On Validation



I suppose there are very few things occupying my mindspace right now other than the news of being awarded by Apple one of the coveted spots as a “Best App of 2014“.

I was sent into a tailspin this morning as someone tweeted that they had seen (via the French Mac App Store) the listing:

I couldn’t believe it and I almost hit another car as I was driving back from dropping my oldest off at school. Not a heart attack and thankfully not an accident either!

I drove the rest of the way home as slowly as I possibly could since my mind and heart were racing and I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing could be real. I looked it up on my device as I sat in my car and I wept, a long and ugly cry that was slightly overdue.

I pinged an old friend and partner in a previous venture and let him know the news. He congratulated me, as expected, but also mentioned that he knew me well enough to know that I was probably overcome with emotion and that I was probably doing something like this:


He was right as I kinda was.

Emotionally I was just coming down from the amazing news that Desk had been featured worldwide which I equated with what I imagined would feel like “winning the lottery.”

You see, I’ll admit that I had considered the possibility (and dreamed about it) that something like a feature in the rotating carousel could actually happen but I never even gave the thought of being awarded the top annual honor of “Best App.” That wasn’t in the realm of possibility and wasn’t something that I was trying to necessarily accomplish.

The same friend shot me over this when I had first received the news and I’ve been meditating on it every single day since then:


I’ve been working hard over the past 17 years as a developer to do work that matters and to find joy in the projects and products that I’ve built and created. I never built them for acclaim nor did I really care much for gross attention.

And, to be completely honest, none of them really warranted that kind of attention anyways. I wasn’t building ground-breaking, epic, “innovative” or game-changing apps. I was building apps focused on utility, mostly. They were simple, rather plain, and entirely “boring” from a lot of different perspectives.

Desk falls into many of those categories as well. It’s a simple app, hyper-utilitarian, and not exactly the “first” ever of its like and kind. It heavily borrows from a number of other inspiring apps. At best, it is, quite humorously, boring.

Consequently, I’ve been shocked by the response that it has gotten publicly and in the marketplace. The first weekend the app launched it sold 3 copies on Sunday – I thought that was amazing and couldn’t believe I just made ~$60! Why? Because my original goal was to sell 5 copies a day and I assumed weekdays were a bit slower.

Contrast that with today’s announcement and you can start to imagine the emotional chasm that exists between where I was 40 days ago (literally) and today. My heart has a lot of catching up to do.

For those that have just encountered “me” and “this app” I want you to know, very clearly, that I am not overly-talented nor am I amazingly-gifted. The only thing that I’ve got going for me is that I try to do my best, I work smart (and hard), and I haven’t quit. I’ll list those things for you so you can “scanners” can capture these important facts and apply them to yourselves:

  1. Work smart and hard.
  2. Don’t quit. Don’t give up.

That’s about it. That is my “secret formula” for “success,” if you will. I just simply don’t quit and I work hard. The ups and downs and side-to-sides have all come and gone and I’m sure I’ll have a ton more before I’m done. Nothing magical. Nothing that you can’t do yourself.

My father taught me those two guiding principles and they have served me really well. I hope you can take them and apply them in your own life.

My own sense of accomplishment isn’t about the award, fundamentally, but rather instead something much bigger and more important: You see, what I believed to be true was strongly validated today, the fact that working hard and not giving up is the right way to pursue work and to live life fully. What my father said was found to be true and that’s a very beautiful thing.

Whatever your pursuits are… I just hope that you’re pursuing things that matter. Things that will energize and sustain you and things that you can say, with full-confidence, is worth your hard (and smart) work and things that you will not give up on pursuing.