Lessons from Brooklyn Beta

15 Oct 2012

Last year at Brooklyn Beta, I kicked things off by sharing a couple of lessons I had learned. This year, the first couple of days were pretty hectic, but before I introduced Maciej Ceglowski on Friday morning, I shared a couple of new lessons I've learned:

1. It's okay to miss out.

I learned this lesson from my experience reading the responses from our parents, brothers, sisters, BFFs, aunts, uncles, mentors, spouses, and other loved ones. They were incredible.

They describe what we do better than we describe what we do.

With very few exceptions, our jobs were described without details like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, responsive design, and stuff like that. They put things into a broader perspective, because they have a broader perspective. We're a community of people who love to sweat the details, but, sometimes, maybe the details don't matter.

It's easy for us to feel like we're falling behind, because everything's moving so fast. There's always new stuff to learn. There's always an article you must read. There's always a conference you just can't miss.

Time doesn't move differently for us than it does for people who live a slow-paced life. We're just too close to the ground. So, the next time you feel like you're missing out, stop it. Zoom out a little bit and give yourself some space and some perspective, so you can focus on what matters.

2. Being the best is not good enough.

Are you a ColdFusion developer? Do you design with tables? Well, you're not gonna get a round of applause from this audience, but you possess an incredibly important skill. The Internet is the opportunity of our generation, and we've barely begun to tap its potential.

One of the goals of Brooklyn Beta is to remind you of this. This room is full of some of the best web developers, designers, and entrepreneurs we have, but being the best is not good enough. We're not living up to our potential, and I want us to feel guilty. I want us to feel the burden of our responsibility.

But, I don't want us to feel bad. Just make something you love! Make something that matters. We're the lucky ones who have the power to change the world, so what are we waiting for?

I truly believe that if the world were to move in a direction influenced by the people in this room, we'd be doing okay, so let's not focus on being the best. Let's focus on doing our best.