One particular gig was about scrapping data from a car sales website which I completed for $30 (should have cost at least 10x). The client discussed about the possibility of converting the phone numbers, which were obfuscated as plain images, to plain text. Without ado, I fired up my editor to explore the problem. It proved to atrociously difficult as I didn't have any background in anything similar but with the help from my brother, I was able to make a scrappy algorithm that worked.
I reported back my progress and asked for additional $25 for it but the client refused, saying that he hadn't given his final say. I was dejected but felt foolish more than anything else. Looking back, I can't help think how anyone would pain in giving something as meagre as $25 (at least, for someone in United States) for a someone's hard work.
If there is one thing I can glean from my story and author's is that businesses, at least most of them, are ruthless. It doesn't matter who runs them, it's just an unspoken rule that you don't give what you don't owe. You don't shower sympathy or, do things that aren't in business' best interest (long term / short term). The only thing you can—and should—do is be ruthless yourself. Negotiate for more confidently. Move on if you're undervalued. Never think of owing anything to any entity.
Ruthlessness is not what makes for a happy work life.
You absolutely should call out the thankless and unappreciative! Perhaps they really are just poorly informed about how long things take or the knowledge that makes it possible (however unlikely)... that's still no excuse.
And to "treat others as they treat you" is a slippery slope that can quickly get you a bad reputation.
Don't be afraid to do things differently, you will be happier for it.
In the cases where I am unable to negotiate such things I don't stick around. Any company that doesn't see the employee/employer relationship as a two way street is no company I want to work for.
I find myself in this even in a salaried position. If I'm constantly solving problems that brings the company I work for millions in revenue, my paltry salary that is lower than market rate starts to seem like a liability. I know there's a risk I'm not taking but in an ideal world I would be adequately compensated for any increase I'm directly involved with. I know we don't live in that ideal world but it would be nice to be somewhere close to it.
> The only thing you can—and should—do is be ruthless yourself. Negotiate for more confidently. Move on if you're undervalued.
Well, try not to think of it as being ruthless. Plenty of businesses do well by helping others do well, too. But, at the end of the day, you have bills to pay and a lifestyle to support: you have to preserve that.
Pretty insightful thinking there for a programmer, if you ask me. As a group, we tend to focus on rational facts and ignore the emotional aspects all too often. I also quite enjoy reading Kyle's struggle with how to find happiness and fulfillment. I absolutely love writing software, but after 30 years of it, I'm also struggling to find happiness in it. It is starting to feel more like an addiction than a fulfilling pursuit of life that will help me grow.
Exactly how I felt it. Addiction-driven development. I found a different purpose in life a few years ago (religiously inspired). I started investing time in other fields and in people, for example homeless people. The big (and not entirely unforeseen) disadvantage was that I felt that my knowledge was gradually aging, because I didn't keep up so well as before. This turned out not to be a problem after all, you don't need to be in the front lines all the time.
Granted this is a mixed metaphor, but an excellent insight into 21st century civilization nonetheless. Captures a vague feeling I (and probably many others) had, but couldn't put my finger on.
Having a few really good pieces of work to show off is no guarantee that you'll consistently pump out good work, or that you haven't left clients high and dry before. Since a third party has no real way of gauging that except by your track record, they're taking more of a chance on someone with less of a track record. More risk means they need more reward, which means you get paid less.
Most of us COULD run a Fortune 500 company as well as the average CEO but we won't get the chance, nor compensation, until we have the experience.
I hand out with three groups of people: geeks, hacks and lawyers. All of them often easily think they could easily do any other job. This includes the lawyers and journalists thinking that making software is easy. Based on that, I think we're as deluded as they are.
Import and export laws? Nope. Which parts of an employment contract are enforceable? Nope. Minimum standards for office temperature, cleanliness, health and safety? Nope. How much unpaid overtime you can make your employees do, and how that intersects with minimum wage rules. Nope.
Copyright, trademark and patent laws I think I get, but I don't know them inside-out.
Delegation is a black art, that's what I mean, but without really mastering it you cannot manage anything with >10 people, especially in high tech.
I have a feeling that if I took all the time and energy I've put into studying and working with computers my entire life and chose to put all that time and energy into studying and working with business concepts instead, I'd be able to run a business, possibly even a Fortune 500 one.
Alas I didn't spend all that time and energy on business, so I can't run a Fortune 500 company, but alternate universe me might.
Probably not :)
Even copyright law that's "simple" on paper gets sooo hairy so fast in practice - just look at all the FOSS licenses :)
I meant "get" it in the sense that I can tell when I do or don't need a lawyer, rather than my friends and family who moan about Google for (c)-ing a photo of the sky ("They don't own the sky!") or what trademarks and patents are even for ("How did Apple get a patent on putting the letter 'i' in front of every product name?", to paraphrase).
I'm no expert, but I'm not a n00b either [that said, I think the monkey should own the copyright on their selfie, not the camera owner, but that's opinion not law. :)]
The rest if my examples, well… I don't even know enough to know if they are hard or easy. Which should be a good sign that I don't have the skills to run a business in its own right, so I'm not sure why other people are telling me I'm wrong about not being able to.
At the CEO level though, even if you don't fill completely, even if you're 99% as good as the previous CEO, that 1% difference on a massive company translates to a loss of tens/hundreds of millions of dollars. And that's assuming you're 99% as good. If you're only 90% as good, the damage is even greater.
Can you scrape by as CEO without bankrupting the company? Sure. But there's a reason why boards are still willing to pay millions of dollars to hire the best possible candidate. Because when you're managing assets worth billions of dollars, scrimping on a few million is simply premature optimization.
I appreciate your optimism; at the same time, I think it is somewhat unwarranted.
Running a 10-person company is challenging enough to have your shrink on the speed dial. As for Fortune 500 CEOs, those are superhumans on steroids (or cocaine and alcohol), who bend reality by their very presence. You have about the same chance of approaching their attitude as becoming an Olympic athlete.
Thankfully, there are other ways to achieve happiness (or make money, if you want something more quantitative) without becoming a big company CEO. One thing I know for sure: I don't envy them.
I've met some extremely wealthy CEOs, and they warp nothing around them. It's an elite career track and old boys club, that's it.
I have no doubt that a lot of big-co CEOs are operating at the limit of human capacity, but that doesn't really have any effect on my opinion of trust fund kids.
I've been a part of a lot of different communities. Hell, when I was a kid in a MW2 clan on the internet, no one there cared about anything but skill in the game. In programming and hacking communities, no one cared about anything but skill either.
It's a brilliant place you know. On the internet, you can be whoever you want to be and it doesn't matter.
Those are good arguments for privacy.
Sometimes you got something to hide. Not a crime but because you don't want to be discriminated.
Sad that it has to be this way.
Having nothing to hide is a privilege, but the weird thing about that mentality is that I think very few people actually have that privilege. How many people, for example, would not be negatively impacted if the text conversations around their last relationship breakup were made public?
We all have vulnerabilities, and privacy is about choosing who we trust to know them. So anyone who believes that they have nothing to hide is either unaware of how dangerous the world is, or hasn't properly taken stock of what could be used against them, and how. Discrimination is one of the most common ways that your vulnerabilities can used against you, but it's not the only one.
(a) Insist on privacy especially when you have "nothing to hide". I once refused to send a photo with an application (which is still a thing with the really slow-to-adapt companies in my country). I'm square in the majority in any characteristic a photo may reveal, but I was hoping to give some cover to those who don't want to give a photo for whatever reason, and fear being judged just for that.
(b): I'm rather careless with some information that others would be afraid to reveal, hoping to normalize it ever so slightly. There are still too many things that are really really common, but taboo to mention because nobody knows how common they are because it's taboo... Examples may be mental health issues, being bisexual/poly/etc.
Also, if you are in high regard and can afford it, you can do everyone a favour by rejecting certain common but harmful practices: Are you no longer productive at 4pm because you didn't sleep well? Go home!
While I agree, it's important that this is perceived as "this is how things should work" rather than "I'm high status so I can do this but you can't".
Talent can produce a better result than experience, but experience is almost always more consistent. There's added value in consistency for companies. That's not discrimination (ugh), it's a business reality.
It's just a lack of experience, if Kyle would man up and accept her place it would all work out.
Kyle is a dude.
He seems a little more bitter about it than I was. Trust is part of the game, and people just naturally, and subconsciously look for signals that you're the real deal.
Like anonymous works can't exist in the physical space?
I started freelancing about halfway through college and quickly learned to hide the fact that I was a student, and my age in general. I recall one of my early clients that had a very distinct negative change in how he treated me after he learned that I was still in college.
I can't complain too much, though, most clients treated me well and I charged enough that I was able to graduate debt free.
They need to mitigate business risk so they look for vendors that will:
1. Exist as long as their solution is being used
2. Provide adequate support
3. Are legally accountable for their products and services
4. Have the proper processes in place for things like billing and invoices
Having raw talent is just part of the business puzzle. There are a lot of start-ups or freelancers that can "fake it until they make it" but it's because they really understand how a small business or corporation makes buying decisions.
Them I remember taking them as interns is part of the discrimination; and they'll be better promoted in physical companies where they can invoke anti-discrimination laws, rather than being only promoted by their skills.
Then remains those who are really discriminated against: Those who are neither protected by being good-looking nor by the laws, like the (short) author.
Pixels don't care, but next time you read statistics about how white people are paid more than average, remember which side this guy falls on, now that he succeeded. The strange world of statistics.
In fact the whole "we are an institution and you are a peon" mentality needs to be disrupted.
More companies should hire on a project basis and share the revenues. More companies should try holacracy and abolish a top down chain of command for everything.
Then people can really will be compensated on their merit, ie their contributions.
In our own company, I laid out how we do it https://qbix.com/blog ... would welcome your thoughts.
Means tested welfare has the same problems as full time employment: people are so used to that paycheck that they are afraid to do rock the boat and work on something meaningful in ther lives. They just drive the same truck every day, until they lose their job.
In fact, even Adam Smith proposed the free market as a way to achieve equality among men. Even socialist anarchists like Oscar Wilde were most incensed by the degrading nature of the employer-employee relationship.
You don't need this model for everyone. Just for those who are sick and tired of playing office politics and pretending to work 8 hour days becauss they finished in 2 hours and can't be seen doing anything productive for anyone else, since the company can sue them.
The problem with this is employees being unwilling to take on risk. In general they want to get paid a good amount whether the project succeeds or not.
Furthermore, this can be done part time by existing employees.
For millions of people, FTE has the same perverse incentives as means tested welfare: they pretend to work, they play office politics, and most of all they are afraid to undertake anything in their own life for fear of losing the guaranteed cashflow. They practice learned helplessness in their life and do not advance.
While some people are ok with this, many like the OP are not.
Kiss goodbye to any kind of code hygiene.
>abolish a top down chain of command
You now have a squeaky wheel company. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Can a mod change the title to read (2013) since this article is fairly old, though?
While privacy is important, and a meritocracy is, well, meritocratic, these systems weren't formed overnight, and aren't even necessarily accepted as 'right' in many parts of the world. Historically, social barriers (e.g. discrimination against short people) are changed through exposure, discussion and sometimes fighting. Writing a post like this is only part of the answer. Taking the opportunity to understand the bias and discussing it with those who hold opposing viewpoints is another part of the answer.
Privacy is a right, don't use it as a crutch.
Also, what is the #caboose channel on freenode about? I tried joining to see what it's about, but it looks like it's invite only.
Your site isn't banned, and we don't moderate sites based on what they say about "Y Combinator's investment strategies". I'm not sure where you got that.
Your site was getting mildly downweighted. That could have happened for a number of reasons, including vote manipulation and/or too many lightweight articles. I've taken the penalty off.
I guess semantically they aren't necessary since there is no missing information but for some reason I found it distracting anyway.
Maybe I should stop replying...