Guru Khalsa
Guru Khalsa is passionate about solving problems using technology. He loves learning, refactoring, and making customers happy. And surfing. He is a founder and engineer at Zoomforth

Who am I?

I live in San Francisco, and grew up here, too. I love this city.

I graduated from UCLA in 2010 and have been working as a software engineer since then. I care a lot about my work. Software engineering isn't just a job to me. It's a way of being. It's a life made by approaching the complexity of the modern world with a sense of curiosity and drive and then weaving a vision into it, just so, in such a way that even computers can understand. Every day I get to create something from nothing. It's meaningful work for me.

In my free time I love surfing, rock climbing, reading books, and spending time in nature. I like to play the guitar, and I like to play board games with friends.

What do you work on?

I love working with software. There is a thrill to learning more and improving at one's craft. With software, that thrill can be accessed on almost any project. I enjoy solving technical problems, although I have come to appreciate that many of the most important problems in software are not technical.

Software is about people. It's built for people, by people, and people are often driven by emotions like desire, fear, joy, pain. Thus, I strive to empathize with my team and my users, and to remember that software is not about the computer -- it's about us. The culture of an engineering team is the foundation of a company's empathy for their customers. It drives the quality of the product and the company's ability to adapt to change. The culture that is generated by the team -- accidentally or purposefully -- can make the difference between joy and misery for everyone involved.

What do you use to build software?

I am particularly fond of technology whose basic usage is not complex, but which can enable the developer to explicitly address complicated problems. Many tools strive for an easy interface but in so doing they can obscure the complexities of the problem. Tools that I feel allow me to handle escalating levels of complexity include React, Python, Vagrant and Packer, Elastic Search, MySQL and a cornucopia of other excellent libraries, products, and tools. Building software is an exercise in standing on the shoulders of giants.

Why do I have an Indian name?

If you don't yet know me, you may be curious about my name.

My full name is Guru Bakshish Singh Khalsa. I'm not Indian, so what happened? Luckily, it wasn't an accidental name tag switch at the hospital as a baby. My parents converted to Sikhism, and I was raised as a Sikh -- and was given a Sikh name. Although I no longer follow all of the disciplines of the religion, such as wearing a turban and eating vegetarian, I am deeply thankful for the values and culture that guided my upbringing.

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