Today is my birthday. It was my birthday exactly a year ago too. I don’t remember much about it, except James and I definitely took a night off from working on Beyond (our startup), snapped open some beers (finally legal!), and played Borderlands late into the night.
It’s almost unnerving how much has changed in a year. Last November, I was hustling away in Vancouver, building Beyond, always stressing over it. Is our technology good enough? Can I get it there? Of everything, I most vividly remember biking home at two in the morning, from the Hootsuite office to downtown Vancouver apartment - a half-hour freezing ride along the eerie shores of False Creek, the rare lamp-post giving vision and promising warmth ahead. Now, I’m back in good ol’ Waterloo, cozily indoors, counting down the days until finals, the weeks until I can enjoy the lazy Californian sunlight without a care in the world.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate in the past year. A life-changing experience in building a startup with my best friend. Happily going to school with amazing friends and classmates. Interning at one of my dream companies, and soon working at another one. Some valuable lessons I’ve realized this year, from …
Discipline: Complaints and excuses are for losers. Don’t make them. Just do it.
A good engineer engineers. The best engineer communicates.
After a certain threshold, we all know the same algorithms, can write the same code. Few can design logically, fewer can write design docs coherently, and even fewer can roadmap clearly. Work on those skills.
Read How to Read a Book - a tip from my manager. My favourite book of the year. (Aside: I actually wrote a detailed essay on more valuable lessons I learned at Google, but HR told me not to publish it ☹️)
The most common mistake is not poor communication, or bad focus, or whatever. People make too many excuses about not knowing basic algorithms and data structures, or rudimentary nuances of their programming language of choice.
Study from “Elements of Programming Interviews”, the secret weapon of Googlers. Warning: it’s hard stuff. If you can dedicate yourself to learn everything in this book, I will personally refer you to Google (or Quora).
Everything on the exam is covered in class or homework.
There really is no secret to getting stellar grades. Study patiently, be humble, and be meticulous.
“True happiness comes from within”. But it is also earned - you can’t grow flowers by just planting seeds.
Habits are only habits after three months of consistency.
Understand what motivates people around you (friends, classmates, SO, etc). And accept them for who they are.
Sleep is the fuel of life. Don’t skimp on it.
Goals for this year
Be a good person. “Good” as in kind, thoughtful, and compassionate.