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The Way I Work: TechCrunch's Michael Arrington (inc.com)
227 points by mjh8136 on Sept 20, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments

And with this my opinion of Arrington shifts from "hey, he's kind of a self-important dick" to "huh, this guy is an introvert who's confident and passionate about his work, kind of like me."

Guy's all right. And my hat's off to him for building something truly powerful from scratch.

And I'm surprised at his drive "I’d work until I passed out, and wake up eight or nine hours later, which might be 4 p.m. or 3 a.m. Then I’d work again until I passed out." I don't think I've known many people to push it quite that hard.

I've met plenty of people who have to work two (sometimes, even three) jobs just to make ends meet. They work non-stop, exposed to the elements, doing manual labor - all to make ends meet.

The guy sits in front of his computer all day, blasting music.

As a developer, I realize sitting in front of a computer IS work. But, it's not hard work...

it can be mentally challenging, depending on what you are working on.

While I agree you are not lifting heavy stuff, or doing anything physical, working on hard problems can be mentally tiring and tasking to your health if not done in moderation.

If you are just doing anything that is easy (a simple web app), then the hard part would be getting motivated to get started, but after that it is more mechanical, your are just cruizing by (and probably not learning much).

BUT if you are working on really technical stuff, beyond your normal comfort level then that is not the case at all. Your brain will fatigue, and you will actually feel the pain of work, (this is a good indicator that you are learning something new and it is tasking your brain).

Also, for people with more responsiblities, the worrying about work doesn't really end when you go home. If you are managing people, or need to learn new technical skills/updating your self, it becomes a bit hard to just switch off. When you are working more normal jobs, once you go home you can just 'switch off' and just worry about your home tasks.

So, it all depends...

I don't get it. Before reading this article, did you really think he could have achieved success with TechCrunch without being passionate about his work? Do you know any successful people in this world who are not passionate about their work?

I'd say my point is before this article I never gave it much thought. Either way, it's one thing to have a vague guess about how someone gets things done. It's quite another to have all the meaty facts.

Arrington works hard, with abandon, in the way that only a man who truly loves his work can. I have to respect and admire that.

Exactly. He sounds so incredibly human.

i worked in the same company with Michael for a little while long before his TechCrunch days (RealNames between 1999 and 2002). He did come off as standoffish and arrogant to most people. This said, not enough to warrant the hate that some people devote to him since he became successful with TC. I think he is just a somewhat clumsy person when it comes to being anything else than a competitive opinionated door buster. Michael is otherwise a very smart guy and impressive entrepreneur and he seems to be on his way to becoming more of a human being too ;-)

I loathe Inc.'s site. The interstitial pop-up. The toolbar. Terrible, really. But I enjoyed the piece.

For some reason on page 2 some javascript kept scrolling the page all the way down like every 20 seconds... so annoying. I ended up copying the text to a text editor.

You should really try readability:


It make reading articles on the web much nicer.

Wow. I didn't know this existed. You sir have made my life better today. Thank you.

Or Opera's builtin accessibility layout.

Or Instapaper. I can't read on most news sites anymore for all the crap they put on there.

Or the Reader feature in Safari.

I love this. Thank you.

It's the disqus real time update feature - click Pause below the comments box.

Why should I have to pause the comment auto-updater just so that I can finish reading the article?

Yeah, at first I thought it was Chrome's AutoPager plugin, but even after I disabled it, same thing happened. I had to resort to the print-friendly view.

I had the same problem and then I switched on Safari's Reader feature -- problem solved.

Same, I was holding the scrollbar with my mouse's left button down to prevent that!

Yeah, I thought I was dreaming at first like I was on some spam site that was trying to take me to the ad. As far as the article goes, very interesting to get into the psyche of someone whose blogs we read on a continuous basis. Whether you love him or hate him, humanizing people always helps break the online barrier.

Yes-- that was another annoying thing that I didn't mention.

Same here. Hence, I read the 'printer friendly' piece instead: http://www.inc.com/magazine/20101001/the-way-i-work-michael-...

I launched Safari and used its Reader feature.

The toolbar was so bad that I turned No-Script back on. I had given Javascript the benefit of the doubt, but sites like that ruin it for me.

Pop-up? Toolbar?

People laugh at me when I say that I disable Javascript and only enable when I absolutely need it. Thanks for letting me laugh back. :-P

"The interstitial pop-up"

Surely you meant the "intermittent" pop-up.

No. I meant interstitial:

Interstitials - On the World Wide Web, interstitials are web page advertisements that are displayed before or after an expected content page, often to display advertisements or confirm the user's age. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstitials

Aha! Consider me educated. -1 for a stupid question is perfectly justified.

(I naively assumed you used "interstitial" to mean "occupying an intervening space," which would not have made sense.)

> I’d love to have three monitors, but Macs support only two.

You can drive three monitors from a Mac Pro:


And here's a Macbook Pro driving 4 screens:


Or you could use synergy to connect two macs together. You can even copy and paste between them.

I use Teleport on the mac... it's a bit more user-friendly as it has a proper preference pane.

He can use also a TripleHead2Go from Matrox:


I'm impressed by the honesty. Doesn't seem to be the arrogant guy many people play him up to be.

Doesn't seem arrogant, just seems to be quite the introvert.

Agreed. I like the style of his writing, it doesn't seem at all glossed over, comes off very honestly.

The early days of TC were what Arrington did best. His writing was engaging and the his takes on startups interesting. But the urge of getting big had a significant — and I think negative — effect on the quality of the news. Countless stories of Twitter being down or Apple's Appstore rejections have damaged the TC brand.

Who's the next "TC of the early days"?

> So I’m usually working on four or five hours of sleep. Then I make it up on the weekends.

That doesn't sound healthy either! But if his doctor thinks so, and if he's not gaining 50 pounds like before, I guess it is. I'm interested, because I use his previous style (but my work is no as stressful, and I've been losing weight by eating less and healthier.)

I really enjoyed that article. What strikes me is how driven and hard-working Michael Arrington is. Actually, 'compulsive' comes to mind. Which prompts me to think that successful entrepreneurs aren't motivated to succeed... they're compelled to succeed.

Some are just compelled to act on their ideas. Unfortunately, it doesn't always result in success.

I would even call it a calling. Of course you need to be a little careful about following a calling. I really enjoyed this blog post on it:


I wake up pissed..... I fall asleep happy

An interesting and seemingly revealing article no doubt. I "choose" to buy it depicts Arrington's life genuinely.

That said, a couple weeks ago, Arrington wrote a piece on TC regarding the "psychomanipulative" techniques he uses when he writes to get the reaction he wants from his readers. Here's the link: http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/05/blogging-and-mass-psychoman... but if you don't feel like clicking here is an excerpt:

"But then you start to get really good at what you do. You write something and you get trashed. The next time you try it a little differently and it the commenters love you. You don’t even do it consciously – but over the years you just get better at it. To the point where you pretty much know exactly what the reaction will be to any given post, and how to tweak things to get the reaction you want."

Anyway, based on this, I'm left with a slight bit of skepticism after reading the Inc article. Is this the real Arrington, or simply the Arrington he wants us to believe? I'm not sure there are motives for the latter, which is why I choose to believe that the Inc article depicts his life genuinely, but not without some doubt.

Just food for thought.

I didn't know that Michael had failed start-ups before TC. What were they?

Check out his LinkedIn profile for details about his work experience:


Aside, from First Data Corp., he doesn't list which companies he founded. I would assume that he was the co-founder in those that he held a C-Level position: RazorGator and Pool.com.

He has an interesting background. For example, I don't think a lot of people know he has a Stanford Law degree.

He was involved with Edgeio during TC which was "an effort to build a fully distributed advertising platform for the Internet." I know it went through an identity crisis and even spent a bizarre period in the digital download space before an asset sale in 2008.

"But then at some point in the past year, I suddenly lost my short-term memory." Has anyone else here run into this experience?

Actually, yes. Not completely (as in, not forever), and it's not very serious (I get the feeling of a failing short term memory in times when I'm more stressed out) but it's definitely cause for concern. I guess it is the combination of sleep deprivation and way too much stress.

This happened to me in my closing months of the old day job. I found myself at home, with no memory of how I came to be home, or of eating the dinner whose receipt was in my wallet.

Salaryman life, banzai.

very impressive that he's moved to Seattle and is still as effective as he is...great article

When you are introverted like Arrington it probably helps being away from the valley. Also, you don't have to turn down some many meetings/dinners/etc that are not as efficient as the phone or IM.

one of tech's most famous he may be, but I still wouldn't trade places with him .. not with a lifestyle like that.

but he does seem like a good guy despite this.

I'd love to know what doctor told him it's better to sleep 4 or 5 hours and wake up on an alarm than to sleep 8 or 9 hours and wake up whenever. Sounds like something out of a Rodney Dangerfield joke.

I've seen a study that people who sleep 8/9 hours a night typically don't live as long. Of course, correlation vs causation and all that.

It's actually bracketed: 7-8 is ideal. Anything less or more is bad for you (usual disclaimers, etc.):


Some more surprising bits:

Venture capitalists were smoking pot in my backyard and passing out on my couch.

I like hard music that is not happy music—Metallica, Eminem, Rage Against the Machine.

> Venture capitalists were smoking pot in my backyard and passing out on my couch.

This is the west coast, right? You could replace "smoking pot" with "drinking booze" and the surprise level doesn't change all that much for me.

> For example, in July, a CNN journalist was fired for tweeting her opinion about a Hezbollah leader. I wrote a piece about how ridiculous it was that she could not have an opinion.

I know someone who works for CNN. It is in his contract that he cannot blog or otherwise express his opinion (and I assume not Tweet - contract predates Twitter).

> It is in his contract that he cannot blog or otherwise express his opinion

Exactly what is so ridiculous. That it wasn't a arbitrary decision doesn't make it a good one.

Instapaper'd this. No way I can read that article on that website.

curious as to why the date shows as Oct 1? Is something to do with the mag?

Probably because its in the upcoming issue of Inc. Magazine.

I don't know Arrington personally, but this articles makes him sound very arrogant. Is this how he is normally?

lack of sleep, lack of patience, overload of work and very hard on himself I'd say make it that way.

I dealt with him only once and briefly, and it went just like a business transaction, straight to the point. No worries there.

"This summer, since I’d just moved, I did a lot of household things—like unpacking or buying a shower rod. Depending on my plans, I may go out to dinner with my friends or my parents. Or I’ll eat alone and then go back to work."

Key insights... tell us more!

I think the purpose of the Inc interviews is to just get the author to say everything, and I think a lot of people appreciate the honesty and lack of editing (removal of irrelevant content) in this article. I liked it.

As we discovered from Matts piece, the subject does not have very much control over the final article - they talk with inc, then an article happens.

So, while I bet that was a dish on Mike, its a shot at Inc.

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