Developing Perspective

#200: Sustained.


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing

00:00:04   news of note and iOS development, Apple and the like. I'm your host, David Smith. I'm

00:00:09   an independent iOS developer based in Herndon, Virginia. This is show number 200 and today

00:00:13   is Wednesday, October 22nd. Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes, so let's

00:00:18   get started. All right. So this last couple of days, and including today, I suppose, I've

00:00:26   I've had a couple of interesting milestones that have had me thinking about longevity,

00:00:30   sustainability, those types of things.

00:00:33   And I thought that would be an interesting topic to discuss on today's show.

00:00:37   So a couple of the things that have happened are coming up quickly.

00:00:42   So yesterday I was going into the developer portal, as I do unfortunately many times a

00:00:47   day to do provisioning things.

00:00:49   And I noticed at the top of the portal it said, "Your developer program is about to

00:00:53   expire."

00:00:55   And having learned from the past that you never

00:00:56   want to let that go along because if anything goes wrong

00:00:59   and your developer program does expire,

00:01:02   all your apps will be temporarily pulled

00:01:04   from the store and it's a huge mess.

00:01:06   So immediately, I go in and buy it.

00:01:09   It got me thinking, and I realized

00:01:11   that was the seventh time that I have given Apple $99

00:01:15   for the privilege of being a iOS developer.

00:01:18   And it's kind of crazy.

00:01:20   I went back and dug out my first email related to that.

00:01:24   And it actually took a while to find because back then there was no iOS developer program.

00:01:28   There was an iPhone developer program.

00:01:30   It was a long time ago.

00:01:33   And that was kind of a remarkable thing to think about.

00:01:35   That's seven times now.

00:01:36   I've paid my $99 to be in the store and it's been quite a ride since.

00:01:44   Coming up next month, I'll be celebrating my sixth year of having an app in the App

00:01:48   Store.

00:01:49   It's quite a long time.

00:01:50   That is an entire kindergartener.

00:01:51   In fact, it is my kindergartener.

00:01:52   I remember my son was born--

00:01:57   on the day my son was born was the first time I ever had

00:02:00   an app featured in the App Store.

00:02:02   So that was quite something, quite a day.

00:02:04   So I can always kind of judge things by how long I've been

00:02:07   doing this by how old he is.

00:02:10   And lastly, as I mentioned at the beginning of the show,

00:02:12   this is episode 200.

00:02:14   And while I don't want to emphasize too much that a

00:02:17   round number like 200 is something special, it's been a

00:02:20   long time that I've been doing this show, since I think it

00:02:22   It was July of 2011.

00:02:24   I've been doing roughly a show a week.

00:02:27   And all of those things-- and thank you for indulging me

00:02:29   for that walk down memory lane for myself--

00:02:32   but all of those things are just sort of interesting

00:02:34   to think about in terms of that's a long time to be doing

00:02:37   something.

00:02:38   And obviously, in many ways, I'm a young buck in our community

00:02:43   because there's a lot of Mac developers, people

00:02:45   who've been doing this, playing the Apple software

00:02:47   game for much longer than I have.

00:02:49   But it's certainly something that I think about,

00:02:52   that have been doing this a long, long time.

00:02:53   At some point, this is the longest job

00:02:55   I think I've ever had.

00:02:57   Previously, before I was independent,

00:03:00   the longest I ever stayed at a company

00:03:01   was probably a couple of years.

00:03:03   And I've been doing this now for six years.

00:03:06   So I started to think about, what are some of the attributes

00:03:08   that are necessary to have a sustained output of something,

00:03:13   whether that's software, whether that's

00:03:15   trying to build a business, whether it's

00:03:16   trying to do a podcast.

00:03:18   I was trying to think of what attributes of that

00:03:20   important to be able to sustain it in the long term.

00:03:24   And I ended up with four.

00:03:25   And for the purposes of today's episode,

00:03:27   I'm just going to kind of unpack what those are.

00:03:29   And hopefully these are useful to apply

00:03:31   to a variety of different subjects and topics.

00:03:33   But these are kind of the four things

00:03:34   that I think are important to make something sustained,

00:03:37   to keep something going with longevity.

00:03:41   So the first one, the first point I think you need

00:03:43   is you need to have a purpose behind why

00:03:45   you're doing something.

00:03:48   You could say a purpose, you could say a reason.

00:03:50   You have to be doing something for-- there

00:03:54   has to be something driving you.

00:03:56   And in my experience, that thing needs

00:03:58   to be something that you are really engaged with.

00:04:01   Some people would say passionate about.

00:04:04   I struggle with the word passionate

00:04:05   about these types of things, because I'm not really

00:04:07   passionate about software development.

00:04:09   It's not something that I would say that I have passion for.

00:04:12   It's something that I'm fairly good at,

00:04:14   and it's something that I have a lot of experience with.

00:04:16   But at a certain point, it's not so much about passion

00:04:19   as it is about interest and engagement and enjoyment.

00:04:23   These are words that I think are much more

00:04:25   practical to think about.

00:04:26   Is what you're doing something that you enjoy doing?

00:04:29   Is it something that you-- when you wake up in the morning

00:04:32   and you're like, you know, I'm going to go write some code,

00:04:33   does that make you excited?

00:04:35   Are you interested in doing that?

00:04:36   And obviously, it will be day by day.

00:04:38   Some days, I really don't want to program.

00:04:40   And some days, I don't program.

00:04:41   Sometimes, I just go on vacation.

00:04:43   But at its core, you have to have a purpose behind why you're doing it.

00:04:48   And you have to be able to properly articulate that.

00:04:52   I've had conversations with people where they're like, oh,

00:04:54   I'm going to start a podcast.

00:04:56   And it's like, why?

00:04:57   Well, it's kind of the cool thing.

00:04:59   Everyone's got a podcast.

00:05:00   I'm going to have a podcast, too.

00:05:01   Or I'm going to have a blog.

00:05:02   Or I'm going to write an app.

00:05:03   And if it's just because, if you don't really have a reason for something,

00:05:08   it's most likely going to be kind of a flash in the, you know,

00:05:11   sort of just a flash in the pan. It's not a problem. Like

00:05:14   there, they did perfectly fine to just for fun, make something

00:05:17   or for fun, start something. But if your purpose is for to be

00:05:22   sustained, I think you need to make sure that you have a good

00:05:24   understanding of why you're doing it. Are you doing it to

00:05:27   make money? Are you doing it to have to be famous? Are you doing

00:05:29   it because you love it? Are you doing it because you don't know

00:05:33   what anybody else to do? Like you need to be able to

00:05:35   conceptualize, wrap your arms around what it is and you're

00:05:38   doing and why you're doing it before you can even start. And

00:05:41   I thought that's something that I, you know, sort of, I found

00:05:44   very helpful. Like I do what I do, because I enjoy making

00:05:47   software. And I enjoy making having my own boss or whatever

00:05:53   you want to call it. Like, I like that aspect of what I do. I

00:05:56   like that I can choose what I want to do, and have flexibility

00:06:00   in that. And that's largely why I'm independent. If I could do

00:06:03   those same things in another environment, I probably would. I

00:06:06   I do it like there are many very negative sides of being independent.

00:06:10   It's really rough.

00:06:11   But it's one of the few environments where I can do what I do, where I just kind of come

00:06:14   downstairs in the morning and be like, you know what, I'm going to make this app.

00:06:17   I'm going to do this.

00:06:18   And I can feel that freedom to be good, to have that creativity and that process that

00:06:24   I really enjoy.

00:06:25   That's largely why I do it.

00:06:28   Your answer for that is going to be very different than mine, almost sort of necessarily.

00:06:33   Next is diversity.

00:06:35   this is apply. It's easiest to explain this in terms of business, but I think it does

00:06:41   apply to a lot of different things. But if you want to have something sustained over

00:06:45   the long term, it is very difficult for that to be too focused, too one dimensional, that

00:06:55   especially in business, and that's where I'll start by unpacking now, but I think you can

00:06:58   apply generally, like my business, and I've made my living, I support my family and pay

00:07:06   my mortgage and all those types of things out of the products that I sell and make available

00:07:12   for free in the App Store.

00:07:13   Like that is how I make my living.

00:07:17   And the process by which I got there, and the reason that I've been able to do this

00:07:20   for such a long time, I think, is in many ways a result of diversity.

00:07:25   It is something that is a bit of a joke that I have too many apps, and I do.

00:07:30   I have lots and lots of apps.

00:07:32   I've tried and failed more times than most people have tried.

00:07:36   And as a result of that, I've been able to have an incredibly diverse portfolio that

00:07:42   in aggregate is able to weather the storms and the challenges and all of the problems

00:07:48   that being an independent developer faces without, you know, putting with without hit

00:07:56   running me into problems that I'm able to do what I do because I have tremendous diversity

00:08:01   in income. I was actually looking this morning, you know, if I look at my business in my kind

00:08:06   of profit and loss statement, and I look at my income streams, my primary income comes

00:08:12   from nine different buckets in terms of apps and services, things that I do. There's nine

00:08:20   different places that I'm getting revenue, and they're not even all within the App Store. Of

00:08:26   those, about five or six or six of those are coming from the App Store. So I have things

00:08:33   outside of the App Store. I have different platforms, things. I have lots of different

00:08:37   ways that I'm getting revenue, you know, almost all of them are products, but they're just

00:08:41   different. And the largest of those is only 28% of my total revenue. So it's fairly diverse.

00:08:48   Most of them are kind of in the low teens, kind of evenly split out of my income. And

00:08:53   that diversity helps to be sustainable. And I think you in general, having something be

00:09:00   diverse is just, in some ways, it's just common sense. But it's also something you have to

00:09:04   think about, that if you're trying to start something that is going to be so focused and

00:09:08   so one-dimensional, that you aren't in some ways necessarily, you know, it's like you're

00:09:13   going all in on something. You're either going to win big or you're probably not. And you

00:09:19   have to understand that if, depending on what you're trying to do, being one-dimensional

00:09:23   might be very problematic. It's important to have flexibility. Like even in the show,

00:09:28   I've done different types of show. While it's 15 minutes of me talking for the most part,

00:09:31   I've also done interviews. I've also done different kinds of shows where I'm talking

00:09:37   about coding, sometimes I'm talking about business, sometimes I'm talking about other

00:09:41   things. Having that flexibility and diversity in it is really important in order for something

00:09:46   I think to be able to have a sustained attribute to it.

00:09:50   Next, I think you need to be flexible and ruthless. This is something that is inevitably

00:09:57   in the process of trying to do something. You're going to put time, energy, and effort

00:10:01   into something that will ultimately fail.

00:10:04   Some attribute of what you're doing is not going to work.

00:10:06   In my case, say it's an app that isn't selling well,

00:10:09   or is suddenly non-profitable.

00:10:12   I need to be able to say to not get too wrapped up

00:10:16   in the sunk cost of that, and say, oh, man,

00:10:19   if I could just keep working on it,

00:10:21   if I just keep trying something, it'll

00:10:23   finally turn around eventually.

00:10:25   And maybe it will, but more likely than not, it won't.

00:10:28   And you need to be able to be flexible and ruthless.

00:10:30   And in the startup world, I think they call this pivoting.

00:10:36   But I don't really know what that means.

00:10:38   But I know for myself is if something's not working,

00:10:41   I need to be able and flexible and ruthless enough

00:10:44   to work out what would work and not get too tied up

00:10:47   in things that I think should work for whatever reason.

00:10:51   And some of this is just having the humility

00:10:53   to understand that maybe that thing that you thought initially

00:10:56   that would work doesn't work, understanding

00:10:59   why it doesn't work, and then learning from that and going again.

00:11:03   There's a very strong iterative nature, I think, to doing anything in the long term,

00:11:06   that you have to be learning from your mistakes because you will be making them.

00:11:10   And if you don't recognize them as mistakes, that's when you really start to get into trouble.

00:11:16   And lastly is the perhaps the just sort of like buck up there.

00:11:20   It's just patience and tenacity.

00:11:22   And in many ways, this loops back to the purpose of why you're doing it.

00:11:25   And if you have a good purpose, if you have a good feeling of why you're doing something,

00:11:28   it's easier to be patient and tenacious about it, but understand that it is going to be

00:11:33   hard effort to do anything for a sustained period of time. That's why there aren't that

00:11:39   many people who have been able to do it. The people who are able to have sustained success

00:11:44   over a long period are the people who are patient. I mean, when I talk to some of the

00:11:49   people who've been making software for, you know, three or four times more than I have,

00:11:53   The thing that I'm most often struck by is how patient they are, how they don't get too

00:12:00   wrapped up in the various bumps along the way.

00:12:02   They just keep on carrying on.

00:12:05   And over time, that means that they're able to succeed in a way that other people wouldn't.

00:12:10   When other people would get discouraged, they just kind of say, "Well, that didn't work,"

00:12:13   or "This kind of sucks."

00:12:14   And they change direction and they keep going.

00:12:17   And that's, I think, an attribute of something.

00:12:19   If you want it to be sustained, you have to have that type of tenacity, that the first

00:12:22   time you get knocked down, you don't just say like, Oh, well,

00:12:25   that was fun. You learn from that, and you get back up and

00:12:29   you try something else. And if you can't do that, it's going to

00:12:33   be very hard for you to do something for a sustained period

00:12:35   of time. So that's kind of what I was thinking about today. Like

00:12:39   I said, it's a little bit nostalgic and a bit hand wavy.

00:12:42   But sometimes I get feedback that you guys love when I just

00:12:45   kind of wave my hands around and chat. So that's it for what I'm

00:12:48   going to talk about today. It's kind of a remarkable thing. And

00:12:51   just as a side note about developing perspective, I just

00:12:53   wanted to take a minute to thank all you listeners. It's kind of

00:12:57   a remarkable thing that, you know, this is 200, the 200th

00:13:00   time I've sat down with a microphone, and just talked and

00:13:04   you know, talked into my closet. And it's kind of crazy that the

00:13:08   number of people and the number of people I admire and respect

00:13:12   even who think it's worth listening to each week. I try to

00:13:15   keep it short. So that helps with that. But it's kind of a

00:13:18   remarkable thing. And I just wanted to thank you for

00:13:20   listening. It's quite something that this show has been able to have the longevity that

00:13:25   it has. Because while I can say all those kinds of things about purpose, diversity,

00:13:29   flexibility, and patience, if nobody was listening, I probably wouldn't be doing this show. And

00:13:33   so its existence is due to people like you who are listening to it, who then provide

00:13:40   that encouragement that motivates me to keep it up. So thank you. That's it for today's

00:13:45   show. As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, or complaints, I'm on Twitter @_DavidSmith

00:13:50   you can email me, david@developingperspective.com.

00:13:52   Otherwise, I hope you have a great week.

00:13:54   Happy coding.

00:13:55   If you're getting a new iMac, as I am, have a fun week.

00:13:59   When that arrives, it's something

00:14:00   I'm pretty excited about.

00:14:01   I guess the new iPads are out too.

00:14:03   It's kind of fun whenever you get to open these new boxes

00:14:06   and try some stuff out.

00:14:07   So enjoy that.

00:14:09   Bye.

00:14:10   [