ReeTalk: The Humble Programmer

Laila Šehović - Mar 15, 2022 9:52:33 AM

Last Thursday, we had the opportunity to host software developer and entrepreneur Aslam Khan for a ReeTalk.

He shared some gems from over thirty years working in the software development industry, revolving around his main model, that of a Humble Programmer. Within the work of the humble programmer, emphasis is placed on three "pillars": purpose, integrity, and contribution over ambition, inequity, and fame (respectively). In case you missed the talk, I'd like to share some of Aslam's gems here with you.

  • Talking with and collaborating with the end user will humble you as a programmer. There is no point of grandiose efforts and work if it is not practical from a user standpoint.
  • Pause, recognize your confusion, try to look at things from a different angle. Give team members to declare ignorance and confusion and look at things from a different standpoint.
  • There is no value in pondering badly-framed questions, let alone their answers.
  • Working fast does not mean working in a chaotic way, it means making deliberate decisions quickly.


  • Practice integrity and lead humanely.
  • [Talking about big goals] What does it mean to work towards something bigger than yourself? It's a polite way of saying you may never achieve them in this lifetime, but you work towards achieving them anyway.
  • Problems are part of life. We exist so that we can deal with these things. The bliss is being able to solve them and work through them. That gives us satisfaction and peace.
  • Value the outcome, not the effort. "But we worked hard!" It's not about working hard. It's not focusing on impact, it's focusing on the usefulness for each and every person. Impact.


  • [To avoid finding yourself amidst chaos at the workplace, and unsure of what to do, beforehand, you should] write down: How do you know it's gone too far? How do you know when to call it quits? [Clarifying this beforehand will save a lot of headache.]
  • Build platforms, not ladders. Be humble, work with humility.
  • Ambition is great when you are young. As you get older, you rather acquire purpose over ambition, because ambition becomes a hindrance.


Aslam, thank you for sharing your model of the humble programmer with us! It's important to slow down and acknowledge the bigger picture when making decisions, large and small. Hopefully you can apply some of these gems to your work mindset, to not only be more efficient, but to be a humble programmer yourself!

Topics: #ReeTalk

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