This weekend, I finally got around to seeing the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. I’ve been a big fan of James Bond since I was a kid, but this was the first of the Daniel Craig variants I have seen. Having a young child around the house tends to change the quantity and types of movies you watch.
The film was excellent and probably the best James Bond since Sean Connery. It also got me thinking about our trade: writing code. What would James Bond do if he wielded a keyboard and mouse instead of a Walther PPK/S? Here are a few ideas on what a “James Bond” coder would do:
James Bond isn’t afraid of tough problems
Even when he’s captured by the villain and has to stage a daring, complicated escape, James Bond keeps his cool and carries on. As the James Bond of coding, he would demonstrate similar stoicism when confronting tough technical problems. From cache invalidation to Big Data, he would soldier through the toughest problems, finding solid, elegant, maintainable solutions. Confidence and competence are the name of the game, and you’ll never hear him whine.
James Bond keeps his body as sharp as his mind
James Bond knows that keeping both his mind and body sharp are critical to winning. It’s too easy as a code slinger to spend 8 or more hours a day in a chair staring at a screen and neglecting the physical half. James Bond would always find the time to get some exercise because the best way to maintain your mental edge is to also pay attention to physical fitness. The body and mind must both be exercised.
James Bond is always available
James Bond has to maintain a lot of strange hours – from late nights taking out deadly assassins to early morning coffee with M. The James Bond of coding is always ready to pitch-in where help is needed. This means being willing and ready to help an important client resolve an issue in a different time zone, or being the one that gets the call in the middle of the night when a critical system goes down.
James Bond doesn’t forget that he works for a higher purpose
Without a higher purpose, James Bond would be a simple mercenary. James’ love of country gives him a compass and a reason beyond himself. Successful programmers have to have their own compass, be it loyalty to company, family, or faith. James Bond isn’t a gun for hire. Rather, he’s a man on a mission, and that makes him exponentially more effective and dangerous.
James Bond picks simple tools and masters them
I can imagine the James Bond of coding sitting behind Linux Mint pounding out NodeJS code in VIM or Sublime Text 2. He picks simple, efficient tools and masters them. The James Bond of movie lore prefers his classic, reliable Walther PPK/S and his wits. The coding equivalent wouldn’t be caught dead using 400MB IDEs or coding wizards. He is a master of the terminal, and can make simple, reliable tools bend to his will.
James Bond knows how to network
You don’t become the world’s most deadly secret agent spending your whole day in a cubicle. While our James Bond may be a code ninja, he also knows it’s important to get out and meet new people. He’s constantly on the lookout for networking events and potential future allies. Tending to your personal brand is even more important than tending to your resume. To become a James Bond coder you need to get out and meet others in your industry.
James Bond remembers he’s part of a team
James Bond always has a team behind him and even if he’s the pointy end of the spear, he depends on a team to make him successful. Whether being rescued from an abandoned island or having Q run wingman for him as he charges through the sewers of London, James Bond knows that winning is a team exercise. The code-slinging Bond isn’t a lone wolf. He helps others out when they need it and is not afraid to ask for help himself. He knows that tough problems are solved by strong teams, not just the heroics of individuals.
James Bond never stops learning
The world is constantly changing and a top secret agent has to be constantly learning to adapt with it. In the coding world, our James Bond isn’t a one-trick pony who stagnates with one technology. He is dedicated to staying on top of new technologies and tools to make him more efficient. From Scala and NodeJS to SASS and MongoDB, James Bond is always expanding his skills to help solve problems.
James Bond dresses to impress
You’ll never see James Bond in a pair of cargo shorts and a technology t-shirt. Even when he’s dressed down, he is the sharpest dressed person on any scene. The coding James Bond never forgets this either. While coders are paid for their mental skills, their wardrobe will leave a bigger lasting impression. He’s not afraid to wear nice slacks and a shirt, even a tie, to make a good impression.
While James Bond is fictional, the traits that would make him an excellent coder apply to all us. Learn a few lessons from James Bond and put your technology career into high gear.