Matt Hackmann


The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

Bloggy Blog 24 - Doing Hard Things

Perhaps not hard so much as incredibly inconvenient.

My Peloton app has been harassing me over the last few days about my next bike ride being my 200th. Hoping to obtain one of those sweet shout outs, I selected a live ride with a certain Matt Wilpers, one of my favorite instructors. If my Peloton user name were to pass through anybody's lips, he's at the top of the top three I'd want to make that happen. The big problem with live Peloton rides is that their studio is in New York City. And those usually happen in the morning. Three hours ahead of us.

This ride was at 5am.

I did it. It was fine even if I didn't get a shout out. But, my god is that early. I tried to bail, but Kayla encouraged me to do it, if only because my alarm had woken everybody up and it damn well have better been worth something. It was during this ride in the wee hours of the morning that I realized that this was part of a larger trend I've taken in the last decade or so of my life: setting a bar that's annoyingly (but not unachievably) high and then using social pressure to force me to do it.

In a very similar situation, when my LinkedIn colleagues and I were going through our bikes phase - seriously, I need to write a post about the various phases that happened in that group - we would organize group rides from San Mateo into the office, which was then located in Mountain View. That's a solid 24 miles of biking and a hell of a way to wake up. Why from San Mateo? That's where everybody lived... except me. I was in Sunnyvale. That meant to join up with every one at 5-6a to be at the office around 7:30a, I was taking the 4:45a train to get from Sunnyvale to San Mateo, not including the ten minutes it took me to bike from my apartment to the train station. But, that social pressure and FOMO "forced" me to do it.

As a more professional anecdote, one of the first big projects I took on at LinkedIn at over advertised my abilities. I was going to be writing the browser component regardless, but we were strapped for backend engineers so I said I'd take that on as well. LinkedIn's backend is written in Java, a language I'd touched maybe once before. On top of that, I had very little idea of how any of that stuff was stitched together. Still, I had a fair amount of general knowledge, was able to trial and error my way through code, and had written a whole bunch of C# in my previous job, which isn't too dissimilar to Java. It was going to be annoying and tedious, but I set the bar annoyingly high, ensured somebody was holding me accountable, and I got it done. Had to pull a couple evenings at home making it happen, but I learned a lot and built up clout with other members of the team.

These are but a couple larger examples of me doing this, but there are lots more. Hell, this little blog challenge could be considered in similar vein. I set the bar annoyingly high and my mom is the accountability check, though Kayla has since joined in that camp as well.

Now, if only I could find somehow to be held accountable for the annoyingly high bar of making an electronics YouTube channel...