7 Secrets of Exceptional Software Developers

Dragos Nedelcu
4 min readAug 17, 2023
Image Credits: Unsplash.com

Are you asking yourself, what should I do to get to the next level?

Every day, I talk to developers from all corners of the world. With different backgrounds and different tech stacks.

Do you know what they all have in common?

They want to grow.


All of them are interested in continuously improving their skills, not getting stuck, and reaching their full potential.

That is not always because of money.

Of course, they want to get paid fairly. But, the thing they care about the most is mastering their craft.

They love what they do and want to do it even better.

The problem?

Despite the hundreds of articles about “how to be a better developer”, getting to the next level is still a mystery for many.

That’s because most of the advice is too vague.

Like “help your teammates” or “code every day.”

Isn’t that what most developers do? They write code, and they do so in a team. Tell me something new…

And then you have the plain BS advice like “work on open source”.

Picture that you have a 40hrs job, some hobbies, or a family (another full-time job). When the heck are you going to find the time to work for free on open source?

Maybe 1% of developers will have the time and flexibility to do that. But even then, most would like to work on their side hustles.

Anyway, the point is most stuff out there is pure garbage.

The internet democratized information, but it also democratized mediocrity. Just look at Tik Tok, Snap Chat, and all the crap people are being fed these days…

Okay, let’s stop the ranting.

Where I am heading is that there is a higher need than ever for quality information proven to work in the real world.

And here is the problem.

Because technologies are so diverse, I cannot give you specialized advice that will 100% work for you. Everyone is different.

What worked for someone might not work for you (which is why mass-market online courses don’t work well and Personalized Mentorship delivers much better, if you are interested, check it out here).

But, what I can give you is guidelines.

Everyone is different, but success leaves clues. Looking at all the developers I worked with, I realized they have some things in common, no matter how different they are.

By emulating those, you can reach the top quickly and achieve mastery.

Here are 7 qualities of exceptional Software Developers that will get you in the top 5%:

  • Technical Depth — this is the biggest lack I see in the market. Technology is becoming more complex, and most devs fail to keep up. Look at the JavaScript world, TypeScript has become the industry standard, yet many developers still struggle with it.
  • Big Picture Understanding — the nerd programmer that can only build a REST API in Node won’t get anywhere. Code crunching alone is almost useless, with AI around the corner. Expert developers can contribute across the stack outside of their core expertise.
  • Clear Goals — confidence does not always come from competence. Sometimes we might lack the skills but still be confident we can deliver. Why? We know we have what it takes to learn the skills, and we have clarity. Great developers have clear goals and work towards them every single day.
  • Discipline — plans and goals are great, but if you don’t do the work, they are just silly dreams. Great developers have mastered the art of discipline. They follow a schedule, and they follow a diet. They go to sleep at a particular hour and wake up at the same hour. They know the key to making the most of your day is discipline.
  • Long-term thinking — the developer community is full of shiny objects fighting for your attention. Great developers stay away from the hype machine. They consider the “new” as bad and the “old” as tested and proven. They rarely fall victim to the new trend and focus on the things that won’t change. They are long-term thinkers.
  • Focus — in hand with long-term thinking comes their ability to say no. Time is limited. You only have a few hours a day, so you can’t know too many yeses. Great programmers say no, and they say no a lot. They understood the only way to achieve more is by doing less.
  • Visibility — great developers know that without someone to pay for their skills, they are just starving artists. They keep an eye on their CV, LinkedIn, and connections in the industry because regardless of what you’ve been told, what you know matters as much as who you know.

This is it, but I could go on with a few more.

Coding is easy.

Software development is hard.

Because it is not only about getting an application to compile…

It is about building a career. A life. And in the case of some of us, a legacy.

I will leave you with a quote I read a few days ago:

“It’s not about recognizing talent, whatever the hell that is. I’ve never tried to go out and find someone who’s talented. First, you work on fundamentals, and pretty soon you find out where things are going” — Robert Lansdorp, tennis coach of number-one players Pete Sampras, Tracy Austin, and more.

Now, take care of yourself :)

P.S. 15 days for you to secure the old price in our mentorship. If you enjoy my emails which take me around 1 hr a day to write, think about working with me and my team side by side every day on your career. It is much better than guessing or staring for hours in online courses hell. Check it out here!



Dragos Nedelcu

I help JavaScript Developers Get To Senior Level Without Endless Online Courses, Side Projects Or Burning Out By Mastering The Fundamentals.