Q & A #1

I thought this week I’d pause for a bit and reflect on what I’ve written for Junior Dev Diaries. So far, I’ve written 6 articles/posts for you and the reception and feedback has been great!  I really do appreciate your comments, likes, recommends, favourites, retweets and more, they really do keep a person going! It means so much to me as I sit here on a Sunday typing into my screen.

If you’ve missed any of the posts, you can read them here: SamJarman.co.nz/Diaries.

What I would love from you is to share this link with anyone you think it might help! They don’t even have to be junior, as this advice is suiting a lot of people!

For you this week, I have a bit of Q & A. These come from blog comments, DMs, tweets and the original survey. I plan to do a few more of these to give back even more, so please send your questions in, however you’d like. I’d recommend avoiding Sky Writing however, the Wellington wind may blow it away before I see it.


How do you build the confidence to face and interact with your audience full of strangers?

Firstly, for me nervousness comes from underpreparedness. The most nervous talks I have done is when I know I haven't done enough rehearsals or I'm not as fluent on the content as I'd like. It's my inner voice saying "you're full of it, Sam" and it can really cripple me. Spending more time on future talks, really making sure I prepare and know my stuff has sort of diminished my nerves. As a guide, I generally run through a "finished" talk 7-10 times before giving it.

Where does my confidence come from? I guess a little bit has to be natural, but it's completely a learnable skill. In my spare time, I do improv acting kind of like "Who’s Line Is it Anyway?" where I'm challenged to make up a story or small scene on the spot in front of an audience. I've been doing this for a while now and that's definitely given me more confidence. I've heard similar reports from Toast Masters courses as well.

So yes, practice, and a bit of "putting on a performance" does the trick. Remember, at most it's only an hour long, after that you can run away and introvert for a bit. I certainly do.

What made you want to be a public speaker? What do you personally get out of this by sharing your knowledge and experience?

What drives me? I get a lot of satisfaction of sharing. When you look around the room at the eyes lighting up with what you're saying, it's a great feeling. Apart from that, the applause at the end gives me the good feels. I just love the process, the preparation, the slides, the rehearsals, the delivery, the conference usually, just the lot. I live for that process.


How do you create a successful open source project?

While I think there’s no formula for a successful open source project, there’s certainly a few things that help. Firstly, your code/project must solve a problem. Rails, for example, solves the problem of “how can I build a web app with Ruby?”. It does it quite well. Secondly, your code must be quite clean and to a high standard. Thirdly, your solution must make sense and fit in with the idiomatic solutions of the community. Rails is opinionated because Ruby is, etc.

As for the more concrete, check out my open source post on creating a good README and GitHub repo. I’d especially point out the Code of Conduct, which creates a positive tone for all to contribute, and especially for those who think different to you, and can improve your project in ways you couldn’t imagine.

What if asking a person to be a mentor, even casually, results in a no? I’m scared to.

Well, you have a no already, if you ask you might get a yes. Just try it.