Attract the right people - an open invitation

I gave a presentation on "Life lessons from a self-taught coder to tech community founder" to a bunch of students at USF, the local University in town

Here I gave insights on my career, and how I became who I am today.

During my presentation, I highlighted the rollercoaster that my life was, and how it made me stronger as a person

One important lesson I was based around the blog on tenacity and life lessons through the 33% rule that also trended to the frontpage of hackernews

This was something I learned 10 years ago, here is the slide:


If you build a big enough community, you will attract the right people into your life

This is a strong principle I live by. I applied it to my leadership organization style with Tampa Devs. And my relationships in life - friend, romance, and business. It's how we vet new leaders in our group as well. And it's worked really well

We provide a proving ground where people can prove themselves to us, a place for people to be a "part of the inner circle" so to speak. These could be "hey we're getting food after the event, you're all welcome to join".

Or it could be me talking a lot about an awesome event we have coming up and having them come to the conclusion of wanting to volunteer. I don't ask for help, I want them to come seeking to volunteer to help. They come unsolicited usually like so:


Or it could be "hey do you want to give a talk, fill out this 4 textrow form on" to people interested in giving a talk.

You'd be surprised how few people actually fill this out, given how many speakers we have interested in giving a talk. I would say only 20% go through with it

It could be "Hey there's no need for formalities, I'll get you the script". And then they never do. Or "I'm too shy to give a talk, give me time". And then I never hear back

Those that commit to filling out this 4 textrow form have put 5 minutes in their life into the game. I know their committed, we kept an open invitation and they responded


I have other examples as well. We have so many potential third parties who would love to sponsor Tampa Devs. Sometimes the conditions they have are a bit absurd (e.g. wanting contract exclusivity for a mere $200 a month - when we're getting over $1000 in member donations)

When we mention we have asynchronous forms of donations via opencollective, and a physical sponsor-guide with a clear transacational benefit - they back down. They don't even read anything we wrote - we've had multiple recruiting agencies baffled that we weren't the naiive developers they thought we were.

We do come off strong - but we do it because we're protective of our community and we don't want to be an MLM level marketing ponzi scheme to our memberbase (okay maybe not that absurd of a level, but you get the point)

Even though we keep the doors open - we do know when the wrong people show up. It was a hard lesson my co-organizer Charlton and I learned, and we spent a whole year going through so many B2B conversations realizing how much these orgs wanted to take - and how little they wanted to give back. We were not going to use our community base as a sales RoI funnel

We instead openly up ourselves to member donations for the first time this January. And nobody batted an eye - all of our donors have seen our vision, our impact live in person through their own eyes - there were no questions asked. It was here you go, how can I help?

That's why it's important to build a community of culture, a layer of transparency and trust at all levels, and to attract the right people with a strong mission statement

We are a community of software developers seeking to grow together.


Speaking of building community, there's a good book on establish culture at one. It could also be for building culture at a company, a community amongst friends etc.

In this book, it states you need to find the right person for the right seat. If we have a role to fill (such as a moderator for a forum), these criteria need to be met:

  • Are they a skilled moderator (or can they learn fast)?
  • Do they want to be a moderator?
  • Are they willing to absolutely own it?

That was pretty much our criteria for our first career forum, and the basis of the blog post I wrote on How to find co-organizers

Hi 👋

I'm Vincent Tang, a web developer specializing in modern Javascript. This website is my digital garden of notes on backend, frontend, and devops! I'm the founder of Tampa Devs and I also run a coding podcast called Code Chefs