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M&Ms 52: Taking Wins & Losses

Louie Bacaj
Louie Bacaj
6 min read
M&Ms 52: Taking Wins & Losses

Hey Team,

I want to share some wins with you this week. But it's not all roses, and I want to share that part too.

The pragmatic engineer wrote a piece on my career.

I can only assume the article did well because I got some great messages from folks I know. But then, shortly after, the internet did what it does best. People latched on to one part of the article out of context.

They took my career trajectory, which of course, I worked hard to achieve, but I am also incredibly fortunate. For one, I happened to join a great startup that had a fantastic outcome in a world where most startups fail. And within that startup, I got to learn from and be around some incredible people.

So far, no harm, no foul, just a big miss understanding.

But then people started to compare and assume that my career trajectory was the bar, which again is OK.

But some also started to throw shade. To me, this is also fine because when you come from the bottom like me, you have to build some thick skin to get out.

But the part that got to me was how people I once respected assumed others cannot or should not do this.

And my response to that is, who are you to gatekeep and tell others what they can or cannot do?

However, the article was a massive win for me; over a thousand people decided to follow my journey on Twitter and try to learn from me. And I am incredibly grateful to The pragmatic Engineer for telling my story. I have been a huge fan and subscriber of the newsletter since I ran into Gergely Orosz on social media; there are so many evergreen articles on there; each one is like a mini-book, its no wonder its the number 1 newsletter on substack in tech. But Gergely has told people to follow me in the past many times, and it's never had this sort of effect.

So why is getting all of those followers important to me at this stage?

As an entrepreneur now, I need help. I need people to help amplify the things I am building. I need distribution channels. Entrepreneurship as an engineer that can only build is far more challenging in 2022 than it was years ago when most software didn't exist. Most things exist now, and mediocre products with excellent distribution beat out great products all the time. Today an entrepreneur has to be able to do marketing and sell. I had to learn this the hard way the first few months into this journey, where I was only heads down building features.

That was the biggest win from all of this and well worth the shade. But then my course on Gumroad sold a bunch too and crossed over $25k in earnings since I launched it in late January. It was close to that but this article pushed it over.

But, it's not even the money from the course which is important to me.

Of course at over $25k lifetime sales, that's starting to add up now, and I am immensely grateful to the folks in the Small Bets community that convinced me to do it.

But far more importantly, it shows me that I might be able to survive and make a living on this entrepreneurial journey. That I might be able to do even more in the future. I may never have to take a job in Big Tech again, and I can keep building and placing Small Bets.

But even on that win, some people like to throw shade; a comment I frequently see on social media about this course is:

"If you left a job that almost paid a million dollars last year, why are you selling a course for $25 dollars? And why are you so happy about a few dollars it made?"

And the answer to that is that everyone has to start somewhere.

And if you can't even make a few dollars online on your own, how are you going to make a lot of dollars or a living from this? Fending for yourself and making money on your own is not like getting paid at a job.

So it's not just about the money; we all have to start somewhere. We need credibility, and that's worth far more long term.

That course alone has gotten me thousands of followers and bought me more goodwill than anything else I've done so far. Including all of the SaaS apps, I have built.

To me, that's far more valuable than the money. As an entrepreneur that plans to be out here for a long time, I need distribution channels and credibility. I need people to help me. And you would need it too if you decide to embark on this sort of journey. That's because even if the people that follow you aren't your target customer for what you build next; if they like you and you've helped them in the past, many people will help you spread the word. They'll help amplify the next thing you built.

It might sound counterintuitive but the only way anyone will consider helping you is if you have done something to help them. You may not like it but that's how the world works, you have to give. That can only happen if you build up goodwill and credibility along the way.

This is why attention is such a valuable asset to entrepreneurs; without your own distribution channels, it's hard to thrive in this internet game.

Let's get into some things I ran into this week. And at the bottom of this newsletter I would like to gift something to two lucky readers, as a thank you for my luck this week.

A Tweet I loved this week:

Scott's reply to one of my tweets is incredibly accurate. It's so good and I can attest from hard earned experience that he's right.

A few Memes I loved this week:

Unfortunately, this tweet by Pamela hits too close to home because that was me for a long while. Crushed by the imposter monster, all while being chased by the poverty monster. We've got to fight them.

Kevin is a former Google engineer, and this Meme tweet resonated because he's mentioning many of the questions folks are asked to code on whiteboard interviews. But that they rarely end up actually ever coding day to day on the job, mainly because they rely on libraries that have them already coded.

Quick updates from me:

We launched the fifth episode of The Engineering Advice You Didn't Ask For podcast.

On this episode we discussed hiring juniors. What good team composition of junior-to-senior looks like. And how folks can try and break into tech.

Another nice win this week, I ran a free webinar teaching people how to get started with newsletters with my friend Chris Wong on Thursday night.

I was nervous, but it went well, and I people got a lot of value from it.

These webinars are helping me become more comfortable teaching and pitching to strangers, more skills that are valuable for entrepreneurs long term.

And we will run another one this Sunday at 10 AM EST; you can sign up for free here.

A give away this week:

To celebrate my wins this week, I would like to give away two free annual subscriptions to The Pragmatic Engineer.

One will come from Gergely, who wanted to gift me one for interviewing with him but found out I was already an annual subscriber. I will personally buy and gift the other one because of the incredible luck I had this week on the internet.

The way to win one of those two subscriptions is to just reply to this email; I will gift them to the first two people that reply and ask. Simple as that.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.