Two Simple Ingredients for (App Store) Success: Desire and Focus

I listened-to/read two things yesterday, each of which touched on a different ingredient for success. I was listening/reading within the context of ‘app’ development, so I was thinking of in terms ‘App Store success’. However, core attitudes and behaviours such as these are more widely applicable, they can contribute to the success of any endeavour.

Stepping back from the specifics of software development, of making a product for the Mac or iOS, these two, more abstract requirements struck a chord…


In episode 20 of Identical Cousins Brent Simmons and Michael Simmons discussed Michael’s pending talk at CocoaConf 2013 – which is centred around app success, the necessary ingredients, and things you should be thinking about.

Their conversation suggested that the ticket to success can be boiled down to something very simple: desire. In Brent’s words:

“The people who succeed are the people who wanted it more; and because they wanted it more, they worked harder”.

If you want to be successful with software development, with the App Store, with running your own company and making your own products, you’ve got to want it. Really want it.

Desire is one of the things that produces a strong work ethic. That work ethic will push you through the difficult parts of a project; will drive you to look at the tasks you’re not particularly interested in, or try harder with those where your skills are lacking.

A strong desire is a crucial part of your success.


Mike Vardy’s recent article on Productivityist, When to Hold On and When to Let Go, considers the challenge of knowing when to pass on a project, or when to let a project go.

With all of the desire in the world, you still need to be able to focus on achieving your goal. Desire might help you to focus, but it doesn’t guarantee your ability to prioritise and prevent other stuff from getting in the way.

To the question: “What criteria do you use to figure out if a project should go away or stay?”. Mike’s answer is:

“I trust my gut”.

On one hand, it’s very easy to tell yourself that you can ‘fit that in’. That if you plan your activities properly you’ll have time to work on all those things. It happens a lot.

On the other – Mike’s answer reflects what, I think, is actually clear to us all, if we’re willing to own up to it. That we know when we’re taking too much on.

We also know that there are only a small number of things that we can devote time to if we also want to do them well. To succeed. Sometimes that small number is one.

Step back from the details and trust your gut. It’s probably obvious. Spreading yourself too thin does not work, you need to be focussed.

Your success?

I read Mike’s article shortly after finishing the Identical Cousins podcast. It was a ‘stop and think moment’. How much do I want this? What am I willing to sacrifice?

My independent development is done outside of a full time job; a job that is itself, quite demanding. Time seems to be my biggest challenge. I’ve got too many competing projects and pursuits on the go.

But the ‘time’ excuse is used often. It’s convenient. The truth is, if the desire is there, other endeavours will be sacrificed.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. To succeed in my goal of making products that help people, that people like, that people use, I’m going to have to let some things go. I need to focus.

The question is, do I want it enough?

Do you?