No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -Eleanor Roosevelt
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Book Review: Being Geek
Michael Lopp's definition of a geek/nerd:
We seek definition to understand the system so that we can discern the rules so that we know what to do next so that we win.
Does that describe you ? Then you completely belong, just read on.
He packs both a career
development and management philosophy into a list of three items:
Technical direction: Are you actively defining the technical
direction for your
Growth: Do you understand what you need to do in order to grow?
Delivery: Are you hitting your dates? Are you meeting your commitments?
Are you doing what you say you're going to do?
I hope you are intrigued, you are explained in lucid detail. In case
you are not convinced,
you are very likely to be when you read the chapter 'A List of Three'.
In the following chapters, Michael enables you to decide whether you
are happy at your
current workplace or not. And if not, what you should do about it,
right through the initials,
the interviews, the people you are likely to meet, and the aftermath.
Knowing the 'Buttons'
should be important to you.
Michael has good advice for you through Section One on all
aspects of a job offer. Many of them, understably, are not directly
applicable outside of the
united states of america, you will need to tweak for your environment.
The Second Section is a treat for all technical people trying to
understand management :)
Culture, meetings (and their kinds), status reports, skip levels,
kinds of folks who appear out of
nowwhere when you make a *mistake*, strategic emptiness (really),
surprise and kinds of responses
to it, networking how-to as well as getting along, treating hiring
requisitions and *when* you are really done,
and not the least of all, bosses ! You get a perspective on all of this.
The game of 'Werewolf' is
just the right analogy, especially for the geek, to understand people behaviour.
I learned that managers were Organic and/or Mechanic.
I liked this section very much, not only because it satisfies my need
to understand the system,
but also because I learnt to identify and tweak behaviour so that I
don't for example become 'The Doof'.
If you like psychoanalysis, the Third Section helps you understand a
nerd at length. Highly useful for
both self and the significant other. Standard as well as unusual
methods for time management and
achieving success through 'productivity minimalism' are sure to
provoke you to tune your current
rythm. But thats for the bread-and-butter, and cakes-and-icecreams are
equally important too - which
is addressed by the Trickle list. Really nice, not only because I do a
bit of that myself, but also
because this is the nicest way in which I could have conveyed it to
someone else, but didn't. :)
He writes "The point of your productivity system is not to keep absolute track
of your tasks. The point is to keep the important information in the
front of your brain where it will improve your improvisation and
inform your whims. A task tracking system gives you just enough
information to calculate your chaos while reminding you to create
and act on random moments of high potential."
You can read Michael and entirely stop feeling guilty about your 'Up to
Nothing' moments, and be
spurred to sharpen your presentation (communication) skills into
fluency. See the difference between
a speech and a
Learn how important
a demo is as well how to prepare and what to expect when doing a demo :)
The last, Section Four, brings you back on your toes over stepping stones
to career success.
Some insights - 'some' because people are even more complex - into your
setting your own expectation right so as to avoid dissappointments,
advice on startups vs established
companies (to work for), as well as that 'crossing the chasm' dilemma
on 'management vs development',
invaluable notes on what it means to be in management, and managing
departures - large and small - in your teams.
This set of chapters largely mirrors your work world because even as
you make plans for your career,
you will experience some of the trials and tribulations via moves or
other people on your teams !
Through the seemingly random behaviour, the world at large is trying
to be fair you know :)
Chapter 40, 'Bad News About Your Bright Future' urges you to recognize
your biases and overcome
complacency, and reminds you that you are in a hurry - the chapter I liked best.
Overall, a great conversational style and a very different (geeky, if
you will) vocabulary, give
a refreshing flavour to this reading. You may be discomforted if you
are a stickler for
parliamentary language, but I never heard of any geek in parliament
yet! :) It can be difficult to find the flow in the book, but irrespective,
make up the parts of the main theme that you should be able to
put together in your mind.
The reviews on the book cover aren't hyperbole - if you are person with
a technical or engineering bent
of mind, then this book is an essential read for you. Period.
Michael blogs at Rands In Repose. You may want to subscribe.
Links to other reviews:
A down-to-earth career handbook for developers
Duffbert: It didn't take long before I saw the value in what he wrote ...
GoodReads: ... but only this book will help you handle many of the baffling circumstances you may encounter in your career.