Technology conference speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds, experience levels, and interests. At CFP Land, we highlight different speakers every week in our Speaker’s Story blog posts.
Tejas Kumar has dealt with haemophilia his whole life, but despite his disease preventing him from completing a traditional computer science education, he’s used his self-taught knowledge and communication skills to achieve success as a developer. Now, as a tech conference speaker, he’s giving back to other developers by passing on what he knows. Looking through Tejas’ social profiles, you’ll see that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, but his informal, casual tone is part of what makes him a unique and interesting speaker.
Tell me about yourself. How did you get into public speaking?
I’m Tejas. I love people and code and the conversations we have together. I’ve been a public speaker since a young age. I grew up with a fatal sickness (that I still have) where I couldn’t do much and I often felt like I’d never amount to much, so in some ways, I guess I’ve been drawn to public speaking to overcompensate. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What do you like about speaking at conferences?
I like encouraging the community. I often learn things and I enjoy disseminating the information from stages and then having conversations about it later. Truth be told, I enjoy the private conversations that happen after a good talk a lot.
While it has directly benefited my career with a number of job offers, visibility, Twitter followers, all kinds of glitz and glam, the real value I see from this type of engagement is the love. I get to share hope with people, combat impostor syndrome, and see careers flourish; life change from a stage. It’s all very encouraging.
Do you remember your first conference talk? How did it go?
I remember doing a TEDx talk like 7 years ago. It was really well received. I think there was even a standing ovation. It was fun. 🙂
Tejas presenting “Papercuts Can Kill” at TEDx
How many conferences have you applied to and spoken at?
I think I’ve applied to like 20 and spoken at like 9? It’s a gut feeling though. I have no real idea.
Do you have a pre-talk routine?
I often put myself into the mindset of “I’ve won” already before I even play. This gives me hope and like prepares me to do an amazing job. Eventually, it somehow becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Odd, maybe, but it works for me every time.
What advice do you have for new speakers?
You’d be surprised by how much value you can add with a talk. Our tech industry today is so full of faux confidence and pretend knowledge that one would often feel like they don’t know enough – I know I feel this way most of the time. The truth is, I actually know quite a bit in my own, very specific area that I can use to educate and help others who aren’t as familiar with it.
I’m often insecure about kubernetes, data structures and algorithms, and CS fundamentals because I personally was always too sick to get a Computer Science degree. I don’t have one. I am a prime example of impostor syndrome.
That said, I feel there are just as many people insecure about React, TypeScript, CSS and other areas. I rejoice at the idea of combating their impostor syndrome with my experience in these subjects. For me, this is part of the joy of public speaking along these themes.
I’ve always been extremely uncomfortable with my content not being technical enough because I often feel like I lack technical skill, but I’ve always been confident with the delivery because it seems to come naturally to me for whatever reason. As a result, I am trying to better my technical abilities to “close the loop”.
Are there any other speakers you look up to? Anyone who’s inspired you?
Where can readers find more about you?
My next talk is not yet announced, but one talk coming up is at JSConf Budapest about the performance of various UI frameworks in serverless architectures.
If you’re a tech conference speaker, email [email protected] to tell your story. 💌