Michal Nawrot is one of X-Team's full-stack JavaScript developers. He lives in Poland and is a well-worn traveler with a variety of interests, from JavaScript SPAs to tasting wine to running an Ironman.

Hi Michal, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Take me back to your first days of programming. What originally hooked you?

I was a very indecisive teenager, torn between opposing choices. I had an episode with electronic music and wanted to become an audio engineer but I couldn't figure out how to make it happen. So I decided to study IT, which was tough enough to keep my gray matter busy, while also working as a freelance graphic designer to have some artistic relief. Soon enough, I started coding animations and more complex web UI, which led me to front-end development.

What motivates you to keep programming and growing today?

I would say it's the same thing. A challenge gets me excited, whether that's deciding on a non-trivial, technical matter, seeking the best or most suitable solution for something, or learning a new language to understand and solve something.

This being said, challenge is necessary but insufficient. I need to be convinced that it all makes sense and adds value somewhere. I may enjoy solving an algorithmic puzzle, but only if it's part of an adjusting process to some planned step forward or to understand some details of a project I’m contributing to.

To think outside the box, you need to escape it first.

When it comes to challenges, how do you stay current with all new developments in the software industry?

Setting long-term goals kills flexibility, which is quite essential to me as a software engineer. I learn fast and, in my case, learning something new is an ad hoc thing. I might have an idea of what I'll be focusing on for the next two months, but anything after that can change or get postponed if something else becomes more convincing. Value matters more to me than the technology used to achieve it.

Outside of coding, what other passions do you pursue?

I’m kind of addicted to sport, so I tried a few things: biking, martial arts, running, rock climbing, CrossFit, swimming. In the last couple of years, I’ve been focused more on endurance disciplines, like triathlons. I've tried a bit of mountain running, too.

Roughly a quarter of the year I spend traveling to discover different places and cultures. I love my motorbike and I take longer trips on it from time to time. Apart from that, I love to socialize with people. I need time to hang out with my buddies too. This part triggered my interest in wine history and production. There is nothing better than tasting a good Supertoskan while talking about politics.

Let's talk war stories. What's your favorite memory as a developer?

At the end of my studies, as part of my master’s thesis, I was assigned to a group of scientists working on a risk and quality assessment methodology. My part was to invent and implement a visualization module for a tool supporting all their science.

I had the chance to work on a single-page application at a time when IE6 was the newest IE release. Nobody used RESTful APIs back then and we used SOAP for the client/server communication. After tons of optimizations, it worked like a charm. At least our team saw it that way 😉

Another great memory comes from the early stage of my software developer career. It was my first real job right after university and it turned out to be my dream job very soon after. I was assigned to a project taking care of chatterbot visualizations used for automating customer support. We had pre-recorded video sequences of actors making their speeches. These videos looped and, combined with a synthesized voice, were used to simulate intelligent, talking avatars.

I worked as a Flash developer there, but I also had the chance to prove myself as a director. We were a small company and we needed dedicated video sequences for a bigger client, so I had to deal with actors, stylists, and camera operators.

Has working remotely helped you become a better developer?

I focus easily no matter where I am. I can be in a crowded cafe, a train, or a plane. I just need an idea first. The best ideas come out when I'm distracted. To figure out a solution to a coding problem, I need to go for a walk, have lunch, or work out.

Commuting to then spend 8 hours at the office has never been effective for me, because I'm not creative sitting in front of a monitor the whole day. Remote work allows me to balance my focus and creativity.

The great advantage of working remotely is that I can do it while traveling. There are so many great things all over the world that can inspire me. To think outside the box, you need to escape it first.

In my opinion, an office space marks a boundary between the inside and outside in terms of knowledge and development practices as well. Developers in offices end up creating internal fixations that are hard to overcome.

As a remote developer, I interact with people from other cultures. It gives me a wider perspective and makes me more open to discussing new solutions. Different time zones require better planning and communication, which in turn boosts the effectiveness of using Agile. All in all, remote work is better for me and the projects I participate in.

And last but not least... what dent do you want to leave in the world?

I mentioned that I don’t have precise plans for a distant future, but, like everyone, I have dreams. Many people don’t believe that dreams may come true. I say it depends on the way you see them. For instance, a marathon is just 4 hours of hard work. People work 8 hours a day and are perfectly fine. If you want to be an astronaut, simply save up for a trip on the Virgin Galactic! Sounds easier now, doesn’t it?

I have finished a full Ironman race and practiced Muay Thai in Thailand. I’ve traveled on my motorbike across Europe and tasted wine from the best vineyards. I had kangaroo for dinner on an Australian farm and experienced a philharmonic concert at the Sydney Opera House.

Anything is possible if you focus on what’s important in your life. I’m a professional who makes his dreams real. Anyone who seeks a change in their routine life is welcome to join me.