Wayne Sturman is a software engineer based out of New York City, New York. Wayne graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering. After that, he continued on at RIT and earned a Master of Science in Software Engineering. Upon entering the professional world, Wayne Sturman went to work for CA Technologies as a Software Quality Engineer. Currently, he works for Adobe and specializes in Machine Learning.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Ever since I was a young, I’ve loved working with computers. As a boy, I played a lot of video games. As a teenager, I learned how to do elementary coding and basic programming. I was always good with that type of thing. So, when it came time to go to college and pick a major, enrolling in Software Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology was just a natural choice for me.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
After I wake up and eat breakfast, I go for a run. I roll into work around 9 am—if not earlier. Then I sit down at my computer and work on whatever projects are on my to-do list for the day. My day is most productive when I enter a certain frame of mind I call the ‘flow state.’ It’s when all the noise and chatter of the surrounding world fades away, and I find myself writing code almost effortlessly, to a point where my fingers can barely keep up with my mind. It’s almost like how I’ve heard people describe out-of-body experiences. I think some people call it the ‘zone.’
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think the way I bring ideas to life begins with the idea itself—to me, that’s the most difficult part! In this business, good ideas are by far the most valuable commodity there is. Once an idea occurs to me, it usually comes into my head fully formed and executing it is just a matter of finding enough time to sit down and hammer out the code.
What’s one trend that excites you?
There are too many to list. There is a common thread running through all of them, though, and that is that technology is evolving so fast and becoming so sophisticated that the capabilities of software engineering are increasing exponentially with each passing year. People wouldn’t believe the stuff we’re going to be capable of in the near future.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
This is probably a pretty typical answer, but I find I’m much more productive after a good night’s sleep. I always try to get 7 – 8 hours every night. No amount of coffee can make up for a proper amount of sleep.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I could go back in time and give advice to my younger self, I would tell him to put whatever extra money he has lying around into the stock market—into tech stocks, specifically. Knowing what I now know about the trend of virtually all businesses ramping up their online activities or facing peril, that seems like a no-brainer. I could’ve been a much wealthier man had I done that! I suppose the onset of COVID-19 sped up the situation, but things were heading in that direction anyhow.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The Mets are a superior baseball team to the Yankees this year. A lot of people will deny that, but I say just look at the data. It’s undeniable.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Something I find myself doing over and over is immediately answering inquiries. Co-workers and clients really appreciate it when you get back to them promptly, regardless of what answer you give.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Eliminate procrastination from your life. If I have some work to do, I just sit down and hammer it out. That’s the only way anything gets done in this world.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
This may sound strange, but early in my career, I think I was a bit too nice. Whenever someone asked me to do something for them, I would agree thinking it was the best way to make a good impression. I became overloaded very fast. At this point, I realize there are other ways to make a good impression, and I also realize that agreeing to everything no matter what’s being asked is a recipe for burnout. I overcame that problem by changing my mentality. Now, I understand just how valuable my time is and I’m very selective about which work-related favors I agree to.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Although I work in the digital realm, I know there is a lot of value to the world of physical commerce. With all the brick-and-mortar businesses that have folded since the pandemic and accompanying shutdowns began, I think someone could snap up a storefront in a decent location for a really good price, these days. Now that things are opening back up in earnest, I think there are a lot of people positively raring for the old-fashioned experience of walking through a store and browsing for items in person. So, counter-intuitively, I actually think it’s a good time to open a used bookstore or a clothing shop or something along those lines.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
In the business that I’m in, you have to be very mindful about getting enough sunlight and exercise. It’s so easy to just stare at a screen for work all day and then plop down and stare at another screen during your free time. So, I bought a great pair of running shoes. They cost me a bit more than $100, but they’re more than worth it. I’ve been running every morning for a few weeks now.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use a dozen or so pieces of software every day, and more web services than I can count. One of the truly indispensable ones is my digital calendar, though. I have so many appointments and meetings, I would never be able to keep on top of them if I depended only on my memory.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I heartily recommend I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. It’s an incredibly entertaining and well-written novel, and it describes a potentially gigantic downside to humanity’s dependence on artificial intelligence set in a not-too-distant future that isn’t all that difficult to imagine.
What is your favorite quote?
“We build our computers the way we build our cities—over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.” — Ellen Ullman
• Don’t agree to take on more work than you can actually handle.
• Eliminate procrastination.
• Be sure to get a healthy daily dose of sunlight and exercise.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.