Jarek Jarzębowski
9 minutes
June 19, 2024

The Power of Sharing - Santosh Yadav on Creating Tech Content and Maintaining Passion for Coding

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Some say that in tech if you don’t evolve, you take a step backward. Santosh Yadav is a great example of how far this passion for learning and self-development can take you. Having started as a self-taught developer, today, he is a senior software engineer well-regarded for his extensive work in the tech community and an author of courses viewed by millions. 

Santosh is walking proof that sharing is caring and that it is good for you - both on a personal and professional level! In his conversation with Jarek Jarzębowski, he highlights the importance of education in tech, driven by a personal passion for sharing knowledge freely, a philosophy shaped by his early struggles to afford learning resources. Learn about his career path and get precious insights on growth in tech.

Key Takeaways from the Conversation

The role of passion: self-development will be easy and rewarding if you align your professional responsibilities with your personal interests. Focus on areas you are passionate about and bring those learnings into your work to enhance both your job performance and personal satisfaction.

The importance of sharing knowledge: creating and sharing educational content can be rewarding, but it can also push your career forward! Develop comprehensive educational resources, such as courses or tutorials, to share your expertise. The positive feedback and recognition you receive can significantly impact your career path and help others in the community. 

Your own initiative: if you don’t take action and promote your work, who will? Take the initiative to share your creations and spread them in the community. Use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to reach your followers and spread the word about your work.

Feedback as your power and your shield: be prepared for both positive and negative comments. Focus on the constructive feedback that can help you improve.ctively ask for feedback on your shared content to improve and grow. Likewise, be willing to provide feedback to others to foster a collaborative learning environment.

Conversation with Santosh Yadav 

The transcript below is a deep dive into Santosh's thoughts. For a comprehensive understanding and to grasp the finer details of the discussion, make sure to listen to the entire episode available on Advocu Podcast.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Hello Santosh Yadav. Happy to have you here on the Advocu podcast.

Santosh Yadav: Yeah, thanks for the invitation. We wanted to do this for some time, and finally we managed. It's nice to see you.

Jarek Jarzębowski: That's right, it has been a long time. “Only” twenty-four thousand people are following you on Twitter - you are quite well-known in the field. But for those who don’t know you, can you tell a little bit more about yourself?

Santosh Yadav: My name is Santosh Yadav, and I live in Hamburg, Germany. I've been writing code and fixing bugs since 2008. I started my career as a .NET developer, and having gotten bored with it after a few years, I thought about doing something else. I went into the front end, leaning into a new technology, Angular, and it just clicked. Since 2017, I have been doing Angular. Besides being a Google Developer Expert for Angular, I am also a GitHub Star and part of the Nx Champions program. Now, I work at Celonis full-time as a senior software engineer. 

Jarek Jarzębowski: How do you cope with all those activities - being a GDE, a senior developer, et cetera?

Santosh Yadav: I think there is a lot of overlap. For example, the GDE program and GitHub Stars program are all about community and your contribution to it - like teaching, sharing open-source, speaking at conferences, and sharing knowledge. The only difference between the two is that, of course, they are different companies. 

It's not like I was doing something specific to any one technology. I was just following my passion, and then I got into this program, doing something I enjoy. I am an Nx Champion, but I also use Nx at work, focusing on teaching developers, ensuring we have best practices, and then we use Angular. Everything that is my passion, I am also able to use at work. I take my learnings from whatever I love and share it with others. Because most of the time, you will learn things when you do them. 

Jarek Jarzębowski: You have also created a popular course on Angular with over one million views. How did it feel knowing that so many people have watched your course? And it's not a short video. It is a robust seventeen-plus hour full course.

Santosh Yadav: Believe me, I still get goosebumps when someone comes up to me and says, "Hey, I just finished your course, and it's amazing. I'm using it." I just got a message today that someone posted it on LinkedIn, saying they really enjoyed the course. It gives me satisfaction that I created something that people can learn from, and they are sharing it with others. It was a perfect time when I reached out to FreeCodeCamp - it turned out they were looking for an Angular course for their channel. Then, my course just went viral. I'm lucky that it happened!

Jarek Jarzębowski: I think luck happens to people who are prepared and have done the groundwork. Of course, there might be some component of luck, but one needs to be ready to deliver actual value to succeed. 

Since you are so involved in education programs, why do you think it is so important in the tech space? Because I feel like it is quite particular to the tech scene.

Santosh Yadav: If you think about it, this is very unique to tech. But also, tech is the only career where you don't have to have a degree. You can belong to any stream and become a developer by just learning from somewhere. Most of the people I spoke to are actually passionate about teaching. And so do I - teaching has been my passion since college. 

Back then, I couldn't afford books - blogs are where I was learning at the beginning of my career. I started reading from John Papa, Debra Kurata, and Dan Wahlin - they used to have very nice blogs. I thought when the time comes, I will also do something for the community. I will create content freely available for everyone - that was my motivation. Looking at other professionals, they are also following the same passion, like making others sufficient so they can come into tech and probably make a career out of it.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Paying it back must play a role in many stories, but still, there must be some intrinsic motivation. As you said, sharing is your core motivation and passion, but not everyone has that. Do you feel that anyone can do that or only a few?

Santosh Yadav: I think anyone can do it. I mean, especially the people who have been working in tech for a longer time, right? They have enough knowledge to share. Probably they just need to invest some time out of their jobs. Most of the senior engineers I speak to today are doing amazing work at their organizations and as individuals, but sharing knowledge is something they don't want to do. The reason is it's out of the job and requires investing their personal time. 

But there is something you get out of this investment - the recognition in the community. Just think how fast your career can progress if many people already know you. Just think about going for an interview somewhere, and they have already read your blog or watched your course. In the end, it makes your life easier as well. 

If you go a few years back, this was not something everyone used to do. But now, there are many young professionals who do. And good for them! People can get a lot by investing some time into doing all of this stuff. Some might think, "Okay, what about my personal time? Why should I sacrifice some time for free?" but it's not like that. It’s an investment - you're doing it for your career. 

Jarek Jarzębowski: What did you personally get from being so invested in the community, creating this course, and so on?

Santosh Yadav: Satisfaction, as I said. My motivation was just to, if I could, share my knowledge with others so they could learn without paying. I wanted to invest in something that is free for everyone. That was me a few years back; I couldn't afford books and courses because I was struggling. At this point, I have a pretty good job and some nice people sponsoring my work on my platforms. So, I can invest my time without thinking about money. 

There was a time when I needed money, so I did some paid workshops. Then I realized, okay, now it's enough for me. I made enough money to survive. Now, it's time to follow my passion, which was making content available for free. That's how I started doing this, building open source, writing blogs, and creating this course.

Jarek Jarzębowski: You know, that is a quite unique perspective. Finding a way to earn some money and then not earning money from it but doing it for free. So many people, once they find a way to earn money, continue pursuing it. You’ve taken a unique approach.

Santosh Yadav: There's this saying in India that if you're not making enough money, don't go ahead and distribute it. First, make sure that you are making enough, and then go ahead and share with everyone. So, once I felt like I had enough money for me and my family, I decided, let's do it for free.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Yeah, it's like with the oxygen masks on airplanes. You first need to put it on yourself and then help others. 

I have one other comment regarding creating content for others and teaching because I come from a learning and development field, not tech. What I found out, and I'm wondering if it's the same for you, is that you often learn the most when you teach. To teach, you need to really understand the topic, structure it, and think of all the different edge cases. Then and only then can you really teach someone else. So, before you can teach, you need to learn it, and so by teaching, you are learning. Was it the case with you as well?

Santosh Yadav: Absolutely. When I started teaching Angular, it was almost a new framework, just one-year-old, and I was scared of getting something wrong. What I did was read as much as possible about the topic I was about to cover in the next class. 

Teaching is the best way to learn, especially if you care about it enough. I've seen some content that is not up to the mark, just picked up from documentation, but going deep is what I believe in. You should know why you're writing this code, and that comes from really caring about teaching. You do your research thoroughly because you should be prepared to answer any questions that come up.

Jarek Jarzębowski: You have been in this field for some time now, you're a senior engineer. What are your strategies to keep on learning and growing?

Santosh Yadav: Generally, I try to invest some time outside my job to build something. Right now, I'm working on another course, which is taking some time, but I write code to learn about new changes in the framework. For example, I'm doing something with Rust and trying to learn both of them. The best way is to try to build something with the technology of your choice. It's not always about looking for what is popular on social media but about where you want to go in your career. When I wanted to move into Angular, I started learning about it, did a couple of online courses, read blogs, and tried to build something similar to what I had at work. It gave me some idea of how it can be used in real projects.

I keep looking at other technologies as well. Recently, I've had a strong interest in Rust, so I'm thinking about what I can do with that technology. Maybe build some CLIs because that's a perfect use case. We're also improving our developer experience at work by writing some custom commands, and I think Rust is a good use case for that. So, I'll try it first and see how it performs.

Just look for inspiration. It's not about the technology you pick but the solutions you can provide. Be ready to learn any technology. Most technologies are similar; only the syntax changes. You're still going to work with file systems available in most technologies; you just need to find the correct API. Thanks to open source, you don't even have to do that by yourself; someone has already written code for you. Just see how they're doing it. When I started doing open source, I looked at the Angular code base, which helped me contribute further to projects.

Jarek Jarzębowski: So, your approach is to find a project that you can build to try new technology. You also mentioned that if you understand the basics, then the actual framework or language is kind of irrelevant. What about people who only focus on the framework or library and don't try to understand the basics?

Santosh Yadav: There's nothing wrong with that. It really depends on how far you want to go in your career and what role you want in the future. It's okay if you're happy doing routine stuff with one technology. But what happens when that technology goes out of fashion? 

I know people who really care about the technology they use, but if you want to grow in your career, you shouldn't keep a narrow mindset. You may wonder: why should I move away from a technology I've been using for years. However, at some point, you might get bored. That's what happened to me with .NET; I got bored and picked up something else.

Some people work with the same technology in the same company for many years and are happy with it. Let them be. It's not something we have to go and tell them not to do. It's up to the individuals.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Sure, let them do what they want. So, bridging these ideas we've been speaking about, how can you make sure that the people on the other side - your audience, followers, and students - progress as much as they can with the material and content you provide?

Santosh Yadav: Whenever I'm creating content, I try to keep it as practical as possible. If I can't provide a solution they can apply in their work, I'm not doing a great job. My focus is always on teaching them in-depth so they understand why they're writing the code and what different errors they might encounter. Most courses teach only positive flows, but I try to cover what happens when you encounter an error. My talks and blogs also focus on solving practical problems the participants might face in their own projects.

Jarek Jarzębowski: And which ways of transferring knowledge and teaching do you like the most? Is it videos, courses, articles, workshops? What do you prefer as a teacher?

Santosh Yadav: That's an interesting question. Mostly, I do videos now. My last session was a live stream about changes in Angular and how we can use multiple libraries inside Angular for state management. Creating videos is my favorite because I've become comfortable with it after a few years of practice. In the beginning, it was hard to go in front of a camera, but now I'm more comfortable with it. Initially, I preferred writing, and in my first year, I wrote about 10 to 11 blogs. Now, I focus mostly on videos. It really depends; we are human, and there will be times when you stop enjoying something and start enjoying something else. Right now, it's videos for me.

Jarek Jarzębowski: And how do you approach creating these videos? You mentioned that you try to show the solution to a given problem. Do you have a specific process for planning and recording, or is it more about a strike of creativity and inspiration?

Santosh Yadav: It really depends. For live streams, I just go live and start working on something, of course, with some idea of what tools I want to use. But if I'm creating a recorded course, I write the code first because I cannot start recording and then struggle to figure out what went wrong. 

It's fine when you fail during live streams - people expect it - but when recording, I can't do that. I've seen some people record while writing code and then add the audio later, but I'm not that professional. It's hard for me. Just creating a 20-minute video can take hours because you're not satisfied and keep re-recording. Mostly, I write my code first and then record it in one go.

Now, I'm working with an editor, which helps me not to record everything from the start again. It's a learning process, and I'm still not a professional at it.

Jarek Jarzębowski: How do you approach the distribution side of your content? Some people love creating and sharing their knowledge but find the distribution part challenging. How do you feel about it?

Santosh Yadav: If you're creating something, you should be able to promote it because that's your work. If you won't talk about it, who else will? When I published my course on FreeCodeCamp, I started sharing it everywhere. I use LinkedIn and Twitter to promote my work. I try to promote it myself, and there are good people who like to share my work as well. You have to take the initiative and start promoting it. Look for every way to share your work where you have followers.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Since many people follow your work, do you get a lot of encouraging comments as well as discouraging ones? How do you cope with not-so-nice comments?

Santosh Yadav: On my personal YouTube channel, I have just disabled the comments, so I have to approve them. I generally don't get many bad comments; they're very rare. But on FreeCodeCamp, you'll find many good comments and some discouraging ones. I try not to read any comments due to a bit of anxiety from an incident a few years ago where someone tried to make me quit the community by bullying me online. I still have that anxiety, so I don't read comments.

Jarek Jarzębowski: Do you have any recommendations or tips for people who'd like to get into sharing knowledge, teaching, and being more involved in communities?

Santosh Yadav: Always share your knowledge. When you figure out something complex, write about it. Share it in multiple ways, through writing or videos, whatever works best for you. For experienced engineers, don't be scared to share, even if you might share something wrong. Find an inclusive community that can help you. Ask for feedback. Don't be scared; start sharing whatever you learn with others. Learn from others, and you'll find many people ready to teach you as well.

Jarek Jarzębowski: That's some great advice, Santosh Yadav. Thank you very much for sharing your experience, and hopefully, we'll see your next course hitting new thresholds.

Santosh Yadav: Thank you so much, and thank you for the invite, Jarek. I really loved it, and yeah, seeing you after a very long time as well. Thank you.

About Santosh Yadav 

Santosh Yadav Yadav is a programming and application development expert with over 15 years of experience, holding the title of Angular Google Developer Expert (GDE) and GitHub Star. As an international speaker, he has delivered over 50 talks, sharing his insights and knowledge with audiences around the world. His popular YouTube course on Angular has garnered over 1 million views, reflecting his expertise and ability to teach complex topics effectively. Additionally, Santosh Yadav is a mono-repo expert and Nx Champion, further showcasing his proficiency and dedication to the field.

🔗 Santosh's website

Closing thoughts

Looking at the path Santosh has taken, one conclusion comes to mind - passion can take you really far. When you are passionate about what you do, you want to share it with others - and it's worth doing, not just for your satisfaction but also for career development. In the tech industry, where a large portion of developers are self-taught, this approach is especially important. If the community didn't share knowledge, many outstanding specialists wouldn't have the chance to develop their skills. By following Santosh Yadav's advice, you'll contribute to tech education while gaining many benefits for yourself!

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