Codealike Interview - January Excellence Award Winner


min read time

This piece marks a new ongoing series of articles in which we interview Codealike’s highest achievers to discuss both themselves and their experiences with Torc and Codealike. We’re looking to interview the best of the best, so if you want an interview of your own, keep an eye on the Torc leaderboard! If you manage to have an amazing month, you just may get a chance to get your name out there!

Our first subject is Polish Programmer Mariusz Wyrozebski. He was our Codealike Excellence Award winner for January. In celebration of this achievement, I interviewed the ruby fanatic, pro powerlifter, kind giant and talented programmer to discuss him and his experience with Torc and Codealike

Now, usually I like to start the interview by asking the subject about their life and their time before Torc. When I interviewed Mariusz however, it slipped my mind. So I emailed him later on and asked him the question. He sent this in response:

“As the CTO of Post Op, he's the tech wizard behind the curtain, making sure the magic of modern medicine meets the digital age without a hitch. His mission? To ensure that after you've gone under the knife, your recovery is as smooth as a well-coded app, powered by Post Op's forward-thinking like AI-assisted wound monitoring. But wait, there's more! He's not just a one-startup kind of guy; he's also moonlighting as a fractional CTO, ready to sprinkle his tech fairy dust on other ventures in need of his genius.

Before he took the tech world by storm at Post Op, he was the mastermind behind Red Warrior Studio, where he slung Ruby on Rails code like a digital cowboy. His secret sauce? Turning tech gibberish into crystal-clear action plans, making him the Rosetta Stone of the startup ecosystem.

But don't let his tech prowess fool you; at home, he's a family man with three daughters and a marriage that's lasted 15 years, proving he's got the ultimate skills in negotiation and conflict resolution. If you think managing a startup is tough, try orchestrating peace in a household of teenage drama!

And when he's not decoding the mysteries of technology or mediating family debates, he's lifting weights like they're going out of style, boasting a deadlift record that would make even the Hulk think twice.

This guy's so committed to breaking the 300kg barrier, it's rumored he's considering coding an app just to optimize his lifting technique.

In the realm of hobbies, he's also a fertility guru by night, helping couples navigate the tricky waters of baby-making with the same precision and care he applies to his coding projects. Who knew that the guy who could deadlift a small car would also be the go-to for fertility advice?

So, there you have it: a tech leader by day, a super dad by night, and on a quest to make the world a better place, one code line and deadlift at a time.”

I thought it was perfect, and I didn’t want to change a word of it. So I left it exactly as he sent it. No one can describe Mariusz better than Mariusz himself, after all. And what a description! The tone of his words certainly matched my experience when speaking to him. I found Mariusz to be a funny and intelligent guy with a lot of great ideas and insights. Now, on to the rest of the interview.


Q: My first question is, how does the Torc platform and community differ from other remote work opportunities that you've experienced?

A:  That's a good question, before Torc, there was topcoder, that was my turning point. A really early turning point in my career. I look at Torc as an extension of that experience. topcoder opened my eyes to remote working, and it continued into Torc. I am a CTO now myself, and I've been going through Torc with my own interests, to examine whether I could find someone who I could hire for my own team. So it's a bit of a different perspective for me. Because usually you talk with developers, but as I mentioned, I’ve changed to the CTO role. I was planning to do this change for about a year. I joined a tech leaders group. And all we do is think about how you turn off this coding mind in your head. 

Sometimes I use freelancers for short jobs. Sometimes it will be really beneficial to find someone in the team internally. There is outsourcing, and crowdsourcing is a totally different thing. And the best part about it, if I were to think from the quality point of view, and if I were to use it, not really just be part of it, is that other people test it, that they really fight for the excellence, how it is done, and it has to be the best. So it has this additional component that it is not really random work. It is one of the best from this random group. 

Q: So next question, what future initiatives or features are you most excited about within the Torc ecosystem?

A: Well, for a more general answer, I’ll say that I'm really into insight on yourself. To the point that I have quite a few services I use to track my work, like Rise, for example, because it takes details of the whole behavior across environments. There are some tools that judge the quality of your code. So that is really good to use. In the Ruby world, you have RuboCop. So it will just keep you to the very line, or the very comma. So it has to be in place. Every developer works the same way. And whatever insight I can gain, I try to use it to my advantage, obviously.

I can almost kind of see the connection between power lifting and coding in that way. The sculpting of the body and the sculpting of the mind to be as accurate and as measured as we can. Tracking every metric.

That's one perspective. And I think the most important is, okay, so there are people that like to compete. But the most important thing is that you always compete with yourself. Because you can compete with other developers. Okay, there are people that you will never catch up to. 

And I really love working with people who are smarter than me. It means this is a really great team. I can never catch up to them. But if I can get better by this one percent a day, in a year, I will be this much better. Using this advantage of someone telling me you can improve on something without this feeling that someone is telling me to improve, and they are unhappy with me, and they can fire me. An automatic tool will tell you something without this threat.

 Q: How has Codealike impacted your daily coding routine?

A: Okay. Actually, it is not impacting my coding routine much at all. It works in the background. Sometimes I notice it is on there, but I have more specific times of the week and the day where I'm checking on things. How did I perform today? Like how much screen time, how much coding time, whether I had really healthy breaks and blocks. And I noticed that Codalike likes deep work sessions. 

Q: Can you share a specific feature of Codealike that significantly improved your productivity?

A: I don't think maybe I have an answer for that one, really. Maybe not significantly anyway, but at least if it improves it slightly, so it’s still valuable. All I'm after is insights. Insights about my habits, what I'm doing and how much time I spend on things. And then comparing it day by day gives me perspective. So that is the most important part, but it's more like a routine. 

Q: How did tracking your coding activity with Codealike help you identify areas for improvements

A: Okay. Good question, so, for the last year, the main thing I was worried about was getting into deep work and making sure that I don't lose focus. I use a combination of tools and like making sure that I have the right environments set up so I can do my work. And then I can reflect on that. And once I get into the coding part, at least I want to have it like all juicy, all like focused there. So it's not like meh, I'm happy about it later.

I don't have much time actually, in general, right? So if I have to spend this time on something, I really need to spend it wisely. So if going into development, okay, let's just do it. Let's focus on it. Let's make sure this is done, and any distraction is a real productivity killer.

 Q: Why would you recommend Codealike to other developers?

A: If you want to improve, come on, use every opportunity, every tool to get feedback. I would say it's best to get personal feedback if you can. But anything that will tell you something about your habits, where you spend time, what you are doing during your day. It's priceless. If you start getting into this habit, analyzing what you do and whether you want to improve things it is a no-brainer. 

You need someone watching you. It’s a free source of insight. Okay, come on. This is insane.  When you're a remote worker, to have like a little box in the corner that tells you how you're doing, but it is more like you have to think about it, that this is like judging you but also not judging you. So you get the best out of it. It will tell you without any consequence. It will tell you, okay, you're bad. Yeah. I'm bad. Okay. I'm bad in many things, right? And I'm fine to learn what is bad about my behavior. Where can I improve? Because I will be better. 

My main motivation is always self-improvement. I don't really care how do I compare with others. So the thing that we are talking about now is kind of a surprise for me. Because all I care is like, okay, let's just do it better, better for myself, right? Because all my clients want is, okay, I just want my feature done. They want to have a complete application. They want to have the documentation done, whatever I'm working on, they just want results. And I want to do it the most efficient way with the least amount of bugs, with the least amount of problems, so that I don't get back to this topic anymore. And if I need to, I want to have complete documentation, I want to have great code, and be able to read through that right away. Yeah. So it's like, I want to be able to do other stuff in my life. So good coding practice is helpful for that. 

Well, that's a great advantage. And if you know how to use it properly, then it works well for the whole team, for the company. It can also come with a lot of frustration, right, because it is not natural for us, usually we are used to people sitting in the office next to us, and this kind of grabbing them because we have to talk them, it's like, can I disturb them? Well, well, you have to learn new behavior, new behaviors, like a lot of things have changed. I'm not even saying because of COVID. I was doing this very thing already, 10 years before COVID.

Q: So how do you plan to leverage the insights gained from Codelike for future projects? 

A: I want to probably shut down my coding in the future and focus on working as a CTO. Still, I will keep my metrics mostly because if I really want to go into coding and I need to sometimes I can easily. I also need to think like a CTO, as it is more like a research position. So when you really have time for this research and coding, be quick about it, because other duties will creep up and like that they will just catch up to you like, oh, you have to do this and do this and this and this. 

So being efficient, like, well, I have to stay there. But actually, I'm lying. I cannot live without coding. Well, it still makes me happy, right? Sometimes you can take a break here and there. And coding itself is giving you this additional dopamine boost. This is like creativity in its own, like you are just creating something from nothing. This is huge. And like, if you really are able to feel this, that you just delivered something, it gives you this proud feeling that, okay, I did create something, I'm proud of it. I can celebrate that. This is healthy to celebrate those things. If you are in a really healthy routine, it is addictive. Let's call it by name. It is an addiction. This is why some coders sit for 12 hours or longer just working.

Q: And for my final question, how has Codealike influenced your approach to time management and focus while coding?

A: I think I would turn this question a bit, because Codealike was the result of my approach to time management, rather than the other way around. Because I was so heavily into getting my time management sorted that I was looking for everything that was present in the market. So it was more like a consequence, because I was looking for everything that is on the market that can help me move a bit more forward. Testing tools, whether it is, from the code quality to keeping your just syntax correct, then all the kind of automation that you can do around it.


Mariusz and I went on to chat a bit about his interest in powerlifting, the trip to Poland that I took last year, and his experience meeting Torc CTO David Messinger in Warsaw in 2006, while working with topcoder, when David was visiting Poland. 
Earlier in the day, before I spoke with Mariusz, I had a meeting with David in which I mentioned that I was interviewing a Polish powerlifter who had won a Codealike award in January later that day. David remembered him instantly and also told me the story of their meeting in Warsaw. Mariusz lives in another region in the country and went several hours out of his way to meet David, and they enjoyed a beer and some good conversation together.


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