Episode 56 – Working remotely overseas and loving it – with David Gatti

David Gatti and Arsalan Ahmed with Mentoring Developers

Becoming a software developer and beginning your career with a small or large company can provide you with an abundance of opportunities, experience, skills, and sometimes even advancement. But, working in an office isn’t without its disadvantages. Regardless of which industry you work in, one thing always seems to be a constant: office politics. While working around office politics may be a reasonable solution for most people, what if you want something more? What if you want to be a software developer, but without the office politics? Is it possible to find a way to work as a developer outside of the office?

Our guest in this episode is a jet-setting remote developer David Gatti. David appeared on the show as part of a panel back in episode 31. Now he’s back and he has something special to share. David works as a remote software developer from outside the US and he is here in episode 56 to tell us all about it. Listen in to find out if doing remote software development is right for you.

Say hello to David on Twitter!

David Gatti’s Bio:

David Gatti began his career in IT as a Systems Administrator. He learned how to code in PHP out of boredom, and made some simple internal tools to help him while managing the company network.

He then became a blogger and wrote about mobile technologies before the iPhone came into existence and PDAs had cellular modems. He also wrote the CMS for the website itself when WordPress was first starting. Then he began working as a web developer for a company that did simple Facebook games.

After this initial experience, he imported a Windows Mobile app to Android 2.3. He later became a Brand Manager for a mobile game company and a Marketing Director for another company, and at that company – he transitioned to Developer Relations Manager and worked for two companies with this title. It was a job that he fell in love with.

But, while hunting for his next opportunity, he struggled to find the right company. Out of frustration, he created Simpe.li (simply) so he could keep doing what he does best – Development Relations Management done right.

Episode Highlights and Show Notes:

Arsalan: Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Mentoring Developers. In this episode I’ll be talking to David Gatti. David, how are you?

David: I’m good. How are you?

Arsalan: I’m great. You have been on the show before in discussion. So I know quite a lot about you, but my audience who is listening right now doesn’t know a lot about who David got today is. So, describe yourself a little.

David: so, I’m a human, born on earth. More precisely, though, I’m a software developer and project manager for two different companies. I was born in Sweden and then I moved to Italy, where I was raised. Then I look for a long time in Poland. When I became a little older I decided to start traveling the world. I ended up in China and Southeast Asia, so, China, Singapore and Bali. In Bali I stayed for about 10 months before I moved for a short bit to the states and then back to Poland. So, I’ve been a little bit of everywhere.

David: I became a software developer and at one point I became a blogger for four years. At that time I was working on the site itself. At that time WordPress was still starting out with version 1, if that tells you how long it was. I was building the whole website by myself because at the time WordPress wasn’t a thing. It was just starting. After that I became a web developer and then I took a break and became a brand manager. After failing with the blog website, I had to close it and go back to becoming a web developer.

David: I became very passionate in understanding why a company fails. As a result of that, I read a lot of books and different articles and even watch different movies about the topic. I became a brand manager because of that. I worked in the software development company where they were working on a lot of games. It was fun, but I eventually came back to just software development because I didn’t like the office politics within a company.

David: As a software developer, you can just sit down and do whatever you have to do. You punch the keyboard and cool stuff ends up at the other end. I also missed just being a developer. I became a project manager for one company because this allowed me to understand how to work with other developers. It also helped me to understand how to communicate over distance.

Arsalan: So, you are a globetrotting software developer who has live everywhere and who has experienced life in a way that most of us don’t get to do. Not only have you been developing, you’ve also dabbled in management and a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It’s interesting, but that gives you a perspective that a lot of us don’t have. That’s why you’re on this episode because we really want to learn from you and your experiences and to see what it is like for other developers who may not live in the US. Most of the audience for this podcast is based in the US and I’m based in the US. We really need to learn more about what it’s like for others, and perhaps the grass is greener on the other side. Maybe it is a great idea. What’s also very interesting about you is that you are working as a remote developer. Is that right?

David: Yes. Both companies that I work for are based in the US. I have a company in the US that I opened remotely. That’s like the ultimate remote thing. If you are a new developer who is just starting out, then maybe going remote right away is probably not the best option because you need to work with other people in a company and understand how the company works and what you like and don’t like about that.

David: The normal rule is that you go to college, you finish school and you go to work where you work, work, and work. Then, you buy a house; you have a family and all that other stuff. I’ve always understood that. First you need to understand the rules before you can break them. This is something that I learned.

David: I did everything that society expected me to do and then I decided that I didn’t like it, and I wanted to work remotely with the option to travel whenever and wherever I wanted. So lately, for example, I’ve spent a month in Spain, but the two companies that I work with don’t really know this. They just noticed that the background of my Skype looked different. So, on the plane I just continue to code and do my thing. So this is what’s great.

David: You can travel on the weekends and keep working during the week and nobody knows the difference. I think that managers and CEOs don’t get the position therein because they’re good people. They get the position that there in because they understand the corporate worth. By working remotely, you don’t get to see them and they don’t get to see you. So, they don’t get to see how you react to them. So if you react in a negative way, they don’t see that. So, working remotes gives you a way to work without being bothered by the whole office politics thing, which I like. In fact, I don’t even have contracts with the two companies that I work with.

David: We literally work together because we trust each other. I have two other friends who have their own companies here in Poland. They have contracts that are very strict. It’s like you having to pay me by this time and I have to work at this hour, and etc. I think that it seems like a very stressful thing. One of my clients, I know that if he doesn’t pay me it’s because he doesn’t have time. He’s running around doing a lot of other things. So I wait patiently and the next time we talk I’ll remind him about the payment. Then, by the weekend I get paid because he finds five minutes to just click on the button. So, this is how we try to understand each other. I’m flexible and their effect, flexible and it just works for us. That’s how I’d structure my life.

Arsalan: That’s nice, as long as you can trust people. But from experience…

David: Oh, from experience, you cannot just do this with anyone. It will not work. Nothing works like that. It takes time.

Arsalan: Even between friends, as a general rule, it’s a good idea to have contracts. But in your case, you don’t want that kind of stress in your life and you know these people.

David: I don’t do this with friends. That’s like the worst idea ever.

Arsalan: So, maybe it works for you because you are invoicing them or billing them regularly. You’re not waiting to or three months because I could be problematic.

David: I invoice them once a month, but with one guy, we were doing it every two weeks. I was getting annoyed with having to invoice him every two weeks, so I asked him if we could change it to monthly and he agreed. It all depends on how you approach this and what kind of deal you set up. Since we don’t have a literal contract, we can just have a conversation to discuss the new ideas. Contracts were invented because people were scamming each other. Yet, over the years, the contracts didn’t entirely solve the problem. You still have problems with people getting paid or doing what they need to do. So, I don’t think that’s the solution. For me, it’s a matter of finding someone I can trust and can have this conversation with and then everything works.

Arsalan: I think that is a good idea. In general, if I want to give advice to someone who is just starting out and once to be independent and work remotely, I would recommend more frequent billing than a month, like maybe once a week or every other week. That’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of overhead, but that protects you from the chance that somebody deciding that they don’t want to pay you. Maybe they ran out of money. Maybe their clients didn’t pay them. So, may be your only out for a week or two instead of one or two months. If you do it for a month and you don’t get paid for another month. Then you could be out two months of income.

David: That’s true.

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