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Ask HN: What do you wish you had known before you turned 40?
186 points by cup 882 days ago | hide | past | web | 180 comments | favorite
So I've noticed a few posts over time where users have asked similiar questions but at younger age brackets (18, 20, 25 mainly).

I'm slightly more interested in further down the road. I know HNs user base might be skewed to the younger crowd but I'm sure there are a number of 40+ year olds who can impart their wisdom.

Thanks.




Practice is the key to getting better at everything. Ignore the concept of innate talent or gift. People who are good are good because they spent a lot of time practicing.

People who practice a lot usually do so because they’re interested in it. It’s not hard or homework for them. If there’s a gift, it’s the gift of interest.

Artists copy a lot. They don’t come up with stuff clear out of their heads. They look at a lot of things, keep a lot of references, and blend ideas together.

Most people who are famous are so not because they’re good, but because they’ve worked hard to become famous. It was important to them, so they did what it took to become famous. Being good at something is a small part of that, small enough that famous people aren’t usually all that good. Their time was better spent becoming famous. (This is the biggest lesson from this list. It basically implies that you can ignore people who have blogs and podcasts. Seek out the unknown experts in your field.)

Don’t make decisions based on money. Don’t stay at a job because the shares might be worth something, or because the company might get acquired. These things rarely happen and you can’t get your time back.

Everyone is totally winging it all the time. Confident people are just better at hiding it.


Everyone is totally winging it all the time. Confident people are just better at hiding it.

I don't think people really understand how true this is. I think we all might feel it, but to really believe that [insert name] doesn't really know what is going on is a revelation.

To wit, whenever given the opportunity to talk with someone who is or was in a large powerful role (Fmr Undersecretary of the Navy two weeks ago for example) I always ask them how confident they were, that what they were doing was the right choice, or how much they felt in control of a particular action/decision.

Across the board they all say they feel like they have very little control and are just doing the best with what they have.


85% of the population will listen to anyone who who talks with authority. Even in tech, when someone talks with authority, most people rarely push back. I know plenty of below-average programmers who formulated great careers by simply talking and talking and talking.


There's a subtle caveat here: true confidence is earned, not fabricated. If you try to bullshit your way through life you'll lose credibility and rarely be given the chance to get far.

I think your advice is most valuable to people who constantly underestimate themselves. I've worked around extremely capable people who do this, and it's frustrating to see how little they achieve because of it.


I think it's a blend. "Fake it till you make it" is a valid strategy in my experience, but only works if you genuinely want to be good/get better. You still have to eventually "make it" though otherwise you will run up against someone who has made it and they will see right through your faking.


The best is someone that knows exactly how capable they are in the moment - and how to reach beyond that when needed.


My favorite example of someone gradually working their way from rank amateur to accomplished professional through sheer volume of dedicated practice has to be the cartoonist Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade. Over the span of about ten years, you see his art style transform from what would pass for an average college newspaper comic into the richly expressive vision of a master illustrator.


Jeph Jacques of Questionable Content has had a similar journey. Very interesting to watch the transformation.


something very similar from derek-sivers: http://sivers.org/15-years


Would you mind to show us some concrete samples that show us what you mean?


Not Penny Arcade but here is an early xkcd: https://xkcd.com/6/

Contrast that against current xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1471/

And it doesn't stop there. He's done amazing things that stretch the concept of "web comic", like https://xkcd.com/1446/ or arguably his most famous work https://xkcd.com/1190/ "Time"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_%28xkcd%29


I don't think xkcd is a good example of practice making perfect. Many former xkcd fans think that the average xkcd comic became noticeable less funny somewhere in the low to mid hundreds. Part of it was the novelty being gone but part, I'd say, really had to do with the quality of the comic's writing.

The author's growing experience and confidence allowed him to pull off ambitious and genuinely imperative things like "Time", which improved the mean comic, but the median never really recovered.


Yes but we're not talking about how funny the comic is just the how good the illustration has become.


Instead of "genuinely imperative" I meant to write "genuinely impressive".



To me that recent one is an example of overdevelopment of the art.

I remember commenting on a different artist's rework of his old comic strip, about how the new strips looked too busy and that there was something beautiful and thematic about his earlier work. He replied that he also preferred his earlier work, but he just couldn't make himself 'stop that early' when drawing anymore.

Certainly in both cases there's a lot more skill in the later work, but it's interesting to note that overdevelopment is also a thing.


I agree and thought he peaked around 2004, e.g.:

http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/215499399_pfUFC/0/1050x10...

http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/215499192_iWbzW/0/1050x10...

The cartoon faces were more expressive with less detail than the current ones, but he was able to draw just about anything he wanted in a funny way, which wasn't the case in the beginning.



The non-regular-format pieces might be a better example. Here's a recent one:

http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2014/12/12/fan-fiction


I call this the Pink Floyd Effect.



>Everyone is totally winging it all the time. Confident people are just better at hiding it.

So skyscrapers and jumbo jets are built on guesswork, despite all the things that can go wrong in their design and construction?

I wish people would be more precise about what is meant by this, since it seems trivially false when taken literally.


We figured out how to build good skyscrapers and jets by building lots of bad ones and studying the failures. We stopped building skyscrapers that collapse and jets that fall out of the sky by amassing institutional knowledge, not individual knowledge. We developed processes and methodologies that prevent major blunders from making it into the final design, and mitigate the impact of minor ones.

If some element of guesswork wasn't involved, we wouldn't need massive safety factors, because we'd know exactly how strong and stiff to make things. If engineers could be trusted to avoid disaster purely through their own skill and expertise, then we wouldn't need building codes and inspections, we wouldn't need FAA regulations and the NTSB.


"Some element of guesswork" != "just winging it"

If 99% of the job is applying well-understood techniques to well-trod problems you have an intimate domain understanding of, and 1% is judgment calls you can't rigorously justify, that's not "winging it".

What I think is going on is that people think back to their work, only remember the 1%, and then casually conclude that "aw, heck, the whole thing is just judgment calls", which doesn't follow at all.

Many projects crucially depend on someone having that deep understanding, and their success proves that at least one person (and probably a lot more) aren't winging it. If people would just operationalize what this nugget of wisdom is supposed to mean, I think we'd find a lot more disagreement on what it means, or a much less surprising insight.


hmmm, sounds like a job for J.E. Amrhein (speaking about structural engineering, but broadly applicable to many engineering disciplines):

"Structural engineering is the art of molding materials we don't wholly understand, into shapes we can't fully analyze, so as to withstand forces we can't really assess, in such a way that the community at large has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance."


Again, "not fully/wholly understanding" != "lol just winging it".

If the New York City skyline is "just winging it", then it should no longer be reassuring to tell someone that "lol don worry we're winging it too".


I think your question is legit. It shouldn't be down voted. It doesn't apply to science and engineering disciplines because we humans have made those disciplines "human proof" by rigorous analysis and testing. Here when people say "winging it" is I think meant to point out that Humans are limited in their capacity to know everything about things ,especially predict the future yet people sometime act like they do know. "Winging" might be a coping mechanism we have to employ to stay relevant in the rapidly changing world. It may not have been true 100 years ago.


Thanks for the emphasis on the possibility and importance of rock solid engineering.

At times, information technology entrepreneurship seems to believe that no such thing is possible.


There's a joke about whether software engineers that write aircraft software would dare board a plane they've written software for..

I'm sure there's lots of places in skyscrapers and jumbo jets that the engineers in charge feel at least somewhat ashamed for, and are only there because they needed to "ship" and it was empirically shown to be "good enough" for practical purposes .. and then every once in a blue moon a plane crashes.

Similarly to how debuggers help us beat code into doing something "good enough" for practical purposes, but no one really understands what the code does anymore .. and then every once in a blue moon there's something like heartbleed.

Striving for perfection in a market context only sets you up for pain - since stakeholders rarely care about quality, they care about more money and less headaches now, consequences be damned. So everyone is just winging it.


Well, you could be very solid on the technical aspects of what you're doing, but realize that you're wining it in terms of whether your proposal delivers economically, ie how long it will take to implement or what cost savings will be realized. Being brilliant within the scope of your own specialization will only take you so far; you need to understand your colleagues and their constraints well enough to productively address resource conflicts and so on. If you're too competitive with your colleagues that can lead to zero-sum situations that fall short of collective potential even though everyone is sincerely trying to deliver the best possible result.


Not everyone is good at business != everyone in every role is just "winging it" (as the OP claimed)


I'm not talking about business or management.


I think the OP is speaking more strategically.

eg. When do you make the decision that it is the right time to build this kind of skyscraper or jumbo jet with this compliment of people etc...


I saw nothing in the OP's statement to clarify that context, nor have I seen it in any of the numerous other posts that repeat the same claim.

If there are a hundred non-obvious caveats, which people may even disagree on ... maybe it's not actually so wise?

At the very least, those who promote this claim should verify they're not confusing "use gut instinct when you have to make a judgement call" with "the entirety of coding, including iterating 1 to 100, is a judgement call".


I think these things are made in spite of people winging it. Everybody is doing the best they can, but we're all not going to get it right 100% of the time. Given that, there's processes and organizations in place to identify errors and correct them.


If you were running such a project, you would FEEL as though you're winging it all the time.


"It basically implies that you can ignore people who have blogs and podcasts. Seek out the unknown experts in your field."

Fully agree with this. But it seems not easy to find hidden gems. It takes time and energy to deliver what's in one's mind. Take this into account, what we can find is only a fraction of the real gems with lots of noises mixed with them. The best shot I can think of is to have some kind of small circle to exchange ideas and opinions. Another resource is reading books, I guess.

As for famous people's wisdom, they have way more access to information average people don't have. And the average quality is probably better. Just like what the artists do you mentioned, they do the same with information.


> But it seems not easy to find hidden gems.

Yup. Very glad to hear that you want the "hidden gems".

Finding them is a nutshell description of the purpose of my startup.

Thanks for the wording!


> Another resource is reading book

Absolutely. I've gotten high quality information from books. Sometimes it seems you gotta pay through the nose... but when you look at it, many of these books are refined down from the person's life in the field. That is pretty cool!


Practice is the key to getting better at everything. Ignore the concept of innate talent or gift. People who are good are good because they spent a lot of time practicing.

Very true. And even when it's not 100% true, we're better off pretending that it is. If you think you can learn something, you're much better off than if you think you can't. The latter attitude is self-fulfilling.


I like the practice bit. And if you enjoy something, and live it every day and do it all the time, you'll get good at it.

If you hate something, and you have to force yourself to do it, I wouldn't bother, and I'd look for something else to do.

That, and our whole system of fractional reserve banking is deeply flawed and is killing us, to the benefit of a greedy few.


Something to keep in mind:

I turned 40 in the year 2005, but my life experience was someone different than my father who turned 40 in the year 1982, and I suspect that if someone was 20 today that their life experience looking back will be a bit different in the year 2035.

Yes I can give you all of the cliches from "enjoy your hair while you have it" to "i wish i put aside more in my IRA". But aside from that the lessons in your life could be different than mine.

For my father's generation (the silent generation) the path to success was a steady union job or say becoming a professional like a lawyer. However for my generation (gen x) union jobs didn't exist and many of my friends who became lawyers are doing quite badly.

So I would say that to take the advice of anyone over 40 with a grain of salt as your results may not be the same. Common assumptions of the path of success of today could be badly placed bets.

For example even though I was a hardcore Apple fanboy if you told me to load up on Apple stock in 1996 I would have thought that you were crazy. Also if you told me in the 80s that Japan would face a lost decade in the 90s followed by being in the shadow of China i would have thought that you were crazy.


>For my father's generation (the silent generation) the path to success was a steady union job or say becoming a professional like a lawyer. However for my generation (gen x) union jobs didn't exist and many of my friends who became lawyers are doing quite badly.

I wish I could up vote this more than once. the past two decades have taught us that there is no such thing as a safe job or a risk free investment


the past two decades have taught us that there is no such thing as a safe job or a risk free investment

This conclusion is what has driven me to just jump in head first to doing my own thing. I think a lot of people are searching for something "stable" and I'm not sure that really exists anymore if it ever really did.


These things ebb and flow. Now is the right time to "Jump in" as you don't lose much from joining a startup and gain a lot of potential upside. But who knows - in 30 years, it could be the return of "the Company Person".


1. Realize that reading political/world news probably won't have any direct impact on your life. Don't watch TV news. Instead, spend time diving very deep into a particular subject areas by reading books about these areas and trying to answer your own specific questions.

2. Find something useful to do with your commute (e.g audio books) or eliminate it. This could be a large part of your life and it adds up.

3. Marry the right person. Don't marry too young.

4. Fix your chronic health problems.

5. Understand and study nutrition.

6. Build relationships. This takes time.

7. Make things happen. Create things that weren't there before that other people participate in. Practice planning things in advance and executing on them.

8. Learn what you can from your parents before they go senile.

9. Have some sort of passion besides your job and passive entertainment. You will become a far more interesting person and attract interesting people.

10. Do not undercharge for your labor. Live well below your means. Don't work for or with jerks.

11. If something isn't working in your life, change something, measure and retry. Iterate. This is basically applying lean principals to everything. Don't get stuck with "good enough" and then it's a year later.


> 1. Realize that reading political/world news probably won't have any direct impact on your life. Don't watch TV news. Instead, spend time diving very deep into a particular subject areas by reading books about these areas and trying to answer your own specific questions.

While following this advice might make an individual happier, if most people followed it, we'd gradually become slaves to the ruling class which would happily exploit us without us noticing or willing to do anything about it.


I think most of the "news" is slanted to get people to do or think things. It's only in lesser visited corners of knowledge wrapped up in books or specialized study that the persuasion background noise dies down and real understanding is easier to piece together.

I avoid a lot of mass media (e.g TV) because if I absorb and process the same information everyone else does I'll think thoughts that are similar to everyone else. I guess that's good and bad. It's helpful to at least be aware of what everyone else is thinking.


> we'd gradually become slaves to the ruling class which would happily exploit us without us noticing or willing to do anything about it.

Thank goodness that never happened!


The truth is closer to that the "ruling class" is more like "slaves" to us than the other way 'round. We can ( and do ) turn on them in seconds, and they are not heard from again.

Read Marshall MacLuhan and Vance Packard. Yes, they are dated and the words are musty. The reason not to watch a lot of news has more to do with the effects of that sort of media on your nervous system than what anybody intends by it. You sort of can't just unplug, but know the game and realize you're in it. Have a diet of long-form works to balance out the blurb feeds.


Purchasing a Kindle has been one of the most rewarding tool i use the past 5 years.


- Learn to say "I'm sorry."

- In arguments being right isn't as important as being happy.

- Be nice, especially to people who can't do anything for you.

- Be grateful.

- Figure out what you want in this life and go for it, it's the only one you get.

- Do as much for your body as you do for your mind (i.e. workout, eat well).

- Learn to manage money.

- Stop doing stupid shit (you know what I'm talking about).

- Make decisions using the regret minimization framework. What would you regret NOT doing the most? Do that.

- Invest in yourself. You can lose everything, but you'll always have this.

- Don't watch the news.

- Don't be an asshole.

- Do be happy, you deserve it.

It's ok, we're works in progress.


All good, except "don't watch the news". Watch the news. Learn more about the world around you and what's going on with other people. Just don't watch sensationalist news that is more about capturing eyeballs than imparting information.

The "works in progress" is a very good point to make.


I agree with you, but I prefer to read the news than to watch--it gives me more control over what I consume and how I interpret. Not a big fan of TV in general.


Agreed. Also, any given article also has about 10x more actual information than the 45 second TV news blip (or longer NPR segment for that matter).


The test before reading/watching news is "would I read/watch this if it was a week old?" If you wouldn't, don't waste your time on it now.


> Make decisions using the regret minimization framework. What would you regret NOT doing the most? Do that.

It's not a bad question to ask for considering different angles, but I disagree that it should have much influence. It discourages risk-taking.

I know it's a popular meme but when people say they have no regrets, I think to myself that either 1) They are bullsh-g me (usually the case), 2) they are bullsh-g themselves, often by closing their eyes to what they missed on, and/or 3) they aren't taking enough risks.

Regret and pain are part of life. It's a fantasy, and emotionally immature, to think you will avoid them or that you have.

"May your reach exceed your grasp."


That's odd - I always thought that 'regret minimisation' meant taking risks and NOT taking the safe option which you might later regret.

If you take a risk and it doesn't work out, you can still have no regrets because (a) it was the right thing to with the available information at the time; (b) you learnt something valuable from the experience.


I guess it depends on your OS.

Minimizing regrets to me means taking risks. It's why I joined the Marine Corps. It's why I bought my first house at 21. It's why I got married. It's why I started investing in real estate. It's why I quit my job to start a company.

If I didn't work to minimize my regrets I'd have a very dull life. Do I use it to decide whether I want Chinese or Italian? No, but when I have a major decision and I'm having a hard time deciding I give it a spin.


That whole topic always rubs me the wrong way. Taking risks could mean catching aids and dying, falling off the cliff, getting in racing accident, going bankrupt, etc... Except we don't hear the stories of those who risked and died or failed, only those who risked and succeeded.

I'm not saying you shouldn't take risks. I just have no idea how you can come up with rule or guideline that has any basis in reality. There are tons of people who took some risk and are living with the negative repercussions but we rarely like hearing about them.


You're thinking too hard about it. It's just like how guns don't come with a label that says, "Don't shoot yourself."

If you struggle with how to use regret minimization I'd say just see the rule above it: "Stop doing stupid shit." Your examples of "catching aids and dying, falling off the cliff, getting in racing accident, going bankrupt" mostly fall under doing stupid shit with the possible exception of going bankrupt, which could be due to bad luck (but is most often a result of doing stupid shit.)

People get in over their heads because they risk more than they're willing to lose and fail to think long-term, which is stupid shit. And often it's not just one bad decision, but a series of bad decisions that lead to catastrophic outcomes. I became a millionaire in my 20's by taking risks, but I never risked more than I was willing to lose--financially or in my marriage.

There's not a rule or decision framework for everything, at some point it comes down to common sense and judgement(which can be improved through learning). And even with our best efforts we'll make mistakes, which is expected. But it's ok to make a thousand small mistakes, you just have to avoid the big ones...like catching aids and dying, falling off the cliff, getting in racing accident...

It's not a recipe, it's a rough trajectory: some assembly (thought) required.


> It discourages risk-taking.

People can also regret not having taken a risk - so it works both ways.

But I think "regret minization" is more than just avoiding negative consequences. It's about not regreting a decision even if things go wrong - it's about being able to say "I'd do it again".


Don't watch the news? Care to elaborate? You mean politics etc or generally any news including tech and science?


Not parent, but I agree and can explain my thoughts. If a topic is really new, it's inherently not generally well understood. Therefore the reporting on it is likely to be inaccurate, misleading, and missing some really important bits. Even the choice of what to report on is made without good understanding.

Have you ever read a news article about a subject in your field that you knew a lot about? Think about it. Remember how everything was a little bit off or a little misleading or misinformed or focused on the wrong thing? That's the case with every news article, ever, we just don't think about it most of the time.

For anything really important you'll find out about it quickly enough. Someone you know will tell you or you'll overhear something. Trying to search for important information by reading or watching news reports feels good because it satisfies our instincts to hunt and search and collect. But it's not a good use of our energy 99% of the time.

HN is a bit "meta". Here we search not for useful or important news articles, but for insightful, intelligent comments from people who actually understand what is going on. The 99% rule still applies, but at least when we find a comment like that here it is more likely to be well-informed and something we wouldn't find elsewhere.



I don't know if I get that right but from where I come, "watch the news" means mostly watch it on TV. So it might not have something to do with reading IT news on HN for example...


I prefer to read the news than to watch--it gives me more control over what I consume and how I interpret it. I don't watch much TV aside from the odd sports game here and there.


At 40-something, I find that money and health have become increasingly important. However, they both depend heavily on the foundations I laid in my 20s and 30s. So watch out.

I can't think of too much I wish I had known, but there are quite a few things I wish I had fully internalized:

- the math behind financial freedom and how small differences in savings rate, burn rates, and the carrying cost of owning "stuff" can greatly impact one's chances of reaching it;

- the almost unbelievable opportunity and money costs of having children (I thought I knew.... but I was off by orders of magnitude);

- that compounding growth (in any aspect of one's life, not just investing) only matters if you give it time. Start today with a little instead of waiting for the day you have "enough" to start;

- the importance of due diligence. I spent more time and care speccing out my personal computers than I did buying my home. Then compounded my error by hanging on to it long after I should have cut my losses;

- that if you are not working towards a specific destination, you're just floating where the wind and tide take you and hoping you end up somewhere good;

- the importance of caring for your body, listening and acting on its complaints rather than pushing yourself harder;

- that where you end up is mostly (aside from a certain element of sheer chance) the result of the choices YOU make (or allow others to make on your behalf) in life;

- to seek out relationships with the kind of people you wish you were. You grow to be more like the people you have around you;

- to learn from the past, and then let go of it. You need to focus on the future. It's especially important to let go of cynicism and bitterness as they poison your future and hurt everyone else around you;

- to take the long view when weighing your options and making your plans;

- that willpower is severely limited. I wish I had done more to make the right choices the easiest/default ones. Examples include automated savings, only keeping healthy foods in the house, building exercise habits into my daily routine, etc.;


>- to learn from the past, and then let go of it. You need to focus on the future. It's especially important to let go of cynicism and bitterness as they poison your future and hurt everyone else around you.

This. Past is past, it cannot be changed, put your efforts where it matters. I would also add that revenge is overrated, do not waste time on it.


> - the importance of caring for your body, listening and acting on its complaints rather than pushing yourself harder;

Yes! I found it way too easy to push way too hard and, thus, do some serious damage. One case took surgery and, then, years to recover -- I'm back to normal now.


I spent more time and care speccing out my personal computers than I did buying my home

LOL, I can relate. Good one.


Raising kids is mundane, boring, uninteresting or intensely irritating 80% of the time. When it's good it's really good, but you don't get to choose when, and you've got to be at least somewhat on your game the rest of the time too if you don't want to be a jerk to them.

EDIT> This is for people with strong (non-kid) passions that are time-consuming. I know people who are just amazing with kids, but typically they don't seem to have much else going on in their lives.


Note there is a hell of lot you can do to make raising kids enormous fun. 1. Play with your kids as if you are a kid too. I mean take it extremely seriously. Leave the smartphone off and join in. Build the most amazing things (sand castles, robots, tree houses, paintings, drawings, etc). Your kids will see you and appear to ignore you and then one day you will see them doing the same thing. 2. Explore like mad. Visit every place you can think of hanging out. Bike all over. Visit every park in your area, every library, etc. Do it every weekend. Catch bugs. Watch the stars. Hike, camp, boat, etc. 3. If you code at home, try to code an interest AI problem that has great visuals and then explain it to your kids. 4. Make movies. Write the script with the kids. Get the kids to act the parts. I could go on but I think you get the point. I think you can see that if you stop trying to be an adult, you can have a lot of fun.

The biggest problem I have with kids is that they sometimes fight over silly things. I forbade my kids from playing with each other. Since it was against the rules, they played with each other much better and when they fought they knew they were breaking the rules.

After watching Monster Inc. I realized that you could tickle kids instead of spanking them to get them to behave. No one likes to be tickled. I can imagine my kids being kicked out of therapy when they explain how they were disciplined by being made to laugh.

There are so many tricks that reduce the irritation to a minimum. For me, it was a challenge to find them so I really enjoyed it. I wish I could do it again. My oldest daughter is taking comp sci at stanford.


This is really beautiful, thank you for sharing this.


The only problem I have is that (some) kids get up so early. Being tired and having to take care of kids is difficult. Other than that, I fully agree with you: just think of ways to make hanging out with your kids more fun/interesting.


5:30-6:30 AM. Every. Single. Day.

Saturday morning "I need help wiping..."

Starting your day sleep-deprived and having to wipe a toilet-trained person's ass is just degrading. Parenting in modern times -- basically degradation with eventual benefits.


> Raising kids is mundane, boring, uninteresting or intensely irritating 80% of the time. When it's good it's really good, but you don't get to choose when, and you've got to be at least somewhat on your game the rest of the time too if you don't want to be a jerk to them.

My impression is that nobody, later in life, says they wished they spent less time with their kids.


> My impression is that nobody, later in life, says they wished they spent less time with their kids.

I think it's just a strong taboo to say those things.


It's a taboo. People are highly unlikely to self-report honestly on something like this.


It feels great to have confirmation. I've never wanted kids. It sounds so thankless. I'll be happy with being the end of a branch on my family tree for a more materially comfortable life.


Confirmation from one person with a very particular take!

It's work, but it's incredibly rewarding and will continue to be for decades to come. No doubt you will miss out significantly on that, but in exchange you get a great deal of freedom so enjoy it.

I didn't think I wanted kids, was never one to want to hold babies and the like, but I have two and they have been an amazing experience. I'm very glad not to have missed that path.


> I didn't think I wanted kids [...] but I have two

What made you change your mind?

If you strip away any social context (your parents, your partner, your neighbors), would you still opt for kids? To me it looks like a lot of people are nagged on by friends and family before having kids and then taken a lot more seriously afterwards, get more liberties and less questions asked at work, etc. And then .. well then just get on the hype train themselves. Looking in from the outside, it does seem a bit caving into peer pressure at first and suffering from Stockholm Syndrom later.


My partner was keen and I was ambivalent, but without an especially strong feeling either way. There are obviously benefits in both courses through life. So I went with her on it and I have no regrets. It's a very magical experience that our bodies and brains are specialised to handle. Thinking about the changes and reactions I notice in my wife and myself are intriguing.

I had no nagging from anyone and we were together for 8-9 years before having our first. We both have very supportive, model parents. I imagine that new parents with great parents of their own are keen to continue that legacy. I wonder if some with less-ideal parents couldn't see their chance as an opportunity to do better than their own experience?

I think any short term costs (time, money, opportunities) are won back in all the treasured experiences, and then everything from there with independent children is like interest being repaid (IT support in 2050, moving my furniture to the retirement facility, booking cruises, etc). ;)


I was on the fence for a long time. Married for 8 years before having kids. There just came a point where my nieces were really cute and I felt like my own ambitious projects were not progressing. I remember thinking one day, as I played a computer game -- I'm just wasting my time. It's time for a new adventure.

It's a very special feeling to be loved and looked up to by other little humans. I treasure my kids 15 min at a time. That said, you can't turn them off without being a jerk or negligent.

It's just the relentlessness, and the extent to which boundaries between adults and children have been erased in our (Canadian & US) culture.


>the extent to which boundaries between adults and children have been erased

I'm not sure I understand. Is there more of a boundary in other countries? Is it the "helicopter mom"-ing ?


Not parent, but I have three kids and started out with thoughts like you.

The truth is closer to the opposite direction. Parent,partner, neighbor nagging is the same as getting to the gym. You really didn't want to bother with it, but after you worked out it's the best decision you could have ever made.

I have had a number of great professional breakthroughs and nothing comes close to the sense of accomplishment of raising children.

I think the closest you get to tapping into those emotions outside of children is hearing that your father is dying. Picture that and ask yourself would you prefer $20k a year and a decade of Saturdays off as a trade?


You probably nailed the head right there. I have a biological dad and a step dad. One was actively abusive and the other one was negligent. And maybe I'm a little less compassionate or empathetic than I'd like to be. But that, and whatever hand waving you can imagine, adds up to me not really caring if they die or not. Yup, no kids for me.


> Confirmation from one person with a very particular take!

Yes and a match with mine. It feels good to hear out of a maelstrom of contrary opinions one that finally matches your own.

The best to you and your family! Families soaked in positive experience will change the world only for better :D


From a purely selfish point of view, having well adjusted kin who will fight for you when you're old is an advantage and a comfort. The ideal would be to be able to have grandkids without having kids. :)


1) You will have to continue studying and learning for the rest of your career, unless you want to be easily replaceable. If you want to be easily employable with a great job and great salary past the age of 45, you can't just be a coder. You need to be a tech lead, architect, etc, someone that can lead so that you add value in ways other than coding. If you are a coder at the age of 45, you have to be significantly better than someone who is half your age and half you salary to keep employed. An average, or below average coder at age 45 is not easily employable, at least in Silicon Valley.

2) Salaries for pure coders flatline around the age of 35, unless the entire industry's salary range goes up like it has over the last 5 years. There is a sweet spot of experience between 8-10 years, and companies don't value 20 years experience more than 10 years experience. The industry simply isn't the same 10-20 years ago as it is today. The only significant difference that I bring to the table over an 32 year old coder is that my code is probably incrementally more reliable and my manual testing abilities are probably incrementally better, but for the most part, the differences are intangible and definitely not enough to justify a salary increase.

3) Take care of your body. Age is not just a number. Practice good eating habits and do not gain weight because it becomes much harder to lose as you age. Your body goes through physical changes from your early 30s, and you are weaker. My memory is significantly worse now than it was 10 years ago, and often forget things that I've known for 10-20 years. My body is significantly weaker than it was even 5 years back.

4) Learning how to be personable and sociable will help accelerate and lengthen your career. No one wants to be around someone who is a technical genius but an asshole. They would rather hire someone who is very good, but great to work with.

5) Customers don't care about technology, they care about solutions. In the end, as long as you are solving customer problems, you are employable.


1) For some reason it got a lot easier to not care about things I knew, rationally, that I should not care about, right around age 35.

2) The red pill. I don't agree with everything what comes out of that cesspool of a community, but there is a lot of ugly truth in it as well.

3) Kids, job, sleep (and, therefore, happiness). Pick two in your twenties & thirties. However, if you pick the first two, sleep comes later. If you pick the last two, kids probably won't. The happiest people I know picked the outer two.


> The red pill. I don't agree with everything what comes out of that cesspool of a community, but there is a lot of ugly truth in it as well

Examples of "ugly truths" on TRP? All I've seen there is trash and misogyny.


The dual mating strategies of women, who classify men into lovers or providers.

http://therationalmale.com/2014/06/18/controlling-interests/


The general realization that men and women are different and probably want different things in life. That alone causes controversy within the feminist spheres of social media.


Because it's massively overgeneralizing. As has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere, people are influenced by the gender roles thrusted onto them from birth. Gender isn't binary, and the way a person acts doesn't always have to agree with what is "typical" of their gender.


I have to say, you have some balls to say TRP without a throwaway account.


Isn't the sleep part more the first few years where kids don't keep a single-block-of-time sleep schedule? Then you have even more free time when they go to school.


If you have three kids two years apart, it's about a decade of bad sleep. At two most kids are sleeping and at four they are sufficiently independent that your mental fatigue starts getting better.

Of course, at that point, organized sports start up. But at least you are getting sleep again.


As someone who has picked the first two, glad to hear that sleep comes later... though I think my wife will be much happier to hear that.


- Most people are foolish, and rationalize their emotions rather than thinking. Relying too much on logic or rationality will thus be a barrier to social advancement. In other words, it doesn't matter how right you are; if what you say makes people feel bad, that's ll they'll remember.

- The more vociferously people express their opinions about some external issue, the more likely it is that they're talking about themselves.

- Pay less attention to the news. If it's really important you'll hear about it anyway. Devote more of your mental attention to what you're really interested in.

- Quitting smoking starts to really pay off after about a year. After a few years, it feels outstanding.


> Relying too much on logic or rationality will thus be a barrier to social advancement

I would like to think that we should be careful when and how to relay knowledge and advice (and not a statement about how you actually think!). Logic soundness is irrelevant if the listener can't absorb it, and as obvious as it is, even more irrelevant if it doesn't positively impact my life/his life/our relationship.

That's one of the things I love the most about online forums. If you're wrong, people will probably tell you. You learn it's far more useful to let go of barriers on your beliefs (I think we built them as a culture to avoid volatility of knowledge). You gain a lot of confidence if you're sincere to yourself about your beliefs (I think denying opposite opinions is a dishonesty to yourself).

> Pay less attention to the news. If it's really important you'll hear about it anyway. Devote more of your mental attention to what you're really interested in.

This varies a lot by occupation I guess. But this looks like very sound advice to me. For most news, you would "gain" a lot more per time reading a compressed delayed perspective. It really is important to judge how actionable each medium of news is.


I really, really like news, but unless you're high up in the power hierarchy very little of it matters to the individual; I can see why many people just take in their local news or professional news within their industry. I do think it's very good to be interested in the world at large, but I miss news before the internet, because so little of what is offered as news is unworthy of attention and 24-hour publishing cycles have further eroded quality standards. Despite the flows of media institutions, I'd happily go back to getting news in the form of a daily paper if internet news magically winked out of existence.Contrary to my naive youthful expectations, all-the-news-you-can-handle on the internet has resulted in commoditization rather than democratization of information, with a correspondingly unhealthy effect on the body politic.


> - Most people are foolish, and rationalize their emotions rather than thinking. Relying too much on logic or rationality will thus be a barrier to social advancement. In other words, it doesn't matter how right you are; if what you say makes people feel bad, that's ll they'll remember.

This one is bitting me so much, I always thought my biggest challenge in my career would be something technical. Now I know better and am trying to improve my communication skills.

I'm the kind of guy that is usually right but the way I communicate things makes people hostile, feel bad or defensive. It was easy to see/admit this was hurting me, it hasn't been so easy to change it.

> - Quitting smoking starts to really pay off after about a year. After a few years, it feels outstanding.

It been 2 months now I stopped smoking, that is good to know.


Tip: Extract useful information from people's mistakes, and show it to them. They'll love it (and it's really fun!).

(It's a bit like when you ask a smart physicist a silly question instead of telling you're wrong he'll make the most out of it)

Examples:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO0r930Sn_8

https://what-if.xkcd.com/


Find someone to love, and who loves you back. Try to find a community of people, not only here on HN or online, but who you can be with physically. Also, while I love the startup ecosystem, I highly suggest finding a community that doesn't hinge around "success" or money. For example, a gardening group, or a city league team, etc. Find people who you wouldn't mind giving your time to for nothing in return.


Congratulations: You just rediscovered solution #3 to the fundamental problem in life!

From the E. Fromm, The Art of Loving (say, love and its connections with emotions, psychology, and religion), I simplify and paraphrase: "For humans, the fundamental problem in life is doing something effective about feeling alone. Only four solutions have been found, #1 love of spouse, #2 love of God, #3 membership in a group, and #4 [not recommended]."

So you rediscovered #3! Darned good!


I'm looking for such a group. Got any tips?


join the Quakers!


I wish I knew how unimportant material things were.

Live in the now.

You are not your job.

Don't take things personally.

Ask for what you want.

Would you rather be right, or loved?


I'm in my early 20s and I learned this. I'm so thankful that I'll be able to live the rest of my life free of an over-bearing ego.

Meditation got me there. I think people should seriously give it a shot. It's potentially lifechanging in very positive ways.


Beware, I had similar revelations in my early 20s and personally found it very tough to uphold these ideals. I doubt that I'm alone here on this.

Life throws curveballs at you, and the more you stack responisiblity and ambition - the harder it is to live for your own ideals. Eventually your friends start getting married and getting ahead, and you begin wanting more for your own family than for yourself.

All I'm saying is that it's one thing to realize these values, yet another entirely to consistently uphold them throughout your adult life.

But, as gregd will attest, it is possible.


Certainly. I'm living largely stress-free right now because of my remote job that pays well, and so it allows me to easily live an unfettered life. I know for a fact that if I were not so fortunate that living lucidly and carefree would not come as naturally. In the past I was very stressed and not happy with myself, yet still needed to be the best for some reason. I think living in the now and keeping a clear mind is the best thing I can do to maintain my peace with myself and my situation, whether it be fortunate or unfortunate.


I'm 38, but hopefully that's close enough.

There is no suck thing as luck. There is opportunity and the people who take advantage of it.

A "lucky" person is just someone who takes advantage of the opportunities they make for themselves.

For example, when I see someone who might be interesting to talk to, I walk up and talk to them. CTO of Amazon? Go up and say hi. Then suddenly I'm "lucky" enough to get this: http://aws.amazon.com/heroes/usa/jeremy-edberg/


So you had no advantages in life whatsoever except the ones you created for yourself? Everything good in your life is entirely your own doing? Really, there's no such thing as luck?

I was born in a wealthy country, to sane and supportive parents. I was born with a talent for mathematics and technology, and am reasonably intelligent. I had a family that encouraged learning. With the exception of some run-ins with addiction and mood disorders, I still have my health, despite my best efforts to destroy it while an addict. I am sober now partly because of the efforts of others.

I have managed to grab onto some awesome opportunities that have rolled past now that I'm healthier, and am currently working at a shockingly successful startup, but it was not strictly my own doing.

I don't disagree with what I think you're really getting at - take opportunities that present themselves, "luck is when preparation meets opportunity", don't wait around for things to happen, make them happen, and so on. I just think it's a bit of a stretch, and frankly a bit smug, to declare that there's "no such thing as luck."


It's a good attitude that seizing opportunity is something you could always try to do but it's certainly arguable luck plays a HUGE role in which specific opportunities show up.

There are countless examples and very famous and successful people will often point to all the luck in their lives. To name just one example Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Disney Animation points out all the luck in his life in his Creativity Inc book.

Luck that Lucas decided to sell Pixar, Luck that Jobs bought it before it got disbanded. Luck that Jobs failed to turn Pixar into a computer company like he tried to do for a couple of years. Luck that Jobs was willing to sink so much money into a losing company IIRC 57 million before they switch to animation.

I'm sure others can name other examples.


If this guy hadn't thought he was lucky, he would have resigned from Disney early.

So maybe Luck is a belief... and belief is what decisions are made of, good and bad.


"Luck" is based on probability and chance, which are definitely not things that you have direct control over. Yes, you can make decisions based upon a good understanding of probability and can even often do things to improve the odds in your own favour, but only up to a point. There is a very big difference between making the most of the cards you are dealt, and choosing your own (and your opponent's) cards.

I think you are referring to attitude prior to the roll of the dice and interpretation of the outcome of the roll of the dice, rather than being able to influence the roll of the dice itself - with a positive outlook you can appear or feel more "lucky", and that is generally a good thing.


Awesome, jedberg replied :)

I completely agree though. There is a famous quote that goes something along the lines of "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity". If you want "luck", you need to go out and meet people! Go out and cast the net of opportunity!

Funny you linked to that exact AWS page, since I was just on there an hour ago. I was reading AWS for Dummies to prepare for an upcoming interview at AWS. I know you handled reddit's EC2 traffic. What advice would you give to somebody looking to get into a career with AWS? I'm a senior in EE at college with a background in networking and I see Amazon's cloud services only growing in the upcoming decades.


> What advice would you give to somebody looking to get into a career with AWS?

I'm not sure what they are looking for, but I'd say learn your distributed computing theory. Most every person I talk to there is quite competent in that aspect of CS.

You should be learning about things like hashing algorithms[0][1], bulkheading[2], backpressure[3], caching and cache invalidation and coherence[4], and eventual consistency[5], among other things. Start with those and you'll have a good foundation for your interview.

Heck, if you just read the pages on those topics you'll be way ahead of the game, and if you follow the related links, you can give yourself a solid foundation in a day.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consistent_hashing

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendezvous_hashing

[2] http://www.infoq.com/news/2012/12/netflix-hystrix-fault-tole...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_pressure#Back_pressure_in_...

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cache_coherence

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eventual_consistency


Start exercising when you're young and make it a life long habit.


Take cash over equity. Drop acid or shrooms at least once. Don't get married young.


Agree with acid or mushrooms, everyone should experience this. Or DMT.


I'm not a fan of the saying "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" - too easy to take that literally. A similar sentiment, but more precise, that fits for me is "know your temperament and strengths, and if you find a career that fits them, most importantly you will enjoy yourself, and have better odds of doing well at it since you are more fully engaged."


Don't listen to people who say that you are "job hopping" or unreliable if you change jobs earlier than 5 years in the same role.


(1) Catalogs of some of the more common behavior and emotional patterns and their development over time of human females and how to recognize these patterns in real life and respond to them.

(2) The role of entrepreneurship in our economy and society and how to be a successful entrepreneur.

(3) The connections, common and/or possible, between high end academics and careers, especially business and entrepreneurship.

(4) Clinical Psychology 101 and how to detect, understand, and respond to the common problems.

(5) The shockingly large fraction of people who make messes out of their lives for no good reason, and how to detect, understand, and respond to what they are doing.

(6) The surprising ability of some people to have terrible lives for their first 20 years but seemingly put all that aside and have good lives.

(7) What parts of advanced mathematics are powerful for valuable applications and how to make such applications.

(8) Real Politics 101, or how to please 50+% of the people saying next to nothing and otherwise saying just lies!

(9) Always look for the hidden agenda.

(10) Organizational Behavior 101.

(11) The common real situations of marriage and parenting in the US, e.g., "there are a lot of affairs". If you have or may have significant wealth, then no way should you get married without a rock solid pre-nup. As in the opera Rigoletto, La donna è mobile, that is, "The woman is fickle". From "The Big Sky", "You can never tell what a woman will do next.".

(12) How fiction works in books, plays, TV, and movies, and how it connects with the mass media including what is called the news.

(13) What are the really important things in life and how to understand their importance.

(14) The world changed a lot from 1800 to 1900 and then from 1900 to 2000 and then from 2000 to 2015. Rapid change will likely continue. Expect and accept it, welcome it, and take advantage of it.

(15) A good family is one of the most important things, and to have one likely you have to work hard to make it so.


My realization is that I am about in the middle of my life. That means half of it has already passed. There's only half left, and that includes old age. It makes me think deeper about how I am living my life.


Yes, you've summarised my everyday thoughts rather well. This is something that is pretty predominant lately in my mind, and also the fact that my own parents' mortality is an impending one from this point onwards. These two thoughts combined, have become sufficient to make so many other things appear trivial by comparison (and thank God for that).


Take love seriously.

E.g., watch the 2014 Budweiser SuperBowl commercial about a puppy and love at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQB7QRyF4p4

There pay attention to the song and, as at

http://commercialwith.weebly.com/budweiser-puppy-super-bowl-...

to the words of the song, i.e.,

"Well you only need the light when it's burning low,

Only miss the sun when it starts to snow.

Only know you love her when you let her go.

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low,

Only hate the road when you're missing home,

Only know you love her when you let her go.

And you let her go. And you let her go (oh woah).

When you let her go."

So, when you do have her,

Lesson: Don't let her go.

And, if she lets you go, try to be a good leader and guide her to seeing the importance of her not letting you go.

Both of you need love, and together both of your can solve that problem for both of you. It's important.


Don't be afraid to lose other people's money. Do whatever you have to do before you have to take care of your parents, your wife, your children. Find a mentor(s) so you avoid mistakes, so maybe you get funding. Sop up all you can from the Internet/Youtube. We never had it so good. You can learn about startups, pitching, finance, programming, etc. Be careful who you select as friends. Don't dismiss, but fade the ones not interested in success. Don't think that any project is too big for you. Don't separate yourself from society. You can't just program in a dark room. You need to get out and meet others or you'll miss something important.

If you wait till things get cheap you'll be at the end of the line (I'm thinking of not starting businesses like auctions, search, employment, etc. in the 1990's because everything was expensive. )

Learn about Robert Kiyosaki's (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) four quandrants.

Investing Learn what's meant by secular & cyclical bull markets and what their length is. Learn how important demographics are (Right now my "baby boom" generation is trying to sell it's homes to a generation with fewer people.) Learn what normally happens when the Fed pumps money into the economy. First it goes into the stock market, then the economy, then inflation takes hold. Since the emerging economies (Asia) will grow faster then the older developed economies (North America & Europe), over a long period of time the returns should be higher in Asia. If you have a long period of time (100yrs) you don't need to take risk. You can simply invest in the big, growing companies that increase their dividend year after year. Buy when there's blood in the streets. After a disaster is always a good time to invest somewhere. Just because some junior mining company says they've found an anomaly, it doesn't mean anything. So few mines prove to be economic it's unreal. 1 in 1,000? 1 in 10,000? Look it up. There's too much :)


That is, don't be afraid you'll lose other people's money. And use that as a reason not to act.


Don't be passive in your life, or you might wake up one day on the wrong side of 40 and realize that you haven't been in control of your life.


Isn't the idea that there's a "wrong" side of 40 a bit silly?

Sorry for the snipe/snark, but... I mean, there's no right or wrong to chronological age. It's not something we have any control over.


I totally agree with the point you make. But, then again, maybe it's my bias showing. :)

Having said that, I also read the parent's phrasing/remark more as an "observation" of ageism and similar social cut-off constructs that have lately become very prevalent in most professional spheres. So, perhaps they have voiced what they've been observing both around their own lives and within their circles.


You're pretty successful already. I'm turning 45 this year and and am uncomfortably aware that I need to accomplish certain career goals within the next few years or see the chances of ever doing so diminish dramatically.


I wasn't debating the substance of what you are saying. I was only questioning the idea that there's a "wrong" side of an age, as opposed to just "later".

My read of age in software is that the age discrimination culture is less severe outside of the Bay Area. I certainly meet people over 50-60+ in Chicago and New York who are still programming and highly respected.


I wasn't thinking of any region or profession in particular, but I am more aware of age as a filtering strategy than I was a few years back.


Got it. Sorry to hear that you're dealing with that shit.

It does seem better in the Midwest. And it's not that bad in New York, although the cost of living is brutal. The nuttiness going on in the Bay Area seems to be a young man's game (and, if you're not well-connected enough to be made a founder out of the gates, a stupid young man's game).


One of the lessons I've learned is that things don't really change very much. Obviously the internet has changed how we do things, but not by much: A time traveler snatched from 1975 would feel right at home in most ways that matter.

When I was younger, I expected change to happen much faster. Hovercars and jetpacks, but also World Government, peace on Earth, and food for the hungry.

We haven't really made much progress. I have high hopes for new players in the transportation and space industries, and for medical advances based on genetics and bioinformatics, but experience tells me not to hold my breath.

But there are also surprises the other way. In 1975, no one believed the U.S. would have a non-white president so soon.

I now live in a state of (very) tempered optimism.


Anyone over 40 who is certain of anything hasn't been paying attention.


Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.


People always say this (or the more general "take care of your joints"). What the hell does it mean? Don't skateboard? Run? Don't run? Start taking fish oil at age 25?


Floss


* No tombstone ever said, "He wrote great code." Ponder the implications of that.

* Don't let anybody else define success. You are not in high school anymore--chart your own path.

* Count your blessings. Be grateful, if not to God then to your parents or somebody besides yourself.


Plenty of tombstones and plaques highlight a person's career accomplishments and the impact those had on humanity, e.g., http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/ba/Sackville...


Nobody on their deathbed ever says, "I wish I had worked more instead of spending time with my family."


I was just thinking about this yesterday, and I disagree. I think it's something that people repeat without really thinking about it.

Sure, if you hate your job, or it's meaningless. But let's turn this around. Do great painters wish they had spent less time painting? Or do they wish they could finish their last project. Do writers wish they had written less, or do they wish they could live long enough to finish that last book?

I do what I do because I enjoy doing it more than spending time with my family. For better or for worse, it is a compulsion, a calling, not a job.


I agree.

The way most people seem to mean this is one in which it's trivially true, since work is unpleasant but necessary and family is pleasant but scarce.

There is work out there that people love and not only activities that you get compensated for qualify as "work". Similarly there's relatives out there that people do wish they'd spend less time with.


While that's not strictly true. It's also worth considering that working more means nothing to someone on their death bed. What does money do for a dying man? Of course people ask for family and friends when they are dying because there is no longer any value in the products of work.

With that said, there are plenty of people who believe their job does the world good and wish they could do more good before they are taken away from this life. I hope to be one of them.


That's missing the point, though. It's about regret—what people feel they didn't pay attention to when they were younger and healthy, not what is going on at the moment of death.

To say such a thing also isn't necessarily opposed to belief that hard work is good, or that it is valuable to one's self and society. It simply means that if you work too much, you can miss out on life.


Or that death is a very emotional time which increases our desire for people/things that play on that emotion - such as family. But even if this is the case that does not mean that the person did not get more enjoyment from what they actually did than to what was thought on the deathbed.


Don't borrow money.


Don't borrow more money than you believe you can repay within in a reasonable amount of time. But your overarching goal is true.


The super rich had to leverage there way up to the sky.


1. Low cost whole market index funds from (e.g. Fidelity), not individual stocks. See the Bogleheads site and books.

2. Work out 3-4 days per week

3. Portion control works. Eating from a restricted list works (YES fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, non-grain-based oils. LIMIT dairy. NO sugar/grain(flour,rice,corn)) So, weight watchers or something like Paleo or Zone. (Fat all my life until 35 or so)


"1. Low cost whole market index funds from (e.g. Fidelity), not individual stocks. See the Bogleheads site and books."

What's your opinion on leveraged equity? I have a few mutual funds that have been killing it since I bought them (a few years ago) but everything I read, says not to hold them longer then a few days. Its hard to sell something that's actively making money. One example, is I bought bipix back around Sept 2011.


I do not own anything that I wouldn't hold for years and years.

My plan to make money via knowledge and work is through writing software. The risky instruments I hold are options in the company I work for and equity in my own projects. I want to spend near 0 time on financial engineering -- the purpose of the portfolio is to balance the risks I take at work.

My accumulated wealth is in low-fee index funds (mostly stocks, but a fair amount of bonds and international).

In your specific example, BIPIX is trying to outdo the Dow Jones U.S. Biotechnology Index. In 3yrs, DJBioTech returned ~200% and BIPIX is better (~240%). I'd have to know the fees to know which returned better net fees. The BIPIX managers claim they are going for 1.5 return of the DJBioTech, which they have not in the 3 year period. In the 1 year they are swapping back and forth (BIPIX currently (EDIT: I said ahead, but it's actually) behind not taking fees into account)

If I wanted the return of a specific sub-market industry, I would buy the unmanaged index that best represents that industry.

Basically -- we have no evidence that mutual fund managers can beat indexes in the long term, but we know fees and taxes for sure.


Don't get married. Marriage is a very tight coupling that is too easy to get into and too hard to get out of. You don't need it.


Interesting point. Would you mind elaborating further?


Get the stories from your mentors (and parents / relatives if they're not your mentors) before you turn 40. Learn about their history. Sadly, your turning 40 is going to start being the age where these folks are passing away. Ask the questions now. Knowing about their history will give you some great insight into the whys of their beliefs and actions.


1. Dont read/listen to news. 2. Read history. 3. Try to avoid alcohol.


Don't read Hacker News when you're working on things. Especially not the comments.

(Except maybe for this article.)


When communicating to others, just must pay close attention to and consider your intended audience; for successful communications, your message alone constructed independent of your audience will, in practice, often give some bad reactions and, thus, is usually not good enough.

If don't pay close attention to your audience, then you risk offending, confusing, or losing your audience and creating emotional upset, rational misunderstanding, and maybe even hostility.

In paying attention to your audience, often have to put yourself in the state, i.e., position, of your audience. That is, from paying attention to your audience, you have to try to understand their backgrounds, thinking, and emotions, anticipate (that is, guess in advance) what their reactions will be, and, then, revise your message for them, say, to get your real message across and avoid misunderstandings, terrible emotional reactions, etc. This advice is especially important in romantic and/or family communications. Right, this extra step means that in communicating you have to think about two things, not just one, that is, think about both the core content you are trying to communicate and also what your audience might be getting.

Especially good in one on one communications, one, good, sometimes crucial, general technique is reflective listening, that is, asking the other person to summarize and repeat back their understanding of what you communicated. Or, in terms of electronic engineering, write, read back, and then compare what tried to write with what read back! A big reason here is that emotions, unstated assumptions, various fears, etc. can get seriously in the way of even simple messages.

In particular, for a large fraction of human females, often their first reaction to any communications from a man is to be afraid of various things -- or just be afraid even without knowing why. For some 101 level lessons, maybe have a nervous kitty cat (some are quite nervous, are scaredy cats) and learn how to detect when they are scared and how to respond and, then, how over time to make them much less scared. Then for human females, slowly work your way up from this 101 level lesson to a graduate course!


I wish I took better care of my knees. It's important to do quad strengthening and hamstring stretching. Just playing a lot of soccer and basketball by themselves can lead to loss of cartilage and having to give it all up.


1. That people would prefer a piece of advice to be given by Kurt Vonnegut at an MIT commencement speech rather than for the same advice to be provided by Mary Schmich in her Chicago Tribune column. Even if she wrote the original and he never gave the speech.

2. That people will always prefer the YouTube video over all other alternatives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI

3. That meta is convoluted.


Marry the right person


I wish I'd known how IMPOSSIBLE it is to obtain a life partner/LTR/marriage in my late 40s and now 50! (I'm female.)

I would have made an effort to get a beau 10 years ago if I'd known!

PS - Shameless plug - If you are a single and looking cool-as-all-fuck male unicorn open to a super fucking cool 50 year old women (former punk rock chick, grad degree, nerdgrrl) who looks and acts 30, find me on okc, same uid as here.


It is easier for males in their late 40s and 50s then it is for females. Look up SMV (Sexual Market Value)


Who you know matters. Choose your friends carefully, surround yourself with people who can teach you something, and invest in meaningful relationships.


"Youth is such a wonderful time of life. Too bad it's wasted on young people."

Commonly attributed to Mark Twain


You must have goals, but "I'm 40 and I've achieved all I wanted for my life" is the least desirable outcome of your life. Because life doesn't end at 40, and you'll feel a deep void... Stay in motion, don't plan for a plateau in your life.


Even if there is high demand for software developers, you might not be much in demand after 40. Just look at the average job page - how many old dudes do you typically see in the "this is our cool company" photo?


- listen to yourself, you cannot go against your fundamental nature, you can "surf" it to reach your goals - speak your mind, with diplomacy, but don't stay silent. - sweat.


keep failing at things in one focused area. review your failures and note what you learned from each of them. if you make incremental improvements to anything on a daily basis, in 10 years you'll be a master.

never measure yourself against where you want to be, but to where you were.

always ask for things, no one is going to do it for you.

you can't make everyone happy (especially on hacker news ;) ). find an audience that resonates with you and make them happy.

you're not a special snowflake.


I wish I'd realized that everything I'd ever looked forward to eventually had happened, no matter how far into the future it was.


I wished I had learned to let go while much younger.

43


Time only flows in one direction.


wow, even with so little entries these ones are lot better than the other 2x threads.


* Life is much more than just chasing shiny new things.

* Value experience more than things.


- Over the short term there are a lot of variables to success other than being a smart, hard working, good person. Over the long term things start to even out.

- Being smart is the price of entry, but drive matters more. (The #1 & #2 people from my high school class of 500+ had nominal professional success. The breakout successes were the 5'2" guy who made the basketball team, and the chunky musician who never missed a class 6-12. Both were smart, but their drive carried them.)

- If you see a partial ethical lapse from someone, the odds are there are more full lapses to follow. Give second chances for a lot of failures, but not ethical lapses.

- The group of who you is important to you shrinks, not grows over time.

- Somehow you have a lot less free time when you have the so-called "boring, married and 2 kids" life. It's still worth doing. (Kids are simultaneously much more time than you'd imagine, much more frustration, and much more awesome)

- Be smart about money. Remember that every dollar of debt needs to be paid back. Would the future you say, "I really wish I had pissed away X getting..."

- Throw out stuff. You won't miss it, and there's a cost of carrying it around. Spend on experience instead.

- With alcohol, go for quality over quantity. You'll spend less money for a better experience.

- It's not worth spending time with negative people.

- Don't wait until you have a daughter to lose the sexism.

- Go to the dentist and doctor regularly, and listen to them.

- Prepare to reinvent yourself multiple times.

- Most of your peer group won't achieve the success that they assume will happen naturally. (Life is a pyramid scheme, and what gets you across the first few steps won't get you past the next few, and lots of people drop off along the way)

- Luck matters a lot, but operate like it doesn't at all.

- Be twice as responsible as you think you need to be, because you don't know the other person's perception. Assume the other person will only be half as responsible.

- If you see warning signs at work, move quickly, leaving the handcuffs behind. They won't stay gold for long.

- Take the soft classes seriously.

- Become so talented that you're the "Go To" person, and such a good teacher that you've replaced yourself by the time you want to go to bigger and better things.

- With other people, you sometimes have to choose between Being Right and Having a Relationship. There's no loss of character for keeping quiet.

- Confidence inspires confidence. It's ok to commit on 80% certainty when the other guy is committing on 60%.


Reading HN is a waste of time. You should come here to know, what NOT to do.




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