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How to Go from Developer to Stakeholder

Technology is everything these days, and your skills as a developer are in high demand. How can you leverage your unique skill set and understanding of technology to climb the ranks in your company beyond “just a developer?” Ann will tell her story of going from underpaid full-time developer, to broke freelancer, to entrepreneur, and finally to partner and CTO. More importantly, she’ll tell you what she learned along the way about the art of persuasion, transparency as a trojan horse, indispensability, confidence, standing your ground, and ultimately how to be treated and respected as a leader and not an employee. Disclaimer: I cannot confirm or deny that I have a problem with authority and a thirst for power. My email is

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How to Go from Developer to Stakeholder

  1. 1. How to go from Developer to Stakeholder Ann Gaffigan @anngaff ZendCon October 24, 2017
  2. 2. Today’s Agenda • My journey from Developer to Stakeholder • Job Satisfaction • Your journey from Developer to Stakeholder • Homework Assignments
  3. 3. LOGO
  4. 4. College
  5. 5. My 1st Internship
  6. 6. 2nd Internship => Full Time Gig • $10/hour • Singlehandedly gathered requirements for and built a large system from scratch for their biggest client • Accepted an insulting FT salary • Nobody else seemed to do any work at all • I knew we were taking advantage of our big client
  7. 7. Freelance => Incorporation • Started with a solid client that had a lot of work • Obtained several more through word of mouth • Proactively sought out larger clients • More work than I could handle
  8. 8. Client => Business Partner • One of my clients saw what I could do for his company and wanted me to sign a non compete • Instead we became business partners • Went through trial and error process of what to do with this platform I’d developed • Ultimately merged with larger company, which meant ownership for us both
  10. 10. 3 Signs of a Miserable Job: 1. Anonymity 2. Immeasurability 3. Irrelevance Three Signs of a Miserable Job, later published as The Truth About Employee Engagement, by Patrick Lencioni
  11. 11. 3 Characteristics of Meaningful Work: 1. Autonomy 2. Complexity 3. Connection between effort and reward Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell
  12. 12. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” - Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
  14. 14. Opinion DON’Ts: • “I’ll defer to you guys” • “Sorry if this sounds dumb, but…” • “Whatever you think is fine” • “You’re the expert, I don’t know anything about that” • “I don’t mean to be a pain, but...” • “I don’t care” .....
  15. 15. Opinion DO’s: • “I’d love to see us try [X] and here’s why” • “I read that company Y uses this tool. I can research it to see if it make sense for us.” • “Here is my concern with that route…” • At the very least, ask a question: – “Are there other options we haven’t thought of yet?” – “What are the risks in this case?” – “Do the numbers add up to a good ROI? Want me to run them?”
  16. 16. DRESS FOR WORK.
  18. 18. “Finding your voice is not only about talking. Learning to speak up and refining your message is a form of problem-solving.” - How Remarkable Women Lead: the Breakthrough Model for Work and Life. Joanna Barsh, Susie Cranston, Geoffrey Lewis
  20. 20. Use “I” and “We” sentences
  21. 21. Front load with positivity.
  22. 22. Don’t say “but”
  23. 23. Extreme Listening
  24. 24. What do you agree on? What do you disagree on?
  25. 25. Stay Cool.
  26. 26. Transparency as Trojan Horse
  27. 27. Along the way, watch out for:
  28. 28. Along the way, watch out for: • FREE LOADERS
  29. 29. Along the way, watch out for: • FREE LOADERS • FEAR
  30. 30. Along the way, watch out for: • FREE LOADERS • FEAR • RELATIONSHIPS
  31. 31. Along the way, watch out for: • FREE LOADERS • FEAR • RELATIONSHIPS • INERTIA
  33. 33. How to Have a Good Day Caroline Webb
  34. 34. Good to Great James C. Collins
  35. 35. How Remarkable Women Lead Joanna Barsh, Susie Cranston, Geoffrey Lewis
  36. 36. 5 Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni
  37. 37. The Truth About Employee Engagement Patrick Lencioni
  38. 38. Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less Tiffany Dufu
  39. 39. Questions? Ask now (or later @anngaff)