Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why geeks need public speaking

If you know anything at all about public speaking, your perception of it is probably that it's a playground for salespeople, marketers, and trainers; an outlet for extroverted businesspeople to practice their presentations to upper management. This is certainly true, but there is another group that can gain enormous benefit from learning and practicing public speaking: software developers.

Let's face it, we software developers are not thought of as your typical public speaker. But there is room us to learn this skill. There is room to push ourselves to do something that will not only benefit us personally, but help the people around us as well.

As developers, it's very easy for us to sit in our offices all day and avoid as much human contact as possible. Such conditions make activities like extemporaneous speaking or presenting to a large audience very difficult. Organizations like Toastmasters or local user groups come to the rescue by providing an outlet for practicing such speaking.

The environment in these groups is friendly and welcoming enough to make developers feel comfortable getting outside our "coding cocoon." Yet at the same time these groups challenge us to learn how to communicate more effectively.

We've all heard the old saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." When it comes to speaking, though, "it's not what you say, it's how you say it!" It’s difficult to stand in front of a crowd and explain what we do for a living, or give an educational presentation to a roomful of other developers (many of whom may be far more knowledgeable than we are about the topic we’re speaking about). Speaking under these challenging circumstances puts the way we communicate in a whole new perspective. It forces us to think about how other people hear us and adjust our message accordingly.

We’re software developers. We’re proud to claim that title. But we should also be proud to claim the title of public speakers. The experience we gain practicing this skill will continue to benefit us and the people we know long after the software technologies of today have disappeared. That’s something worth pursuing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Get the Big Things in First

One of the reasons we need to have our big picture goals in mind is so we can actually find time for those goals. Too often we have the best of intentions but we never get around to starting on life long dreams.

Big Rocks First

It helps you eliminate the cruft and focus on what's important. I forgot which author said this, but begin with the end in mind sums it up.

Know where you're headed before you start the journey.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jared presents at TriJUG tonight

Has your career been a random product of your manager's whims or company's needs? Never rely on your company to keep your skills current and marketable. Take control of your own career with a proven strategy.

Jared presents a talk titled "Career 2.0: Take Control of Your Life" at tonight's Java Users Group meeting in RTP. If you're curious about our book, come on out. His talk will cover a lot of what we're writing about. Pizza and networking at 6:30, talk starts at 7.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Motivation and goals

Motivation is generally the natural result of what we’re doing. We’re motivated to get a license so we can drive to the store. We’re motivated to learn a new programming language because our current job is boring. We’re motivated to lose weight because we want to look like the people in the movies. But often, motivation isn’t natural or free.

Yet most things worth doing in life require the proper motivation. If we have goals that don’t have built-in motivation, it’s up to us to provide what’s lacking. For example, Matthew isn't wild about a consulting gig he's on right now. The work just isn’t that interesting. He motivates himself to work on the project each day by taking hourly breaks and ending the day with a reward… an hour spent reading a book or watching a movie.

This is what has worked for him in his particular situation. The things that motivate you will probably be different. Being around certain people can be motivating. Seeing clear progress towards a goal can be motivating. Cash can be motivating. Reading certain books can be motivating. Blogging can be motivating.

The main reason we created this blog was to motivate us to work on our book. Having a blog about the book makes us accountable to the public. If we aren’t making progress, people will complain. That’s highly motivating for us.

What motivates you? Tell us in the comments.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Career 2.0

Matt and I have planned on writing this book for a while. We've had an outline for months, but we both stay busy, and the book fell to the wayside.

Recently I was asked to keynote on the topic at a NFJS conference and it pulled me back in... I got more feedback from people on the topic than any other I've ever given. The time seemed to be right and the topics resonated. So we're ramping back up again.

In a nutshell the book is about actively managing your career. Realizing that you're responsible for your own future. You can't depend on the company to keep you current and up to date. It's your life. Don't let it pass you by.

However it'll be more than grand ideas. We'll also have step-by-step directions on moving your career forward. How do you "sharpen the axe"? And how often? We'll walk you through the steps.

Matt's a great guy and I'm honored to be involved with him on this project. We'll try to blog here as we make progress. Ping us if we go quiet for too long. :)