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By mike ·
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Random Thoughts

by mike In reply to Random Thoughts

Here you will find my thoughts on various topics from technology to business and careers. Enjoy!

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IT Career Catalysts

by mike In reply to Random Thoughts

<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">A lot of people ask for IT career advice. Working in IT for over twenty years, I have witnessed careers skyrocket and drill right into the ground for several reasons. I would like to share some personal suggestions based on observations I have made over the years. This is not a complete list, but it will definitely get you started!</font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><b><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Be confident (but not an egomaniac)</font></font></b></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Everybody loves confident people ? and hates egomaniacs. Confidence is displaying a high level of comfort in what you are doing or deciding while on the other hand, egomaniacs seek constant admiration and submissiveness from those they work with. The Egomaniacs are the bane of IT departments; I have seen many people over the years with the ?I?m the smartest person in this place? or the ?They can?t make it without me? attitude. Here?s a hint ? the second you begin to seriously believe either of those statements, you are in deep trouble. Why? Because egos that become too large are counterproductive and have blinders that limit their vision of the world- until it is too late. Just ask the former executives from Enron. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><b><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Communicate Professionally</font></font></b></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Business communication should be professional. Chat room lingo, abbreviated words, street language, bad grammar, and misspellings in e-mails give an unprofessional impression. If your e-mail doesn?t have a spell checker, type your message in Word and paste it into your e-mail after you have checked the spelling and grammar. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Make communications articulate and succinct; be clear and to the point. If you complete a project milestone, don?t send the e-mail equivalent of a doctorial thesis to say so. As a manager, I appreciate two-line updates from people. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">When speaking, don?t talk over others; listen more than you speak. If you aren?t sure about something, ask for clarification immediately. Nothing is more irritating to a manager than to have somebody ask exactly what he or she wanted a week after a task was assigned. It is even worse to ask when the task was due. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Pay attention to the vocabulary of those above you. If you see them using a word you don?t know, look the word up in a dictionary and begin using it yourself. By doing this, you will gain an easy and fast way of growing your own vocabulary and begin speaking the same language as your managers.</font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Your communication should match your target audience. Senior managers may not understand highly technical language and may need what I classify as the ?Romper Room? version. Here is a rule of thumb- if you can?t say it so your grandmother would understand it, you don?t understand it enough yourself.</font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Don?t play word games. If you are asked a question, answer it without leaving details out. Don?t dance around or avoid an issue- address it. If you find yourself beginning an answer to a serious question with statements such as ?well, that depends on what you mean by...?, you are a part of this group. Think back to what everybody thought when President Clinton did that during the Monica Lewinsky hearings ? it plastered ?Liar? across his forehead. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><b><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Emulate Successful People In Your Organization</font></font></b></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Want to succeed? Learn and use the traits of those who are successful. Success factors can differ somewhat between organizations, so observe and learn. Pick a good manager or technician and ask them to mentor you. Meet once a week or once a month and pick their brains. Ask them to observe you and provide feedback. If you do that, LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY. Otherwise, the feedback will wane. Some managers have a hard time being blunt and honest with their team members. Help your manager by telling them you want immediate feedback if they observe you doing something they don?t like. When they do, don?t get defensive, and immediately correct what they tell you. If you have that type of relationship with your manager and listen to what he or she says, it will probably raise your yearly review ratings.</font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><b><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Continuously Grow</font></font></b></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">If you are doing the same exact thing you did three years ago, why should the company pay you more? Increase your net worth to justify your raises. Take a class. Read books on professional growth. Attend some of the free seminars that vendors provide. Take on new responsibilities. If somebody leaves the company, offer to temporarily take on some of the work they did until a replacement is found. Ask your manager if there is anything they could use your help on. Each of these are learning experiences that will help you grow professionally. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Personally, I have a long commute to work, so every payday I purchase an audio book and listen to it during the commute. Over the years, I have amassed a large library of audio books that I can go back to and refresh myself. I purchased an IPOD so I can take and listen to them on long trips.</font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">The type of growth you want to focus on should change as you rise through the ranks. The higher you become in an organization, the more you should focus on ?soft skills?. These include items such as communications (written and verbal), management, negotiations, and business skills. Some good books I have enjoyed are:</font></p>
<ul>
<li>
<div class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">What the CEO Wants You to Know</font></div></li>
<li>
<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">BusinessThink: Rules for Getting It Right Now, and No Matter What!</font></div></li>
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<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">The Geek Gap</font></div></li>
<li>
<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">The Leadership Lessons of the US NAVY Seals</font></div></li>
<li>
<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense</font></div></li>
<li>
<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus</font></div></li>
<li>
<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Crucial Conversations</font></div></li>
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<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Crucial Situations</font></div></li>
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<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Can You Say a Few Words?</font></div></li>
<li>
<div class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Present Like a Pro</font></div></li></ul>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">These are just a few of the books I have read over the years and a cross-section of what I read other than technical books. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><b><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Be a Team Player</font></font></b></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">There is a reason your group is called a team and not individuals. Part of my success is because I have recognized and acknowledged the efforts of others who have helped me along the way. Always give credit where credit is due and never take credit for anybody else?s work. It isn?t about being the smartest person in the room; it is more about knowing how to quickly find answers. That involves other people no matter how you look at it. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Share your knowledge. There is no job security in coveting skills. In fact, it can have quite the opposite effect. If you think it makes you irreplaceable, think again. There is nobody, including the CEO, who can?t be replaced. If that weren?t the truth, corporations would simply close when people died.</font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Being a team play means going beyond your group. Make connections with other teams- the paybacks are priceless. That will also help you climb the ladder as you accomplish more through your connections than you ever could without them. Eventually, you will become the ?go to? person for more and more things and more valuable in the process. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><b><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Polish Turds</font></font></b></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">We all know the corporate turds- the jobs that nobody else wants to do, the projects that are in trouble, and the processes that always seem to be broken. Want to send the price of your personal stock through the roof? Grab and polish those turds until they shine like diamonds. Take on what others shun, get that project back on track, and fix those processes. It will open doors you never knew existed!</font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><b><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Build Your Business Acumen</font></font></b></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Gain a deep knowledge of how business functions and use that in your decision making. Know how to determine a return on investment, be able to perform a break-even analysis on potential investments, and other business tools to guide your decision making processes. In many corporations, it is a business-oriented manager who manages technical people, so close the gap on how you and that manager views things. It will help you to understand why some decisions are made and prepare you for upward movement. Having business acumen also means you don?t get snowed by sexy technologies that don?t benefit your company- because you know the right questions to ask. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">I have been in situations where, after the right questions were asked, the vendor admitted that a corporation such as the one I worked for really wasn?t a good target for their product. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><b><font size="3"><font face="Times New Roman">Conclusion</font></font></b></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">As mentioned at the beginning of this post, these are just some of my observations and not a complete list. Factors can vary from company to company and I hope these do answer some questions you may have. If there is anything else you would like my humble opinion on, please ask. </font></p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><o><font face="Times new roman" size="3">Good Luck!</font></p>

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IT Career Catalysts

by radhikasoft In reply to IT Career Catalysts

<p>Insert comment text here </p>
<p>its nice and useful</p>

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