This book, written by Sam Lightstone shines light on the differences between the skills acquired in university versus those needed to succeed in the business world. It also shares what recruiters look for in a candidate and what preferred skills will help you get your dream job. How can you differentiate yourself from the others who are similarly educated or similarly skilled, climb the ladder, become a technical leader and innovator, or even start your own successful software company? This book tells you how to accelerate your career and includes interviews with 17 of the industry’s biggest stars including inventors, researchers, entrepreneurs and leading executives, to find out what they did to stand out in this industry. Even if you are modest about your goals of making it in the software industry, this book will give you an edge that will last your entire career.
I would say that the thing most surprising about Sam's book so far is the number of audiences that it appeals to.
1) Obviously this book would appeal to anyone in university about to embark on a full time job. As Sam mentions in his book, school is much different than a job as a software developer in a big company... and to be successful, you need to learn the differences and adjust your behaviour for maximum impact. I really wish that this book was available when I graduated! I was really new to a corporate environment since I came from a family that was into farming and construction. I have noticed throughout my career that collegues who had professional parents were able to work the system much better than I could. This book will help bridge that kind of gap.
2) Similar to those in university are those in the first couple of years on the job. Once you've figured out what you like and dislike about your job / career, you can use the advice in this book to make a real difference as to whether you are put on the fast track or not. The two things that stand out to me at this moment are: 1) become a domain expert; and 2) follow through on your inspirational ideas! These sound so easy to me...yet apparently they are rarely done!
3) People in their mid career can benefit from this book as they can figure out why they may have stalled, if they have, or how to rise a few steps higher, if they so choose. The advice in this book is suitable for any stage of your career.
4) Recruiters. Sam tells stories about when he was recruiting new employees and the types of people he favoured. Over time he realized that he wasn't looking for the right qualities. This goes hand in hand with the fact that school success and career success are quite different. You might be surprised by Sam's findings.
5) Good managers help their employees reach their full potential. Managers who read this book will become better mentors and coaches for their employees. A successful team reflects very well on the leader of the team!
I had the absolute pleasure to attend an hour long session by Sam Lightstone recently. Sam has taken a few topics in his book and created a 10 point agenda that provides a few highlights from his best selling book.
Let me share a few of the tips that Sam shared today... but if you get the opportunity to hear Sam yourself, take it! Sam is a very fun speaker to listen to. Also, you won't be disappointed with the book!
1) Dress for Success
What does a successful software developer wear? The same as a CEO? NO! CEOs are typically polished wearing fancy suits. Software developers? Running shoes, jeans, t-shirts... don't believe me? Find a photo of the Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and you'll see that they dress like ROCK STARS!
Senior Software Architects make much more money than junior employees. Check it out on payscale.com. But... what you don't see on sites like this is the other money superstars make. They often get large bonuses and stock options beyond their base salary.
A superstar developer has much freedom in their job in terms of where they want to work and customers they want to visit.
4) Getting Ahead
There was lots of advice about getting a promotion and rising in your field, but the one thing that stood out for me is that you should become the expert in YOUR DOMAIN. Whatever that domain is... become an expert. It doesn't take long, but unfortunately it is rarely done. So, it would be fairly easy to stand above your peers if you just invested a bit of time each month to learn something new about your domain.
5) Pros and Cons of Climbing the Ladder
There are cons to anything you do in life... but the pros of climbing can be worth the cons, if that's what you want to do.
What is more important than inspiration? Would believe that it is following through on your plans? It is! And apparently following through is rare. Surprising!
7) Time Management
Did you know that goofing off can actually be important to your career? Really! Your brain needs a break from time to time, so give in. But make sure you don't abuse this advice!
There are lots of considerations regarding getting promoted.. and the most important is to do something that makes you stand out from your peers. Publish, file patents, join groups, present about your topics, etc. Do what you like to do and what makes you feel appreciated.
9) Social Dynamics
One of the key messages here is DON'T GOSSIP! 9/10 times you gossip, it may not get around... but even 1 out of 10 times could be a career killer! I've worked with Sam for a number of years and let me tell you! He practices what he preaches.
Speaking of career killers, I'd be surprised if you've managed to avoid all the problems that are mentioned.... I know I have witnessed most of them in my career. The advice in this chapter is dead on... and in times when many jobs are disappearing, it might be a good idea to read this chapter to make sure that you are on the right side of a layoff.
I think software developers are notorious for NOT HAVING A LIFE! I must admit that working in the software business (and for IBM for that matter) can be all consuming and never ending... and maybe a bit addictive. Can a balance be achieved? I think it can and I'll let you read what Sam says about the subject.
This is the last paragraph that Sam wrote in this chapter:
"Careers do require hard work and enthusiasm, and those are attributes that encourage people to spend more time at the office. Finding your own balance is hard, but if you discover the Philosopher's Stone that helps you get it right, you'll have done the best possible service to your career and your life. No other tactic or vice will serve you better. With only one life to lead, it's definitely worth the effort".
PS... you can hear Sam speak. He's been invited as the guest speaker on the DB2 Night Show. There is a 200 person limit to this webinar, so register today to reserve your spot!