Comments on Getting to Ten Times Better by Doctor Jay in reply to Jaybird

Even for a guy like Bezos or Larry Page and Sergei Brin (founders and inventors of Google). I don't begrudge them the money, they did something that has a big, big impact and helps me every day.

AND, they were lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes your luck is in what year you were born.

I ain't a billionaire, but I've done better than most. I can't say whether I deserve it. I am smart, and I've done things that were smart moves, and I've worked hard (love that Ezra Klein quote), but I do know I've been lucky in several ways.

Ok, that's not what I thought specifically, but it does have an AI-ish quality that corresponds to using LISP. Which I also thought!

These days I tend to think that anything done in LISP can be done just as well in Javascript using a package like Ramda. But legacy code is legacy code and it works just as well as it did when it was first written.

Here's an interesting train of thought: Even though in college and grad school I was very mathy and loved optimization type problems such as these, I've never worked on them professionally. I've done a lot of systems-oriented work instead. In spite of being a mathy/algorithms guy.

And the funniest part, which seems relevant, is that the biggest-impact, highest-visibility thing I ever did was redo a companies software update system. It turned something that took 6 people an entire evening to do one site into something that one person could for two sites in one evening. None of that required "big brains". Just a lot of tough slogging and determination to get all the details right and working smoothly.

Is that 10X programming?

I want you to know that in spite of my comment above that is disparaging of the "10x" idea, I am not at all skeptical about your narrative description of a certain type of programmer, who is able to pass certain difficult thresholds, and is maybe 2 or 3 times more productive than other programmers.

I am also boggling at the notion that someone started a project in Common LISP in 2005. That seems to say a lot about what it does, too. Sounds like some pretty unique stuff, stuff that has something in common with the work of Margaret Hamilton, for instance.

I am skeptical of the 10X programmer as such. I do think that there are serious thresholding effects: There are tasks that some programmers can handle without a lot of struggle that others can't really manage to do at all.

The 10X programmer is not necessarily 10X in every programming task. They are probably wasted on the whole "grind out boilerplate javascript for web pages" thing, and they probably do not produce 10X over the average person in that position.

And, if you compare the average programmer grinding out boilerplate javascript for web pages to someone who is only just learning to code, that person looks like a 10X programmer.

One thing that I am good at, and I really am good at it , is coming up to speed on new codebases quickly. I've done this many times in new positions. I learn fast, I read, I observe, I remember. This makes a big difference. But I doubt I'm more than 3X the average replacement guy. Mind you, 3X is a lot, and it also justifies the 2X salary you mentioned (though I never quite got there).

Yeah. Power laws are a thing, but so are thresholds.