career

recent blog posts related to software careers, and career advice

The time a recruiter told me to “play dumb”

I was just reminded of the time a recruiter told me to “play dumb” when a particular person interviewed me, because that person didn’t like to be challenged, and had to feel like he was the smartest person in the room. I couldn’t bring myself to do that; I figured if that was the way it was going to be, I didn’t want to work there.

Career advice: Two sports quotes about work and talent

I realy like this quote from baseball pitcher Jason Marquis, talking about Tony LaRussa, Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals:

“One thing Tony (La Russa) always preached over there was execution and minimizing mental mistakes. You don’t have to have the most talented team to do that, and it doesn’t take the most talented team to win.”

In baseball and in work I think this is true. It’s similar to this quote from Mike Ditka:

“Effort without talent is a depressing situation....but talent without effort is a tragedy.”

Bruce Springsteen’s book, Born To Run

SI.com has a great quote from Bruce Springsteen’s book, Born To Run:

The band was part of a four-band showcase; one band would get the chance to move on and perhaps get a recording contract. The Jersey guys went third and thought they killed it. The fourth band, though not as energetic, was very good. Via “Born To Run:”

“They got the gig. We lost out. After the word came down, all the other guys were complaining we’d gotten ripped off. The guy running the joint didn’t know what he was doing, blah, blah, blah.”

That night, Springsteen reflected, sleeping on a couch in his transplanted parents’ home in the Bay Area. “My confidence was mildly shaken, and I had to make room for a rather unpleasant thought. We were not going to be the big dogs we were back in our little hometown. We were going to be one of the many very competent, very creative musical groups fighting over a very small bone. Reality check. I was good, very good, but maybe not quite as good or exceptional as I’d gotten used to people telling me, or as I thought … I was fast, but like the old gunslingers knew, there’s always somebody faster, and if you can do it better than me, you earn my respect and admiration, and you inspire me to work harder. I was not a natural genius. I would have to use every ounce of what was in me—my cunning, my musical skills, my showmanship, my intellect, my heart, my willingness—night after night, to push myself harder, to work with more intensity than the next guy just to survive untended in the world I lived in.”

Work ethic, income, advancement, and business ownership

Just saw this: “Never let your boss convince you that ‘work ethic’ is working extra hours for free. It’s the same as writing a check to the business owner.”

Technically that’s true, a good observation, and I can’t argue with it.

Conversely, when I got out of college, my wife’s grandfather told me the phrase, “If you do more for what you’re paid to do, you’ll eventually be paid more for what you do.” As an employee, I made a lot of money with his philosophy, rapidly doubling and tripling my income.

Later, as the owner of a small business, I didn’t mind it when employees didn’t work overtime – and we always paid for overtime. I respect people who want to work forty hours a week and have a balanced life. But I also knew that those people would never become partners in our business. I never thought of it as good or bad, just a fact of business life.