4 traits of a great software engineer — Part II

Coding rock star, JavaScript ninja or programming guru. You are aspiring to become one of these, and I will help you get there. I will make you the John Lennon of software. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try to make you the Yoko Ono of software, which is still acceptable since Asians are great at science.

Make sure you didn’t miss the less offensive first part of this article since it will offer you a general idea about the hard work and dedication you have to put in to be the best. If you didn’t miss it, awesome beard!

Based on your previous read you should have a secure position inside your company by now. With your bases covered, the natural next step is to start eliminating your competition, and climb that corporate ladder. Don’t worry, it’s a metaphorical ladder — you don’t have to actually move that fat butt from your ergonomic chair.

Eliminating the competition is mostly an endurance game in which the one who looses his mind last wins. Since this usually causes deep psychological scars, it may explain the hectic behavior of some of your superiors.

You’ll need the proper mindset for war, so we will get offensive in this one. We will touch sensible and private matters just like a horny yoga instructor, and you’ll become a fearless killing machine by the end of it.

Still from the team meeting on planning & priorities for 2016. Still from the team meeting on planning & priorities for 2016.

Fight mediocrity

Mediocre should pretty much describe everyone around you, except your sidekick. Of course you’ll need a Robin to your Batman! His main tasks? Laugh at your jokes, enforce your opinions and shut the hell up in all other instances. Also, you’ll get popularity points with your superiors for training a less talented colleague.

Pro tip: When in search for a sidekick, try looking for an obedient, smaller specimen. It should be born after the ’90s since the older ones tend to have opinions, they loose hair, and they could start drinking due to unhappy marriages.

Once you picked your mediocre target, start keeping a close eye on all of his work. If you don’t agree with his coding style or decisions, completely delete his work, and ask him to redo it. This is called micro management.

Don’t miss this opportunity, and send out a company wide email stating your general disappointment. Just like a Miss Universe contestant, come up with some vague solutions to solve all the problems, but avoid walking in your underwear in front of your colleagues. However, if the underwear walk is necessary, delegate to sidekick.

Pro tip: To scare the competition, you should always be annoyed and angry on life in general. In order to achieve this, I would suggest listening to death metal, or to Rebecca Black’s Friday. If you are not into music, some people get into the same mindset by misreading the Quran.

Go big or go home

Around year 1200, the Mongol empire was ruling both Asia and some of Europe in the most admirable fashion (there were a lot of great team leaders and project managers in Mongolia at that time). Since Europe was in danger of being invaded, they decided to use their best asset to handle this crisis— The Pope (quite a lot of outside of the box thinkers and entrepreneurs in Europe at that time). To make a long story boring, the Pope wins.

You may ask yourself what is the purpose of the short history interlude, other than giving depth to this pep talk. Just like the Pope made a big statement which greatly improved his street cred back then, you should also make a big statement in your software company. However, this is quite difficult to do from behind a monitor. You are no Pope, and probably you are terrified by alive horses.

A horse. In beta. Developed by Indians. In PHP. (Photo: http://www.stylepinner.com/) A horse. In beta. Developed by Indians. In PHP. (Photo: http://www.stylepinner.com/)

The solution is to act like you are doing big statements every day. Hell, your work is the biggest statement. Let your co-workers know this, but refer to your work as your art. Let your co-workers from other departments know that engineering is the heart and soul of the company. End results and bigger pictures are for abstract thinkers, not for doers. Ask your co-workers to call you The Pope.

Pro tip: Buy a large dog and tell your co-workers it is a horse. Train your sidekick to ride the dog. Make them follow you around, and announce your presence to meetings. You can’t go bigger than this.


The sad truth is that there is no actual recipe for becoming a great software engineer. Just like with any other talent, you are either born with it or not. Usain Bolt has his running, Floyd Mayweather has his boxing, and you have fast typing and bad eyesight.

Finally, another few words for the ladies in software — I’ll be quick as usual. You shouldn’t worry too much about climbing the corporate ladder or proving you are the best. Why bother? You’ll still be payed less than a man for doing the same job.