Who Am I?

Exercise 1, Part 1 from Seth Godin’s Udemy course for freelancers.

It was a long time after I founded my company before I began to understand the difference between entreprenuer and freelancer, thanks to Seth Godin. This year I have embraced the latter with much success and recently decided to check out Seth Godin’s Udemy course for freelancers to help me crytallize some ideas I have been tossing around the last few months. Boom, here is assignment 1!

What do I want to do? (now, tomorrow, and in the future)

When I first started this journey I obsessed about building a product. This is what entreprenuers are supposed to do right? For a while I even thought I knew what it was. But for every idea I had, for every idea I was given, for every idea I heard or brainstormed with someone else I couldn’t find my passion. There were so many fantastic ideas, they all need to exist, and I kind of want to build them all equally. Which also means I really don’t want to build any of them at all.

During that time my ambivalence towards technology was becoming a strength in my freelancing work. I enjoyed all projects equally; no matter if they were cool or fun or boring or lame or hard or easy. I found that the best part of my day was connecting with fellow technologists, mostly other employees at my client sites or virtually, and working together to solve problems. I enjoyed the connection and the continual learning and the value creation much more than the particular technology stack or relative importance of the project I was asked to take care of. I was happy to chop onions or do dishes, just so I could be in the kitchen.

And so through freelancing I have found my true passion. What do I want to do? I want to cook in the kitchen, everyday. A sort of technology kitchen let’s call it (although I am also in love with real kitchens and real cooking), and more important than what I cook is who I cook with. I want to connect and share my experience and experiment with people who have never cooked before. I want to recreate the magic of a thriving kitchen with raw ingredients coming in and culinary delights coming out in service of hungry patrons.

Who do I want to change, and how so?

In my opinion the onramp to the techology sector is broken. Paul Singh said it best. While the barrier to technology seems really low it is actually quite high for folks coming from decade long careers in other industries. Not everyone has the time and money to go back to school and not everyone has what it takes to teach themselves to code on their own. We need a better onramp.

Everyone who is willing to work hard and wants to learn is welcome in my kitchen. There I hope to change a lot of people’s minds about the best way to deliver technology.

  • Lack of talent is not the problem on most technology teams. In fact most technology teams are staffed with too much talent, even the poorly performing teams. After spending years helping technology projects move faster I know that we need to strive for less technology and more communication.

  • We need more leaders in technology. So many of the teams I work with suffer from a lack of leadership. How could they not? Sitting in a cubicle coding for 10 hours a day, 12 years straight didn’t teach me any Navy Seal esque leadership principals. When I was finally promoted into my first leadership position I failed miserably and started learning the hard way. Now it is a priority for me.

  • Not everyone needs to be a coder. There are many roles vital to the success of technology projects. Organization, empathy, listening, analytic thinking, hacking, butter fingers; almost every human trait can be brought to bear within a technology team.

  • The ability to learn is more important than what you know today. Technology is moving at such a rapid pace that knowledge is becoming a commodity and the ability to learn and grow is becoming invaluable.

I want to change my clients to help them see they don’t need to expect to pay top dollar for hired guns. They can expect to pay reasonable rates for exceptional service. I have seen technology teams staffed with top notch talent fail miserably (you probably have too). So then why can’t we fail with a team of tech newbies? In fact I think we could do much better than that.

I want to change my inexperienced teammates so that they embrace a culture of continuous learning and come to understand that they have the ability to create value on a real project tomorrow.

I want to help my experienced teammates to let go of their preconceived notions of how technology has to be and start using their skills to poke the box.

And ultimately I hope to make a dent in the technology onramp (or maybe not a dent, but rather a patch) so that more folks can find a way to transition into the tech sector from other industries.

I am offering my time to talk on the phone and brainstorm about ways to improve the technology onramp as well as offer career advice for those seeking to get into the technology sector. If you are interested in chatting please schedule an appointment here or check out the next post in this series.