March 27, 2007
I have a really, really strong stomach. Much like the Seinfeld episode, I have a non-vomit streak that goes back into the 80s. But I came really, really close tonight after reading an email from Mogull, and following a link on his site to a recent entry from Kathy Sierra’s blog.
Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a believer in humanity – I believe that people generally are good, smart and always try to do the best that they can with what they have at the moment. But sometimes, I find something that makes me question that belief. Kathy’s post did that for me tonight. I’ll leave it in Kathy’s own words:
“I do not want to be part of a culture–the Blogosphere–where this is considered acceptable. Where the price for being a blogger is kevlar-coated skin and daughters who are tough enough to not have their “widdy biddy sensibilities offended” when they see their own mother Photoshopped into nothing more than an objectified sexual orifice, possibly suffocated as part of some sexual fetish. (And of course all coming on the heels of more explicit threats)”
Reading Kathy’s story, I’m disgusted. But, more than that, I’m amazed that people could be so afraid of a brilliant and strong woman like Kathy. One thing I learned in the schoolyard – the bullies out there have two methods of attacking you. If they think that you’re weak, they’ll attack what you do and what you say. If they can’t attack those things, they’ll attack you personally (physically if necessary).
That these people could be so weak and fearful that, rather than taking it up directly with Kathy or attacking her ideas. To attack her with misogyny and threats on her life is pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.
I hope that Kathy writes again. And I hope that the people who did this get the retribution that’s coming to them. If a brave man (or woman) dies once, and a coward dies 1000 times, the morons who wrote this should probably be up there in the millions for the magnitude of cowardice that this shows.
March 22, 2007
So, I recently went off about how your resume is junk mail. But I understand that many people still believe in job hunting the “old-fashioned way” (i.e. by sending their resume to every job posting on Craigslist). And it makes some sense.
But, if you’re going to send out your resume, there are a few things you probably shouldn’t do. And, while I was going to write up a full post on this one myself, this amazing rant from Best-Of Craigslist said nearly everything that I could have. And far, far snarkier. From the post:
Stop throwing in complete bullshit just to make it sound fancy.
The following is a list of why you should never throw words together if you don’t know
what they mean (the long-winded objective from above could also be put in this category).
“My ability to learn quickly is a key essential.”
“My numerous areas of expertise and professional work related skills are highly superior
in many office related skills.”
“Being so detailed and goal oriented provides me with the ability to have outstanding
organizational skills which enthusiastically allows me to succeed well within all goals
“My background and my education are the met qualifications in this job description.”
The rest of the rant is equally scathing. And equally true. Worth a perusal, and worth going through your own resume one more time to make sure you haven’t made any of those mistakes.
March 20, 2007
I have to confess something here. I’m an addict. I’m addicted to PBS. I can’t stop watching it on the weekends. Even though I went on a Steve Pavlina-inspired TV diet, I just can’t stop watching PBS.
So, over the weekend, I found myself sucked in entirely to Marcus Buckingham’s program about figuring out your strengths. And he talked in the show about writing statements (called “Strength Statements”) that describe those things that make you feel most alive, most challenged, and inspiring the most growth and success in your week.
Marcus showed one of his, and said:
“When you see [my strength statements], it might bore you to tears. But when I read it, it’s gobsmacking. It kind of rocks my world.”
It reminded me of one of the games in Forget the Parachute, Let Me Fly the Plane – that of describing your mission and vision for your life. Most self-help books talk about creating a mission and vision, but, in my experience, they end up sounding more like corporate pablum (“I am a strong, dedicated person who helps those around me be better than they are“) than they are things that are “gobsmacking”.
I put my own mission and vision statements in the book. And you may feel somewhat bored by them when you read them. Or that they’re sappy, or cheesy, or something else. But for me, they’re absolutely gobsmacking. I get chills when I think of living them out. And they fire me up.
A question: what mission, vision and strengths that you have get you fired up? What rocks your world about what you do on a daily basis?
March 19, 2007
And I was really impressed.
Though I haven’t talked about it, I’m not a fan of many of the convergence trends in security – as I walked around RSA this year, I was really quite annoyed by everyone claiming that their “Unified” appliance had everything under the sun in it. “Our appliance not only does anti-virus, IDS, vulnerability scanning, and product QA, but it also cooks dinner, finds your lost socks, and lets you in on the Caramilk secret“.
I think that my annoyance comes down to one obvious point: different functions need to live in different places in the network. This should be obvious to most system administrators – but it doesn’t seem obvious to most of the UTM vendors.
One of the coolest things about the new product is that they really get that factor – even though it’s unifying and convergence-based, it really does focus on the idea that all functionality shouldn’t live in a single place (even though it’s nice to manage it from a single place).
I can’t wait until it comes out. Until then, I’ll be downloading the alpha version. If you want to, you should drop Mitchell an email. It’s definitely worth checking out…
March 18, 2007
Anybody who reads this blog even occasionally knows about the book that I wrote recently called Forget the Parachute, Let Me Fly the Plane And, whether you’ve signed up to download the introduction or not, you can probably deduce that the book is about building a successful career.
March 9, 2007
“Youâ€™re running csh and my shell is bash,
Youâ€™re the tertiary storage; Iâ€™m the L1 cache.
Iâ€™m a web crawling spider; you an Internet mosquito;
You thought the 7-layer model referred to a burrito.”
And then I started looking around the RhymeTorrents site. And there are 7 albums of the stuff. I’ve spent most of this afternoon (when I should have been working) listening to songs like Beefy’s Internet Celebrity. And then I found out that this isn’t just one site – there’s a whole culture of nerdcore (detailed at the blog Hipster, Please. There’s even a tour going on right now (I’m incredibly jealous of those on the West Coast).
And all of this reminded me of something that an old friend wrote recently on the site of his newest project – an art gallery called 20 goto 10:
“after a while i started noticing a huge change in the hacking culture. everyone started getting jobs. all the 16 year olds seemed to have grown up and stopped sticking it to the man and soon became the man, or at least corporate schmuchs working for him. at least we didnt have a work dress code but even that started to fade. i realized that i was just sitting behind a desk, clicking away at nothing. i was a corporate nobody, and to some extent i still am. but im trying to change that.
i used to enjoy presenting at all the computer security and hacking conferences, but i recently became really fustrated with the fact that people would either present content that now only applied to the current security industry, or even if they had new and interesting ideas, then the audience, now made up of security professionals, didnt really care because it didnt apply to their job. all real creativity had been stomped out.”
It’s interesting that as an industry matures, those with a passion to create radical and really new things sometimes move on to other areas. Yet, it was that real nerdiness and ability to be creative that drove them to the industry in the first place.
I’m excited to see the nerdcore scene, and really excited to visit the 20 goto 10 shows next time I’m in San Francisco. It’s always exciting to see someone geeking out and creating new things with their passion, and doing, as Tom Peters calls it, “WOW! projects”.
Now, I’ve got to go back and listen to some more geek rap.
March 4, 2007
This is an assertion that I made in Forget The Parachute, Let Me Fly the Plane. In the world we live in, your resume is pretty much useless in the traditional way that we have always used the resume.
It seems I’m not the only one who thinks this. In her Fast Company blog, Jory Desjardins makes the point that resumes will become obsolete. From the article:
“When I was a college graduate in 1994… getting a job was a different proposition. Sure, it was still about whom you knew; in the end, that’s how I found my first “real” job. But I also sent out reams of resumes, attempting to convince people who didn’t know, care, or need me that my experience as Features Editor of my college paper meant that I was especially qualified to answer phones. Finding work that pertained to my limited background was besides the point, I thought. I’ll just take what I can get and work my way toward the ultimate job.”
This is the traditional way of using a resume, and, as Jory points out, the rise of job boards (like Monster and Craigslist have provided a wonderful market for sending out those reams of resumes. And, because of that, resumes have become almost useless for opening the door into a new job.
Anyone who has ever been a hiring manager with an unrestricted flow from the resumes sent in for a job they’re hiring for understands this after the first couple of days. When you post a job as a manager, hundreds or even thousands of resumes flood in to your inbox in the first few days. And, generally, it gets to the point where you can’t possibly read them all.
So, if you’re not sending a resume, how do you do it? (I could just stop here and say read my book) Really, it comes down to two skills, which are the opposite sides of the same coin:
1. Build a personal brand: as Jory says in the article, use social media, blogs, podcasts, industry groups, articles, etc. to get known.
2. Meet people who are looking for people like you and find alignment between their needs and yours. This is really the key that leads most people to say that networking is an important job skill. If you know enough people (and enough people know you), you’ll be top of mind when it’s time to hire someone.
This is how most “successful” (defined by me as “people who are doing what they want to do”) people are getting their best jobs.
March 3, 2007
That was a question asked by Anne in a recent post on Enthusiasm. In context, Anne stated:
“So it all comes down to this: how do you define a whore. I guess you define one as somebody who sells themselves more cheaply than youâ€™d be willing to sell yourself. And where you draw the line depends on the opportunities before you. So those that have tons of opportunities look at those that have only a few and think: â€œthey are whoring themselvesâ€ because theyâ€™d never sell themselves for so little.”
Obvious Anna Nicole Smith jokes aside, the actual post is really quite an interesting read, and speaks a lot about the difficulty bridging the gap between the monetary economy and the non-monetary one. And she really makes a simple point: there’s no easy answer to valuing what a single person is willing and able to contribute within a less structured economy.
And that got me to thinking about the way that the world is changing: we’re seeing disintermediation in all facets of the world these days. Bands (like my brother’s) are going straight to their customers through MySpace. People (like me) are selling their own books online. As the publishers and record industry becomes less and less important, I’m reminded of the old Marx concept that control in a society is related to who controls the means of production.
In that case, it seems to make sense that the act of selling oneself is really that of transferring control of your means of production and losing control. Which is what we’ve been doing for the past 100 years – selling our means of production (at a generally bargain price) to large corporations for “job security”. However, as we are able to more easily control the means of production, the necessity of “whoring” oneself to some entity (whether a boss, a publisher, a record company, etc.) decreases significantly.
Unfortunately, the disintermediation, as Anne points out, is causing a difficulty in valuing that sale. I recently went through that problem in trying to price Forget the Parachute. $27.95 was really a guess on what the market would bear, but I found e-books priced all the way from $4.95 to $97. And everyone I asked had a different thought on pricing – but, most interestingly, most of the advice I got came down somewhere above $40. And some of those people would undoubtedly think I’m selling myself for too little (i.e. Anne’s definition of a “whore”).
It’s an interesting problem: pricing oneself is a combination of what the market will bear against what you, yourself value your work as. While most people overestimate the first, we often significantly underestimate the second (because we’re experts in it). And, lacking the structure of intermediaries and “pimps” (the bosses, publishers, and record companies who would tell us how much to charge), pricing is one of the most difficult things in the new world of work.
March 2, 2007
No, not like that. Seriously, get your mind out of the gutter.
These guys have figured it out – just about everything I’ve ever wanted in an organizer is in that video. The only thing it doesn’t do is do the tasks and sit through the meetings for you.
I can’t think of much else to say other than wow. Except perhaps this:
“Hey Scrybe guys… please move me up the beta list?!? Please? Don’t make me beg. Seriously.”
March 1, 2007
I sometimes sit in meetings and play the amusing game of imagining that the two people who are going back and forth are actually speaking different languages. I hear one talking in swahili and the other in mandarin, and I envision whether or not they’re going to manage to make agreement just by watching expressions, body language and listening to tone.
It’s a fun game… you really should try it sometime, especially when in a meeting where there’s one person who just doesn’t seem to “get it“.
I was reminded of this game when I saw one of Michael’s posts recently, with this sage advice:
“Ask a user what their biggest security challenge is – and then explain it to them in a way they understand
…. During the conversation, ask them about a challenge they have at home with security (or at work). Let them explain it – donâ€™t jump in immediately with the solution. Ask some questions, pay attention and then offer to provide some insight, like this, â€œwould it be useful if I shared some of my experiences with you when I dealt with that?â€ – see, that sets you up to share – and not tell in a condescending way. Then take some time to find a common ground and language, and work to explain a possible solution to your colleague in their words. This is decidedly a challenge, but if you make a habit of this – youâ€™ll truly grow your abilities to explain how to protect information.”
This is brilliant advice, and something that we have a tendency to focus on far too rarely. We give people answers or solutions, but without taking the time to first understand their problems in their language. Because of that, we come out sounding like the ones who are speaking in Swahili.
Or, even worse, we come out sounding like Nick Burns, your Company Computer Guy. As a young sys admin, those SNL sketches were the best education I ever had for how to be a great computer professional. And, having met one or two IT pros who acted a little too much like that.