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Podcast Episode 17 – Going Independent

Going IndependentIn Episode 17, I talk about what it takes to go independent as a software developer. After taking a moment to give all of the provisos that I’m not an expert offering legal or financial advice, I spend this episode talking about what my journey has been like. How did I come up with a name? How did I find work? What about health insurance? What about rates? I cover all of that and more in this episode.

While this episode is certainly not exhaustive, I do try my best to talk about what I had to go through while becoming an independent developer. There are a lot of little things that I had to tackle that were unknown to me before I took the plunge. And the fear of that unknown kept me from moving forward for a long time. I hope that some of what I’ve shared in this episode will encourage anyone who is looking to start out on their own.

Links Mentioned in this Show:


Dublin Entrepreneurial Center

Michael Eaton’s Deep Fried Bytes Episode Announcement

John Sonmez’s Course

John on .Net Rocks! and on The Polymorphic Podcast

You can also subscribe to the podcast at any of these places:
iTunes Link RSS Feed Listen on Stitcher

In addition, my podcast is available on DoubleTwist, Swell, and the Windows Marketplace.

Thanks to all the people who listen, and a special thanks to those who have rated me. I really appreciate it.

Listen here:

Podcast Episode 11 – Ron Carter on Being a CIO

Ron CarterThis week’s podcast was pretty fun. I interviewed someone that I know very well, someone who has taught me more about business and the business of software than any other person, Mr. Ron Carter. Ron is a CIO of a healthcare services company and held many roles in the past: consultant with major firms, developer, DBA, and architect, among others.

Ron has a track record of successfully delivering product after product, across many verticals in both the public and private sectors, for a tech industry where the failure of large product projects has become a punchline. Needless to say, Ron has a wealth of experience to share and I’m excited to have him on the show.

We talk about what it takes to be a CIO of an organization. Looking forward as a career path, we cover the role of CIO and the skills and knowledge that developers would need to reach the role. Other topics include team building, building trust, advice for new CIOs, and remote work.

It was a great interview, definitely give it a listen!

Podcast Episode 09 – My Interview With Craig Schwartz

Craig SchwartzIn episode 9 of the Pete on Software Podcast, I interviewed Craig Schwartz. Craig is the owner and principal at Gecko Jones, a marketing and product management company whose main goal is helping your organization to reach the next level.

It was kind of interesting how I even got the interview. In Episode 6 of the podcast, I reviewed the Choose Yourself book by James Altucher. I tweeted out the podcast and James was kind enough to RT me. On that show, I put out a call for ideas or volunteers for interviews and Craig stepped up. That is the power of social media at work right there!

In the episode, I talk to Craig about product planning and marketing. We not only talk about how to know if you have a viable product and how to promote it, but we also talk about self-promotion and how to get along better with the “creatives” over in marketing.

If you haven’t already listened, check it out. It will definitely help you be a more well-rounded developer!

Decision by Procrastination

Decisions, DecisionsToo many times I see indecisive people put off making a determination because they are too scared to make the call. However, as the Rush song goes, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”. If you put off making a decision long enough, you end up with the status quo or the decision of least resistance.

I do know someone who uses that to their advantage and allows certain decisions to be delayed, knowing that they will ultimately not get made, and that the hare-brained plan will end up never taking off.

Don’t let that be you. Don’t live your life on the path of least resistance.

There is something to be said for making sure you have enough information to judge wisely, but more often than not indecision is about fear. Consider the data, think about the options and tradeoffs, include your experience and the experience of those on your team, and “shoot the three”.

Programming is Not a Zero Sum Game

Zero Sum GameSimply put, a Zero Sum Game is a situation where in order for one person to win, another person has to lose. Or, in order for someone to gain something, someone has to lose that thing. Think about poker. In order for you to increase your chips, you have to win them from the other players, decreasing their earnings. At the tournament level, the game ends when one player has everything and everyone else has nothing.

It seems that a lot of people try to treat programming/technology like that. I know the counter argument to that is that I’m blind and crazy. Haven’t I seen blogs and been to conferences and user groups? People are sharing knowledge all of the time. That is true and that is great. Unfortunately, those people aren’t even close to the majority of developers. The majority are the Dark Matter Developers, and they are what is out there*. Additionally, this kind of selfish behavior I’m describing has shown itself to be human nature in all areas of the workplace.

No matter what the industry, people are often reluctant to share knowledge with others. Sometimes they are afraid that if someone else knows how to do “their thing”, that they will be easily replaced by someone else – probably someone else making less. The key is that if you can be replaced over one or two things, you have larger issues. If someone else knows how to do the thing that you are holding on to, that frees you up to learn something else and grow your skills and your worth to the organization. If nothing else, the act of teaching something to another person will build your own “instruction skill”. Being willing to always teach others also makes you more valuable to your employer because it shows that you are a team player.

Besides job insecurities, another thing that will keep developers from sharing their knowledge is that they like being the only one to know things. I’ve met several people that fit this bill and I’m ashamed to admit that 15 years ago, I fit this bill. This one is pure ego and sadly, our community is known for some very big egos. If you are holding on to knowledge because you like being the keeper of that knowledge, you need to let that go.

When you were first learning, someone had to teach you. Even if you were “self taught”, you most likely read manuals/documentation, books, blog posts, Stack Overflow, attended conferences, user groups, etc. Most people did not gain their entire technology education by hacking around and figuring out 100% of things for themselves and never learning from anyone. I would wager money that if such a person existed, their code would be full of bugs, security holes, and performance issues because they’ve never learned what hundreds of thousands of “thought hours” have worked through.

If you learned from someone, teach someone else. Pay it forward. Pass it on. Give back. Mentor someone. Whatever you need to hear to get you motivated, hear it and act. Helping others ultimately helps you. If you’ll allow me one last cliche, “a rising tide lifts all boats”.

* Incidentally, I realize that this post may very well be preaching to the choir, since these Dark Matter Developers would probably not be reading this. My hope is that this post can be instructive, or at least serve as a reminder as you are out in the world to help recognize your own bias as well as the biases of those around you.

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