Passion makes the world go round

Me and rafek were asked to do a non-technical talk at a technical conference which is always a challenge. We thought we’d give it a try. I didn’t known it’s so hard. Especially when your topic is “Passion makes the world go round”. We decided to talk about DevDay and our thoughts on passion after doing it for three years.

DevDay started basically out of nowhere. Two guys with a crazy idea that they miss something in Poland that should be happening but it’s not. Back in July 2011 - we set one thing - a date. That was supposed to be middle of October same year. We had a date and literally nothing else. Apart from Tibi’s words that he’s willing to come… probably… from Bermuda. And some people at ABB willing to talk about it.

It actually started a year before at one of the Swedish conferences - Øredev. We met so many passionate people there. We got to know people whose blogs and books we were reading, gurus in our industry. We felt like a part of the community - meeting developers from other countries. We’ve seen some amazing things like - Jon Skeet answering questions at someone else’s talk. Then searching for more people asking questions after this not-his-talk. We’ve been listening to people from NASA, we have heard creator of Atari talking - we were totally inspired.

It may be obvious to you right now if you’ve been to some great conferences but it wasn’t obvious to us - I mean, we didn’t expect that we’d be flying to Poland and our mouths will not shut up. I didn’t expect that I’d be talking about this conference literally to everyone I met for next weeks. Ask my friends who were with me that time - I was totally annoying - totally in amaze about what I’ve seen. And with question on my mind - how to make something similar in Poland?

What happened since then? We got pretty amazing speakers at DevDay. Scott Hanselman for the first time in Poland, Jon Skeet whom people were checking if he’s a human. Greg Young, Hadi Hariri among many other great speakers mingling together with Polish developers community. That was totally awesome to see! And totally rewarding was reading how awesome line-up this conference had.

What about community? They felt that we “focus on people” which makes us extremely happy taking into consideration how much time we spend on thinking and making atmosphere which will enhance networking, sharing experience and knowledge among participants and speakers. There’s no aggresive stands at this conference, no recruiting, no booths, conference is still free of charge which we fight for at our company. And believe me - this makes some discussions quite difficult as we’re not strictly software company. People get excited about our conference and say extremely nice things about it.

How this is even possible that two guys with nothing but this crazy idea could organize this? We believe it has to do with people and passion.

First of all there’s a whole lot of beautiful, open-minded people who helped us in organizing the event. Speakers who decided to come, attendees who were excited about the conference and spread the news, people from our ‘debugging crew’ who took their free time and helped in making this happen. But from the beginning there was one amazing guy at our company - Przemek who thinks across organizational charts, totally against set rules, his creativity and willingness to help us made all of this possible in the first place.

But this talk will not be about how to meet those wonderful people on your way - you probably just have to be lucky as we were. This talk will be more about how passion can help you along the way.

Passion - what is it?

So what is with all this ‘passion thing’ that our industry is talking about for years now. Another cliché we don’t need?

We’ve watched many TED talks about passion and they’re all talking different things but still the topic is very vague. One of the talks was inspiring enough to think about passion in terms of:

  • Commitment to Domain
  • Questing disposition
  • Connecting disposition

Commitment to Domain is defined as being extremely interested in some domain, up to the point you want to contribute, to make a difference in this domain. Questing disposition is challenging yourself, desire to learn faster and finally Connecting disposition is learning from others and seeking deep relationships with others. Passionate people tend to have those three traits in different proportions.

We found this talk to be a scientific proof of what has happened to us.

But what this scientifically explained and self-acquired passion actually gives us? What does it make easier?

No excuses === sacrifices

All of a sudden you’re not so exposed to your own excuses. Have you seen Warhawk Matt Scott Nike Ad ‘No excuses’? It’s all about sometimes silly excuses that become totally unimportant if you have this thing in you - self-motivation.

  • sleeping? not so needed as you would think
  • family? they’ll understand and you can rearrange things together
  • building a house - sorry, there’s no help for you, you simply don’t have time :)

Yeah, that means sacrificying a lot from time to time. But you realize that after the fact, you’re totally in get-this-thing-going mode that you really don’t care if you slept or ate.

No failures

There’s no failure you can’t treat as a learning excercise. There’s also a notion of - what is the worst thing that can actually happen. The worst of the worst? You see that there’s nothing bad that can happen and this thought gives you a lot of energy. After all - there was nothing before - whatever you do - you’ll make some progress in a right direction.

We have also those few sentences we use to motivate ourselves when doing DevDay. Our motivational quotes we tell each other are:

  • “it won’t work”
  • “let’s not do this”
  • “let someone else do it”

This actually works for us because it makes us laugh at common excuses we could have. It makes us even more sure about direction we took.

All you do is just ask

We as humans have a tendency to overcomplicate things. What if I told you - sometimes things are simpler than you thought.

  • We thought - there’s a big Microsoft conference in Poland - if getting Scott Hanselman was easy - they would have him long before us - but we decided to ask Scott - ‘all you do is just ask’
  • ABB is not a software company and wasn’t organizing software conferences before - but we decided to ask
  • ABB has this branding model which everyone is afraid of not being compliant to - we decided to ask if we can have our own - DevDay has its own branding now
  • We weren’t hearing of our colleagues going to international conferences - but we asked and went to Sweden
  • Clearly no one at our company had dedicated time to organize or attend conferences - we now have because we asked

Sometimes all you do is just ask.

You’re genuine

When you’re passionate about something - you’re truly genuine. You can’t actually fake your enthusiasm for something - people will notice. You can’t fake caring about something - there will always be a time when you give up - people will notice. Unless you’re passionate about something and truly care - then you’re genuine. And then you wave goodbye Hadi at 4am on Saturday morning in front of the hotel ensuring everything is ok with his travel and then go back to other people from the conference still awake. If you’re doing this after three days of average sleep time around 2 hours - you really can’t fake. If you didn’t care you wouldn’t bother coming. For sure you wouldn’t be happy doing it.

There’s no way - you’ll find a way

You start to think differently about finding a solution. There’s no obstacles or at least you don’t think of anything as of obstacle. You try to find the solution anyway. And this is mainly because there’s no backup plan, there’s no saying “it’s someone’s else problem”. It is your “problem” - it is your own thing, your own child - you simply care a lot more about things you’re passionate about - because you put so many emotions in it that you practically attach yourself to it. It can be helpful but be catious with that :)

Passion Driven Development

If you’re into latest discussion about TDD you could hear that it’s not certain if it’s dead or not. I can tell you - Passion Driven Development (PDD) will not be dead any time soon. It goes like this:

  • You imagine something you’re passionate about and would like to see happening
  • You realize that the World is either not compiling or is not passing your test - it simply doesn’t have this feature
  • You fix the World to make your dream come true
  • … and then you repeat it over and over because the last try gave you such a motivational boost that it made you going and going and you can’t stop right now…

It’s all interconnected - people will help you

Remember when we said how important are people in your own success. This is true and passion can help here, too. When you’re passionate - you start to show it. Actually - it overflows you and it’s hard to hide from anyone. When people feel that - it makes them excited as well. To some extent but this extent is sometimes enough to make them feel like they’d like to help you. People are amazing.

You’re persistent

You’re not giving up so easily, you become stubborn, you become almost boring to people around you. Because until you get to the point you want to be at - you’re not letting it go. You just keep on trying, keep on trying, keep on trying a bit harder if previous attempts were not successful.

You simplify - find the fastest, easiest way to do things

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
Albert Einstein

You start asking yourself - what is the fastest, easiest, simplest way to accomplish this thing? You start questioning every possible advice you were given before - you try to reinvent way of work if you think it will allow you to move faster. This is all thanks to passion and putting yourself in this beautiful place your imagination has built for you.

Everything is fun

When you’re passionate about some thing - it starts to give you much more fun than before. It’s not a switch that you can turn on and apply to whatever work - there will be ups and downs as with everything. But overall - you keep in mind what you’re trying to achieve and you start enjoying parts to make it happen more because you see a bigger picture.

Finding your passion

We believe this all happens to you if you have passion. But what if you don’t have it right now? How to get one? Is there a mind trick to enable it?

You have to explore different things, you have to give things 5 minutes, it’s not always the first approach to something that gives you this feeling that you love doing it. You have to also remember that the thing that you’re the most passionate about right now can be not your last thing. You can find something in the future that will get you this feeling of passion. Remember though - if you feel some great excitement about what you’re doing at the moment - try to explore it, look at it and try to answer yourself this question - is it possibly something I could be passionate about?

We thought programming was our thing. Then we thought conferences are our thing. There’s probably a lot more to explore. We all have exciting lives ahead of us, right? :)

Is it necessary?

But is it really necessary to have passion to be successful in something? Well, probabaly not. Probably if you’re good enough - you can do things faster, better than anyone without this inherent ability. But in my opinion with passion it’s just more fun :)


So this is basically it. What we’ve tried to do here is to tell you that passion can help you achieve things you dream of. And it helps you make a journey to achieving them - pleasurable. It’s worth to keep on searching for passion. But don’t feel bad if you don’t think you have it - it’s so subjective and vague feeling that no one can be judged by the fact of having or not having passion. The most important thing is to feel good with yourself and with what you’re doing.