Home » Career » Soft Skills: The Developer’s Life Manual – Book review and Coupon

About Ilias Tsagklis

Ilias Tsagklis
Ilias is a software developer turned online entrepreneur. He is co-founder and Executive Editor at Java Code Geeks.

Soft Skills: The Developer’s Life Manual – Book review and Coupon

John Sonmez, member of our JCG Program, is the founder of Simple Programmer, where he tirelessly pursues his vision of transforming complex issues into simple solutions. He has published over 50 courses on topics such as iOS, Android, .NET, Java, and game development for online developer training resources and also hosts his own podcast.

John is a life coach for software developers, and helps software engineers, programmers and other technical professionals boost their careers and live a more fulfilled life. Currently, he is in the process of releasing a new book with Manning called Soft Skills: The Developer’s Life Manual. It’s currently available for early release through their MEAP program.

sonmez_soft_skills-cover“Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual” is a developer to developer guide offering techniques and practices for a more satisfying life as a professional software developer. In it, John addresses a wide range of important “soft” topics from career and productivity, to personal finance and investing, and even fitness and relationships all from a developer-centric viewpoint.

Arranged as a collection of 73 short chapters, Soft Skills is designed for you to dip in whenever you need to. “Taking action” sections at the end of each chapter lead to instant results. Just learning about John’s alternative option for retiring early is worth the cover price. Soft Skills will not only help you become a better programmer, but a more successful, happier, and healthier person too.

His publisher, Manning, has kindly provided a discount code for you, the JCG readers.

The code is sskills40 and it applies for all formats of the book (40% discount). Buy now!

John was kind enough to provide a short interview, discussing programming and of course developer soft skills. Here it is!

Q: Why is “Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual” a completely different kind of book for software developers?

A: There are many software development books out there that will teach you a particular technology or how to become better at a particular element of software development. There are even many books you can find that will teach you how to be a better at software development. But, I found that there aren’t any books that teach someone how to be a better software developer.

What I mean by this is that there is a real lacking of books that teach software developers how to boost their career, become more productive, build a reputation in the industry and even manage finances and their health and fitness. Soft Skills is a book aimed at doing just that. In the book, I try to cover as many areas of a software developer’s life as possible, including even areas like a software developer’s love life.

Q: What made you decide to write such a book that covers such a wide range of topics? Why do you think this is so valuable? Can’t software developers learn about all these other life skills somewhere else?

A: The main reason I decided to write the book is that I wanted to give other software developers a short-cut to learning some of the difficult lessons I’ve learned over my career and various aspects of my life as a software developer. didn’t always do things the best way. I made lots of mistakes and learned things through trial and error. But, over the course of time, I was able to become very successful in my career. I was able to reach high positions in corporate environments, successfully work as a freelance developer and eventually start my own company.

During this time I also learned many life lessons about productivity, fitness, and finances. I feel that many of these lessons are specific to software developers and the information about these areas of life needs to be tailored specifically to the software developer mind. Sure, you can find many of the life skills I mention in the book in other places, but that advice is not written for software developers, mine is. Plus, it’s scattered all over the place and not all of the advice is trustworthy. In Soft Skills, I try to take the most important things to know about life, specifically in the context of a software developer, and put them all in one place.

Q: The book seems to have quite a few chapters, 73 to be exact, what is your reason for so many chapters?

A: When I read books, I tend to always like to end my reading at the end of a chapter. If I don’t feel like I have enough time to read a whole chapter in a book, I’ll often hold of reading until I have a longer period of time. I hate stopping in the middle of a chapter and trying to pick up where I left off.

When I set out to write Soft Skills, I wanted to make a book that could easily be picked up and read, even if you just had five minutes of time. I made the chapters very short and self-contained. Most chapters are only a few pages long and can be read independently of other chapters and in any order you choose.

I really wanted to make the book the kind of book that you enjoyed reading; a book that you could just pick up and read whatever parts happened to be relevant to you at the time. For this reason, the book is divided into sections that deal with various aspects of your life: career, marketing yourself, learning, productivity, finances, fitness, and spirituality / mind.

Q: In Soft Skills, you have a section dedicated to a controversial topic: marketing yourself. Why did you include this topic and why do you think it is important enough to warrant its own section in the book?

A: I think that marketing gets an undeservedly bad rap in the software development community. Most software developers think about spam and annoying popups or advertisements when they think about marketing, but good marketing isn’t about any of that stuff and it is critically important to a successful career.

Good marketing is about giving other people value. In the book, I talk about the idea of giving away 90% of what you do for free and charging for only 10% of it. This is the strategy I use to market myself and it is successful, because I am primarily creating free value for others. That free value I create draws new people to me and helps me spread my name and message.

Almost all software developers can benefit greatly by learning the basics of marketing themselves and there isn’t much information out there about how to do it. How do you build a name in the software development industry, get to speak at conferences or be invited as guests on podcasts? I wanted to show software developers exactly how to do those things—and the benefits of doing them—in Soft Skills.

Q: What is the biggest take-away that you would like developer to get from Soft Skills?

A: That being a good software developer start with being a good human being. That all areas of your life affect other areas of your life. If you want to be as successful as possible, make more money and increase your overall happiness, you need to focus on not just your ability to write code, but your mindset, your attitude, your body, your financial situation and many more things which all contribute to a balanced life.

I’d really like software developer who read Soft Skills to feel like they learned something that will help them to lead a happier, more fulfilled life and to feel like they can have an exceptional career.

sonmez_soft_skills-coverCheck out the book with an exclusive discount code for you, the JCG readers.

The code is sskills40 and it applies for all formats of the book (40% discount). Buy now!

Have a great reading!


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6 years ago

The coupon code sskills40 does not work!

6 years ago


Is it possible the code sskills40 does not work anymore? Can I have a new one please?

Regards, Tim
The Netherlands.