I recently learned I’m not driven by hard tech problems

Within the developer community developers I talk to seem to be often excited by technically difficult problems. They get a kick out of solving them and can easily be motivated to work on almost any domain as long as the technical problems are hard. In job interviews, recruiters ask “which has been the hardest technical problem you’ve solved” and everywhere you go, people seem to talk about it.

For a long time, I felt really insecure and less talented as a software developer since I hadn’t really worked on really difficult technical problems. I haven’t been in charge of any large scale architectures early in my career and my personal side projects haven’t been motivated by the technical difficulty but the the time or frustration these projects save from me and other people using them.

The more I’ve worked with startups and gaining better understanding about building products and helping customers, I’ve realized that I’m not a bad developer. My strengths are just in a different segment than of those who I’ve grown up with. I understand product development from a wider perspective and for years I have had a good approach on prototyping and testing the hypothesis early on.

Another important revelation I’ve had is regarding my side projects. I love building small stuff on evenings and weekends but I’ve been too worried about finalizing them and making them super good. Luckily I’ve been able to understand that they are just that — hobby projects that I build to have fun and to stay in touch with programming, not finalized commercial products.

With the MVP mindset I’ve learned when following closely our startups in the accelerator, I’ve started building UIs (that are usable by more than just me) for these products instead of just trying to finish the product using CLI before building a web facing interface. This has helped me a lot to start getting feedback and testing from others and it has reduced my stress about ever finishing these products.

This spring I’ve built for example Proxymon and Pokemon TCG Alfred Workflow to help with my TCG hobby as well as Meetup Turku to help promote local meetups. None of them have been major technical problems but all of them have made an impact to actual lives. Mostly mine.