Musings on Career Improvement: Switching Jobs

This isn’t so much a programming post or even a post on how to make yourself better.  It’s a post musing about switching jobs and how people look at switching jobs.  The idea that you’ll stay with one company for your entire career is an idealism best left in the 1950s since it in no way matches how business is done today. It’s now up to you to guide your career. A career is a succession of jobs that move you toward a goal. In some cases, it might only take two jobs to make someone happy or feel that they’ve reached where they want to be. For others, it could be various jobs with multiple companies or a few jobs with one company and then a few more jobs with another one still. Point being, you can’t count on a company to be your career.

Book Review: How to Light Up A Room

After reading the not-so-hot Who Moved My Cheese?, I picked a book on how to be more charismatic.  I feel I’m a very good socializer and communicator, but at the same time, I also know I can become introverted. So, any book that can provide a tip or a hint is a good thing in my opinion.  There are a few things that this book really has going for it.  First, it’s cheap, at $2.99, it’s hard to really go wrong.  Secondly, it’s short.  I read the entire book in under a few hours.  However, don’t let the fact it’s short put you off.  A short book can be bad or it can be great when it’s to the point.  And that is the third thing I like about the book, it’s to the point.  No building up, just all the information you need to know and none that you don’t.

Now with the introduction, let’s get to the meat of the review — which I’ll keep short and sweet — much like the book itself.  It contains a very small introduction about the 55 tips discussed inside of the book and then jumps right into the tips which are split into six different categories but fall into two major ideas: being upbeat and interacting with people.  Each tip is a simple sentence with a paragraph or two of explanation of how to use the tip in day-to-day interactions.

Chances are you’ll blow through this book in one sitting and to me that is fine.  It saves me from having to read all the other books about building charisma since this book has already summarized the majority of these books.  For the $2.99 that it costs from Amazon.com (or free rental if you have a Kindle device), it’s well worth it.

Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese?

As I’ve been thinking about my career I realize I have seriously neglected the business side for many years.  As part of my quest to learn more about the business side I’ve been finding lists of the supposedly best business books, adding them to my Amazon wish list, finding them at Half Price Books and buying them there, and then reading them.  I know my brother has been doing the same thing and I know if both of us are doing it, there are many other people who are as well.  This is what has gotten me to write a review about the books I’m reading in my copious amounts of free time (haha).  Anyway, this wonderful little ditty Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. has quite a following both good and bad.  Amazon’s rating (3.3 / 5) seem to show it’s split right down the middle. Some people have said it has changed their life and others view it as trite simplistic mush not even worthy of a first grader.  And, spoiler alert, I fall into the latter camp — I’m not a fan of the book.  I’m glad I got it at HPB for $4.99 cause at it’s $19.95 MSRP it’s a complete rip-off and even at $4.99 I was a little ticked off.  I will give Dr. Johnson props for making a boat load of money off this book of common sense.

I won’t bore you with the fable, but just know it involves Sniff, Scurry, Hem, and Haw as the characters and THE MAZE as the place they live and find Cheese.  If you have just a little bit of imagination you’ll know right away that

  • All four characters find cheese
  • When the cheese disappears Sniff and Scurry leave right away and don’t complain
  • Hem and Haw stick around complaining (obviously) until one realizes they need to be like S&S and find new Cheese in the scary maze
  • Eventually the other one decides to venture out from the original Cheese station and finds everyone else happy

Throw in some nice banal quotes about Cheese (metaphor for money or happiness) and you’ve got a best selling business book.  I’ll save you the money and give some real advice:

  • Things change, get over it
  • No use in crying over the change
  • Be sensitive to changes in the workplace, note what they are and start making plans
  • Always be looking for the next big opportunity
  • Leave on your timeline, not the business’ timeline for you
  • Spend the $5 it’d cost you for this book at HPB on a beer and the $20 it’d cost you for the full thing on a decent meal.  It’d be money better spent.

2012 Goals

Yeah, so it might be a little late to write about my goals for 2012 but what the heck?  I’ll write about them anyway, not so much for anyone else but for myself to make sure I stay honest about them.  As I wrote in my last post about New Year’s Resolutions/Goals, I felt overall I did a really good job hitting the majority of my goals for the previous year, however, I still didn’t hit them all and others I completely missed / forgot about.  So, it’s time to re-evaluate and create a list of short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.

Short-term goals are goals I feel that should be completed within three months.  These would be goals such as: start eating healthier, begin to jog twice a week, or something of that nature.  A goal to break a bad habit or get started doing something new.  These, can then morph into mid-term and long-term goals such as continue eating healthy, etc.  A mid-term goal is a goal that will take six months to a year to complete.  I envision these goals to take the form of: pay off X% of a loan, save $Y, take part in a marathon.  Each month though, I might be able to move a mid-term goal to a short-term goal.  Finally, a long-term goal is something that is going to be just that.  Something that I can’t finish within the year (or even years).  These will be things like: Pay off my house payment X years early, finish paying off my car in Y years, or continue on an exercise routine and a healthy lifestyle.  And much like the mid-term goals, these could be moved as they get closer to completion.

The main goals I’ll talk about here are non-finance related ones, since I’m sure other sites explain how to handle them better and besides they’re always the same: get out of debt, save more money, etc.  And without further ado, here are my goals…

  1. Participate in Tough Mudder / get in better shape (long-term)
  2. Continue learning to play the guitar (long-term)
  3. Propose my PhD topic (short-term)
  4. Learn another programming language and brush up on some old ones (short-term / mid-term)
  5. Finish painting the rooms in my house (mid-term)
  6. Remove the children’s playset from my backyard (long-term)
  7. Brew my own beer and make it good (short-term — get one made, long-term — do it often)

If you’ve kept up with my blog, you’ll see that I’ve already started on a few of these goals such as #1 and #7, but I figure a gut check at the end of this month will really help me decide where exactly I am in each of these goals.

I’m not dead (nor is this website), I’m just extremely busy!

School, work and life sure have a way of making life crazy for you. I’m hoping to get to the point where I can update everything on my site from random thoughts that have been bouncing around my head to talking about the new workout routine which I haven’t had a chance to get off the ground — and if I’m feeling saucy, my PhD work.

Once I get my PhD proposal done and accepted, I’m hoping life can slow down just a shade so I can catch my breath, then push on through to the end when I find out if the light at the end of the tunnel is a train or daylight.

Those random fortune cookie fortunes…

I love Szechuan-style Chinese food and there is this great place not too far from my home that has some of the best I’ve had in the Austin area.  However, that is beside the point, the point of this post is to talk about those not-so-Chinese fortune cookies with the supposed fortunes in them.  I’ve taken to keeping the ones that just seem really funny for some reason or another.  Or for some reason I make a connection with the saying because of something happening in my life.  It’s funny how we create connections between two or more completely unrelated events.

Some of the favorite “fortunes” I’ve gotten:

  • Be prepared to accept a wondrous opportunity in the days ahead! — this happened a few days before I accepted a position at the company I am now employed by.
  • Give a hug to someone who needs one more than you. — I just like the philosophy of this one.  The whole Golden Rule bit.
  • Good things are being said about you — A follow on to the previous one, I’m sure.
  • Your blessing is no more than being safe and sound for the whole lifetime. — Very Zen
  • Don’t be discourage, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward — a good life lesson
  • An alien of some sort will be appearing to you shortly! — not really a fortune or a saying or anything, just random.

Yeah, this post was pointless and rather meandering, but it is the journey; not the destination that matters. 🙂