When I was younger, I had some bad habits. I was jealous--more than I would have liked to admit. I had a good life, but I wanted more. I envied those around me who seemed to make it happen. 

That's why this short exchange in an eight-month-old thread on Product Hunt really caught my eye. It's about what to do when you've had success--and when you realize others are starting to feel frustrated as a result.

"I was working on that..."

If you're not familiar with ProductHunt, you should be. It's a place to discover cool new products just about every day. Earlier this year, the guys who founded the livestreaming service Meerkat took to the site to announce their launch. 

It was a very popular thread, with all kinds of positive comments. One member of the community however, a programmer named Pierre Goutheraud (who goes by the screen name @httpete) found the whole thing to be horrible timing. He commented:

"I was working on the same exact app... kinda depressed right now. :'("

Man, did I ever feel for Pete--or Pierre, I guess. I've been there.


What was great was the response that Meerkat cofounder Ben Rubin gave. I can't help but quote it in full:

PETE! What makes you think you are not capable of doing something better/different? It would be a very sad world if people just give up on ideas. I can tell you that live video space is still broken in terms of distribution mechanism, and that obviously Meerkat is not perfect. there's a very good chance that anyone in the world would come up with a better product / perspective. Please, go back to code. that's how we all build better things together, even when we work separately. --we learn from each other.

I might be overstating to say Pierre was jealous--maybe a little bit frustrated. But Ben handled it perfectly--and admirably. The point is, when people look at your success and wish they could achieve it, the most highest response you can give is to encourage them to do so, even if it might mean ultimately outshining you.


Of course, the irony here is that Meerkat is facing a tough battle, since Twitter acquired its competitor Periscope not long after this Product Hunt thread. (I admit I came to the party late, and have only started checking out both apps fairly recently--so I'm not sure at all what the future holds for Meerkat.)

However, as one of the commenters who saw Rubin's remark put told him: "Whether or nor Meerkat succeeds (and it seems to be going really well!), you have already succeeded at life with an attitude like that."