How to become a good developer overnight

I get a lot of request from a lot of people who see my works and
get inspired and ask me how can they do the same? The questions I
generally get are following:

  • How can I develop projects like you did?
  • What do I need to learn in C# to become like you?
  • Does Microsoft Certifications help? Should I go for the
  • What did you do to become MVP? I want to become MVP too.
  • I am 23 (or 24), fresh graduate and I want to become like you. What do I need
    to do?

Generally the questions are like this. Everyone asks me for a
“shortcut” way to becoming a really good developer. So, here’s the
magical secret for becoming a really good developer and achieve
everything I have achieved:

Work 16 hours per day, 7 days a week, 360 days a year for
13 years.

Yes! That’s the secret. It’s pretty easy. The only thing you
need to do is “work” and do nothing else and you will achieve
everything that I have achieved. Pretty easy. I did that, so you
can do it too! Piece of cake.

If you want to go for the “long” way then here’re the things you
can try:

  • Take part in open source projects or make several yourselve.
    This is the best way to learn really useful things.
  • If you can, try setting up your own company. I have setup 3
    companies so far. 2 were not that succesful, 1 is very
    successful. It helped me learn so many things that I would have
    never learnt by working in other’s companies as an employee. The best lessons are learnt from the failures. I learnt a long list of “What not to do in a software development project”, which came very handy when I did my later projects. The more I failed in my earlier projects, the less mistakes I made in my later projects. The key is not to give up even if you fail to deliver 10 projects successfully in a row. Keep an open eye, do a retrospective and find out what made it fail, and especially what *you* did wrong.
  • Read articles everyday. There are thousands of articles to read
    from and I use my Pageflakes page to keep in touch with the technology world everyday. I still read almost all the articles that get
    published in codeproject every week. If you read 10 articles per
    week and do it for a year weeks, you have the knowledge
    of 480 articles! Who can beat you then?
  • Not only read articles, but try out the attached source codes.
    Make similar projects yourselves and use the ideas presented in the
    articles in your own project. I spend everyday at least 1 hour in
    trying out new technologies. This not only increases my knowledge
    but also makes me more experienced in doing things better and helps
    me do my office work better and faster.
  • Get into companies which gives you exciting projects to work on
    and you get to do something in everything. For example, join a
    company which gives you the freedom to design your modules, develop
    it, test it, document it etc. The idea is to gain experience from
    all stages of development. Make sure the company has enough bright
    stars to learn from. If you just become another cow in a big dairy
    farm, no benefit.
  • Don’t leave a company if you are underpaid but you do a lot for
    the company. Have patience. Build yourself up and you will one day
    get what you deserve. I used to get $250/mo in my first
    company, which used to do outsourced projects for a really big
    company in US. I worked day and night in that company and worked in
    8 projects in 7 years. I did not leave the company because of
    the technologies I could learn and apply and the variety of things
    I could do there besides just coding. Best of all, I could work on many outsourced
    projects myself from various countries which exposed me to a wide
    variety of technologies, culture, and business. So, when I left the company and
    joined another one, with the vast experience I had gathered from my
    previous underpaid company, my salary became $200/day in the new
    company. See the difference. If I had left earlier seeking higher
    salary instead of technologies, I would not have learned all the
    cool things and I would not become so expensive as I am
  • This is very important for those who cost $200/day now. Don’t
    change yourself once you start earning this much. Be the same
    person as you were when you used to get $200/month. Remember, it
    was the attitude and the burning desire to learn and grow that
    made you become what you are now. If the burning sun inside you
    becomes a dying candle, you lose.
  • Don’t start your career in a company where you are given nice
    specs to read on, you have lead developers to decide all
    input/output/pseudocodes, you have a solid QA team to test
    your work, you have managers and administrators to take care of
    every management and administrative issues etc. In such a company,
    the only thing you become is a “smart typist”. You basically
    translate English to C#. The right side of your brain does not
    develop at all. Start your career with small companies which deal
    with lots of challenges and you get the chance to burn your brain
    and fingers out. The sweet smell of your roasted brain is far
    better than the sweet scent of your polished cubicle inside a
    decorated corporate office.
  • I have seen the following evolutionary cycle of developers and
    see where you fit in:
    • Beginner: Does not wear shoes, comes to office on sandles.
      Looks very sober. Shirt is outside pant. When you ask them,
      do you know .NET events and delegates? They say, “uh, ummm, no I
      don’t think so. Is it birthday events?”
    • Beginner+: Gives you “I know it all” look whenever you talk
      about programming. Wears shiny shoes, full sleve shirt is
      nicely put inside dockers pants. Back brushed hair wtih
      “Set Wet” gel and always on 300 sunglasses. When you ask them, “do
      you know .NET events and delegates?” They say, “Events and
      delegates are coooool man! You can do anything with them and mark
      my word man, “anything”. I haved used them in sooooo many
      projects. Did you just learn about .NET events and
    • Intermediate: Clothing turns a bit pale. Sunglass is
      old-school. No hair gel. Anytime you speak about some terms like
      EJB, Spring, Design Patterns, their eyes sparkle like the brightest
      star in the November sky. They start doing a lot of off-the-record
      work inside office. They start going to online groups, start
      working with friends on open source projects, start reading MSDN
      Magazines etc. If you ask them, “Can you make it?” They always
      reply, “Sure, you will get it tomorrow.” But usually you get it
      after a month.
    • Intermediate+: Generally you get it within 1 or 2 weeks overdue
    • Advanced: They wear the same “I am a Geek”
      or “Microsoft Windows XP” logo T-shirts everyday (until it
      stinks and you can smell it as soon as they enter the
      office) and shiny sports shoes. They start talking about
      software development processes, RUP, Extreme Programming,
      Agile Development etc. If you ask them to do something, they
      reply “Give me a functional specification, a technical
      specification, test plans, milestones, release plans, mockups and N
      number of developers and I will get it done.”
    • Very advanced: Does not wear shoes, comes to office on sandles.
      Looks very sober. Shirt is outside pant. When you ask them,
      do you know .NET events and delegates? They say, “They seem to
      suffer from bi-directional strong reference problem which
      prevents garbage collectors from collecting the listener properly
      and the only way to release the reference is to bring down the app
  • Do take Microsoft Certifications without cheating. You will
    learn a lot.
  • Write articles & blogs. Share everything you learn. Someone
    out there will benefit from it someday. Don’t hesitate thinking
    that you don’t know much to write about.

25 thoughts on “How to become a good developer overnight”

  1. Good posting. and i always used to read your articles.

    But every one may not get enough oppurtunity atlast we have to maintain certain other things too

  2. Lovely article!

    Kudos Mr.Zabir!! The way u analyzed the psychology of software engineers is extremely awesome! Its simply a software engineer's lifestyle on a blog. It helped me to learn how foolish i am indeed! Thanks for the help.

  3. hi. another trick to becoming a great programmer is to start when you are 13 years old on a TRS-80 Model I and to have fun doing it.

    Working 18 hours per day might make you a little lop-sided. What will you think on your deathbed? How can you raise children or philosophize? Is man no different than machine?

    I think it is better to earn my high salary by working smarter, not harder. People who work 18 hours a day make it a sweat-shop.

  4. What if I am 25 years old and want to become like you? Does your formula work only for those who are 23 (or 24) ?

  5. I am a student in NIIT,

    You wrote all the things that are needed to guide a student in his green horned stage.

    Keep UP the good work! 🙂

  6. was surfing, found this article…

    Actually, what written is 100% perfect… I myself work 20 hrs a day and 7 days a week.. do take a few days off per months to other activities… In less than 2 years, i am one of the eperts in my field. I am underpaid in my current company, but it really does not matter.. i get to work on loads of new stuff and the best part is, if no one can solve stuff, they call me..

    So, all i can say is “Overnight success takes years”…

  7. Excellent article which should be read by evry software engr of a MNC. I exactly came to know what I am in software industry after reading this.


  8. hi ,

    Im finished ma engg 2nd year .. wen i asked ma bro(wrking in software) about wat should i do next he didnt say nythin . latr i gt this link to ma mail..
    u guided me for ma future.. 🙂
    you are really grt .. i hav all ma respect for you ..
    thank you ..
    may ‘allah’ bless you and take good care of you ..

  9. Thanks for the nice post. Every smallest part of this post is a damn true and I feel it right inside me. Btw, I liked the developer psychological analysis of developers. Simply great.

  10. “16 hours per day, 7 days a week, 360 days a year for”?!!
    Are you serious?

    And there is another one with an issue:
    “I myself work 20 hrs a day and 7 days a week”.

    Are you guys still healthy? This post worried me a bit.
    Sounds like Monty Python’s show…
    In the end you should work 40 hours per day, 16 days a week and even pay your employer.

    To whom it may concern: You can be Supper Dupper Very advanced ++ software engineer in much more relaxed way if you LOVE what you do! Please enjoy life, so many rules you obsess about here could seriously harm someone. Don’t trust this! You CAN be good and enjoy life. If you’re torturing yourself what’s the point? Than be lawnmower, drink a beer! Unless you’re new Einstein.


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