Described as a technology prodigy, at age 14, Swartz developed RSS--which quickly became used worldwide for Internet transactions.
Evidently, he had also struggled with depression for years.
In 2007, he delivered a conference address that included the following advice for those wanting to succeed:
- Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.
- Say yes to everything. I have a lot of trouble saying no, to an pathological degree -- whether to projects or to interviews or to friends. As a result, I attempt a lot and even if most of it fails, I've still done something.
- Assume nobody else has any idea what they're doing either. A lot of people refuse to try something because they feel they don't know enough about it or they assume other people must have already tried everything they could have thought of. Well, few people really have any idea how to do things right and even fewer are to try new things, so usually if you give your best shot at something you'll do pretty well.
From personal experience, learning to say "no" is essential to long-term success.
We have to learn selectivity in how our precious time is invested.
Prior to closing his conference address, Swartz described the immense stress in his life.
I can imagine always saying "yes" was a prime contributor.
My condolences to the young man's family.