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Attempting to be as accomplished/skilled as the union of people you read on the Internet is a fool's errand. You have to accept you'll never know everything and that, for almost all things, there will be someone -- or a lot of someones -- much better than you.

Pretend you were working at a company with a hundred engineers. Do you understand how easy it is for every single one of them to simultaneously feel like you do? The React mavens feel like they're just knocking together JS and wonder when they'll be allowed to do real engineering. The backend specialists wonder why they don't understand networking or servers better. The DevOps folks envy folks who build things. The American office wonders why they can't speak foreign languages; the German office marvels that anyone can learn Japanese; the Japanese office worries their English isn't up to the global standard.

There's nothing wrong in specialization -- it's how we stay sane. A very workable and easy to understand formula early in your career is specialize in two things; you don't have to be better at X and better at Y than everyone you meet, you have to be "better at X than anyone who is better at Y" and "better at Y than anyone who is better at X." This is very, very achievable, regardless of how highly competent your local set of peers is.

Also, unsolicted advice as a sidenote, but life is too short to spend overly much time in negative work environments. Assuming the negativity isn't coming from you, changing environments to one of the (numerous!) places where happy people do good work might be an improvement.


I'm a little skeptical of the accuracy of the info released to the public.

Thing is, companies lie when they talk to the press. Or they release a number with no context behind it, which will be interpreted differently by outsiders than insiders. Or the press makes up a number when the company refuses to release it. Or the company chooses not to get press coverage for an event that's pretty important.

When I've had inside information about a story that later breaks in the tech press, I'm always shocked at how differently it's perceived by readers of the article vs. how I experienced it. Among startups & major feature launches I've been party to, I've seen: executives that flat-out say that they're not working on a product category when there's been a whole department devoted to it for a year; startups that were founded 1.5 years before the dates listed in Crunchbase/Wikipedia; reporters that count the number of people they meet in a visit and report that as a the "team size", because the company refuses to release that info; funding rounds that never make it to the press; acquisitions that are reported as "for an undisclosed sum" but actually are less than the founders would've made if they'd taken a salaried job at the company; project start dates that are actually when the project was staffed up to its current size and ignore the year or so that a small team spent working on the problem (or the 3-4 years that other small teams spent working on the problem); and algorithms or other technologies that are widely reported as being the core of the company's success, but actually aren't even used by the company.

I figure that if such a high percentage of what I do know about is misreported, most of what I don't know about but hear from the tech media is probably wrong too. Ironically, the effect of having a little inside information isn't to make me feel well informed; it's to make me realize how uninformed everyone else is, often including top decision-makers at companies.


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