Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My review of Team Geek.....a shout out to Ben and Fitz

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a book review...this time it’s written by people I actually know..awesome.  Ben and Fitz wrote Team Geek as “a Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others”.  What’s great about it, it’s a very good read for everyone...not just technical folks.

I’m not going to get into how awesome Ben and Fitz are....you should know that by now or just go watch one of the videos I’ve linked below.....you’ll get the idea...

Anyway, I’d highly recommend you buy the book (from the link below!) and with that here are a few thoughts/insights I drew from my read:

The Genius Myth - Great point here in the book about people wanting to find idols in the industry and worship them.  The believe that there are these mythical engineers (or coworkers) who can do superhuman things....not true, the Genius Myth.  These great people are great....NO doubt but they do amazing things working with a team.

There is no substitute for human experience - In the age of social media and video conferencing...we still need to interact as humans.  Working alone, in a silo might sound nice but really being on a team and interacting with others who make you better...that’s the stuff.

Humility, Respect, Trust - These are the three pillars of social skills.  Great pieces of advice here especially when you think about using these skills within your team, the organization and even more importantly the users.  Great advice.

Fail Fast, Learn, Iterate- This is probably my favorite piece of advice in the book.  Do I even need to get into any detail here?  It’s great advice and frankly finding companies that encourage and embrace this mentality are the kinds of places you want to work.

People are like plants - Love the image this creates...especially the image in the book.  People really are like plants thought when you think of it.  Each one requires different things to grow....attention, motivation, encouragement whatever... Your job as a lead or as a teammate is to identify what makes people “grow” and feed them until the bloom.  Simple stuff right?  um, right...

If you can’t take the path, make the path - Last insight I drew from the book....if you can’t take the path, make the path.  Hell yes.  I’ve tried to really work this way in my career and appreciate when folks can identify a problem and then hammer through a new solution.  In other words....get it done.

Ok, obviously this was a quick review...but this is a great read.  Very good advice for not only engineers but also for anyone working in a team environment.  Grab a copy here and if you ever get a chance to meet Ben and Fitz....make it happen, they are some of the best guys I’ve had the luxury of working with and you’ll learn a ton.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finding a job in a foreign country...you can do it.

Ok, sorry for the lack of content lately.  Ten days of vacation and the following dig-out has put me WAY behind.  Regardless...I’m back, I’m rested and ready to write.  This week's post comes at the request of Alexey Tokarev and I really appreciate it as I think writing posts via request is my favorite thing kind of blog.

Anyway, Alexey asked me to give a few thoughts on networking for a for a job in a foreign country.  Here we go:

1) Understand the visa or work requirements - This might seem like overkill but honestly, this has to be step one.  You need to be an expert in how things work and what you need to do to legally work in the country.  Why you ask?  Because you’ll want to be able to articulate how easy or difficult it will be to get there.  Some places it’s easy to work....some it’s impossible and you need to know that before you start.

2) Go local - You’re going to need to do some hardcore networking to find a gig in another country.  Start be networking with local offices and use those relationships to to leverage connections in your target location.  

3) Know your, um stuff - Take time to really understand the country/location you are targeting.  Having a solid understanding of the language, culture, traditions and job market will show potential employers that you’re serious and interested in trying something new.

4)  Visit - This one is tough because it costs money...potentially a ton of money but if you really want to show people you are serious about going to another country...take a trip.  Set up a ton of networking meetings, cups of coffee and hopefully interviews...and do them in person with a little luck.

Ok, hope that makes sense.  Getting a job or internship in another country is TOUGH stuff...but people do it all the time you just have a to be diligent, have a plan and execute.  Good luck and if anyone has other tips I’d love to hear them.