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Archive for November, 2009

Attitude Adjusting

I have a theory that if you can personally relate to a Stevie Nicks song, you are in a Bad, Bad Place. I mean, really: it’s like Stevie sat down one day and said “Gee, I think I’ll chronicle all the different ways life can tear open your soul and rip you to shreds.” I really think that when you start thinking to yourself “Man, she speaks the truth it’s way past time for a massage, a happy hour, and a vacation.

(Note: this rule also works for Adam Duritz.)

Anyway, this popped into my mind this weekend while I was watching the season finale of Mad Men, right at the part when Don Draper had a nice little hissy fit:

I am sick of being batted around like a ping pong ball. Who the hell is in charge here? A bunch of accountants trying turn a dollar into a dollar ten? I want to WORK.

And you know, I’m a little concerned about feeling at one with Don Draper, but it’s like, GOD, YES.

I’ve been struggling a little bit at work lately; my company was acquired by a bigger company in May, and subsequently my job and responsibilities have changed drastically. It’s taken about six months for the dust to settle, I’m still feeling a bit tossed and turned and am trying to figure out how to right my career again.

I feel like I’ve been taking a six month nap, waiting to figure out how we all fit – from the top leadership down – into our new company and new roles and I just really seriously miss having a concrete goal and pushing towards that, understanding how what I do matters to the overall purpose. I show up every day, I feel like I provide value, but it’s very one-off and very reactive, and I’m so, so tired.

When caught in moments like this – where I feel lost and devoid of purpose – I try to read things written by people smarter than me (it’s a large sample size, btw) looking for inspiration and perspective. I read these two today that I really liked:

  • “Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network.” (Quote here)
  • “Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.” (Ibid)

I like these quotes, and they’re nice reminders of professional qualities I’d like to have. A good thing to remember when getting caught in the day to day stresses.

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Required Reading

I attended an industry conference last week, and one speaker made a point to emphasis his ongoing personal “Required Reading” list. On his list he had a slew of great books – some recent, some classic – that he considered necessary to read in order to maintain personal career growth.

Now, the military is pretty good about this concept; for every rank and responsibility there is an agreed upon list of books that at relevant and should be read. This concept gets less play in the commercial sector, however, and frankly, it’s too bad. There is a lot to be said for maintaining and increasing knowledge about your field, and continuing personal development.

When setting up a reading list, however, I think people tend to neglect the online resources at their disposal; this takes less time commitment than a book, with more frequent updates of ideas to get you thinking. In addition to the books I have on my list to read for this year, I also have a Google Reader account set up for daily (or at least weekly) reading of blog and/or online sources of relevant information. So far a few of my favorites are:

Chris Dixon: His blog focuses mainly on advice for startup companies, but he has great insight into industry and personal career growth as well. I have distributed several of his articles to people I mentor, and personally really like his take on how he sees his industry. Now, his industry and mine are quite different, but I think some of the ideas he has and lessons he offers are universally interesting. Definitely check him out.

Department of Navy CIO Blog: The only government CIO to maintain a blog, Rob Carey provides great insight into how to maintain both innovation and mission directive while working within the Pentagon. Most importantly, he’s opening up conversation across rank barriers in a way that doesn’t happen much in government. Would love to see more thought leadership like this from his peer group.

DoD Energy Blog: Not as robust with insights as some of the others, but a great resource to see a consolidation of what is going on in the DoD Energy world.

Joel on Software: Like Chris Dixon, Joel has a great take on his industry and spends a lot of time thinking about what his customer wants, and how to provide – a thought process that is interesting regardless of your industry.

TechCrunch: TechCrunch is an onslaught of information, but it’s short, to the point, and a good way to quickly scan what is going on.

Revolutions: “News about R, statistics and the world of open source from the staff of REvolution Computing.” Having worked in the Statistics Computing field, I find this blog interesting and I find it makes me slightly nostalgic, but also it’s a great way to continue to think about the ways statistics permeates my life and job… and how to use different models of open source software.

So, that’s me. What’ve you got on your list?

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