How I Tricked Myself Into Being Awesome

How I Tricked Myself Into Being Awesome

Back in 2007, we learnt Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret. Since then, more than a few of us have employed Seinfeld’s trick to become more productive, and we’re not alone. Here’s how developer Chris Strom used Seinfeld’s productivity secret to trick himself “into being awesome”.

Title image remixed from puppy awesome.

Like most developers, I am an introvert, so it is hard to say this:

I am awesome.

Fuuuuuu…. I can’t even leave it at that. I look at so many amazing people in the programming community that actually are amazing, and I feel like I haven’t done anything. Even so, looking back at the 366 days of the last year, what I did was, well… amazing.

I wrote three books on very different technologies that I knew nothing about.

I wrote The SPDY Book, which is still the only book on SPDY. Three months later, I co-authored Recipes with Backbone (.js) with Nick Gauthier. Three months after that, I wrote the first book on Dart, Dart for Hipsters.


Each of these technologies has two things in common:

  1. They are game changing (or at least possibly).
  2. I knew nothing about them before I started writing about them.

It doesn’t matter if you know anything about these subjects. The real question is: What business did I have writing books on topics about which I knew nothing? Well, let me put it this way: I did it so why shouldn’t I (or anyone else)?

How did I do it?

Blogged every, single day. For one full year. 366 days. Every day. No matter what.

I honestly don’t know why I started doing this. One night I had a brilliant idea, and before I stopped and thought about how stupid it was, I publicly committed myself to doing it.


And it worked. Every night, I ask a question to which I don’t know the answer and I try my damnedest to answer it.


Every time I do this, I learn. The daily deadline forces me to learn. Blogging about it challenges my assumptions and makes me learn even more.


And then, doing it again the next day reinforces the learning. As does writing the book. And the second edition.

I am proud that I didn’t let this get in the way of what’s important. I still took holidays with the family — drove to the beach and Disney World. Birthdays, anniversary, sickness — I was there for it all.

And in the end, what did I learn? Well aside from a lot about cool technologies, I learnt that…

I tricked myself into being awesome

I heard a story on RadioLab about a lady named Zelda. She tricked herself into quitting smoking by swearing that she would donate $US5000 to the KKK if she ever smoked another cigarette. And she never did. Would she have really donated that money if she had given in? Maybe not, but it was enough for her to have convinced herself that it would happen.

And, in the end, I did the same. Would the world have ended if I missed a day? Of course not. Very few, if any people would have noticed. But I would have noticed because I committed to doing this. And, after 366 days, I have more than not smoking to show for it. I have three books, the last of which is being published by The Pragmatic Programmers.

So what’s next?

Day 367.

366 or How I Tricked Myself into Being Awesome [JAPH(R)]

Chris is an author and web developer at EEE Computes LLC with more than 10 years professional experience in a variety of domains. Despite this extensive background, you could fill a book with what he does not know, which is rather the point.


    • I don’t know about that. “I still took holidays with the family — drove to the beach and Disney World. Birthdays, anniversary, sickness — I was there for it all.” How many guys have families they take to Disney World without having kids?

      • I agree with Mr_herkt.
        I don’t even have time for sleep.

        Juggle a full-time job with a kid and you can dream about the time you ‘were’ awesome.

      • clearly his children are much older than 5 and are not as demanding as children under 5. besides what kind of holiday can you have if you are blogging everyday? also stating that he was there for out all doesn’t highlight how involved he was.

  • So an author who runs a business of one is somehow awesome because he wrote books? Get fscked.

    We’re all awesome cause we did 3 major projects a year.

    And now we laud him as he self promotes? Laughing all the way to the bank…

    What next, a self help book on how to be awesome…

  • What I don’t get is why you chose to write books about technologies you knew nothing about. I don’t know quantum physics but I’m fairly sure that in all the infinite number of universes I haven’t written a book about quantum physics in any of them.

    My point is, if someone had beaten you to the punch with both books on SPDY and Dart, you might not have been published, or at least your published books would stand a good chance of being inferior to the other book based solely on the fact that you’ve never touched the technology before writing the book.

    Really, considering what you said about there being no books on those subjects, it sounds more like those books were published based on the lack of materials to compare them to rather than actual quality of writing. (That’s not to say that the writer cannot write, but more that the publishers had no benchmark to check against for this subject)

  • I believe that we don’t have time, we make time. There is always a trade off. Before kids I got loads of stuff done. With 3 kids under school age and studying uni full time I still get stuff done, just less of it. It is a trade off. Go to the movies or learn a new skill? Watch tv or write an assignment. We should never underestimate the power of our choices.

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