Development Central

Bill Sorensen's software development blog

Notes: Becoming an Outlier

Notes on a talk by Cory House (@housecor) at Iowa Code Camp.

Career Reboot for the Developer Mind

What would you do if money were not a concern?
Why aren't you doing that?
If you choose money over happiness, you're working to make money so that you can live and work doing something you dislike.

Job, career, or calling?

Get up every day excited about what you're going to do.
Work "with" a company rather than "for" them.
Do it because you're having fun!

How to be an outlier;
Spend your time consistently doing things that people care about.

We're all weird. Some people will always look at you with pity.

Step 1: Be Modal
40% of your day is habitual.
Takes 10,000 hours for expertise (of deliberate practice)
You under-use your free time.

Multithread your life.
Hack the commute. (Podcasts, audiobooks, etc.)
Work from home.
Take public transit.
Read or watch tech videos while doing cardio.
Listen to podcasts while doing yard work.

Rethink giving back.
Contribute to open source, pro bono development, Give Camp, etc.
(Rather than building a house, donate your most valuable skill.)

The Maker's Schedule
Managers live with regular meetings, interruptions, etc.
Developers need uninterrupted thought to get into Flow.

Alter your schedule - go in early, etc.
Don't even open your email for an hour.
Larger, less frequent meetings

Improve your Signal to Noise
The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.

Automate relentlessly.
Direct deposits, auto bill pays, reminders, etc.
RescueTime - software tool

Target media consumption.
Recognize what you're giving up by watching reality TV.
InfoQ, TekPub, Pluralsight, TED talks, DNRTV
Manicure your stream. Slow media is for the focused few.
The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.
Why waste your time on something you cannot control?
Focus on what you can influence.

The more you make per hour, the more time you can buy.
Use delegates. Hire someone to do the yardwork, etc.

Step 2: Manage Your Image
Pick Two - Neil Gaiman graduation speech on YouTube

Purpose built - how do you want people to look at you?
Self-image is your greatest constraint.
Can I see your body of work?
Do it in public - StackOverflow, GitHub, Twitter, blog, etc.
Your words are wasted if you're not blogging.
Measure: GoogleAlerts, TweetBeep, etc.
Shelved credentials - books attract alpha geeks and convey passion.

Step 3: Own Your Trajectory
(Of your career.)
What if every piece of your workday moved you toward independence?
(Example: Pluralsight)

Search for Scale

  1. Work
  2. Lead (talk about work)
  3. Own (products, frameworks, author)


Time = potential knowledge
Beware of becoming an assembly line coder.

Opportunity wedge
Life is characterized by closing horizons and lost opportunities.
You can extend this by enhancing your skills.

Don't work for money.  Work to learn.

Key to success: Learn to teach yourself more efficiently than any institution can.

Luck Surface Area - do what you're passionate about and communicate that to as many people as possible
Speaking, blogging, conferences, user groups, Tweet, never eat alone
Make the Hang - spend time with people you look up to
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. - Jim Rohn

Lean into Uncertainty
Find what scares you and run at it.
Speak at a conference.

You Don't Need Permission.

If it's work, we try to do less.
If it's art, we try to do more.

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