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Edward Huang
Edward Huang

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Why High-Performing Developers Thrive Together

three person sitting in-front of table with laptop computers

As social creatures, we need to feel validated by our peers to go all in on who we are. In other words, we become the people around us.

That is why companies talk heavily about culture because being in the right culture helps foster hihigh-performersit is like taking a high-quality seed and raising them in good soil with plenty of water and sunlight- it will likely grow into a large plant.

Not only do high-performing engineer needs each other, but they also need mentors. They need people who will encourage them to pursue hard and meaningful projects.

And the environment is paramount in fostering 10x developers.

Why does the environment matter?

More Informal Interaction With Your Team

You interact with your peers during formal meetings and lunch or water cooler hours in the office. Those informal discussions are as important as the formal ones. Why? Because the more you interact with your team, the deeper your relationship with them. Having a deep relationship with your team results in trust.

The result of being remote is that your team’s depth of information and trust in you will be less compared to another person who is not remote.

If you are remote, you can only see your team 2 or 3 hours a week in a Zoom call. Although virtual happy hour and water coolers may exist, virtual relationships differ from face-to-face interaction. You cannot see their whole body language and relate with them because you live in a different environment than theirs. For instance, you cannot tell your peers from Europe about how good the taco near your area tastes because they will not be able to comprehend it.

Be deliberate about where you choose to work and what the dynamic of your team is.

The Environment Determines You

Having a community helps us motivate one another.

Jim Rohn Quote,

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

It is hard to sustain ambition in a complacent environment.

This is why actor moves to Hollywood, fashion designer moves to New York, London, or Paris, and software engineers and startup founder moves to the Bay Area.

Everything you do becomes normal because people around you do the same. The study showed that a person’s economic mobility is largely determined by the county they live in. Children from low-income communities are less likely to have a high earning potential than their affluent peers.

The Bay Area is the best place in the world because there is a high density of people in your network who are also in the tech field. Such an environment leads to more opportunities and learning, resulting in more growth.

When I was in San Francisco working on my first job after college, I was very excited about learning new technology. I got surrounded by everyone who works in tech. I saw software engineers in every corner of the coffee shop. Tech conferences are within a single Bart Station away, and I hear various ideas and startups that I never heard about if I lived outside the Bay area.

What happens if You Can’t Change Your Location?

We can’t move to an environment in the center of our area for many reasons.

You may have to take care of your family in your area, and you cannot move to the Bay Area.


You just bought a house in that area, have a family, and decided, for financial reasons, to move to the environment; you have multiple ways that you can stay motivated and current with the area in multiple ways that you are working on.

Seek Ambitious Peers

Paul Graham, the founder of Y-Combinator and the low-key God of online writing, says, “Ambitious people are rare, so if everyone is mixed randomly, as they tend to be early in people’s lives, then the ambitious ones won’t have many ambitious peers. When you put people like this together with other ambitious people, they bloom like dying plants given water.”

Searching for ambitious peers isn’t a new idea. It’s why Ramanujan, one of history’s greatest mathematicians, went to Cambridge.

He flunked out of school and hid under a cot because his parents disapproved of his obsession with math. Although he taught himself number theory by working through problems in a borrowed textbook independently, he knew that a lack of ambitious peers ultimately constrained his genius.

He wrote to Cambridge mathematician G.H. Hardy to ask for help getting his work published.

Thanks to the world wide web, searching for ambitious people and mentors is easier than before. You can message the people you admire on LinkedIn and ask them to schedule a 15-minute virtual coffee chat. You can search for ambitious, like-minded people in an online community, which I will explain in more detail in the next section.

Search Online Community

Many online communities help close the barrier of seeking ambitious peers.

Want to look for mentors in Scala? Join the Scala discord channel (link) and discuss and learn more about the newest trend and information about Scala.

Want to start a business but don’t know how? Check out Daniel Vasallo’s Small Bet community. You get to interact with 3000+ members that helped you celebrate small wins and motivate one another.

Want to buy a rental property but unsure where or how to start? Join the bigger Pockets community. There are a lot of discussions about investment strategies and opportunities from people all around the world.

When I quit Disney Streaming Service, one of my concerns is being unable to access the internal Scala Community within Disney Streaming Service, which consists of many Scala evangelism and many Scala evangelists. There are three main maintainers of the Typelevel library and numerous other popular open-source scala contributors. When I had questions about FS2, I could reach out to the creator of FS2 and ask for help. When I am stuck with understanding Cats Effect concurrency, there is an internal Scala channel and workshop discussion on how to use them.

I discussed my concern with one of my mentors in Disney Streaming Service, and he said, “You will be fine! Most of us are in the Scala external open-source channel. You should join the Gitter channel.”

He was right. I can still understand and keep up with the latest Scala and functional programming trends through the Discord channel.

Write an Article About Your Area

Yes. Writing an article forces you to do research.

In New York, I felt the hustle spirit and the atmosphere on every street corner. Everyone in New York is working on their dreams - be it a software engineer, a writer, or a Broadway performer. I heard people chit-chat about small businesses and boutique shops discussing at the subway on the way to work. During my time in New York, I took the courage to start writing about technology. New York is not as homogenous as the Bay Area, where everyone works in tech. It can be hard for someone who wants to advance in tech to get the latest news and technology in New York. The only way to do that is to deliberately find or learn new things every week and write about them.


You will only reach your full potential by putting yourself with other ambitious peers.

I learned to become a minimalist and to feel Hygge when I was in Sweden. Minimalism is adopted whole fully in every aspect of life in Sweden. Everyone only has a few pieces items and is dressed in a single monochrome color. All furniture looks like Ikea. People in Sweden can feel the joy in the small things in life, such as walking around the park or gathering with friends and baking Cinnamon Bun. However, when I returned to America, the feeling of Hygge slowly faded. The first morning, I slowly started by making my pour-over coffee and listening to jazz music. As time went by, I reverted to my old self. I started to look at my email in the morning, order food delivery or eat out, and go to bars with friends.

Thus, fight to search for that kindred spirit, even if it means moving to the Bay Area or getting involved in an online community. To be a high performer, you’ll need to be conscious of how you’ll cultivate your social circle.

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I’m Edward. I started writing as a Software Engineer at Disney Streaming Service, trying to document my learnings as I step into a Senior role. I write about functional programming, Scala, distributed systems, and careers-development.

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