Dave Winer is a true technology legend. He founded his first company in 1981, and became a high-tech millionaire in 1987 when he sold it to Symantec…and that was all before he created blogging, RSS, OPML, and podcasting. He’s uniquely positioned to comment on the impact of monetary “success” in Silicon Valley:
“A few years later I got hit by the Silicon Valley money truck. I had a big bank account, house, long driveway in the best neighborhood, and was young and beautiful, had everything one could possibly hope for, in terms of possessions, the things money can buy. And then the bottom dropped out of my life out at exactly the moment you would have thought I had it made. I realized I had believed in something that was wrong. That wealth would lead to a feeling of happiness and security. Almost exactly the opposite was true.
As long as I was poor, I had something to struggle for. A reason to justify my unhappiness. Once the struggle was over, how could you explain the empty small feeling inside? That was all that was left after the struggle.
The truth is that no matter how much you have, you still occupy the same amount of space and time. You can buy big things, but they are not you. That’s the other side of the sadness of Parker’s wedding. His anger isn’t really with the Internet or journalists. He’s projecting. His anger is with existence. Look, I got all this material stuff, and they don’t love me. They aren’t impressed. Which is just a trick your mind plays. What the anger really means is that there is no love in here, inside me. My soul is not impressed. All this crazyness isn’t me. Help, I’m lost. Where am I?”
I covered this topic a few years ago, so I’ll let Dave’s eloquent explanation stand on its own. Rather, I’ll add that success is really about having the ability to freely allocate your time.
Time, unlike money, is fixed and immutable. Becoming financially successful gives you the ability to spend your time however you want. If this fills you with joy, and a series of things you want to do spring to mind, you will be happy. If you sit like Dustin Hoffman at the end of “The Graduate” and wonder, “What now?”, you’ve got work to do.
Yet if success is about time, rather than money, the inevitable conclusion is that you can build a successful life without wealth or riches. Simply engineer your life so that you’re spending your time according to what you actually love.