What Does Success Look Like?

I’m in a Whatsapp group conversation with a few friends of mine. Our conversations typically revolve around hip-hop, decoding lyrics and proving how much more talented our favorite rappers are than everyone else’s favorites.


Eminem is Alex’s favorite. He’s been rapping for many years, has a lot of awards, is critically acclaimed, earned the respect of his peers and is financially successful. He’s also succeeded in an industry that doesn’t have very many people who look like him. Totally understandable pick.


Nivlek likes Kendrick Lamar and Lupe Fiasco. Both newer faces than Eminem. More importantly, supremely talented. Layers of cleverly laid references in their lyrics. Definitely not as financially successful as Eminem, but their wordplay is outstanding. They produce high-quality music.



Me? I like MF DOOM. Crazy intriguing lyrics and overall very talented. Even produces and makes beats. His face is always hidden behind a giant metal mask. Financial success? Who knows. Most hip-hop fans don’t even know him. He’s that obscure.

I brought this up because after my conversations with Ire, I’ve been thinking a fair bit.

What does success look like to me?

Is it looking more like Kendrick? Overflowing with talent and a promising future in the limelight? Or do I want to be like MF DOOM? Completely out of the public’s eye, but those in need my skills know where to find me?

Do I wanna be like Eminem? Most of the world would never consider me successful if I don’t have an obvious pile of money. A nice big house. Great car. Very popular clients. Plenty of accolades. Funded by popular investors. A product that’s considered a unicorn (don’t ask .. it’s a nerd thing). Do I need the trappings of success to be a success?

Can I be more like Kendrick? I’d be the guy the Eminems of software engineering wanna work with because I’m oozing raw talent so they need me to build something amazing, special and really technically impressive that’d give them an edge? Is this what success looks like?

Or is it MF DOOM that speaks to me more? Unknown to the general public, but the person that Kendricks and Lupes of software engineering look up to me because I build things that help them be awesome. It’s probably not as financially rewarding, but do I need mountains of cash to be a success?