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VMUG Usercon 2022 - Condensed Speaker Notes

Last updated Sep 19, 2022 Edit Source

# VMUG Usercon 2022 - Condensed Speaker Notes

# Intro

# John

Welcome everyone to Five Lessons Learned from Career Stories on the Nerd Journey Podcast! I’m John White, Google Cloud Customer Engineer, @vJourneyman on twitter.

# Nick

And I’m Nick Korte, a VMware Staff Solution Engineer, @NetworkNerd_ on Twitter.

# John

We’re giving links to both our main podcast site as well as a secondary site where we host more thoroughly linked copies of our show notes, speaker notes for conferences (including this one), and all our sources. We won’t have time to cite them all during this short session, but we encourage you to go to, and see where we got this information.

# Who are we?

# John

We’ve been releasing the Nerd Journey Podcast weekly for the past four years.

# Nick

That’s just about 200 total episodes across 55 guests.

# John

We’ve been looking for the career advice we wish we’d been given, earlier in our careers.

# Nick

Ultimately, we’re just two nerds on a journey.

# John

A journey to career enlightenment.

# Nick

So let’s take a trip!

# Agenda

# Listen to our guests!

# 2 minutes

# John

# Choosing a Management Career

Often times, people are thinking about taking the next step in their careers and they look toward becoming a manager. Here’s a couple things to consider.

# Managers do different work than the teams they manage

Managers of teams have a job that is almost completely different from the teams they manage, requiring very different skills. Their major tasks involve resource management, performance management, hiring, firing, and acting as an interface between their team and upstream management.

When considering a career change from individual contributor to people management, consider whether you’d be happy no longer doing what you’re doing now, and doing something extremely different.

# Characteristics of Good Managers

Managers have different job functions than individual contributors, but the job isn’t just about the functions. It’s also about the team. Our guests described a number of important characteristics they’d observed in good managers.

Caring for the individuals, both personal and professional wellbeing and connection.

Coaching rather than directing

Understanding individual team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals

So Nick, what if that’s not what I want to do?

# Alternatives to a Management Career

# Leading without managing

While leadership and managmenet are terms that often get used interchangably, they’re not the same thing. Leadership is acting to inspire others, helping others grow, or providing support for others.

Leadership can help gain relationship power.

Management is a job role tasked with managing resources, performance, hiring, and firing of a team.

Managers implicitly have role power over their direct reports.

Good managers will also provide leadership. But not all leadership needs to come from managers.

# Climb the Individual Contributor seniority ladder or go somewhere where you can

In many cases, individual contributors consider a management career because they view it as the only way to progress in their careers. However, good organizations should have a technical career path that allows people to advance in seniority and responsibility without taking on management responsibilities.

An example seniority ladder might be: Engineer –> Senior Engineer –> Staff Engineer –> Principal Engineer –> Distinguished Fellow

-Small companies likely don’t have this -Upward trajectory may be blocked at current organization (even if larger), possible that lateral moves do not exist -May have no choice but to move elsewhere -Good manager will support the move / help you find something if does not exist (exhibiting leadership)

If the organization one is in doesn’t have a career path of increasing seniority and pay without taking on management responsibilities, it might be time to consider a different organization, which does. That can mean moving to a different organization with the same job role within the same company, but might mean moving to a different company. This is common in small organizations where increasing seniority and responsibilities might not exist, but can exist in larger organizations where there are no opportunities to move laterally.

John, can you tell us more about the individual contributor path?

# 6m

# John

# Becoming a top-level individual contributor

We saw some patterns in how our guests were excelling. We picked four we thought were the most important, and tagged each with a book that helped with the concept. They aren’t the only books on the subject, but they’re the ones we happened to know of and choose.

# Deep Work for High Performance

More detail on this subject can be found in the book Deep Work by Cal Newport.

High performance at high-value tasks generally requires blocks of deep, uninterrupted concentration. This is the mark of highly concentrated knowledge work. At the same time, society and employers are making it more easy to interrupt you and putting implicit pressure on individuals to accept interruptions. The path to high performance is to fight to remove interruptions and increase one’s ability to deeply concentrate on the task at hand.

# Nick

# Show Your Work for High Performance

More detail on this subject can be found in the book Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon.

A path to improving your performance and perception of your performance is to “show your work”. Participate in communities of people in your industry or job description. Be an active, positive participant in the community. Learn from the community. Give back to the community by teaching what you’re an expert at as well as what you’re in the process of exploring and learning.

-Graph formed by smart notes methodology…John, tell us more!

# Smart Notes for High Performance

More detail on this idea in the books How to Take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens and How to Take Smart Notes in Obsidian by Josh Duffney

Capture the things that you learn every day into an organized personal knowledge management system. You won’t know what’s important to you later, so capture everything you can.

Later on, organize the things that you learn and make connections between them. Digest the ideas into your own words, making them something you can teach someone else. The first person you’ll be teaching is yourself in the future, when you’ve forgotten the information. The next useful thing for this information is as a chunk of a work presentation, internal knowledge base, or conference talk.

Writing out the information in your own words and teaching the information to others is a process which will deepen the knowledge you have. Otherwise you might think you know the information, but only vaguely remember general points about it in the future. Useful information is information written in your own words, and linked to other thoughts in a way that allows you to find it an query the entire system for new insights.

Smart Notes will accellerate the rate at which you can generate content by allowing you to arrange pre-written concept blocks, pre-linked to their sources, as a general outline of your content, only needing to write connections between the pre-written blocks, or to identify the blocks that need to be researched and written in order to complete the content.

# Nick

# Atomic Habits for High Performance

More detail on this subject can be found in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear

The path to improvement isn’t sudden, large jumps forward. It is comprised of small, iterative improvements that accumulate over time. Perceptions of that improvement might appear from a distance to be large leaps. There can even be large leaps in understanding of concepts.

Improvement of practical skills, unfortunately, must be done one step at a time, consistently, until it is a habit. The iterative process of building on these small habits is what accumulates to large improvements.

John - how can people stand out in addition to these strategies?

# John

# Stand Out In The Hiring Market

Perhaps you’ve realized you need to change organizations in order to move up in seniority and responsibility. How do you stand out?

# Availability of talent is cyclical

Hot then cold then hot again

# Be discoverable

Show your work LinkedIn

# Have a good resume

Skills section Job listing with evidence of your skills

# Practice your interviewing skills

Practice your interviewing like you’d practice for a certification exam.

Nick, with all the work that we’re advocating people do, how do they make sure that they’re protecting themselves from burnout?

# Nick

# Preventing Burnout

# Stop trying to control things you do not have control over

-Inner Game of Stress

# Use SMART goals instead of undefined dreams

Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-bound

# Recognize the physical and mental symptoms of stress

# Find joy outside of your career

# Work on your physical health

# Work on your mental health

# Nick

# Don’t Let the Journey End Here

Forewell viewers, tune in next time as the journey continues. I’m Nick Korte, @NetworkNerd_, for John White @vJourneyman, signing off!