I usually write about technology in depth, best practices, ways to avoid boilerplate and implementations of code. This article is less about the tech part. It’s more about lessons I learned throughout my career, which I think that can help you as well. After all, I started out as a screw up in school, worked my way up to doing dozens of brainless jobs at factories. These jobs are probably replaced by computers or machines by now. After that I started a career as a butcher and then finally decided to back to school.

After studying IT at school I ended up in a dead-end job where I was doing Javascript, HTML, CSS, VB.NET, php, c++, c, Java, Photoshop, Ruby on rails, different CMS systems, etc without any guidance and mostly without any appreciation. I was doing everything, without any guidance or anyone to learn from. I did all of that for a terrible salary, and now I can say I worked myself up to the person I wanted to become.

I’m currently working as a freelance software architect specialized in Angular, I’m an international conference speaker, I help people and big companies across the world, people buy my courses, follow my content, and they hire me for complexity they can’t solve on their own. I’m also coaching/mentoring people on a daily basis. I’m very grateful for the journey and in this article I would love to share some insights of what helped me to become the person I am today.

Get yourself a pet project

If you just left school, if you are a junior developer, or even if you an expert. You need to get yourself a pet project ASAP. I’m not talking about a side-hustle, or you building websites after hours to get some extra cash. I’m talking about owning a project that isn’t demanding, and you should never experience pressure of deadlines for it. Don’t make your pet project profitable, at least not in the beginning, make it fun. Build something that you can use, something to calculate your monthly expenses, something that automates something for you. Something that motives you to build that project. Perhaps a fun project like a tool for configuring your Philips Hue lighting setup, allowing you to control your lights through your app.

Why you should get a pet project?

  • You get real experience in a variety of tech on your own little product.
  • It turns in a hobby/passion, it doesn’t feel like you have to work on it, you want to work on it!
  • You can try new tech, I’m currently exploring Supabase and TailwindCSS at the time of writing this.
  • You have something to show potential clients/employers.
  • It shows potential clients/employers you are motivated.
  • You can write blog articles about what you learned from that pet project and build an audience.
  • You build something you are proud of, and you don’t just learn to build, but you learn how to reason about other stuff like project management

You can brag with your project. You shouldn’t brag because you think you are awesome, you should showcase your project because it makes you proud! If you learn a new way of doing forms, or state management, or whatever… Apply that in your pet project.

In an early stage of my career I was hooked on single-page-applications, before angular.js and react where a thing. I struggled financially because my wife left me and I decided to create a money tracking application that showed how much my incomings were in contrast with how much I spent. I could add cool graphs and charts about how much I spent on food, electricity and so on…

The cool thing was, that I could actually use my own application, and I could showcase it to potential clients/employers. I could also use that pet project to create my first course in SPA development.

Break out of that Comfort zone

Nothing is ever achieved in the comfort zone, so you need to get out there, like right now! The comfort zone is a really bad place to be because:

  • It prevents you from growing
  • It doesn’t train you to deal with uncomfortable situations
  • It doesn’t teach you how to fix problems outside of that comfort zone

Getting out of your comfort zone shouldn’t be something drastic like quitting your job. It could also be you getting out there and starting a blog, or you attending tech meetups you didn’t felt like attending before.

Are you scared to speak at meetups? I get that, so was I. But you can’t imagine how much you grow by doing that, and how much business opportunities that brings. Just get out there and do it! It will be worth it, I promise.

Reach out

There are no developer rockstars, everyone is human and you would be surprised how many people out there are ready to help you. I reached out to Jurgen Van de Moere because I knew he was an interesting profile back in 2016. We did some videochats, I invited him for free to one of my first Angular workshops. Later on the road he turned GDE and he organized NGBE together with Sam Vloeberghs: the first angular conference in Belgium. After the training he asked me if I wanted to give my training on NGBE, and I did. That was my first official conference training. I have already given 5 trainings there and this year a talk.

The first time I went to give a training at NGBE, I reached out to Pascal from Thoughtram (one of the first big Angular training companies) and we talked about giving training. After a few months Pascal asked me to become a Thoughtram trainer where I did some international trainings as well.

Start connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, and engage with people around you.

Imposter syndrome

The further you get in your career, the more you might feel that you are not good enough to:

  • Be a senior developer
  • Be a software architect
  • Be a mentor to someone
  • Be a public speaker
  • Be an author

Well that feeling is shared by anyone who is successful in these things. Everyone keeps on learning, and by doing, you will become better at it.

Don’t wait until “you are good enough”, become good enough by doing. The same goes for releasing a product or service. Here is a quote from Voltaire

The best is the enemy of the good!

Waiting for perfection will hold you back in any way. If you want to be a blogger, start blogging. If you want to be an indiehacker, ship something. If you want to be a conference speaker, go and start speaking on meetups, fill in CFP’s and figure it out later.

You are not an imposter, you are awesome!

Interviews are fun

I have participated in dozens and dozens of interviews, on both sides of the table and interviews are a virtue of you are the candidate. You can show off how motivated you are, how excited you are about your tech stack and you can even reverse the roles and ask your interviewer questions like “What is your testing strategy”, or “What is your idea about using the OnPush strategy on all components”? You could say: “I’m asking because I have seen a lot of developers use it wrong”. Just make sure you know what you are talking about when you reverse the roles.

I’m probably going to step on some toes here by saying this but I’ll say it anyway. It doesn’t hurt to participate in interviews, even if you are not looking for a job:

  • It keeps you fresh
  • It gives you an idea of what you are worth
  • It gives you options

Don’t be unethical, if you are sure you are not going to take the job, don’t waste people their time. Time is a valuable thing! However, interviews are always without obligation, and it doesn’t hurt to listen, right?! Maybe they have something great to offer you. Before I attend an interview, I always hype myself and imagine me acing that interview. It builds my confidence and if the interviewer believes that I believe this job is the fantastic fit for me… Well he or she is going to start thinking that too, unless you give him or her a reason not to. Don’t be arrogant though. It’s good to smile and be confident, but no body likes a wise ass.


When your career is on a roll, when you are really making progress your career might start to look like the most important thing in the world. Guess what?! It’s not! Your mental and physical health are extremely important! Your family as well. Focusing on work too much might push you to a burnout, alienate you from your family, and make you fat. I make sure I go the gym at least 3 times a week, and when I’m with my family, I’m not busy with work. When I’m busy with work, my family needs to leave me alone and focused as well. So when you spend time with family, spend it a 100% on your family. When you spend time with work, spend it a 100% on work.


These 6 tips changed a lot for me, and I hope you can enjoy them as well. I try to live by these principles every day. Get out there, connect with people, stop saying you will one day do this. Don’t do it tomorrow, but do it now. Even if it’s a small step.

If you like this article, you can always post a comment or reach out to me on x.