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Posted on: Friday, April 13, 2007 by Rajiv Popat

Every now and then I meet young, talented and enterprising developers and interns who are hesitant to post code snippets, out of their work environment into the open world. There are some who will not write Code-Project articles for the fear of getting negative feedbacks.

Others won’t speak at knowledge sharing sessions or trainings, even if it’s just within their own organization, until they are fully prepared with an elaborate PPT and have spent hours learning a topic and know it like they know their mother-tongue. Some even worry too much about what their audience thought about a particular training they conducted last month.

Here’s a piece of advice to every young intern and engineer starting out on their careers:

Learn how to get naked!

You should have nothing to hide! Nothing. If you are succeeding in your project, say it. If you are failing, say it in a louder voice! If you are an expert in a topic, say it. If you don’t know a thing about a topic, say it, in a louder voice!

And once you’re naked, develop a thicker skin!

Don’t let the critisms get you down. Instead, use them to become a better developer (and a better person).

Being a think-skinned shameless developer who has nothing to hide is a life-style. After you have lived it, you begin to wonder how the developers, who don’t follow it, live without it :)

Are you a thick-skinned developer? Are you ready to become one? Try the life-style! You might love it! Here are a few steps that can help get you started:

  1. Realize how much your code sucks - and then learn to say it with a sense of humor - shamelessly. After all, we all make shitty software… with Bugs
  2. Ask for more time and make your code better - Pick one of your modules that sucks the most and ask for some extra time to re-factor it. If it’s not ready to ship and you need to work harder, learn to say so without feeling particularly ashamed about it
  3. Besides writing code learn to talk about code - Try walking into a training that you are about to conduct with just a topic you think you know really well or feel passionately about. No elaborate PPTs, No Preparations! If possible, do this every few weeks. 
  4. Throw out a few articles at code-project or start a blog - Blogs and articles open up forms of dialogs where it’s really easy to be shameless and ask questions or say “I don’t know” while answering them. The critism that comes in as comments through your blogs, articles or just ad-hoc email from your readers is usually very constructive. Personally I have and will (hopefully) continue to, learn a lot from Ad-hoc emails and feedback I receive from this blog and my articles.  
  5. Read Code – Read code that’s better than code that you would generally write – Quite a few good open source projects are usually a great place to start. If you can’t commit to an open source project submit bug-fixes and patches for the ones you use in your every-day life! 
  6. Copy Shamelessly – I’ve copied patterns of coding from every good programmer I ever worked with. In my professional life at work, the most recent example of shameless copy was a different way of writing Configuration Handlers that I picked up from a very capable Developer in my current project.

The above points don't form a definitive guide to becoming a shameless thick-skinned developer but if you’ve never made fun of your own code in a meeting or in a public blog post – they might help you get started on the road of thick-skinned-shamelessness where you might be able to learn much more by being a little more shameless and thick-skinned! I wish you a Safe and a Happy Journey on this road of shameless and thick-skinned development.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 9:08:32 AM UTC
I guess Ishould thak Rajiv for fuelling (read starting) my enthu of writing i blogs. Still could not be a total thick-skinned one :)
Monday, April 30, 2007 5:30:56 PM UTC
Dheeman, you were definitely on the shameless thick-skinned side of software development - I'm sure your skin will grow thicker with time... we’re all on the same road of continuous learning. :)
Monday, May 7, 2007 6:24:47 AM UTC
Hi Rajiv ... I just can't guess how you write these things ... Definitely a very good article ... It does fire my enthusiasm ... :-)
Wednesday, May 9, 2007 7:50:36 AM UTC
Shahid, nice to know you're reading the blog too! :)
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