Jack has been on my team for months. Besides being a kickass programmer fresh out of college, Jack is also a gadget freak. From the latest iPhone to the coolest iPod, Jack owns it all.
In a casual discussion on why Jack has not yet bought a domain name or a website yet where he can blog, he responds with a grin on his face, that he is, as he likes to say in situations like these, running seriously low on funds.
Of all the programmers I have worked with, when it comes to spending money, I have come across only two kinds - the kind that sees their career from a passionate entrepreneurial mindset and the kind that does not.
If you fall in the first category, before you grab a fancy-car or a sexy-motor-cycle, a decent part of your paycheck is automatically re-invested towards becoming a better programmer or a better individual. You probably invest in books, own multiple domains, buy tools which improve your productivity as a programmer, enroll for classes or sign up for seminars.
If you fall in the second category, you probably have a dozen excuses on why you do not need to buy your own domain or attend that programming class. If you fall in this category, you are probably also really good at convincing and telling yourself why you need that new car.
A good programmer is difficult to come across. A good programmer, spending time, effort and money to get better at the craft of building software is a rather rare phenomenon. This rare breed, that once walked planet earth and spent their pocket money to play with Altairs because they were passionate about programming these machines, is fast moving towards extinction.
Observe the young and budding programmers you work with and you might easily stumble upon way too programmers who shell out a truck load of money to buy the latest-slick-looking-phone out there, but are totally hesitant while enrolling for a programming class, buying a book on programming or getting their own domain.
Like it or not, programming, dear reader, is a profession which demands that you re-invest a part of what you earn in yourself. If you hesitate in doing so, you are no different than organizations that invest in their buildings much more than they invest in their employees.
Go ahead. This month, buy a few books, enroll in a class, upgrade your internet bandwidth, buy a domain name, try to do a small business venture or just buy a couple of refactoring tools like Resharper and Code-Rush.
Put simply, let this be a month where you begin setting aside some money that you will consciously spend on getting better at the craft of building software and becoming a better individual. Then do it consistently, month after month.
I wish you good luck.