In his book “Talent is Never Enough,” author John C. Maxwell explains how talent will only take you so far. The world is full of talented people, but talent alone will never guarantee you success. To increase your chance of success, you have to do more than just rely on talent.
Look at all those talented professional athletes who try to coast by on their talent, and then wonder why less talented athletes perform better. Less talented athletes simply outwork and out practice and mentally prepare more talented athletes until they become more talented through hard work and dedication.
As a programmer, many people think the way to success is to gain further programming skills. That’s like a plumber learning better techniques. It’s always nice to have better skills, but better programming skills just makes you more talented. What you really need are skills outside programming.
Programmers should cultivate additional skills beyond just programming. Unless you absolutely love programming, develop additional skills such as writing, teaching (public speaking), art, business management, etc. The reason to develop more than just additional programming skills is so you’ll be more valuable than just another programmer.
Who’s more valuable? Someone who knows five different programming languages or someone who knows three different programming languages but also knows how to establish relationships with customers, close deals with clients, write sales copy to sell software, or manage projects?
The more versatile you are beyond the field of programming, the more opportunities you’ll have and the greater the chances you’ll be more than just a programmer. There’s nothing wrong with just being a programmer, but if you feel limited by your current situation, it’s time to develop new skills so you can continue growing. Learning more programming skills will just keep you exactly where you are today. Learning non-programming skills expands your talent so you have a choice of either staying as a programmer or moving beyond as a manager, sales person, or teacher.
Everyone has talent, You want greater opportunities and to get that, you need more than just additional skills to bolster the current talent you already have.
Talent is nice, but hard work and focus always beats raw talent. Don’t rely on talent to get you ahead in life. Rely on yourself by constantly learning, constantly helping others, and constantly developing relationships with others who can help you.
The more people you help, the more likely more people will want to help you.
Don’t let yourself be pigeon holed in a situation you no longer enjoy. Take responsibility now to give yourself access to new opportunities by developing new skills beyond your natural talent. Remember, talent will only take you so far. Persistence and dedication will take you the rest of the way.
Posted in Productivity
The tendency of most programmers, engineers, and tech-savvy people is to depend on technology and their knowledge of technology. While knowledge and skill is crucial, it’s not complete.
Consider two people applying for the same job. One is highly qualified while the other is less qualified. However, the less qualified applicant is more sociable, likable, and outgoing. Guess who’s likely to get the job?
It’s never talent and knowledge alone that gets you ahead in the world. It’s a combination of your talent and knowledge combined with your ability to influence people. That means knowing how to present yourself to others, which is often something tech-savvy people are not always comfortable doing.
What’s the solution? Rather than going through a massive personality change, consider just making small changes in your life.
In the book “The Small Big,” the authors make the point that when applying for a job, you can make a subtle difference in how you present yourself to an interview by simply writing down your memories of times when you felt powerful. Studies showed that when people did this, they conducted themselves in a stronger, more powerful manner than people who did not remember times when they felt powerful.
The result was that people who felt powerful and remembered these events in the past statistically were rated higher by job interviewers than people who simply tried to present their qualifications and hoped for the best.
Your qualifications can get you in the door for an interview, but it’s up to your personality to get you the rest of the way. If you’re an introvert, just try this simple experiment of remembering and writing down your thoughts from the past when you felt powerful. That alone can trigger subtle changes in your mood and body posture that can literally make all the difference in the world.
Posted in Productivity
Many people compare the capabilities of different computers based on their technical specifications. However, it’s probably better to compare computers based on the average amount of time spent using them.
For a typical desktop or laptop computer, people can spend hours working on them. For tablets, mobility is far more important so people often spend much less time working on a tablet than working on a laptop. Where laptop usage can be measured in hours per session, tablet usage is more geared towards minutes per session.
Smartphone usage is similar to tablet usage where tasks typically get completed within minutes, not hours. Most people glance at the weather, maps, or stock reports on a smartphone and put it away a minute or so later. You may browse the Internet or read an e-book, but it’s usually not for hours at a time.
Smart watches are geared for even less time, measured in seconds such as making a payment with an Apple Watch, opening a locked hotel room door, or glancing at a text message. You probably wouldn’t want to compose a letter on an Apple Watch but you could write a quick e-mail message on an iPhone or iPad. If you need to write a detailed legal document, you’ll probably want the convenience of a larger screen and keyboard with a desktop or laptop computer.
By differentiating products by the typical amount of time needed to use them, you can see how each type of product can solve unique problems that will be clumsier with other types of products. Laptops may be convenient to carry, but you’ll rarely carry a laptop with you at all times just to look at weather forecasts or driving conditions. For such short interactions, smartphones are better. For even shorter interactions, smart watches are better still.
Restaurants can save time by handing patrons a menu on an iPad that transmits their order directly to the kitchen, faster and more accurately than having a person take someone’s order and carry it back to the kitchen. Lugging around a bulky laptop (or netbook) wouldn’t be as convenient.
So don’t look at the technical capabilities of different products and automatically conclude they must be useless because they don’t exactly duplicate the technical features of an existing product. Look at how each product’s time element of interaction can be perfectly suited for solving certain tasks while also being horrible at solving other types of tasks. Opening a locked car with an Apple Watch is fast and simple, but opening that same car door with a laptop is clumsy. The technical capabilities matter less than the time element of the problem they’re trying to solve.
The future of computers is mobile and wearable products. They’ll only continue gaining in capabilities so if you want to stay part of the future, look for the unique ways that mobile and wearable computers can solve problems that desktops and laptops can never do. If you don’t want to be part of the future, just continue to insist that a Windows PC represents the pinnacle of technological progress that can never be surpassed for the rest of eternity.
Posted in iOS, Productivity
One huge problem with education is that it often kills enthusiasm for learning. With fields like math, schools often teach students complicated math principles without explaining what these math equations even do. Students are forced into learning mind-numbing math equations without ever knowing why they’re learning them in the first place.
To fix this problem, read The Tao of Statistics, which teaches statistics without displaying a single mathematical equation anywhere in its pages. Instead of bombarding users with cryptic equations and expecting students to magically understand the significance, The Tao of Statistics uses ordinary words with a Zen-like attitude to explain what statistics even does.
For example, statistics isn’t about collecting and analyzing data but answering questions such as how many people own a smartphone in Dallas or how many cars in Paris are more than two years old. Once you know what question you’re trying to answer, then you can go out and collect data to deduce an answer.
Ideally, you’d want to collect all the data you need to determine an answer, but collecting all the data on how many people own smartphones in Dallas can be time-consuming. To save time, statistics collects a much smaller collection of data known as a sample. The larger the sample, the more accurate the conclusions you can make on that data, but ultimately statistics is nothing more than the art of intelligent guessing.
The more data you have, the better your guesses will be, but statistics can never be certain of anything. Statistics simply suggests probabilities that something is true. All those fancy mathematical equations are nothing more than ways to analyze numerical data such as how many people own cars in Paris that are more than two years old.
When you understand the rationale behind statistics, then you can worry about manipulating mathematical equations. Until you fully understand what you’re trying to do with statistics, knowing how to manipulate mathematical equations is simply a hindrance to learning and understanding. Knowing how to manipulate mathematical equations doesn’t always mean you know how to use those mathematical equations correctly.
Strip away the details and learning any topic can be fascinating and enlightening. Bury even the most interesting topic with jargon and even pornography can seem tedious, dull, and completely uninteresting.
The real problem with learning isn’t buying more technological gadgets like ChromeBooks or iPads and shoving them in the hands of reluctant teachers and bored students. Schools need to teach topics with true understanding and worry about the details of that topic later. Instead, schools focus on teaching the details first and often ignore the meaning altogether. The result is bored students who can parrot their way past tests and homework but who graduate with no clear understanding how to use the skills they supposedly learned in the first place.
The problem of education isn’t a technological problem, so there can never be a technological solution. Likewise, the problem of education is never a monetary problem so increasing budgets and throwing more money into the educational system is never the answer either. Schools need to teach understanding first and details later. Only then can people truly see the excitement of learning and realize that anyone can learn anything with the proper motivation and teaching methods.
Posted in Productivity
One reason why so many people willingly dig themselves deeply in debt to get a college degree is because they hope a college degree will give them greater income and opportunities in the future. The problem with this logic is that it assumes that college somehow turns out more valuable people than someone who doesn’t go to college, which isn’t always true.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, reportedly refuses to promote or work with people who haven’t been to college or who attended colleges she personally doesn’t respect. Business Insider reports “Even though the actress Gwyneth Paltrow had created a best-selling cookbook and popular lifestyle blog, Mayer, who habitually asked deputies where they attended college, balked at hiring her as a contributing editor for Yahoo Food. According to one executive, Mayer disapproved of the fact that Paltrow did not graduate college.”
Such thinking shows both the value of a college degree and the stupidity of people who use a college degree as the sole metric for determining a person’s worth. Walk on any college campus and you’ll find plenty of idiots, many of whom are even college professors with Ph.D’s. A college degree simply shows what someone has done in the past, but doesn’t show what that same person can do in the present and the future.
To judge someone solely on what college they attended decades ago is like granting a $40 million dollar NBA contract to someone who once made five half court shots in a row when they were in high school. That person may have done something admirable in the past, but that doesn’t automatically mean that person can be useful or even competent in the present or the future.
Unimaginative people use college degrees as a way to measure someone’s value because they lack the intelligence to use real measurements of a person’s worth. What matters isn’t what someone did years ago and what college they did it in, but what they can do now. In other words, you want to look for actions and results, not the past as your criteria for judging anyone or anything.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates dropped out of college along with Mark Zuckerberg who developed Facebook. So according to Marissa Mayer, she wouldn’t hire these people in favor of someone who just attended a college she respects. That type of thinking right there tells you the future of Yahoo under her misguided leadership.
Bill Gates, who built up Microsoft, never graduated from college. Steve Ballmer (who did graduate from college), helped bring Microsoft down. Who was the more valuable person? According to Marissa Mayer’s criteria, Steve Ballmer was the better CEO since he graduated from Harvard and Bill Gates did not.
This illogical obsession with college degrees blinds people to the real purpose of a college degree, which is to give someone the necessary skills and knowledge to produce useful results. Ultimately, if you can’t produce useful results, it doesn’t matter how much education or college degrees you have. Just visit any homeless shelter and you’ll find plenty of homeless people doing nothing with their college degrees. Maybe Marissa Mayer can hire them to do nothing at Yahoo just as long as they went to a college she respects.
The technology world isn’t any different. Products should produce useful results regardless of which company makes it or whether that product was once the best in the past. Back in the 90’s, few people would argue that Windows was the best option for most people. Nowadays, Windows is no longer the only valid option with Linux, OS X, Android, and iOS available. What matters less is the operating system you use and what matters more is how easy it can be to produce a useful result.
The Tianhe-2 may be the most powerful supercomputer in the world but an Xbox is better if you just want to play multiplayer games, despite the far lower technological features that an Xbox offers compared to a supercomputer. Based on technical features alone, the supercomputer should be the superior gaming machine despite the fact that it won’t let you play the same sophisticated multiplayer games as an Xbox. Judging products solely on technical features is just as foolish as judging people solely on the college they attended.
People who don’t want to think readily grasp simplistic ways to measure the superiority of anything whether it’s based on the sheer number of technical features or the college degree someone earned. Thinking takes effort, which means looking for results in the present and the future, not for irrelevant accomplishments in the past. When people can stop using the past to measure the present, progress can finally move forward for everyone.
Posted in Productivity
With so many CEOs giving themselves massive raises and laying people off to boost their own stock bonus, the only true security you’ll ever have is to go into business for yourself.
Now the truth is that you’re already in business for yourself, even if you’re working in a job because you’re selling your services to an employer. However, there’s no security in working for any company so you can’t depend on a single source of income to survive. Taht’s why you need multiple sources of income, no matter how small they may be.
When most people think of going into business for themselves, they think of massive capital outlays, physical buildings, and a full-time commitment that means quitting their current job. Not surprisingly, that thought scares most people into sticking with their current job and living lives of slow misery until they get laid off when the CEO wants another stock bonus at the workers’ expense.
The best business to start is one that involves using your specialized expertise, allows you to get started with little cost, and allows you to start it on a part-time basis. In most cases, the best business that fits all these criteria is mail-order, or in today’s world, Internet marketing. To learn more about both getting the right attitude to starting your own business and learning the specific details of mail-order or Internet marketing, read “The Millionaire Dropout.”
The basic idea behind mail-order or Internet marketing is that you can do it from your home, it won’t cost you much to get started, and you can sell to customers all over the world. With the Internet in particular, you can sell digital products that you can deliver so there’s no cost of inventory, storage, shipping, or breakable items. The Internet has opened up huge opportunities for everyone to start their own business from the comfort of their own home.
The huge advantage of digital products like e-books, videos, and software is that once you create it, you can endlessly duplicate it at no extra cost. There’s no storage or shipping costs and customers can receive your product instantly to provide immediate gratification.
If you’re truly sick of watching CEOs ransack companies for themselves while giving the workers nothing but insecurity and cutbacks, you need to go into business for yourself. If you’re a technical person, creating digital products like software or e-books will be far easier than for the non-technical person, but anyone can do it.
So here’s your choice. You can either complain and moan about the unfairness of life, or you can start your own digital business and do something about it. There’s no guarantee that you’ll succeed, but if you stay where you are, there’s a certainty that you’ll always feel insecure and trapped.
So make the decision to start your own business today. For the simplest method, start by selling digital products over the Internet by reading “The Millionaire Dropout.” You may be surprised at how taking your fate in your own hands can make you feel far more secure than clinging to a paycheck in a job you can’t stand every week.
Posted in Productivity
At the Consumer Electronics Show, Ryan Bidan, director of product marketing for Samsung’s US mobile business, said that Samsung is “becoming a little more cautious about integrating unproven technologies in devices…What we want to make sure is not only does it have a useful purpose, but does it have a good consumer experience that goes along with that. When it makes sense, we’ll integrate it, but we’re not going to rush and do something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for products.”
In other words, rather than cram every new feature into a device and claim that their products are superior by virtue of offering more features that aren’t always useful or even workable, Samsung wants to focus on creating a better consumer experience. Samsung has basically discovered the problem with layering on more technology without thinking of how it can be useful to the consumer, and that’s the biggest Geek trap of all.
We all know that the geeks are the ones who create and build things. Where most geeks fail is that they fall in love with technology for its own sake and then can’t understand why nobody else loves playing with technology as much as they do. Consumers don’t want features; they want the results that those features can offer them to make their lives easier or more enjoyable. Nobody cares if one product has a processor that contains four cores over one that contains six cores. People care about what that difference will mean to them.
Too often, geeks measure superiority by the quantity and quality of the features offered. The more advanced the features (quality) and the more features offered (quantity), then the more superior that product is, even if it doesn’t work, is hard to use, and isn’t very useful. When geeks see a simpler product that costs more but is easier to use, they often attack that product as inferior despite the fact that it may be easier for others to use than the feature-ladened, technological Frankenstein that they think everyone should be using instead. If some geeks had it their way, everyone would still be typing commands on punch cards to program a computer every time they wanted to use one.
Geeks love playing with complexity so they believe everyone should be forced to deal with as many layers of complexity as possible. They reason that since they enjoy complexity, everyone else just needs to take ten hours everyday to master that same level of complexity as well. The goal of most geeks isn’t to create useful results, but to play with more complexity.
For most people, the more results they can get from a product while devoting as little time as possible using it, the better. The more time a product takes to learn and use, the less time you’ll have to do anything useful. That’s a concept that geeks often fail to understand. Geeks create products for other geeks when they should really be creating products for non-geeks.
In sports, athletes often cross-train by training in ways that may not seem obvious to their own sport. Tiger Woods reportedly was one of the first golfers to start lifting weights. Arm strength and stamina is crucial in golf, yet far too many golfers simply practiced their swing and ignored developing their upper body strength.
Geeks need to cross-train in other fields as well, preferably outside of their beloved technological fields. A geek with an MBA is far more valuable than a geek with just a bachelor’s degree in engineering. That’s because a geek with an MBA can understand how technology works and make intelligent business decisions to profit from it. Most geeks with just technological expertise fail to find a business use for their knowledge. As a result, they create useless products that serve no other purpose other than to keep other geeks happy.
The goal of all geeks should never be to focus solely on technology but to always focus on how technology can be used by non-geeks. When you read stories about engineers developing inexpensive and easy to maintain solar devices for use in Third World countries, that’s a proper use of technology. When you read about another technological product that’s too hard to use, too complicated to understand, and too difficult to produce any useful results, that’s the typical failure that comes from an obsession with technology at the expense of practical purposes.
The main reason why geeks get treated as second-class citizens in many companies is because the geeks put themselves there by isolating themselves in their technology enclaves. Geeks have the power to control the world, but all that power is useless if they don’t now how to use their knowledge to benefit others. Morons with a business degree can graduate from college and move right into a managerial position in a company, bossing geeks around, just because that person is focused on creating products to sell to others. Ultimately, all technology needs to benefit non-geeks. If you’re not working to not only satisfy, but delight non-geeks, all your technological knowledge is going to waste.
So make sure you don’t fall into the geek trap of living your world as if technology and other geeks were all that matters. That type of thinking will guarantee you get pigeon holed in a corner and overlooked by everyone. You need to master technology and then master the outside world that doesn’t embrace complexity. As a geek, your job is to solve problems and then make it easy for non-geeks to solve problems too. You’re not building products for yourself but for others who may not care (or may not be smart enough) to understand the technology that you love so much.
That’s okay. Everyone has skills that other people don’t understand. Your job is to take your skills and apply them so others can benefit from them. Strive for results and simplicity. If you can do that, you’ll go much further because you can actually help others with your knowledge instead of dwelling on your knowledge with others who think like you do.
There’s a whole wide world out there ready to be conquered. If you can handle the complexities of chemistry, physics, and math, you should have little trouble handling the rest of the world. You just have to realize that knowledge is only useful when it can be applied to solve problems for non-geeks. When you grasp this concept, they’ll be no stopping you from excelling in the rest of your life.
Posted in Productivity