Last week I met up with a group of young software developers and they hit me with questions about making money and career planning.

My initial thoughts to them: "marry the right person" and "hang around really smart, hard-working people".   

Since that is not much to go on, I did some research and came up with this post by VC Marc Andreessen, which, although dated 2007, came across as spot on for 2015.   He did the "hang around really smart, hard-working people" part just right.  Let me know if you agree.

Here's what he had to say:

Opportunities that present themselves to you are the consequence -- at least partially -- of being in the right place at the right time. They tend to present themselves when you're not expecting it -- and often when you are engaged in other activities that would seem to preclude you from pursuing them. And theycome and go quickly -- if you don't jump all over an opportunity, someone else generally will and it will vanish.

I believe a huge part of what people would like to refer to as "career planning" is being continuously alert to opportunities that present themselves to you spontaneously, when you happen to be in the right place at the right time.

  • A senior person at your firm is looking for someone young and hungry to do the legwork on an important project, in addition to your day job.
  • Your former manager has jumped ship to a hot growth company and calls you three months later and says, come join me.
  • Or, a small group of your smartest friends are headed to Denny's at 11PM to discuss an idea for a startup -- would you like to come along?

I am continually amazed at the number of people who are presented with an opportunity like one of the above, and pass.
There's your basic dividing line between the people who shoot up in their careers like a rocket ship, and those who don't -- right there.