If laughter is the best medicine, Mark brews the potion for immortality. Lightning fast at wordplays and spontaneous puns, he’s your salvation on those days when work becomes a bit too much to handle.
We all have those days. And Mark is exactly what the world needs in all these madness. A person who reminds us to laugh a little and play a little (or for Mark, play a lot), if that’s what it takes to get through our increasingly hectic lives.
Tech career can be fun. You can’t run out of challenging puzzles to solve and shiny new toys to play with. But it can also be stressful. Looming technical debts and eternally shifting paradigms make it difficult to keep up with change. It’s exhausting.
While working with Mark for eleven years, one thing remained constant. And that’s my trust and deep respect for a colleague who is brilliant, down to earth, and outright funny. He makes programming seem like the easiest thing in the world.
Pragmatic and undeniably clever, Mark has taught me (perhaps without him knowing it) all these lessons that I apply both in software engineering and in any aspect of life:
#1 – Question, if not everything, all things that matter
When I interviewed Mark, for a previous company, back in 2012, our roles were instantly reversed. I’ll always remember that long Skype call, where he asked me more questions about the job and the work condition, than I asked about his qualifications (as how it must be in job interviews).
That’s when I knew that I met an exceptional person. Someone who takes his time, considers all the pros and cons, and validates alternatives, before making a choice. He doesn’t decide out of random luck. It’s all intentional.
If you knew people like Mark, you’d understand that they do this because they genuinely care. It’s serious business. Whether you’re betting on a code pattern, a hashing algorithm, or your own future livelihood, your choice has a huge impact on you and those around you. The least you can do, is avoid being rash, and ask.
So whenever Mark pings me on Teams when he has a question (which is rare, because he has already done his homework, before asking), I feel privileged. For every time he asks me anything, it’s me who ends up learning something new.
#2 – Break conventions, be comfortable with your quirkiness
Fast forward to present, we now know what could happen when every one reads the same news feed, preach the same ideas, or worship the same idol. It’s eerily apocalyptic. While patterns and uniformity bring stability at scale, it’s not what pushes our evolution forward.
Those who go against conventions, those who don’t give a damn about being different, those who aren’t afraid to say that they don’t believe in what everyone else believes in, are the ones who keep the balance in this otherwise intolerable homogeneity.
Mark is one of those. And he does it in the most nondescript manner. No placards on street demonstrations. No angry comments on social media. Just spending a regular day at home, working, playing, taking care of his loved ones, plants and pets, while choosing not to live like everyone else.
Go ahead. Pick an unpopular programming language. Bend the framework. Ignore the tech buzz and resist hash tagging ChatGPT, Metaverse and Kubernetes all the time. Not because these aren’t revolutionary. But because you, as an individual, are responsible to unlearn biases, and embrace diversity, including your own opinion.
#3 – Invest on your 3C’s: Chocolates, Consoles and Cats
The problems we are faced with are hard. Zoom in a bit on Earth & you’ll agree that solving technical problems is our only way out of the rut that we dug ourselves into. Climate change, hunger, violence against humans and animals alike, you name it. These are disasters that we can circumvent with the right technology and mindset.
It’s a hell lot of serious hard work. Every contribution counts, no matter what task you get assigned to. So you must take care of yourself. Get fit for the battle. Survive.
All these years, Mark has taught me, in his own way, exactly what to pack in your tactical bag: Chocolates, game consoles and perhaps your cats.
He showed me the importance of indulging in your own happiness. In investing in joy. In smiling even when things get tough in the battlefield.
Because of this, he reminds me that, once in a while, we ought to check up on each other and ask. Are you still having fun? If not, stop. It’s a sign that it’s no longer worth playing the game.
I’ll be forever grateful that Mark chose to join us right from the start. Because of him, Dewise have been such a fun journey through out these years. Not only did we find one of the brightest principal software engineers, we also got our constant source of laughter & inspiration, both in good times, and in bad.
Find a Mark in your team, and you’ll be alright.