- Help people. Whatever I’m mentally invested in, it should be something that either improves the situation on our planet earth or that advances science. Doing both would be nice.
- Meet interesting people that challenge my beliefs and from whom I can learn.
- Create interesting…things. Innovative would be great, but that’s not something you can force, now can’t you? Topics I’m most interested in are robotics, genetics, space travel, telepathy and artificial intelligence in general.
I wrote a longer article about all of this here.
There are many inspirations and inspirational people in my life. A more or less random selection of the top of my head:
- Mathematicians. My top five:
- Euclid. I especially love his proof that there are infinitely many primes
- Leonhard Euler for being the most prolific mathematician ever.
- Carl Friedrich Gauss for coming up with the Prime Number Theorem at the age of 15.
- Srinivasa Ramanujan who died too early to become a second Euler.
- John Horton Conway for the Monstrous moonshine
Physicists. Especially everybody that is featured regularly on the best physics channel there is, Sixty Symbols. Other than that I’m fascinated by the early 20th century, which means more or less everybody that attended the 1927 Solvay conference, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Nils Bohr, Marie Curie…
- Inventors like Nikola Tesla or Thomas Edison
My favourite inspirational quote at the moment is from Aaron Swartz:
Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. What people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.
I follow this advice and try to read as widely as possible - you can check out my favorite books, newsletters and articles on my blog.
Excellence in software engineering. I’ve been doing this for the last 15 years and I’m obsessed with code quality and writing elegant, maintainable code. I am a regular open source contributor and maintainer of a couple of more or less popular gems. Most notably of the awesome Reek gem - check out my github profile for more. Additionally you can find quite a few mostly technical articles on my blog.
Building up teams by recruiting the best people. I’d go as far as to say that team play is 10 times more important than “being an expert” since it’s far easier to become good at something than transitioning from being a douche to somebody who can carry and motivate a team. You can read up on my recruiting philosophy here.
Motivation and the passion to motivate others: I believe that vision and purpose on the high level, clear responsibilities and maximum autonomy are the keys to high productivity and happiness.
The passion to create something that might change change the world. I don’t care much for money - my motivation lies elsewhere. This doesn’t mean that I work for free, just that I value other things more.
When it comes to leadership I have 2 core beliefs:
What makes humans productive?
- Sharing a common vision that means something to you and others.
- Clearly defined responsibilities. Not in a limiting “you’re not allowed to do that” way but rather in a “I know who’s taking care of what” way
- Maximum autonomy. Most startups get this part right because it’s the easiest one. Unfortunately it’s also the one that can quickly make people unproductive and unhappy when you fuck up the first two items
What is leadership?
- Vision. At least a third of your time should only be invested in developing, nurturing and communicating the vision.
- Mission. That does not mean being involved in the details. That means roadmap and high level metrics.
- Team building
Oct 2016 – Present / Director of Software Engineering
Planet, Berlin (Germany)
Planet builds, ships and operates the biggest satellite fleet in the history of mankind. As director of software engineering I’m responsible for building and scaling the software engineering team, develop new and innovative analytical products on top of our vasts amount of data and maintaining our existing production systems. Planet has a strong philanthropic aspect to everything it does and we’re always helping communities and researchers to make use of our data in the best way possible.
March 2014 – Sept 2016 / Director of Software Engineering
Blacklane, Berlin (Germany)
Blacklane is a ride-hailing service that is working world wide with the highest aspirations in regards to quality and customer satisfaction. As director of software engineering I was responsible for scaling the team from 10 to 30 developers, change the underlying architecture to be more microservice focused and evangelize new technologies and clean code conventions.
April 2013 – Feb 2014 / Senior Software Developer
Hitfox Group, Berlin (Germany)
The Hitfox Group is a company builder and accelerator in the Berlin startup ecosystem. As senior software developer I was working on high load production services and new products. Furthermore I was involved in building team culture, recruiting and clean code guidelines.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics from the Freie Universität Berlin in 2005.