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Max Ong Zong Bao
Max Ong Zong Bao

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Developer Becomes Human

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash


As developers, I'm sure that you might be propelled into social settings that require your social skills from time to time.

From water cooler sessions with your co-worker, meetups, being in meetings with your superiors, attending conferences, pitching to your clients.

Which requires to you think on your feet and use your social skills to get something done or to thrive as an individual.

Kid Travels 100 of miles to be Back Home

There was once a kid who was spoilt and shy towards strangers. Because of this shyness, his mum felt that he might turn into a shy or anti-social adult.

Thus his mum thought of a "brilliant" idea to help this boy's shyness. One day while travelling from home.

She kicks his child out of the car in the middle of nowhere and tells her child to find a way back home with nothing on him.

Fortunately, he was able to navigate back home by learning to chat with strangers and being an uncomfortable situation.

This lesson provided him with the confidence that leads him to take on crazy adventures.

From building his own business empire, riding hot air balloon around the world to building his own private space travel company.

Let me know in the comments if you know who is he. He is one of my favourite entrepreneurs that I really wish I get to drink with him.

Doing Things that Scare The Hell Out of You

This is the essence to learn to be human, we need to be able to step out of our comfort zone to be in social situations or do things that scare the hell out of you.

Despite written a dozen articles, I still had the same fear and the trouble of writing because I learnt to read and write in English at the age of 7.

Sure given a choice I would much prefer to hide in a shell and have days go by without ever interacting with people.

That might be one of the reasons why you choose to be a developer.

Regardless if you plan to be an independent contributor or raise to become a manager.

We have to learn social skills to help us grow as a developer.

How to be Human

Learning social skills is a skill like any new technology we had to learn to pick up to stay relevant as a developer.

There's always a way to help you to become better with social skills to help you grow professionally and a better human.

Be a Volunteer

Volunteering helps us to not focus on ourselves instead, forces you to focus on the people you are helping by adding value through your time, money or effort in your own acts of services to help people.

Become a Voracious Learner For Social Skills

There are tons and scores of classes, courses, books or research on public speaking, emotional intelligence, social psychology, ethics, persuasion.

So take your time and pick out something you like to help you be more "human" in the process.

Here's my selection of books that really hit home on the subject over the years.

Practice Makes Perfect

Ways for you to practice your social skills can be going for meetups or just tech conferences.

I remember there's a resurgence of board game groups in recent years. Maybe just buying an awesome broad game and inviting friends over for board game nights could help you a lot as well.

Do not be afraid to fail, you get better as you practice your social skills with people and hopefully get to make awesome new friends along the way.


On this subject of building your professional network and social skills, I listen to a podcast called the The Jordan Harbinger Show.

Do hop down to 6 Minute Networking if you are really interested in networking and building a personal relationship.

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This post was originally posted on Max's blog at Developer Becomes Human - Read Time: 4 Mins and Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash


Top comments (6)

danazar96 profile image
Aidan Walters-Williams

Thank you for this article mate! It's just what I needed. Recently moved to a new city for work, knowing barely anyone (apart from my girlfriend who coincidentally is away for 2 months just as I get here).

This article just inspired me to go and look for meetups/groups and things to do here!

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

That's great :)

dianacoman profile image
Diana Coman

Hm, being scared is just a signal of a current limit of yours - as any signal, what you decide to do about it is entirely your choice at any time. Some limits you may decide to go against until you overcome them, some limits you may decide to leave in place for one reason or another - after all, life is both finite and limited in itself.

As to the entrepreneur, the curiosity would be: what would you ask him if you had a drink with him today? And note that - quite related - there is also the very valid and much-tested in practice scenario: "How did you make your 10mn?" "By starting with 20mn."

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Life is about choices, I'm a big believer of making your own fate and shaping your own
reality instead of just relying on external factors.

I'm really interested in how does he handle the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

Since it is really a topic that is not discussed greatly.

shreyasht profile image

Hi Max!

This is a great post! The links are super useful too.

By any chance, The boy who traveled 100 miles" was Elon Musk?

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

Close it's actually Sir Richard Branson but oops I had gotten the wrong distance that it was just 3 miles, oh well the essence of the lesson is there anyway hahaha.