a good place to start,

00:07:48   of trying to define success for yourself as,

00:07:52   what does it look like, who are you trying to impress?

00:07:57   Who would you love to say, wow, this is a cool thing?

00:08:01   Is that, are you going after a certain celebrity

00:08:05   or certain sports figure, whatever?

00:08:08   Is it a technical author, is it a blogger?

00:08:12   You say like, oh man, I'd love to be written up on these sites.

00:08:16   I'd love to have so and so know that so and so uses my app.

00:08:20   Those are cool things.

00:08:22   But ultimately, what I found struggling with that is that's also very difficult

00:08:25   because it's an external thing.

00:08:28   And you're starting to chase-- you kind of end up chasing your tail

00:08:31   because you're not that person.

00:08:33   You don't know what they like.

00:08:34   You can kind of infer it maybe from other things.

00:08:37   But the reality is you have to feel internally

00:08:41   that what you're doing is worthwhile, that you have to think what you're doing is excellent.

00:08:45   And it's perhaps a trite thing to say, but

00:08:48   in the end of the day you need to be optimizing, I think,

00:08:51   for whatever you think is quality.

00:08:53   And for me, if I had to characterize what I would say success is at this point,

00:08:58   is being able on a daily basis to make things that I'm proud of.

00:09:03   And

00:09:05   that applies to all kinds of things. That applies to the apps I make, that applies to the shows I do,

00:09:09   that applies to the things I write.

00:09:11   Across the board, that's success.

00:09:14   It's not really, it's not how much money I make,

00:09:15   it's not how many people think I'm cool,

00:09:18   what my popularity is, by whatever measure.

00:09:21   It's not how many people respect the work I do.

00:09:23   Those are all nice things.

00:09:24   Those are all perhaps essential things,

00:09:26   especially money, in terms of for me to continue.

00:09:29   But success is, can I continue on a day-to-day basis

00:09:33   in creating things that I'm proud of?

00:09:35   And when I look at my portfolio,

00:09:36   especially the work I've done recently,

00:09:38   That's been my goal and that's what I'm striving towards.

00:09:42   And that's what helps me to show up every day.

00:09:45   That's what, when I'm getting frustrated,

00:09:48   it's, am I proud of this?

00:09:49   No, well then I probably shouldn't ship it.

00:09:51   Then I probably should work harder on it.

00:09:53   Then I should probably make something better.

00:09:56   And it's helped me to avoid a lot of traps.

00:09:59   It's helped me to make better choices

00:10:03   to kind of have that as my mindset

00:10:05   and to be what I'm kind of working towards.

00:10:07   I say that on the show, on episode 100 specifically, because I know a lot of people who get stuck

00:10:14   in one of the earlier categories, where they start beating themselves up on, "They make

00:10:22   an app and it doesn't sell well. It doesn't make enough money." Or they are doing something

00:10:27   and they think it's really cool, but no one else does. Or they build something trying

00:10:36   to impress other people rather than trying to impress themselves, the negative forms

00:10:42   of those first three traits.

00:10:44   And they end up, as a result, not doing things anymore, that they get discouraged, that they

00:10:49   stop working on things.

00:10:51   And that's far more of a tragedy.

00:10:52   What I love are the people who make things that they think are cool, that they're proud

00:10:58   of, and that when they, like someone who shows me an app that they've built, that they're

00:11:03   proud of, you can kind of tell when they show it to you.

00:11:05   and they're like, "Hey man, check this out.

00:11:06   "Look what I did."

00:11:08   And it's like, even if that's something

00:11:09   that I would never use, or whatever,

00:11:12   I don't think there's a market for it.

00:11:13   There's lots of other things that go into it.

00:11:15   But it's a success if they think

00:11:17   that that was worth building.

00:11:19   And that's kind of where you start.

00:11:22   And I've had some people talk to me

00:11:23   about developing a perspective.

00:11:24   This show, what you're listening to now,

00:11:27   how it got to where it is, and all these things,

00:11:29   like if I had any insights or thoughts

00:11:31   of that for other people.

00:11:33   And the reality is, for a long time,

00:11:35   and to some degree now,

00:11:38   I'm just a guy sitting in a closet,

00:11:40   reading, sort of talking into a microphone.

00:11:42   There's no one outside necessarily validating that.

00:11:45   You know, I can look at the download numbers, I guess,

00:11:47   and see how many people are doing it,

00:11:48   and it's nice to hear from people when they say,

00:11:50   hey, it's great, I really appreciate it,

00:11:52   you helped me, you motivated me, something like that.

00:11:55   But you have to be comfortable just doing it.

00:11:58   If it is just you in a room making something,

00:12:00   you have to think that that thing is worth making,

00:12:02   without those other parts, because otherwise

00:12:06   you're going to get very discouraged very quickly.

00:12:09   That's just the experience I had.

00:12:10   When I was chasing after money as a goal,

00:12:14   it's like, "Oh, great, I made it more than I did

00:12:18   "the month before, that's great.

00:12:21   "I guess I need to do that again and again and again."

00:12:24   You're chasing your tail again.

00:12:25   If I want to be more and more popular,

00:12:27   it's like I start optimizing for the lowest

00:12:28   common denominator and that's kind of lame.

00:12:31   Or if I start, you know, caring too much

00:12:33   about what other people think about me,

00:12:35   then I start straying from things that I think are important

00:12:38   and start, you know, creating my value from other people,

00:12:42   which is probably not a wise thing to do.

00:12:45   So anyway, that's kind of the thought I have.

00:12:47   It's probably a bit hand-wavy and a little less practical.

00:12:49   Maybe I'll get back to my practical series next week

00:12:52   or in our next show, but I just kind of wanted

00:12:54   to think about it.

00:12:55   It's something I've been thinking about kind of

00:12:56   as I hit a milestone of saying, you know,

00:12:58   "How did I get here?"

00:13:00   reality is I just kept sitting down in front of a microphone and talking.

00:13:06   The whole time I was concerned and worried about how do I make what I'm doing better,

00:13:10   how do I improve the quality of it, how do I make myself more and more proud of what

00:13:14   I'm doing.

00:13:15   I think if you do that or apply that to almost anything, you'll be in a good shape.

00:13:18   You'll be constantly making better and better things.

00:13:21   You'll constantly be motivated to keep making good things.

00:13:24   You'll be able to kill your darlings more easily because you'll look at something and

00:13:27   and say, I don't care if other people will like it,

00:13:31   I don't care if it'll make me money,

00:13:32   I don't care if it will gain me respect to some degree.

00:13:36   What I want is for me to be proud of what I'm doing,

00:13:39   and if I'm doing something I'm not particularly proud of,

00:13:41   maybe that's not what I should be doing.

00:13:43   Anyways, that's today's show.

00:13:45   As always, if you have questions, comments,

00:13:46   concerns or complaints, I'm on Twitter @_davidsmith,

00:13:50   and I'm on AppNet @davidsmith.

00:13:52   And I just wanted to mention,

00:13:54   and it's probably worth doing,

00:13:56   But I have a bunch of people who ask about,

00:13:59   sort of, oh, do you do sponsorships,

00:14:01   do you do all those kinds of things?

00:14:03   And the reality is I don't.

00:14:04   And at this point, I don't really necessarily expect to

00:14:06   at any point in the future.

00:14:08   Who knows, but how do I support this?

00:14:10   It's like, how do I support the show?

00:14:12   If you had a sponsor, it's like I could buy their product

00:14:14   or whatever.

00:14:15   And the reality is, if you're a listener

00:14:17   and you find the show useful and you like it,

00:14:19   the best thing you can do if you want to support it

00:14:21   is to tell someone who doesn't know about it about it.

00:14:26   talk to a friend, talk to a colleague,

00:14:28   mention it on Twitter, doing those kinds of things

00:14:30   to hopefully help the content of it

00:14:33   reach a broader audience.

00:14:35   That's the number one thing you can do

00:14:36   if you wanted to support the show

00:14:38   is just to tell someone who you think could benefit from it.

00:14:42   But otherwise, that's it for the show,

00:14:44   and I will talk to you later.

00:14:46   Happy coding, bye.