Arcade 1.0: Just The Beginning
We pushed Arcade to version 1.0 this week.
The effort started a few months ago after showing a proof of concept to a bunch of potential customers. The feedback we got was overall really positive, however the interviews exposed some flaws within the design.
For one, how we define "design token" has changed drastically. Armed with the feedback from our interviewees, I reworked the entire API and interface to meet their needs. It took longer than expected, but I'm so happy with the results.
Some of the features I've built are really next-level, and I am so excited to get our first customers onboard. I'm tempted to send a Tweet out saying "so who wants to use it?"
Honestly, I think Arcade is already a million dollar company. I think Arcade can be a billion dollar company. This team is filled with talent, and our market is poised to grow immensely.
The list of ideas we have keeps growing as we dive deeper and deeper into this niche. The possibilities are endless.
While I'm proud of the progress we've made, I know this is just the beginning.
Makers Choice Awards
Today, levelsio Tweeted this:
And I asked if there would be a prize for the winner. He asked if I had any ideas. I replied:
After thinking about the idea, I thought damn, this is a pretty good idea! I think the community would really rally around awards for makers, chosen by makers.
I like to imagine it as ProductHunt, but for makers already on their journey. We'd choose a "class" every week or two (rate TBD), and the community would vote on their favorite. Factors we'd account for is the actual business performance, how well they're building in public, traction, design, performance, etc. Then myself and other high-profile community members would help determine the winner from the top-voted.
This would also be a fun project to build in public myself. It'd be a cool opportunity to engage the community, and a situation where I can document my process for building these sorts of things. With that type of content being produced, I'd be able to use it to promote across different mediums like Twitter and YouTube, and hopefully help in reaching my 1k or Bust goal.
My only concern is burnout. I really want to focus on Arcade, but I also feel the need to build something that I can do for fun and document without worrying about leaking competitive information.
I'd love to not work alone on this. I'd love to build this with others. I'd love to have others contribute to the design. And I'd love to figure out a way to make this possible! Hmm...
I Want You To Breathe
You, reading this right now. Breathe. Take as deep of a breath as you can.
With all the things constantly happening around us, the endless list of things to do, the goals and challenges we have, the expectations and pressure to perform... it's easy to forget who's driving this ship. Your ship.
It's easy to feel like you're not in control. It's easy to feel like you're on rails, like there's no other option other than to do what's next on the list. It's easy to think about what's next so often that you lose the moment you're in right now.
So I'm here to remind you that you don't have to do those things. You can stand up right now. You can walk out that door and go for a walk wherever the land beneath you stretches. You can leave that meeting. You. Can do. Anything.
Let's do an experiment: look at your right hand. Now think to yourself, "I'm going to lift this hand and put it in the air." Now, on your own time, on your own volition, raise your hand for no other reason because you can.
Now think: when was the last time you did something because you can? Not because you were supposed to or that it's a habit of yours. The last time you made the conscious effort to think "I'm going to do this."
For me, it's been a while. I forgot my freedom today. I forgot that I do things because I choose to, not because I have to. I feel like I snapped out of a trance.
To fix this, I promised myself I'm going to exercise my free-will muscle tomorrow. I'm not going to do anything unless I want to. Not because I have to or that it's expected. What will that entail? I'm not sure, that's for future present-moment me to decide.
I'm challenging you to do it too: really think about what you're doing. Why are you doing it? If the answer isn't "because I want to", stop doing it. Take back control for at least a few seconds. Breathe. Raise your right hand. Remember your power.
And most importantly, despite the world around us making it so easy: don't forget your free will.
Standing in the swallowing shadows,
shoulder to shoulder with those beside.
A shimmering sight of what could be,
where walled impression of stone stands high.
Tall as ten-fold and built to be seen,
the towering wall attempts to hide.
Many ignore its plain disguise and
the freeing truths of what lay inside.
Out from those shadows there will rise
a Hero’s quest and battle cry.
The hero builds so he can find
where he belongs on the other side.
A doubtful feat but worth his life;
a choice to live or just survive.
With all his will and all his might,
he pushes through, he starts to fight.
Covered dark within the black of night,
the wall that stands will fall tonight.
To take what is his dying right—
aid his efforts or stand aside?
Write With Purpose
Misery Loves An Audience is my best performing post and my personal favorite. I keep wondering why that is.
Then today, Paul Graham tweeted this:
And I think that's it. Misery had a point. It had a purpose. The reason for that post was clear, it was educational, and there was something the reader can take away. It wasn't preachy but dense and concise.
So moving forward, I'm going to make it a goal of mine to write with purpose—to make sure you, the reader, can take something away from every post.
That doesn't mean posts will get longer, in fact I'll try to do the opposite: say the most in the fewest amount of words. It's going to be hard. And if you don't believe me, here's a quote from Mark Twain:
I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.
So what's today's point? Join me in trying to be intentional with your words. Speak and write with purpose. Make your words matter. Every character counts.
My Typical Winter Day
I put Winter in the title because my schedule drastically changes when the weather is nice. Lots more outside time, hanging with friends, and bike rides.
This schedule also fluctuates drastically every day, so take the times with a grain of salt.
10:30am: Wake up, catch up with brothers, sisters, and parents also working in the house, check updates on phone.
11am: Open laptop, check in on Slack and emails. Start coding by working on an easy problem.
11:30am-4pm: Focused work. Get majority of work done here. Usually a bowl of cereal or light snack in here. Sometimes a coffee. Sometimes lunch.
4pm-6pm: Lift and work. This is something new I've been trying and it's been going really well! I bring my laptop to the basement, blast some music, pump out some sets and write code in-between. Surprisingly productive.
6pm-6:30pm: Finish up work for the day. Knock out what I wanted to finish, decide what I'll want to do tomorrow. I'm realizing now I do this each day. I never want to wake up not knowing what I'll work on.
6:30-7:30pm: Consume enough food to feed a small African village, shower, protein shake. Laptop is closed at this point. Lots of guitar strumming in this time.
7:30pm-9:30pm: Chill, watch TV with parents, play chess, write my daily blog post, phone time.
10pm-1am: Gaming with my brother and cousin or friends. This is actually a super important part of my day. This is where the majority of my social time comes from. The laughs, the catching up, the fun. If I skip this, it noticeably affects the next day's productivity.
That's usually what my day looks like!
Some comments: yes, I sleep in! Sometimes I'll start my mornings a bit earlier (that's more of a summer thing), but the sleep is nice and don't really want to wake up earlier if I don't have to. Plus, the late night is way more valuable to me.
Yeah, I don't have a ton of meetings usually, so my work is usually pretty packed into the middle of the day.
Because I operate on my own schedule with the late mornings and late nights, some people think I don't do anything all day. I hear it in their tone of voice and the way they talk about what I do. They think I'm lazy, and sometimes equate me to being unemployed. That really frustrates and annoys me.
I take pride in how hyper-focused I get in the middle of the day, and my current and past teammates can attest to that better than anyone. Having the freedom and liberty to make my schedule does not make me lazy. In fact I'd say it's the opposite: it's a benefit of starting a business. That's not easy.
Anyways, I really appreciate this thread for that reason—it's really cool to see how different people operate on their own time.
We all have the same number of hours in the day, and that's how I spend mine.
This weekend, Facebook and Twitter banned the current President of the United States from their platforms.
Think about that: two private companies effectively cut the pipeline between a
world leader President and hundreds of millions of people.
That begs the question: who is more powerful here? Who is really running the country?
If the most powerful person in the world can be silenced, do they really deserve that title?
Maybe, maybe not. But the move this weekend can't be understated— Jack and The Zuck flexed their muscles and put on a display of power for the world to see: it doesn't matter who you are, we're the captains of our own ships.
And with such a huge audience on those platforms, it effectively acts as a new form of checks and balances. An arbiter of truth and reason. A new form of oversight with the very important ability to punish.
And yes, this punishment really hurts those in power. Like I've said before, misery loves an audience. Taking away a leader's microphone cuts them at the jugular.
We're entering a new stage of corporate governance. A world where private companies wield an immense amount of power and leverage.
What's happening? The little blue bird really spread its wings this weekend. What started as a small social network app now shapes the future of the world's most powerful seat.
Growth Strategy: Evolved
I had an idea to create a weekly recap of these posts, showing an overview of the blog's performance that week. Not just including quantitative metrics, but also qualitative data like how I felt writing that week and what my favorite post was.
The first weekly recap was posted on Twitter yesterday, and the reception was great.
In fact, that Tweet drove a ton of traffic here. From that Tweet alone (and in conjunction with yesterday's post), we're up to 103 total views. It was 68 two days ago.
In my 1K or Bust post, I said how my strategy for growth was going to evolve. These weekly recaps will definitely be a recurring thing for the growth benefits alone. It'll also be good to have a record of my progress.
And let me just say, having people actually consume what I'm producing feels so good. It's hard to convey how excited it makes me.
So, thank you for reading.
Just Say Yes
Almost every bit of luck I've encountered has been a direct result of me just saying yes.
The Honors College needed more applications: I said yes, and got in.
My friend that worked for a production company needed some extras for the background: I said yes (on a cold, wet, December morning) and ended up meeting my first serious girlfriend.
A class was being offered on design systems at my school. 9am and online (yawn), but I said yes, and ended up meeting my good friend and co-founder Dan Mall.
Even the most random "sure why not" trips with my friends were some of the best moments of my life.
There is almost no downside to saying yes either. What's the worst that can happen? You miss some couch time with your phone? Neither your couch nor your phone are going anywhere.
And yet, the potential upsides are limitless. Anything can happen—but if you don't put yourself in a situation for something to happen, nothing will.
So, I challenge you: just say yes. Break out of your comfort zone, see what's out there, live your life.
Opportunity is everywhere, you just have to put yourself in a position to find it.
Make Work Not Suck
I hit such a sick flow state today.
Brought my laptop down to the basement and would code while lifting, in-between sets. Somehow it was the most productive work session of the week. The blood was flowing, the code was pumping, it was great. I felt like Christian Bale from The Big Short.
(Yes, I'm aware of the code-bro bucket this post is putting me into. That's for a different post.)
My work day starts around 10:30am, and goes until around 4 or 5pm. In that time, I'm able to juice out about 4 hours of good, quality work. Everything else is kind of fluff. And that's working until I can't any more. Those times fluctuate day-to-day.
Why are typical work days 8 or 9 hours? Meetings, bloat, whatever. I'm glad I don't have to deal with it. Getting through a work day after waking up at 6:30 in the morning was horrible.
Glad I don't have to do any of that anymore.
Regardless of the timing of things, I'm more productive than I've ever been before. My time is my time, and when I use it how I want... that's when I'm most effective.
And I think that applies to most people. Find where, when, and what atmosphere you're most effective in. It makes the work easier and way more fun, and it can be entirely unique.
Working from home has its advantages, so use them before the world wakes up from the pandemic.
Make work not suck, at least for a little while.
Misery Loves An Audience
It'd be naive to think technology isn't directly responsible for today's events.
Populism and cults of personality can only rise through media. It's their bread and butter for promoting their own idealized image and their strongest outlet for creating an enemy to hate; a "rival cult". Previously this media took the form of radio, cassettes, newspapers, pamphlets, etc.
Media, the plural form of medium: "an agency or means of doing something."
Today, media mainly takes the form of Facebook, Twitter, and television.
It's our responsibility in the tech industry to understand how what we build might further polarization. This will prove difficult, especially for those contributing to those companies I mentioned. The goal of social networks aligns pretty damn well with the goal of a populist—both more or less interested in reaching the widest possible audience.
With such aligned values and the deteriorating state of wealth inequality, 45 won't be the last populist we see. It is our responsibility to recognize the signs of a cult personality and actively take away their tools of growth; their agency, their means of doing something.
Disable them from spreading lies. Cut the legs out from under them. Take away their largest audience. Encourage objective truth in the face of subjectivity.
We win as a country when we stick together. A leader who appeals to our most primal instincts to foster division will only create a losing situation for everyone, like we saw tonight. We have to do better.
I encourage you to read the Wikipedia entry for Cult of Personality I linked above, and to specifically look at the "Role of Mass Media" section. I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the article, from Robert N. Bellah:
It is hard to determine the extent to which the media reflect the cult of personality in American politics and to what extent they have created it. Surely they did not create it all alone, but just as surely they have contributed to it.
Also, today's my birthday.
One Quality Every Programmer Needs
It's impossible to succeed as a programmer if you are impatient.
Today I spent hours messing with a component to make it work how I needed it to and it made me think of this. In fact, every project is a battle of attrition between myself and the problems. If I was impatient, the table my laptop sits on would be flipped daily.
Now I'm not saying I don't lose my patience, that happens at least once a week. The patience doesn't come easily though, the hard part is getting used to failure. Failing at solving small problems over and over again.
When I was first starting out, I never understood how my brother Kevin just knew how to solve these problems. I never thought I'd get over the frustration of failing.
But now I know: get used to it. Fail till you don't feel frustrated anymore. Fail till you develop patience and learn to operate within frustration. Fail till there's only one way out. Fail till the only thing left to do is succeed. Fail till you don't.
Fail till you win.
2021: The Year of Arcade
I like to think you guys are salivating at the mouth waiting for me to skip a day.
Well at ease soldiers, that day is not today.
Anyways first day back on the Arcade grind after the winter break and DAMN it felt good to get back on it. The product is so close to being ready for some real-world testing, just a few tweaks to go. And man, it's really exciting. Some of the features we've cooked up are pretty killer, and I think a lot of developers and designers are gonna be pretty hyped once they see what we got. It'll change the game.
Today Dan said "Happy 2021 all! IT’S THE YEAR OF ARCADE."
With all the moves we've been preparing over the past few months, it feels like we've been winding up a trebuchet and the potential energy is ready to freakin send it. Part of me thinks this will unfold slowly, but most of me thinks this year is going to be just explosive. In a good way. And I'm excited to see what happens.
So, 2021 is the year of Arcade. Hell yeah it is, Dan. Hell yeah it is.
1K or Bust
Today I decided I'm going to hit 1,000 followers on Twitter by the end of the year.
Currently I'm at 210. That means 790 followers in 362 days. A little over 2 followers a day.
There's a few reasons why I want to hit this goal:
The first is because it is hard. I like challenging myself and pushing my comfort zone further and further. Marketing and growth has always been such a black box to me.
It almost seemed magical how some people could grow their Twitter account so... effortlessly. And in their replies, people care. People genuinely are interested in what they have to say. It's not some hacky thing they did to build their audience. They created fans. How the hell? It's like they manufacture themselves to be popular; not by chance, not luck, not one moment of virality, but through work. There has to be something here I can discover, so I'm going to look.
The second reason is because there are very tangible benefits to having an audience. With an audience, anything you create instantly has a core group of fans; you'll never have to start from scratch again. You can foster a community. You create relationships with people. You have an entire network at your fingertips for anything, and they care. Now THAT is valuable.
Seeing someone popular on Twitter or Instagram or YouTube was always one of those wonder-moments for me. I still remember being obsessed with Freddie Wong on his old freddiew channel. The following he had from making YouTube videos absolutely amazed me.
Now that I'm older though, I've developed this mindset of "why not me?" Why can't I be that person? What's so different about that person, and what do they have that I don't? I've realized nothing can stop me. If I want to put myself in that position, I will.
I researched how some marketers grow on Twitter and began to employ some of those strategies. I have a feeling my strategy is going to evolve and grow over time. I'll keep you updated.
And that's my mindset for gaining followers. I want to be one of those guys with fans. I don't ever want to make a post like the one I did yesterday. And I can do it. 1,000 followers is just the first goal.
Reception doesn't define the work, but a good reception makes the work easier and more enjoyable.
Reception Doesn't Define The Work
Disappointment can only exist with expectations. So when I'm feeling disappointed, I think about my expectations, and why I expected that.
Today, I feel disappointed about yesterday's announcement of the blog and the reception from Twitter.
When I'm creating a post of any kind, there's usually a few people I have in mind who I'm hoping react in a certain way. A like, a retweet, a comment, whatever. And when those certain people don't react how I hoped they would or don't even acknowledge the post, it leads to disappointment.
That's what happened yesterday.
My gut instantly thinks "oh jeez they didn't like it", but there can be a million reasons why somebody didn't react. They could've not even seen it! Especially yesterday by posting on a holiday.
But in the end, I know my happiness doesn't depend on how my work is received. Hell, if any artist did they'd all be in shambles. Shit, maybe they are. Van Gogh syndrome.
And those reactions (or lack thereof) certainly don't take anything away from the work itself.
So regardless of expectations, it's important to acknowledge to myself that I'm proud of the work I've created. And if someone I thought would like it, didn't?
So much has happened in the last year. A lot of ups, a lot of downs, and a ton of change. My only regret is not doing a better job at documenting it.
In 2021, I'm going to change that.
So every day, I'm going to write and share a little of my story. It can be however short or long and be about anything. The only requirement is that I do it once a day. I'm hoping that by flexing this writing muscle I'll become a better storyteller and do a better job at sharing my experiences.
(If you feel lost and don't know anything about me, I made a short video to fill you in: https://youtu.be/aevMlN5HCag!)
You might be thinking "yeah right, this guy's a chump", BUT, to keep me honest, every day I don't post, I'm going to give $50 to one of my Twitter followers. Then I'll have to go back and retroactively write a post for the lost day.
This might be the most expensive decision I've ever made. It may result in nothing changing, or it may be a great decision. Who knows on day one. But we're going to find out.
And that's my new year resolution.