We also discuss the ebb and flow of passion for programming and how to avoid burnout on the things that we love. He has actually put a ban on himself for travel so he can spend time on the things that are important.
The important things in software development boil down to quality. If you can automate your common, important tasks and make it easy for the person who needs it to kick off the process on their own.
Chad also had some great suggestions for new developers. First, read code. Second, write tests for the areas of code that don't have tests. This will force you to refactor the code and make it better.
To get involved in the community, you can start or organize a conference, create open source projects, help software maintainers meet Ruby 1.9 compatibility issues, join a mailing list, and so much more…