Infectious Enthusiasm

Donald Raab
4 min readNov 28, 2023

Smiles change the world.

Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

I was once told by a partner at a large financial services institution that I have “infectious enthusiasm.”

When I first heard this, I was confused. I thought it might have been a compliment, but also thought maybe it was feedback that I suffered from some incurable disease.

Years later, I’m pretty sure I know what it means. It is both. The more time you spend interacting with me (virtually or in person), the more likely the possibility you will wind up discovering, learning, and doing something that may have never occurred to you before. Many people are immune to my brand of enthusiasm, while others develop extreme symptoms.

Here are a list of symptoms that you may exhibit over time, the longer you interact with me.

✅ You have an Eclipse Collections sticker on your laptop
✅ You have started to learn Java
✅ You have learned how to use lambdas in Java
✅ You have started to learn Eclipse Collections
✅ You have read some Smalltalk code
✅ You know who Alan Kay is
✅ You have read one of my Medium blogs
✅ You have followed me on social media
✅ You have attended a Java User Group Meetup
✅ You have completed an Eclipse Collections Kata
✅ You use Eclipse Collections in one of your projects
✅ You have developed a Method Reference preference
✅ You have written your first blog
✅ You have attended your first technical conference
✅ You have taught your first code kata
✅ You have started contributing to open source
✅ You are blogging and posting on social media regularly
✅ You have presented at a technical conference
✅ You have developed your own brand of “infectious enthusiasm”
✅ You have given an Eclipse Collections sticker back to me
✅ You have sung your first song at a karaoke outing

See how many of these symptoms you exhibit over time. If you’re reading this blog, you’re already developing at least one.

Over the past two decades, I have accumulated stories of developers I have inspired and influenced in some way. Some of these folks have gone on to do some great things and have developed their own brands of infectious enthusiasm. Many developers have left a lasting impression on me, even if it was only through a single authentic conversation. Every bit of feedback I receive on my journey goes a long way to keeping me motivated, energized, and on a path of continuous improvement.

A decade ago, I learned an important lesson from a developer I barely knew. The experience was truly humbling and inspiring for me. The developer dropped by my office one evening and said, “Don, I wanted to let you know you are my hero.” This was a first for me. I have many heroes. I‘ve never thought of myself as someone else’s hero. I sat there in my office chair blushing, not really knowing how to respond. After a few seconds, I gained enough composure to say something like “Take my printer, please.” This was a response I had learned from a former manager who would say this to express gratitude anytime someone would compliment him. We both laughed. The developer thanked me for all that I did to make contributing to open source a possibility at the large financial services institution we both worked for at the time. Then he went back to his desk and continued coding. This interaction helped me understand how important it is to tell others in the most authentic way possible the positive impact they are having. This developer inspired me more than he may realize. This memory continues to be a source of inspiration and positive energy for me a decade later.

I hope to inspire and motivate developers to continually improve their craft and do things they would have previously thought were beyond their capabilities. These are some of the habits I try to pass on to other developers.

  • Follow a path of continuous learning
  • Socialize their work and share what they learn
  • Write high quality code and tests
  • Teach others to learn
  • Grow communities of excellence
  • Contribute to open source
  • Build their brand through blogs and talks
  • Inspire and motivate others
  • Celebrate wins, no matter how small

In closing, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to folks in DevRel roles and all the people that selflessly share their knowledge for the best of the community. We need your infectious enthusiasm to help improve our craft. Many of you have inspired me and motivated me with your seemingly endless energy and talent. Your infectious enthusiasm has rubbed off on me, and I will continue to make sure I pay it forward with as many folks as I can.

Thank you!

I am the creator of and committer for the Eclipse Collections OSS project, which is managed at the Eclipse Foundation. Eclipse Collections is open for contributions.

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Donald Raab

Java Champion. Creator of the Eclipse Collections OSS Java library (http://www.eclipse.org/collections/). Inspired by Smalltalk. Opinions are my own.