A Year on Hacker News

365 days ago, Gary Vaynerchuk tweeted something like “You’re a fool if you don’t read this site daily: http://news.ycombinator.com”

It only took one visit for me to be hooked. During that time I had been a somewhat casual reader of Reddit. An entertaining site, but I would rarely take away anything substantial from it. Hacker News instantly clicked with me.

It’s undisputable that I’ve learned more in the last year than any point in my life. Even more than four years of college.

A lot of this was due to being an early employee at a start-up, going through the growth stages and riding out the eventual collapse (that will be covered in future posts).

But a lot of what I learned came from the Hacker News community.

Over the last year, I discovered several posts that heavily influenced my thinking.

Some notable blog posts:

Obvious to you. Amazing to others. by Derek Sivers
I have to remind myself of this frequently when working with less technical people. Reading what smart people write and being surrounded by smart people can sometime give me the false sense that everyone is on the same level. It’s a good reminder to step outside your bubble.

Steve Jobs on the Difference Between a Vice President and a Janitor
This hit home the “you don’t have an excuse” message. Interns have excuses. VP’s don’t. Eventually you have to drop the excuses and take responsibility. The sooner you do that, the more control you’ll have over your life.

How to be THE LUCKIEST GUY ON THEPLANET in 4 Easy Steps by James Altucher
Since reading this I’ve been trying to develop my own daily practice. It’s only one item deep (blog writing), but I’m slowly working on adding more to it soon.

Life Tastes Best When You Eat What You Kill by James Altucher
There are three quotes that  have been in constant rotation in my head since hearing them this year. James’ quote is one of them. This has become a driving philosophy of my life – eat what I kill.

My Instapaper account is too full and disorganized to remember the many others off the top of my head. But the posts above have left a permanent imprint on my daily thinking and could instantly be recalled.

How Hacker News has influenced me:

Since reading Hacker News on a consistent basis, my thinking has transformed through a slow evolution.  I went from taking what life gave me and reacting to it – to finally seeing the world as a piece of clay to mold. From passive reaction to working on active change. If I’m unsatisfied with something, I have finally learned that I generally have the power to change the situation and create a better enviornment for the future.

But as the saying goes, every vice is a virtue taken too far. I eventually realized that I spend too much time on Hacker News. I still derive value from most visits, but there is no reason to check it more than once an hour, especially with resources like Hacker Newsletter. Few people are remembered for being well read. Eventually you need to start shipping, which has been a focus for the last month and will be a much larger theme in my life during the coming year.

Hacker News is an amazing community that I’m forever indebted to Gary Vayerchuk for exposing me to. This post didn’t nearly express the gratitude I have for many frequent commenters and writers there, but I only have 10 minutes left to post it or I’ll break the chain.

Thanks for the education, Hacker News.

Connect with me on Twitter: @BenNesvig

  • http://about.me/cleiva Carlos Leiva Burotto

    thanks for sharing your experience with Hacker News!

    The same happened with me, but it actually was with Quora.comI always read Hacker News, but with Quora I reached a level of engagement that I didn’t have with any other social network, forums or blogs.Funny fact: you’re currently on the homepage of HackerNews(right now you have 49 points), and I’m the first guy who’s leaving a comment or some feedback to you..

    • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig

      Wherever you are, it always comes back to the people and making meaningful connections.

  • Derek Sivers

    Surprised and honored that something I wrote is in your short list of notable blog posts.  Thanks!

  • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

    Ben, thanks so much for this mention. I am a big fan of hacker news as well. However, I do think they changed their algorithm so that things that are more code-oriented are more likely to make their way to the first page. So lately I’ve been reading the “newest” page instead, which requires a bit more mental filtering but it’s worth it.

    Thanks again. I really appreciate the mentions.