The investor mindset: What makes or breaks a developer


Nowadays, the lights are shed on being a good, smart, genius developer. The first spot is reserved to the most hardworking, and often if you don’t belong to the FANG ‘cult’ you are an okay developer. But why so much stress on being a ‘good’ developer? Is it the right metric to optimize for? And what does even being a ‘good’ developer mean really.

According to many articles online, being a good developer is defined as someone who(‘s): 

  • Writes good code

  • Follows best practices

  • Code is well tested

  • Code is finished in the time frame allowed by the company

  • Etc…

Noticeably, these ‘qualities’ are in a way or another focused on the ‘code’. The tool. While it’s great to be a good developer, it, fortunately, isn’t directly correlated to being successful. In fact, you can be a good developer but live paycheck to paycheck. You might as well be a bad developer but are successful. 

Perhaps, the number one misconception that prevents developers from being successful is too much focus on Code. 

You can produce the best looking, most optimized, perfect, most beautiful piece of code you can ever imagine, but what’s the use of it if you don’t even know where you’re heading? This way you are acting as a plumber who takes care of his/her tools but never gets out there to get the real job done. 

Before diving any deeper,  let’s set the definition of “successful developer” in this context.

I believe a successful developer:

  • knows why they are doing what they are doing

  • reflects back on his/her mistakes and strives to make less of them in the future

  • has a vision where he/she want to be in the next 1, 2, or even 5 years

  • Patient

But Most importantly: Has an investor mindset

These qualities help you build who you are rather than focusing on a piece of code. 

Consequently, you can end up with:

  • Making serious money

  • Aren’t dependant on anyone

  • Have something robust to fall back on during unforeseen events

  • Multiple streams of revenue

  • Working at a big tech and have a high-end position and influential decision-making

But from where should you start? 

Focus on being an investor, your asset is time. If you’ve noticed, there are multiple developer YouTubers working on building their community. These people don’t need youtube to survive, and almost every time, they aren’t doing it just because they love doing it, behind the act is a robust reason that fuels their persistence through ups and downs: Attention.

Getting people’s attention is a long term, low-risk high reward game, if mastered can get you anywhere you can ever imagine. And this was a concrete example of the investor mindset in practice.

Each one of us has - hopefully - a goal, the intuitive way is to go after that goal and realize it. But the investor way will require planning. Don’t dive in headfirst!

A typical investor mindset can be as follow: 

  • Why is it that you want to achieve your goal?

  • How are you going to achieve it?

  • How many hours a day are you going to dedicate to achieve it in X months?

Early on, I was everything but an investor at heart. My focus was all over the place and the results never made it past my hopes. You will need to pick this 1 huge goal that scares you and wakes you up at night. With these small consistent actions, there is no way you aren’t achieving it. But remember: consistency is key!

If you are a university / Bootcamp / self-taught developer, you might relate: At some point, we felt unbelievably busy, got so many things done, nevertheless felt moving slow 

The slow progress doesn’t necessarily come from the inherent complexity of the task at hands, but perhaps from doing multiple things

It’s not fun to invest all your time in doing 1 thing, and you can always get away with switching between 2 tasks to rest. But that’s how you get where you want to get.

On the other side, the investor mindset doesn’t have to be grim. You can invest 1, 2, or 3 hours a day in doing that 1 thing that will get you to your goal a year or two from now, and you still are feeling great. 

Along the way, you’ll learn during your downs, and work more during your ups. But most importantly, remember:

small actions + time + consistency = success

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