In high school, the prototypical popular kids are the cheerleaders and jocks. They're the kids who hang out in the quad at lunch rather than in the library or the smoker's corner. They wear clothes you see in Seventeen rather than Carpe Noctum or Maximum Rock and Roll. They shop at the mall rather than thrift stores. Oh, sure, maybe they have shiny new BMW's, but can they DM a Dungeons and Dragons game?

To be honest, when I was in high school, I was jealous of the popular kids until I got to college when I got to laugh wickedly at how they strugged to realize that they were no longer big fish in a small pond. Muahaha!

I hate to pop anybody's bubble, but at the software company where I work, the people making the really big bucks are management -- and very damn few of those guys were playing D&D in high school. This is true everywhere; even if the programmers are getting serious stock options, management is getting more. In the larger scheme of things, a BMW is a small and cheap thing.

This is a law of nature: Whatever the programmers get, management gets more of it. This includes ulcers, by the way, so it's not all bad. And upper management tends to be sales and marketing types. They're "people people", and management is not about technical issues; that's what they hire us for. Management is about people. Upper management is about strategy too, yada yada, but that's got very little to do with exception handling and memory management.

There are fabulously rich techies like Bill Joy, Jerry Yang, and Steve Wozniak, but I'm willing to bet that Scott McNealy has more money than Bill Joy, and that Steve Jobs has more than Steve Wozniak. I don't think damn near anybody has more money than Jerry Yang, so chalk one up there for the thick-glasses crowd.

Getting paid to do something useful is nice (that's what I do for a living anyhow), but you'll get a hell of a lot more money, power, and respect if you learn to schmooze, slap backs, and bullshit people into giving you everything they've got.

I like my job. I sit in my cube and write C++ code all day and that's cool, and I'm lucky enough to work for a company where upper management thinks it's cool too. They don't shit on us the way a lot of managers do at other companies. I've been there and it's no fun (and it's an unbeatable way to run a software company right into the fucking ground and lose everything, in case anybody's considering that as a management strategy).

Do what you're good at, and if you do it well you've got something to be proud of. If you work for a halfway sane company they'll even love you for it (where "love" is precisely equal to "throw money at"). Don't get yourself tied up in knots about the popular kids succeeding too, because a lot of them will (just as a lot of D&D geeks go nowhere), and you'll be working with them and for them for the rest of your life. There will always be somebody, somewhere, making more money than you.

The good news is that right around the time you grow out of your baggage from high school, they'll grow out of theirs if they've got any brain at all. If you avoid death-ship companies run by idiots, you'll get along with the ex-popular kids just fine.

psydereal: Yes, most of the football team will go nowhere, you're right. But one ex-"popular kid" is the president of the software company where I work, another is the CFO, another is the CEO, etc.: And this company is not a freak. I doubt that any of them ever played football, but they sure as hell never played D&D. They're not "geeks". And, yeah, let it not be forgotten that some "geeks" run companies and get filthy goddamn rich. None of this is perfectly cut and dried.

The point I didn't stress enough was that the whole "success defines me" thing is a total crock.

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