The Soft Stuff is the Hard Stuff<br />Roger Lawrence<br />@Rog42<br />
“Shall we play a game?”<br />
Passion<br />Excellence<br />“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users’.”<br />$<br />
Discover<br />
Master<br />
Influence<br />
Discover.<br />Master.<br />Influence.<br />
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The Soft Stuff is the Hard Stuff

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Being a Developer is the best job in the world. But in a world where technological change is accelerating, and development is increasingly off-shored to less expensive markets, how do you stay in the sweet spot?

3 Lessons I've learned to maintain success in your career, whilst keeping your soul intact.

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  • Being a Developer is literally the best job in the world. You get to do something you love, something you’re great at, and get paid for it. How good is that….Very, very few people on the planet find that sweet spot. You just have to look at depression figures to know that.But that’s a moving target. Two pressures are increasing on Developer careers, making it almost impossible stay there for long.
  • The first? Technological change – What you learn this year, will be out of date within 18 months. Front-end and client computing is moving out of front door and into people’s pockets. The back end is shifting onto the cloud. And all applications are integrating with a social layer – That’s ISO Layer 10 now I believe, sits right above the political layer, which is above the financial layer..Turns out my old COBOL skills aren’t worth much in todays dev environments…
  • Heard of 99Designs? E-Lance? Odesk? Freelance.com? It turns out that electrons are even cheaper to send to other countries than atoms. Never before in the history of human endeavour has an industry face such rapid growth and aggressive competition. It doesn’t matter how well you right code, someone in The Czech republic, Egypt, or China is up there with you, and can earn a 5th of your salary.
  • So we chase a moving target, and I believe there are 3 principles we can adopt to ensure we stay the leader of our game. I’d like to tell you a couple of stories.
  • The first took place in Antigua, on the shores of Falmouth Harbour. I was unemployed at the time, early 93. Let me just say, if you’re unemployed, Antigua is where you want to be living. So, a 65’ Swan, called Evrika ties up at the wharf, and I’m chatting to the skipper, scrounging for some work, sanding the woodwork, diving to clean the hull, working as a deck hand – pretty much anything he may need me for.In our conversation I find out he’s just sailed from St Tropez in the Med, his first time as a Skipper. I mention how one day I wanted to skipper a yacht, and I’ll never forget his response.He says, “Y’know, I’ve been a 1st mate for 10 years, and for this trip when Crew Seekers asked me what my position was, I said ‘Skipper’” Since then, I’ve been a skipper.I was struck by two things: 1) It doesn’t help being the best guy in town, you still need to be talking to the right people, at the right time, with the right skills.2) Your progress is controlled by your decisions, your mindset. No-one has your passion or your needs. No one else is going to plan your training, and experience. Only you can do that.
  • The second story also involves a boat. This one is a 51 year old 107’ Classic Yacht called Sintra. I was delivery crew helping take her to the Baltic for the summer season.The skipper Martin Thomas had run the boat for over 15 years by that stage. We were coming into Punta Del Garda, Azores, which in the summer is a nightmare. There are hundreds of yachts of all shapes and sizes crossing from the Caribbean to the Med. You get to moor by coming astern between two other yachts. To make matters much worse with Sintra, is that she had a mean port “walk” when going backwards. Also remember that the crew working the windlass and lines are over 100’ away. It’s kinda hard to ask them to do things over the noise of the marina at that distance. These boats are pretty pricey, and there is no room for what would be very expensive mistakes.You don’t get a second chance.So it was here that I first truly understood the term “Consummate Skill”. Martin brought Sintra in-between two 70 footers, after starting out about 150m and 4 boats to the right of where we wanted to end up. He brought us in without saying a word to the crew. Everyone just doing their jobs at precisely the right time.Here I learned that to truly be a master, you don’t have to work harder than everyone else. You have to work MUCH, MUCH Harder. Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book talks about the 10,000 hour rule. That’s 20 hours per week of practice, with feedback, for 10 years. 10 years. Don’t practice until you get something right – practice until you cannot get it wrong.Also, it’s interesting to note that Martin hadn’t just mastered his technical skill, but also leadership, and phenomenal communication skills.
  • Our last story comes from an Egypt. I was lucky enough to judge the SW design competition for the Imagine Cup on a custom built stage 300m in front of the Pyramids of Giza. When you think about it, the architect of the Pyramids was like your first programmer. He put together a design, and algorithm that would fashion a structure which would last over 4,600 years.I’m not sure, no in fact I’m pretty sure, there is not one line of COBOL code I wrote just 20 odd years ago, let alone 4,500. The Imagine Cup is also special because it’s a StudentTechnology Competition. By the time students get to the finals, they have competed in their own countries. Only about 400 students out of 300,000 entries, will make it to the finals.My lesson here was to build something that lasts. And the only way to do that, apart from recruiting 100,000 engyptians over 23 years, is to invest yourself in other people. As you influence those around you with your skills and expertise, you take nothing away from yourself, but you are elevated. No matter what field you look at, every successful person has a coach or a mentor, and every leader has mentees.Who are you chosing to influence your career?Who’s career are you influencing?
  • So as you prepare for a great day of learning technical skills, keep these in mind:Discover your passion and choose to work on your personal development planPractice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Get feedback.On presentations, reports, team work, customer interactions, and of course your code…Pick a leader you want to emulate, and learn from them. Give freely of your time and expertise those you wish to influence. You customers, partners, and of course those that will take over from you one day.Enjoy today, participate, and learn. At Readify we’re committed to those principles, which is why we sponsor events like today, employ and work with the best developers in the industry.Thank you.
  • The Soft Stuff is the Hard Stuff

    1. 1. The Soft Stuff is the Hard Stuff<br />Roger Lawrence<br />@Rog42<br />
    2. 2. “Shall we play a game?”<br />
    3. 3. Passion<br />Excellence<br />“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users’.”<br />$<br />
    4. 4.
    5. 5.
    6. 6.
    7. 7. Discover<br />
    8. 8. Master<br />
    9. 9. Influence<br />
    10. 10. Discover.<br />Master.<br />Influence.<br />

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