Non-technical ways to becoming a better developer

This is a talk I gave at three conferences this year. The last time was in Zürich, Switzerland, in my opinion — the best delivery I did so far, and the organizers just put the recording online. So this article is for everyone who’d like to watch the talk and follow up on some of its action points.

The talk is about striking a fragile balance between tech and soft skills. One, which allows you to both advance to producing outstanding work and have a normal life at the same time. Enjoy!

Video, courtesy of AppBuilders ‘16

All the references in this talk


  • Loosely held strong convictionsAsh Furrow: “Every person has all of these things inside of them that build their entire life…” » link to video

Act 1: Improving yourself

Give meditation a try, there’s a free trial
Group chat is like being in an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda.” — Jason Fried

Act 2: Improving your interactions with others

Your family is why you work at all, give ’em a hug
Our lives are not our own, from womb to tomb we’re bound to others.” — Sonmi-451
  • The Cloud Atlas” and Sonmi-451; A movie out of this world, which you probably missed because the media didn’t pick it up » trailer
  • Why I work remotely (hint: it has nothing to do with productivity).Jason Zimdars: “My daughter comes home starving. Taking 10 minutes to make her a snack makes both of our days. She could totally do it herself and I could totally keep working but which 10 minutes am I going to remember? Which will she remember?” » link to blog post
  • Open source by defaultOrta Therox» video of ’15 talk
  • Fluencia, a website with great UX for learning Spanish online » link to website
  • Scrum Master training, I had fantastic time learning the basics about being a Scrum Master from Petri Heiramo » link to profile

Act 3: Improving the world

Fuzzy Gerdes
“If you think the world is simply too big to change on your own, let me ask you this: Do you honestly believe, you were born to only pay bills and die? Now… I didn’t think so.” — The Narrator
  • Before I die I want to …” Candy Chang, and inspiring TED talk » link to video
  • The MartianAnd the not so distant future will all be about botanists growing potatoes on Mars. » movie trailer I actually heard the book first and it was also great » link to audiobook


  • Non-technical ways to becoming a better developer” » link to presentation slides
  • Enjoyed my talk? Check out Adrian Kosmaczewski’s talk from the same conference “Being A Developer After 40” » link to YouTube
  • Huge thanks to the conferences, which had the confidence in me to give me the stage for this non-technical talk: mdevcon Mar ’16, SwiftAveiro Mar ’16, and AppBuilders Apr ‘16.
  • A final note: good talks are hard to prepare; it not only takes a lot of time to create them, but it also takes at least a couple of live runs until you can deliver them smoothly. This goes to conference organizers: please don’t deny CFPs for talks that have been given previously; each next time the speaker does the talk a bit better 👍

PS: Talk Trivia

There are a lot of hidden gems in the talk and the slides

1. The other person

Lots of people have asked who was the other person in the talk, so let me explain…

As I was building up the talk, it became progressively more complex — there were just so many things I wanted to share with the audience. So I split it into 3 acts + a prologue and an epilogue to help people follow trough.

These 3 parts in turn also became complex so I decided to start each part with a couple of sentences to give context of what’s coming next.

However, I didn’t want to break my story line, which continued from part to part, so I came up with the idea of a narrator who introduces what comes next (while I continue talking uninterrupted).

Finally, since the narrator had to be obviously a different person, I had a little accent developed to get him running. It all started with this video: » link to YouTube

2. The Art

  • The background was drawn by my friend and partner in app-crime Nikolay Petkov. Check his stuff —it is simply amazing » link to web shop
  • Did you notice the background is either pink or blue? There’s a reason behind that. Check the slides and see if you can figure it out.
  • I drew everything for this talk on paper and used the imaengine app to make the images » link to iTunes
  • On the slide with the corner desk — the logo on the laptop is not an 🍎 but a 💖.
  • There are further references to computer games, tv shows, and more in the slides. Can you find them?

3. There is a story unraveling

This talk is actually a kind of a continuation to a talk of mine from last year “What’s in it for us after the Indiepocalypse is over?” » link to YouTube

A trilogy? 🤔


Would you like to have this talk at your conference? Or have me at your event/training? Get in contact with me here:

The unstoppable multi-dimensional being from outer space says “Bye”!