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100 Secrets


I've decided to start blogging beyond my traditional news, tech notes, recipes, and reviews topics and create a blog on a specific topic; 100 Secrets to Changing Your IT World. Over the next few months (or as long as it takes, I guess), I intend to bring to life the 100 best ideas and concepts that I've learned over the years. Ideas that anyone can use to improve their IT (or even non-IT) career. I hope you enjoy it!

Ship it!

"...the greatest shortage in our society is an instinct to produce. To create solutions and hustle them out the door. To touch the humanity inside and connect to the humans in the marketplace."
— Seth Godin

It isn't great, if it doesn't ship.

What I'm saying is that you can create the most perfect, most beautiful, most artful project, but if you don't ship it, it might as well not exist. Conversely, you can create a broken, ugly, unartful project and ship it and, if it does something helpful, you're a hero.

"Shipping it" is the art of delivering something into the hands to those that can use/experience/love/improve your project.

There are a lot of reasons why projects fail. There are books and books written about that. But I think the single, most important reason that projects fail is that they don't ship. They don't ship early enough and they don't ship often enough...

Want to be Relevant? Transfer a Skill

You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.
--Bob Nelson

It matters to matter. If you want to make any real impact during your short time on this small planet, what you do has to matter and to matter you have to be relevant...

Are you doing a Project or a Process?

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
--Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

When you are working on changing something and are doing the planning, it is important to first ask yourself, "is this a project or a process?"

It is important because the two are often confused, but each are managed very differently...

Ethics, Shmethics

"Ethical behavior" - conforming to accepted standards of conduct
--http://www.merriam-webster.com

How do you feel about ethics?

It doesn't really matter how you feel about ethics because ethics aren't something you feel, they are something you are judged on by others...

Are you a Pro or a Joe?

You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That's the mark of a true professional
--Joe Paterno

When you come in to work, are you working a job or are you working your career?

I've met many people in IT and there are those people that strike you as a Pro and others that strike you as a Joe. Now, there's nothing wrong with being an average Joe, per se, but is that where you want to be?

On Being Efficient or Effective

"What's the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don't know and I don't care."
--Anonymous

Is it better to be efficient or effective?

Let's start with some definitions (from Webster's):

Efficient:
1 : being or involving the immediate agent in producing an effect
2 : productive of desired effects; especially : productive without waste

Effective:
1 a : producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect
1 b : impressive, striking
2 : ready for service or action
3 : actual
4 : being in effect : operative
5 : of a rate of interest equal to the rate of simple interest that yields the same amount when the interest is paid once at the end of the interest period as a quoted rate of interest does when calculated at compound interest over the same period

Reconciling "Make Mistakes!" with "Appropriate Level of Terror"

cognitive dissonance: psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.
--www.merriam-webster.com

If you've read my other segments "Make your mistakes faster" and "Have the Appropriate Level of Terror", you might be wondering how I could logically hold these two opposing views at the same time. Am I just suffering from cognitive dissonance or do I have a legitimate point?

The answer is pretty simple, if you dig into the meat of my arguments and look at the timing of each...

Have the Appropriate Level of Terror (ALOT)

"Put it up to eleven."
--This is Spinal Tap

If you want to be successful in IT, one of the most important attributes you can maintain is to have the Appropriate Level of Terror (the acronym is ALOT).

What I mean is that there are many things you will do in IT, such as software projects, server hardware upgrades, or management presentations, that demand you feel a high degree of terror.

How can terror be good? Well, it injects your body full of handy hormones and neurotransmitters like adrenaline that will heighten your senses, improve your reactions, and even help you see things you might not otherwise see. Terror will cause you to double and triple check your work. Terror will help you come up with alternative and fall back plans. Terror keeps you focused.

Terror in some people can cause them to freeze or stiffen. Don't be one of those "fainting goats" that topple over at the slightest sound--that's not what I'm talking about...

Leadership Vision

To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn't know where he is going.
--Joe Namath

One of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to create, and share, a vision.

A vision is a picture of where your group is headed. What are you trying to create? Why does your group exist? Where are we going?

Hire Talented People

"You cannot surround yourself with the smartest and most talented people and then start looking over your shoulder or behind your back, worried that somebody smarter or better might be on your heels."
--Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG, as quoted by The New York Times

Whether you are a one-person show or a large IT organization, you'll find youself having to hire or contract additional labor.

One of the most important secrets to success is to hire people that are not only talented, but more talented and smarter than you are.

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