Everyday Heroes, by Richard Schneeman


Coding is "choose your own adventure" and today you're the Hero. In this talk we'll look at the powerful psychological blockers that prevent us from making the meaningful changes. We'll dig into historical experiments to unearth the secret motivators deep in the brain. You'll walk away with positive stories and actionable advice on: how to persevere, take charge, and save the day. Cape not included.


The focus will be about how to empower yourself to make meaningful change. We will talk about psychological concepts such as learned helplessness and diffusion of responsibility. We will look at psychological experiments for these traits and then work backwards to understand how they encourage us to be passive when it comes to the direction of our codebases, frameworks, and even communities.

I will weave these powerful lessons into a narrative around open source changes and contributions. We will talk about setting goals, breaking them down into smaller pieces, and setting milestones.


I was working at a startup that was failing. Everyone in the company knew we were out of money and the product was going to be abandoned. Many in the company resigned themselves to their fate and played Gears of War in the office for 8 hours straight until the company finally died. After seeing how unhappy everyone was, I worked through my own psychological barriers to turn my misfortune into something positive. I turned to open source.

Since then I've spent a good amount of time teaching people how to code. I've seen every excuse for not getting started, under the sun. The hard part of programming isn't the computers it's the people. I learned how to help others motivate themselves, first individually then I began writing tools to help people contribute to open source.

I've seen numerous "junior" and "intermediate" developers go from "I'm not good enough for open source" to being regular contributors or even library owners. This talk will not be my story, it will be theirs.

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RailsConf 2016 - Rejected [Edit]

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