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Living by the Code

Before You Begin

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Getting to Work

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ii. Foreword by Dan Kim - Basecamp
Written by Enrique López-Mañas

A career in tech is filled with tremendous promise and potential. There are opportunities abound all over the world, in every industry, for every interest. The possibilities of where your choices can lead you are endless, exciting, and insanely intimidating!

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering if you’re on the “right” path, I can assure you that you’re not alone. And it’s not just a handful of us who’ve thought the same thing—every single one of us has pondered these important questions, none of which have easy answers.

“What does my career path look like? Where am I going to be in one, five, or even ten years?”

“Is management the right direction for me? If so, how do I develop those new skills? If not, how do I continue to improve as a developer and leader?”

“Why is being part of my developer community important? How can I get involved?”

I can relate because I’ve lived with that uncertainty, too. I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, and I had no idea what I was doing when I was starting out. Even today, while I’m more confident in my direction and choices than I have ever been, I’m under no illusion that I have it completely figured out.

That journey from constant doubt to relative confidence takes time and can be a difficult path—one that’s made easier by a chorus of wonderful colleagues, friends, and mentors.

Through the course of a career, many people will lift you up, point you in the right direction, and course correct you when you need it.

Cherish these folks.

And while there’s no doubt these personal connections will be your deepest, most valuable resources, it takes a bunch of time and energy to develop them. It can take many years, many jobs, and many life experiences to build relationships with the people who will serve as your guiding lights.

Surely there must be a way to learn from a broad base of successful folks more quickly?

There is, and you’ve found it! Enrique has pulled together a wonderful collection of experiences from a diverse group of people within our industry. He asks unique, personalized questions to each individual, helping us to understand how they got to where they are today—their philosophies on life and work, the resources that help them move forward, and the tactics they apply to be successful. If you’ve ever wondered how people have handled their fear of public speaking, starting a business, losing a job, work life balance, tough career transitions, toxic work environments, or remote work, you’ve come to the right place.

What makes these stories truly valuable is that these people are your peers. They are business owners, developer advocates, conference speakers, freelancers, managers, and developers of all levels, just like you. They aren’t living in ivory towers, expounding generic self-help advice. I know many of the people in this book, and they’re as real as it gets. No glamorized stories. No overnight successes. Just real stories of regular people making their way, building careers, and landing on their feet. I know these stories can help you because many of them have already helped me.

There’s really only one guarantee about your career in tech, and it’s this: It’s going to be full of twists and turns. I never could have guessed that I would end up where I am today. You can’t predict or fully control where you’ll end up, but you can start laying the foundation for where you want to go.

The diverse experiences of everyone in this book will help you do that.

My advice: Read through all the stories once and make note of the passages that mean the most to you. Consider them and begin integrating these ideas into your life and work. Then come back after a bit and evaluate. What’s changed? What worked? What didn’t?

Wherever you land, remember that the landscape is constantly shifting. So don’t fret. Rather, embrace where you’re at. Make adjustments that feel right to you. Keep writing your story. Share what you’ve learned. Mentor and lift up others. And most of all, keep your head up and take time to appreciate the good stuff.

Good luck on your journey. It’s sure going to be challenging, but more than anything, it’s going to be a ton of fun!

Dan Kim

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