If you have to make yourself a New Year’s resolution, resolve to be a Passionate Programmer (or a passionate whatever-you-are). Chad Fowler wrote a delightful book, The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development. What Chad doesn’t realize is that you don’t have to be a programmer to read this book. You can have any role in software and benefit from reading this book.
The book is organized into 5 parts:
- Choosing Your Market
- Investing in Your Product
- Marketing…Not Just for Suits
- Maintaining Your Edge
Chad has 8-13 lessons/guidelines/suggestions in each part. Some of my favorites are:
From Choosing Your Market: “Coding Don’t Cut It Anymore”, Fowler says you should learn the business domain of your product. I also liked “Be a Generalist” and “Be a Specialist” in this section. Why both? Because you need to know how things work outside your (small) job label to be really effective. And, you need to know specialized content to be great at a job. Luckily, Chad has “Act on it!” sections to help you see what to do.
In “Investing…”, the lesson I liked best was “On the Shoulders of Giants”. If you read existing code (or tests or project plans or requirements), what insights do you gain?
In “Executing” the lesson I liked best was “Say “No””. Chad has all kinds of reasons about why and how we need to say no at work. My favorite quote:
“If someone always says “yes,” they’re either incredibly talented or lying. The latter is usually the case.”
In the Marketing section, there’s a lesson called “Build Your Brand,” where Chad describes how to think about your brand (your name) and which types of projects to affiliate yourself with.
In the Maintaining section, the lesson I liked best is “Avoid Waterfall Career Planning.” As Chad says, your career is the most complex project you’ll ever have to manage. Careers are not linear. If you look at successful people, they took advantage of opportunities. (This is why I hate the interview question, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?”)
Do yourself a favor and buy this book. (Yes, your manager should do this kind of career development with you, but most managers don’t know how to do it themselves, never mind for someone else.) On the Prag site, you can get the book in hard and a variety of softcopy formats. On Amazon, just hardcopy.
If you’re looking for a job, check out my review of Andy Lester’s Land the Tech Job You Love.