Author: Jared Richardson with Matthew Bass
Publisher: NFJS Publishing
The career 2.0 talk (about which I blogged recently) made my interest grow on reading this book. So after reading the book, here I am to report my findings:
In a lot of ways this book strikes a chord with me. The very concept of actively managing your career is something that I'm sold on long back. What this book provides is the reinforcement of that concept and some more. If you are not yet convinced about the topic, here is a question on the back cover of the book that you may answer and decide:
Has your career been a random path dictated by your manager's whims?
The target audience for this book are technical people, but the core concepts discussed can be extended easily to other fields. Book starts off with the discussion of why the topic matters, proceeding into the goal setting. The subsequent chapters are dedicated for tips and advice towards achieving the goals, and share what you learn with emphasis on writing and speaking. Three appendices follow - 'Break it Down', some practical examples of sample goals; 'A Rogue's Gallery' has success stories; 'Resources' has the useful resources on the topics that are discussed in the book.
The book is structured according to the notion of decide, select, share and go. Decide first that you want to take your career one level up; Once you decided select the technologies that you want to learn; Share as you learn which improves your own understanding and at the same time helps other people; Your goals are identified now go after them.
Chapter on Goals
In the Goals discussion Maslow's hierarchy is used as a guide, but the focus is on looking beyond Maslow and improve on how we share the knowledge. Goal setting and the importance of short-term and tangible goals is discussed keeping the long-term vision in mind.
Chapter on Select
Point is well made about how just being a model employee alone may not help your career. There is a good chance that you are going to struggle when you are forced to look out for a new job because of not being in sync with the technical advancements. It is a common tendency just to concentrates on today's crisis and leave the big picture out.
Further, the author discusses three options that you have when you select your goals . One of them is to try and bring in the new cool technology into your work place. That's a valid suggestion but in some heavily structured organizations it is not that easy to bring in a new technology. Perhaps an option of working few hours a week on an open-source project or something similar to gain knowledge, is also a good fit in this list.
Chapter on Share
Author says, even if you master the whole world unless you share your knowledge you may not grow to the level that you aspire to. An excellent point is made in taking those extra few minutes and blog what you learned. For example, if there is a technical issue that you solved recently, do a quick write-up on that so that other people searching for solutions could find you and you may in turn learn from any feedback your receive.
Chapters on Writing and Speaking
Two of the very best chapters in this book. Writing and Speaking are described as two powerful tools in the Career 2.0 toolbox. There are some good tips in this book about sharpening those tools.
I'm in complete agreement about how these tasks make you think hard and deep on the subjects that you would otherwise leave with peripheral knowledge. Blogging and its benefits are dealt quite well.
Writing forces our minds to think in new and creative ways. It's easy to get trapped in certain patterns of thinking on a day-to-day basis. As developers, we get used to doing things the same way. Forcing ourselves to write about something helps us analyze what we're writing about, and even take other viewpoints into account.
Orthogonal learning, picking a topic that is outside your comfort zone and something that you would not normally learn, can prove beneficial. There is some pretty good discussion on improving the public speaking skills.
How often do you write about appendices when you write a book review? Not that often, I guess, but this book has got some great stuff in the appendices. Of the three appendices I like the second one the most, 'A Rogue's Gallery'. In this one you will find some of the successful people in the industry, writing about their own experiences of how they directed their careers and chased their dreams.
All in all this a wonderful book with lots of practical advice. As mentioned in my earlier post on the topic, the key really is not to wait for your ideal job. Do today something about it so that you are ready when a great opportunity is available. If a book is something that can motivate you in that direction, then I strongly recommend this book.