A Conversation with Adeyinka Micheal
Adeyinka Micheal is a software engineer at Modus Create, an American based company that builds customer-centric products, processes, and platforms to help the world’s biggest brands succeed in the digital economy.
A Brief Background
Before I met with Adeyinka Micheal, I had no idea I was going to write this blog post. I only wanted to have a chat with him, hear him speak from his wealth of experience and most importantly, get his take on an idea I have from a technical perspective.
We met at a place called Sailor’s Lounge, Lekki Phase 1. I had thought I’d have to do a lot of work to get him talking but it was totally the opposite. Micheal started sharing massive experiences and lessons immediately I got there.
We spoke for about 2 hours and even after the conversation, I still had no plans to write. On my way home in my Uber, I tried recalling all Michael had said, playing the tape in my head when I realized how important every person I know should have a glimpse as to what our meeting looked like.
Fortunately for me, my decision to write it down helped me rethink through all that Adeyinka Micheal said and it brought more clarity to me. I hope this would also define a lot of things for you.
It is worthy to note that in reading this,
- I wrote it in reported speech
- My thought process may have influenced what Micheal originally said.
- There is the possibility of repetition across sub headlines. Adeyinka Micheal did not break his discussion into headlines but to make it easy to understand, I broke it down
- This is a summary of our discussion. I tried as much as I could to shrink the discussion into actionable points.
Think long term
I mentioned to Mike how I feel about making learning skills like programming a lot about the money. He shared my bias and mentioned how people think only in the short run. He said that if people are more long term oriented, there would be more people in tech doing great stuff.
Most people are looking for a quick way in and are not ready to put in the required work. I listened to Michael mention hard work and resourcefulness so many times. He kept lamentening as to how many young folks are not hardworking and resourceful. According to him, people think he got where he is overnight. He narrated a story of how he and his team had to build an app in three days. They had no idea how to do it but they delved in and came out successful. He also narrated how he and his team had to sleep in the office for about 7 days to ship a product.
Most people do not see the work side of things. Micheal works twice as hard and he is way productive than most people think. But everyone seems to forget 5 years of hard work whenever he seems to be enjoying or living the life. He told me a story of a particular guy that left him a comment when he uploaded a picture of his codes. This guy said, “this hustle must pay.” This is the exact way almost everyone sees things. They think they are on the same level
Look for smart people
“Do not be the smartest in the room” – Adeyinka Micheal
I am smart (allow me to blow my trumpet) but Micheal is smarter and to verify this, all you need to do is to listen to him talk. In relaying his experiences, he noted heavily on how he left his former company because it seemed he was the smartest in the room. To be honest, this is top level self awareness.
Naturally, humans are power drunk. We would take on any opportunity to lord over others but Micheal saw it the other way round and took the exit. I learnt tremendously from this story. The exit plan of most smart people is to use the door when you become the smartest in the room.
As a wannabe, Micheal says you should surround yourself with the best people. He told a story of how he visited his friend on the island when he started his programming journey. During each visit, the conversation he had with his friend is always like an adrenaline boost for the next 3 months. We underestimate these sort of conversations and relationships.
He also mentioned a lady he met online who works with one of these big companies and how she gave him 1 hour of her time monthly. He narrated the story with so much gusto and it was written all over him how surrounding himself with smarter people changed him forever. Personally, discussing with Micheal was like injecting some power hormone into me. I totally understand what it means to not be the smartest person in the room. I got Micheal to learn from.
The Power of DMs and Putting in the Work
We live in an age of infinite leverage. You are just a DM away from people that will change your life forever. I sent Micheal a WhatsApp message asking to have lunch with him and in about 10 minutes an agreement was reached. Micheal said most of the people we need are around us but people are just not resourceful enough to make the best use of it.
He subtly noted that if you are going to send a DM, be ready to put in the work. He shared with me how he sends people to a free coding resource anytime they reach out to him asking to be taught how to code. Mike said that he was forced to take up this method because he realized that most people do not take advantage of the opportunities given them. Micheal went as far as getting laptops for some folks alongside exerting lots of energy on putting them through only to not yield any fruit
This free coding resource is a filter for him as it is boring and only people who are determined would finish it. Those are the people he gets to help. Unfortunately, less than 10% of these people get to finish this free resource. DMs are powerful if you have something to offer no matter how intangible. Sometimes, all people like Mike need is a proof that you are ready to put in the work – that is enough value for them.
Get a manager
Everyone wants to be the boss. Most times, it is a wrong ambition especially at a very young age. Micheal is a senior developer with an American tech company but he never uses the title “senior”. I once hosted him on my podcast and when I asked what title to put in he said, “software developer.” I was going to ask why not “senior software developer” because he had mentioned to me that he is a team lead in one of our previous conversations. You do not become a team lead and not be a senior developer.
When he mentioned how he never uses the title senior, I was able to connect the dot. I was the most astounded when he said the reason was for him to be teachable. What? He went on to say that he gets a lot of offers to be the CTO of companies but he turns them down because he values the role of a manager in his career right now. People should not because of ambitions, try to jump the learning process.
I totally agree with Micheal. I shared with him how much I have learnt working under a manager in less than two months of my new job. He linked it back to the importance of not being the smartest guy in the room. I related how I brainstorm ideas and share with my line manager only for him to detect the flaw in these ideas in seconds. He also shared with me a similar story and how that these managers will give you solid arguments and you would be in awe as to why your brain never thought about it.
Having a manager puts you on your feet. It pushes you to want to produce the best work. Having someone who has been there and has done that hastens your growth.
Building Stuff & Solving Problems
People are not building but they want to spend money. Adeyinka Micheal was bitter about how people disassociate programming from building. If you cannot build stuff, don’t think about becoming a programmer. According to Micheal, his growth in the tech field is hinged majorly on the fact that he has built multiple stuff. To be honest, Micheal mentioned almost 10 stuff he had built within 5 years and I was blown away. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how big I am on building a portfolio and building in public. Micheal, solidified this for me. In fact, I run a writing community and recently, we’ve been project focused. Nothing beats it according to Micheal. He said if you’ve built a lot of things, it becomes way easier to get better paying jobs. This does not apply to just programming. It cuts across industries.
Building stuff enables you the ability to solve problems. In the real world, you are always solving problems. Micheal mentioned some projects he had worked on in the past and he had no idea how to go about it. He mentioned that while the end result was known, how to get there wasn’t usually known. In the real world, we are always solving problems. The best problem solver wins. In essence, the job of a programmer is not to just code. It is to solve problems and the best way to solve problems is to build stuff.
Failure as a measure of growth
In between our discussion, we talked about the educational system and Adeyinka Micheal said something remarkable about failure. He said failure is important. If it is not, how do we measure success and growth. Immediately he said this, my mind went back to one of Jack Butcher’s tweets that says, “See failure as feedback”.
Micheal said people have a wrong understanding of failure and that’s why people fall into depression and even commit suicide at the sight of failure. If we begin to see failure as a privilege and opportunity, we would have the upside.
People are scared to build stuff because they are so bothered about failing. I am fond of saying that your failed projects are also an important part of your portfolio. Showing people your failures is as important as showing people your successes. If you want to grow, be open to failure
People want to see progress not just problems
Adeyinka Micheal spoke about how progress is an important part of important work.
He gave an example of how he sends report to his line manager Jennifer. If there is a problem, he doesn’t go to her saying we have this problem. He goes to her listing the things he had done to solve the problem and even goes further at times to list the other things he hopes to try if there is no solution still.
We are fond of sharing problems but a better approach is to share our problems with the attempted solution. It does 2 things
- Shows that you have thought it through and have put in the work
- Helps your manager streamline whatever solution they also would propose or try.
This attitude for me is stellar. It shows that you are not sitting back waiting to be told what to do but rather, you are trying all within your power to get things to work out. Revolutionary stuff.
Bro, no forget me
I should have titled this how to get a mentor but Micheal mentioned this phrase like 5 times during our discussion. He talked about how messy his chats are with a lot of people requesting mentorship. He told a story of a particular young man about 25 years old that is always in his DM reminding him not to forget him. Meanwhile, there are others that are chasing after him every damn time to review their stuff or to seek advice and all. He believes that we’ve got the idea of getting a mentor terribly wrong. He advised that to get a mentor, give value or show that you are valuable. Nobody has time but everyone has time for something valuable.
Writing this piece made me do a lot of reflection on myself and I was able to see where I was getting and missing it. Yes, Adeyinka Micheal is still young and figuring things out but he has figured this out and it is worth putting to good use. I hope after reading this, you pick the lessons and implement them. Do not forget to share.
PS: Any time you have such a conversation where you learn a lot, write it down to reflect properly on it. Writing brings clarity. A lot of it
Thank you so much Toni. This came at the right time.
I learnt (again) that building in public and working on multiple projects is the fastest way to grow as a product designer
This is amazing I learnt alot from here.
I’m sharing this piece shamelessly.
Thank you so much, Toni.
Seeing failure as a feedback and as a way to measure growth was a light bulb for me.
Also, solve problems. It shows that you don’t sit around to be told what to do but you’ve thought it through.
These are profound.
Thanks once again
I am glad you got the message!
* The fastest and easiest route to anyone you look up to is to offer them value.
“Nobody has time but everyone has time for value.”
* Be a problem solver.
* Building takes time, energy, effort, and consistency.
* How you see is more important than what you see: “see failure has a feedback” — Jack Butcher.
* Roll with the wise and you will be wise.
* Be in the position where you can be corrected and learn from the correction.
* Define yourself from the standpoint of responsibility and not by title or position.
Thank you for sharing with us Toni.
This is the perfect summary to be honest!
this was insightful, what l got out of this piece is to always put self leadership first and act with courage.
I am super glad you got the message