Developers, entrepreneurs and depression | Business of Software

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Developers, entrepreneurs & depression. A wonderful talk at Business of Software Conference.

Developers, entrepreneurs and depression

Developers, entrepreneurs and depression.

We had the Business of Software Conference last week in Boston. Thank you to everyone that made it such a wonderful experience for us. This is the first talk that we will post publicly. It is the only talk in the history of Business of Software Conference that has ever had a standing ovation. It was well deserved.


Greg applied for a Lightning Talk slot to talk about depression and developers. Depression is a topic that many of us have struggled with over the years and we have always thought that there might be more people out there that did than, ‘just us’. We have been looking for someone who could do this subject justice for years and we asked Greg to do a half hour talk instead. Please watch it. If it doesn’t affect you directly, it is almost inconceivable that it doesn’t affect someone close to you.

Over the years, Seth Godin, Geoffrey Moore, Jennifer Aaker, Clayton Christensen, Kathy Sierra and other extraordinary people have taken the stage at BoS. Greg is the first speaker to ever get a standing ovation. Well deserved. This talk is heroic, funny, sad, dark, uplifting, brave, thoughtful, intelligent, inspiring and helpful talk confronting and explaining some of the stigma around mental illness we could ever put in front of the software community. As a result of this talk, a number of very high profile, role models in our community have been given the strength to share their experiences.

It’s not a ‘movement’ yet, but when people you would have NO IDEA about, come up to you and say, ‘Thank you. I need to let people know I suffer from X too’, you can’t help but hope we can do something together to get people talking about it. We need to talk about this. You can’t manage a secret.

For more information and help:

Look after yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for help, look out for your friends and colleagues.




This year will be the 7th Business of Software Conference – 15-17th September 2014, Boston.

A three day conference for founders who want to build sustainable, profitable software businesses. BoS has always been a special conference for our delegates and we want to keep it special. Attendance is restricted to just 400 attendees in 2014. Registration open now.

This year we are also running Business of Software Conference Europe, 25-26th June. For more details, visit the dedicated BoS Europe site. Two days in the birthplace of computers – Cambridge, England.

Join our mailing list to be the first to know when this year’s talks go live and to hear the latest news from the conference.

Eventbrite - Business of Software 2014

This post has 21 comments

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Thank you for sharing this. I hid myself in the rest room and watched it on haedphones. I am not ready to go public about it but it has hit me very hard over the years and I have tried to hide it. Oh my God I have tried to hide it. This gives me some strength to do something about it and seek help. So brave of Mark to share his story. Thank you.

Mark Littlewood

Dear Anon,

You are NOT ALONE. In fact, while I am not a betting man, I would put money on this being the least exclusive club in tech, even if no-one wears the badge, the tie, t-shirt in public.

The first step (for me) was acknowledging it was a thing. Congratulations. It gets better. Please find the strength to speak to someone. It helps. My numbers are: +44 7760 171 929 (UK) or +1 267-282-6736 (US). I will happily call you back.

Also, consider visiting (anonymously or in person), Greg’s site:

Please connect and let us know if there is anything that we can do to help. One thing that I learned last week is that depression in particular, though all sorts of mental illness more widely, is widespread in our industry. Help may be closer to hand than you might ever imagine.

Good luck and please drop me a note, call, whatever you would like to do. I can talk too much but I can be a good listener.

Mark Littlewood

One more small point. This was not me sharing, ‘my story’, this was Greg Baugues at Table Xi. I wish I had the courage to share mine earlier – I had no idea I may have ADD until he spoke though I have happily ceded I may feel blue occasionally – I just thought I was a bit shit and a bit disorganised and that often contributed to my unhappiness. That is one of the reasons this story is so important for me anyway.

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Hey. Great talk. Thanks for posting so quickly after the event.

Audio is a bit low though :-(

Mark Littlewood

Thank you Richard. I agree though in this case we felt better out than perfect. It will be improved. Mark


Oh absolutely. Awareness of this sort of problem is so important. There’s no business of software without people and knowing what to do in these circumstances can literally be a matter of life and death. This talk should get the widest airing possible.


Awesome! Thank you for looking out for us poor fools who could not make it this year.

Mark Littlewood

I pity da fools.

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Theo Spears

This is a great talk. Thank you Greg.

I’m fortunate to have experienced very few days where I can’t get out of bed at all, but there is a lot in Greg’s talk that felt very familiar – the contrast between days where everything seems to go brilliantly and things just fall into place, vs the days where it is impossible to get started – and being incredibly frustrated but not able to do anything about it. The hyper focus when really getting into something. Lying in bed for hours trying to get to sleep (even though it’s past 3am).

I’d like to add that the feeling of “maybe I’m not quite ok, but I’m not ill enough to need/deserve treatment” is very common, and something to be wary of. There is very little to lose in talking to someone.

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What a great talk. I’m a software developer who spent years not talking to or seeing friends, having panic attacks when the phone rang and being afraid to order delivery because I’d have to answer the door. I finally built up the courage to see a therapist and it has changed my life. Doing my own Google retreat I went in ready to self-diagnose with Social Anxiety Disorder and had an experience similar to Greg’s when I was told I had Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It took me a year to be ready for that appointment. If you’re thinking about seeing someone and getting help I hope this video and my comment accelerate your plans. There is no harm in seeing a therapist!

I still struggle every day with concerns that my colleagues will discover my disorder one way or another. The stigma is very strong, and it holds back people from getting better. Greg, you’re doing a wonderful thing for our industry, and I can’t thank you enough.

Mark Littlewood

Anyone that can talk about this has made a big step in the right direction. It doesn’t solve everything but it is a HUGE step in the right direction. THank you for sharing your story. Good luck and thank you.

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Steve Benfield

I related a lot to Greg’s talk — especially looking at my 20s when I could not explain why I behaved and acted the way I did — and why I kept falling into this repeated pattern of high, low, high, low. It took someone telling me this was not normal behavior and handing me a copy of ‘Driven to Distraction’ to make me start analyzing my behaviors and mood swings. Now I’m approaching 50. I’ve started businesses, I’ve successfully sold them, I run the software division of my company, and my family life is great. IT DOES GET BETTER. But the first step is realizing something is amiss and talking to people about. Once I started talking to others about what I was thinking/feeling, I realized other people are in the same boat. Pre-Internet it was harder to get information about these types of things but there is still a social stigma around mental health issues. Let’s break that to pieces and be open about things.