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IMHO I've found greatness is also very much a result of environment as well. Not just in the "you are the five people you interact with most" kind of thing, but also in the kind of bounds you face when shipping greatness. It definitely impacts your scalability curve. Shipping a great product and having business impact is kind of an O(1) deal; people see the great product, git blame the source or look at release notes, and find out you're behind it, and then think you're good at programming. Shipping a bad product because of business or technical org constraints and then having to explain to people the design decisions and compromises you had to make is very much not an O(1) deal. I think the former definitely lets people stand on their own two feet and merits, while the latter concentrates power in those who control perception.

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