This story will either serve as Sunday motivation to get up and out, or will cause you to throw your phone on the floor, take a bite from the cold chicken burger you don’t remember buying last night, and then go back to bed.
You’re probably older than this guy, Michael Sayman, who Mark Zuckerberg messaged to offer an internship to when he was just 17 years old.
Then Facebook got a bit old, so naturally at the age of 21, Michael has decided to jump ship to Google. As you do.
Reassuringly, Michael finds it as ‘insane’ as all of us. He explained to Insider:
It’s insane, because my overall life trajectory has never been one where I could imagine anything that’s happened.
None of this has felt real. This all just kind of feels like this is all just a dream and I’m just going to wake up and return to my normal life.
The idea that I’ve worked with Mark Zuckerberg is just so freaking strange to me. Or being able to be at companies like Facebook and Google.
There is a temptation to think Michael has some sort of gift or child-genius brain, but it turns out he just went out and did stuff instead of sitting back and thinking of doing stuff (like I often do).
He explained why the ‘child-genius’ narrative :
The thing that bothers me the most about that is that it implies that there’s something inherent to me that I was born with — that others are not born with — that has propelled me to where I am, rather than the opportunities that the internet has simply made available to me and that I’ve been able to just take advantage of and learn over time.
So what’s the secret to such success? Apparently not relying on other people.
As the old saying going ‘If you want something done properly, do it yourself’.
Michael explained how he views other people in his professional life:
The biggest thing I think I learned over time was to never really depend on anybody for my success.
No matter what, no matter how nice somebody is, no matter who they are, if they’re related to me or not, whatever the case may be — never to put my success dependent on somebody else’s actions.
Michael was also kind of forced to find a way to make money from a young age after his family’s small Miami chicken restaurant went bust after the 2008 recession.
They had no way to pay bills and eat, so Michael put his coding abilities to the test, and because of the pressure he was under, he managed to start making around $200 per day from his apps.
He explained how this pressure helped him:
Because there was so much of this existential crisis in my family at times where we didn’t know if we had enough money for food some days or to pay the electricity bill or things like that, the necessity to generate income, to create something big and to kind of take things onto myself were huge.
So those, I think, who live without that pressure have a disadvantage, because there’s not that existential crisis that chases them throughout their childhood.
Despite being young, talented, and rich, Michael is actually very risk-averse and frugal.
He had the idea of starting a business when he was 18, but he didn’t want to take the risk and decided against it.
So how does he spend all his money? It turns out not very frivolously:
For me, growing up how I did, the only things that have truly made me happy are being able to know that I can pay the electricity every month without a problem.
Being able to know that I can pay the phone bill every month without a problem, knowing that I can buy food every day. Just as long as I have the basic necessities…that’s kind of the only thing I really require in my life.
Part of me, my Gen Z 21-year-old self, it’s very much a kid still in some sense.
I still kind of just want to go out and have a drink sometimes with friends and just kind of go crazy and be irresponsible once in a while.
Despite all he has, Michael admits that there are plenty of people out there who are ‘smarter’ and know how to code better than he ever did, but they don’t have what he has.
He said he’s not special, but he just uses his initiative and will continue to constantly improve.
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