The Huddler and the Reacher

I have two friends. Well, acquaintances really. One, Carl and the other Shawn (those are not their names).

Meet Carl

Carl works a blue color job, makes okay money for what he does, has excellent benefits and job security. He always talks about wanting more, how he wants to be a developer, and so on. This has been going on for years.

During Carl's second or third lap around the barbeque one summer complaining to every friend and acquaintance about how tired he was of his job and how he wanted more, he was interrupted. Jake told him about coding bootcamps, and that he should go.

Carl really wanted to be a developer, so he asked everyone he encountered for the next 6 months if it was a good idea. the consensus seemed to be yes, so ahead he went.

Carl enrolled in a 9 month course. Every night, Monday through Friday of course, he sat down and spent 2-3 hours on course work. After nine months, he completed the bootcamp and received his certificate.

He spent the next 6 months applying to jobs. He built nothing in the mean time, wrote not a single line of code. He had nothing to show, except his certificate.

He languished. He asked me what to do, I told him build. Two months went by, he built nothing. He asked again. I gave him and end-to-end SaaS plan, and told him to build it. "It'll give you experience worst case, and best case it'll make some serious $ and you'll not need that job."

6 weeks later I checked in. "How's the SaaS build going?" I asked. I was hoping for a demo. His answer sealed the end of our occasional chats. It revealed something I should have seen all along; that he was a Huddler.

"I just don't have time man. I work 40, sometimes 45 hours a week! I don't have any time for something that might not lead to anything."

I was shocked. In retrospect, I shouldn't have been. All the signs were there; he never made a move towards his dream without complete peer consensus, he never took any action before bootcamp to dev on his own, during camp he built nothing, and then this, "No time". He is a Huddler.

Because that's what a Huddler is. A Huddler wants approval for what they undertake, they fear change, and run from the unknown. They take no risk, and prefer to spend their time huddling with others like themselves discussing action but never taking it.

Meet Shawn

When I met Shawn I was 21, and he was 14. Super obnoxious, always pestering with questions, and speaking as if he were 3x his age. Nearly everyone was dismissive of him, myself included. He was tolerated to a certain extent, and then dismissed again. It was like this for years. On and off, accepted to a point.

At first it was "help me make a myspace page". Then, "help me make a webpage", and "help me make a blog", etc. Always reaching. And then it shifted, he wasn't as talkative. Every 3rd month it was "here's this thing I'm making that's going to be so fucking big bro!! How do I do [small coding thing]?". Turns out, he was busy.

I asked him what he wanted to do, he told me "I want to be Kevin Rose."

By the time he was 17 he was freelancing full time, earning a decent rate for an adult and a stunning rate for a 17 year old, while always pushing a side project with one of the other guys. I lost touch with Shawn a couple years later. He drifted off my radar, and I can't say I thought about him again.

Until about 2 years ago. I found a project on an old hard drive I had helped him with, and the nostalgia set in. So I looked him up.

Shawn never stopped pushing, never stopped reaching. He had became one of the youngest hires at a super hot startup, and took equity. When he vested, he sold and started another project. He took VC money and made it. Then sold it. Then made it again. He is a Reacher.

When he wants something, he goes for it. He doesn't worry about if people will approve, or if it's the right move, he moves towards it. If it's not the right thing (and he had so so many of those), he does something else.

Today Shawn, 30, is worth somewhere between 50 and 75 million.

Don't be a Huddler

Both of these guys asked for help. Both of these guys went into tech to be web developers.

Carl is a Huddler. He knew he wanted something, but didn't take steps to get it on his own. He huddled up and asked what to do. Over and over again. To my knowledge, he's not touched dev since he finished bootcamp - he does however still send out resumes.

Shawn is a Reacher. So much so that it was obnoxious, Shawn was always reaching. He asked for help, then executed on whatever he was reaching for. He'd take the advice, and run with it towards what he wanted. He wasn't looking for approval, he was reaching - for a MySpace page, for a website, for a SaaS. He was always reaching. And he still is.

Be a Reacher.