Work smarter, not harder. This past Tuesday, I attended the first ever Iterate Developer Conference at Bespoke in San Francisco. It had an incredible lineup of speakers from around the world and was brought together by Okta, Twilio, Angolia, Atlassian, and JSFoundation. The purpose of this conference was to learn how to have fun while coding better, faster and smarter.

Jeff Atwood, founder of StackOverflow and Discourse, was the opening keynote speaker. It was definitely not a talk to miss, learning about how his companies were founded on strict objectives and expecting results. Along with the opening keynote, there were two tracks — Build and Evolve. Build was about building better stuff with the latest technology tools and services. Evolve was about becoming the best programmer and productive human being.

I chose the Evolve track as it would give me insight about how to work smarter and how other teams are improving company processes, collaboration, managing and being more efficient.

How to be a Passionate Programmer

Passion drives success. Emily Morehouse-Valcarcel and Frank Valcarcel discussed how to charge (and recharge) your passion for software development. Emily and Frank are cofounders of Cuttlesoft, and married to each other, how cool is that! They stressed that it’s important to continuously market and invest in yourself, while optimizing and finding purpose. Passion is a combination between motivation and creativity, and sometimes the correlation between happiness and passion isn’t always defined.

Becoming a 10x Developer

One of the most important skills an engineer can develop is teamwork. Kate Heddleston, CEO of Opsolutely, spoke about 10 concrete keys to becoming a better team player and making your engineering team more productive and inclusive. It’s important to create an environment that can foster these values. Productivity is a combination between everyone’s talent and teamwork. Here are the 10 keys below…

  1. Create an environment of psychological safety
  2. Encourage everyone to participate equally
  3. Assign credit accurately and generously
  4. Amplify unheard voices in meetings
  5. Give constructive and actionable feedback
  6. Hold yourself and others accountable
  7. Cultivate experience in an area that is valuable
  8. Educate on diversity, inclusion and equality in workspace
  9. Maintain a growth mindset
  10. Advocate for company policy that increase workplace equally

Manage Yourself Up

Skunk Works built and designed the XP-80 from scratch in only 143 days. Craig Kerstiens, who runs cloud at Citus Data, talked about developing a small team to rapidly prototype new ideas. His talk revolved around Skunk Works demonstrating how the aerospace industry was able to accomplish advanced breakthroughs and how we can apply these concepts to software engineering.

Optimize Your Life

Sometimes I don’t feel productive at all. It can be hard to get back on track when I get distracted. Mahdi Yusuf, CTO of Gyroscope, talks about how to measure productivity and efficiency. Through this talk and checking out the app, I can measure my day-to-day activities, productivity and distractions. I can improve by comparing my productive and not-so-productive days to get things done!


I personally have never been to a conference before where most of the speakers gave out book recommendations. I’ve already put them on my “Need to Read” list, and am looking forward to reading them! Here are the list of books that were recommended…

While its easy to only focus on personal productivity, it’s also important to be aware of our surroundings. We can take advantage of the technology around us to understand how our minds work to make ourselves productive. As a team, aiming towards a unifying goal means acknowledging what the operating principles and team principles are. What became apparent throughout the talks is that it is important to have a good work life balance. If you want to check out the videos from the talks, you can find them at Oktadev Youtube channel.


Iterate gave me inspiration and motivation to start becoming a passionate programmer and productive being. Now I have to do my due diligence to check out all the new techniques and best practices — not only on a personal level, but also how Infield Digital can benefit from this. Thank you Iterate for having me, I look forward to the next one!