My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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Seriously, be a purple cow.
Not [the] best cow or most milk-giving cow or prettiest cow. A purple cow would stand out in a crowd of best, most milk-giving, and prettiest cows. [Indeed,] It would be the purple one that you would talk about if you saw that group.
-Chad Fowler in My Job Went To India, with the idea from Seth Godin (whose book is linked in the quote)

A Purple Cow


Chad illustrates the entire point in less than ten words:
Remarkable definitely doesn't mean the same thing as good.
Said another way, I want to rock.

I've never believed I'm smart or gifted or otherwise especially endowed with intelligence. To me, working hard and putting in the effort has always been the key to success. Not until many years after I came to that conclusion did I read about how "eastern" educational philosophy outpaces that of the "west" in that way.

This is hard for me to say, given those beliefs, but it's something I've come to realize in the past few weeks: it's not hard to be remarkable. Let me explain how easily not sucking leads to remarkability, from stories I've personally experienced in the last two weeks.

A Tale of Two Types Of Customer Service
Ring... Ring


Hi, I just bought a reel for my garden hose, and there's supposed to be a short 3 foot hose that connects the faucet to the reel which connects to the hose. The reel I picked up didn't have one on it, can I get one?

Sure, is there something I can "steal" and give you from another one?


Ring... Ring


Hi, I just bought a ceiling fan and installed most of it until I realized one of the blades is scratched. Do I have to disassemble the fan and bring it all back in?

No, just bring the blade and the receipt...


Marsha, check out this 61 inch slim DLP TV. Isn't it awesome

Well, the viewing angle sucks. Can't we get a flat screen LCD?

Wow. You're right.

We don't have one. The nearest one in the computer is in Corpus Christie [3.5 hours drive time], but there's also one in the warehouse that will be here Friday.

That's not good enough, I need it by Monday.

[After making some calls to check around for TVs not in the system] I located one for you. It can be here tomorrow at 1 PM.

Great, I'll see you then.


Contrast those short stories with taking Wednesday off to get telephone service, calling AT&T and asking why a technician never showed up to get told they'll be there Thursday, to be taking off all day Thursday and then calling asking why a technician never showed up to get told they'll be there Friday, to be taking off all day Friday and calling to be told there was a problem with your order and no one ever bothered to call to tell you about it, to be taking off and calling ...

Also contrast those short stories with waiting a week for an appointment with Comcast on Monday, to be calling after the time frame ended, to being told to wait up as late as you can because they have flashlights, to being told they'll certainly be there Tuesday, to waiting until Wednesday, and again until Thursday.

Aside from the monopolistic consequences we observe, the difference in customer service is striking. Normal would have been acceptable, but the first three examples were remarkable, especially given the crap that came later.
Tweet on twitter relating the purple cow allegory

The Point
There may be a lot of companies who aren't looking for great hackers, so perhaps being one isn't going to be in your best interests for finding just any job. It may be in your interest for finding an incredible job, however.

I used to think being lazy might be a quality of a good software developer. Instead, I learned that you should be proud, not lazy. It's not the negative side of pride we should strive for, mind you - it's the the limit of not sucking x_amount as not sucking x_amount approaches infinity.

I don't want to be around people who only want to succeed. I want to be around people who want to excel.

It's that easy to be remarkable to most people. It's the difference between being the one who blows the feather that ends up floating in the wind versus being the feather.

Being remarkable is the difference between being the one to flush the toilet as opposed to being the piece of shit that rides the wave down.

Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, in a toilet.

As always, comments, thoughts, and criticism are encouraged and appreciated.

Hey! Why don't you make your life easier and subscribe to the full post or short blurb RSS feed? I'm so confident you'll love my smelly pasta plate wisdom that I'm offering a no-strings-attached, lifetime money back guarantee!

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