re '"but will never be "great" at either" What sort of attitude is that?' - I don't consider this a bad attitude, more of an acknowledgement that my goal is not to be "great". Further, I am of the personal belief that certain things are unattainable to all people - there is such a thing as a truly great writer, where it's not just attitude/hard work, but a certain natural inclination and ability. I believe I can be great at many things (we all can), but I don't think I have the mindset to be a "great" programmer. Does that make more sense?
jtoeman, I do understand, and your clarification helps. Perhaps I just see that there's no reason to limit yourself, it just becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Focus on what you enjoy and you'll naturally become better at it, even if that isn't your goal.
OF COURSE you can. but it's about choices. you must weed OUT the 60+ hr/week startups for the ones who work normal hours. this will eliminate some fun/great opportunities - BUT - it will NOT eliminate ALL great opportunities.
our startup's been a ~50hr/wk place for 2 years, built great product, and got acquired in January. we didn't make $19B, but we aren't complaining either.
from your priority set, which I personally agree with, you have plenty of options - but you'll have to be "on guard" for the manic places that think 70hrs is normal and the "only way" to be successful. pro tip - they are incorrect.
i do recommend coming up to SF over the peninsula though.... YMMV.
But, watch out! There is a constant exposure to these glorious tales of success and achievement and it will change anyone's mind and attitude. After sometime here, if you a have a little bit of ambition, you wouldn't mind these long working hours and you will also be trying hard to "make it" in the valley.
I am writing a blog post to cover all aspects of my journey. As summary, started with MoaiSDK, ended up with Xcode,Obj-C and Cocos2d. http://www.raywenderlich.com is great start for newbies. Thanks for your interest.