About 2 months ago I was invited to speak at the Pivorak Conference in Lviv. I haven’t been speaking in a while so I told them I don’t have any talks prepared. They said anything goes as long as it’s me giving it and it’s at least a bit technical.
I went on a run without headphones and thought about what I could give a talk on. I haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary like flamegraphs or graph databases in a while. But I did tackle something interesting recently - I started podcasting1.
I haven’t written a blog post about it, but if you follow me on any social network, you saw that I’m promoting it heavily. It’s called Parallel Passion and the gist is: interview show with software developers about their hobbies.
I used to go to conferences a lot and always preferred the hallway track over the actual talks. You get to meet people personally that way. I love that. Because I don’t care what JS framework is popular this week or how Ruby 7 is going to be 70-times faster. I care about people. I care about things they do when they’re not programming.
I never liked the stereotype of a programmer: an overweight, pimply neck-bearded nerd living in a basement somewhere with at least four computer monitors2. Because I am not that guy. And to be honest I don’t know people like that. Maybe it’s selection bias but software engineers I hang out with are real people. They have lives outside computers. They have awesome hobbies like car racing, sky diving, boxing, curling, surfing, illustrating children books3, making car reviews,…
So I wanted to showcase that. In one small part to burst the stereotype bubble, but even more so because I want one hour of uninterrupted time with interesting people. One on one. I love talking with people who are passionate about their hobbies. Because I know how passionate I get when someone is interested in mine. I get a spark in my eyes and I can talk for hours. About running, about coffee, about stoicism,… and then it hit me.
Why don’t I do a talk on that? Everything I love talking about - a string of lightning talks if you will. Ben Orenstein did something like that on RailConf 2013 and it remains one of the best talks I’ve ever seen. So I wrote down a list of topics I love talking about4. Then I started thinking about transitions from one topic to the next and eliminating those that didn’t make sense. You can’t go from coffee to stoicism for example. Then I started a Keynote5 document with every topic as a main slide with a couple of bullet points. Then those bullet points became separate sub-slides. And then it was Friday. Time to fly. When will I rehearse this? Fuck. I guess we’ll test it in production 😬
You can’t hear it well in the recording but when I said “thank you” there was a roar of applause that hit me. This has never happened to me before. It felt amazing. And after the talk I could barely get a drink - everyone wanted to talk to me. Everyone found at least one thing in my talk they connected with. So while it was definitely the weirdest talk I ever gave it was also the most fun to give and by far the most well received. Even now, after it was posted on YouTube, I’m still getting a ton of positive feedback and follow-up questions.
This proves my point - us, software developers, are people too. And it’s time the world knows it!
So go listen and subscribe to Parallel Passion and tell your friends to do so as well!
I know, I know, everyone has a podcast now. But the medium is great, so why not? ↩
Original unedited list: git, ruby, podcasting, coffee, remote work, managing teams remotely, stoicism, negotiation tactics, photography tricks ↩
By far my favorite Apple software product ↩