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June 25, 2021 Marcus Terry 0 Comments

It is no secret that the technology sector offers high-paying, lucrative, and flexible career opportunities. After all, these positions offer an enticing work-life balance, career growth, and professional development. For tech enthusiasts such as yourself, this allows you to discover new aptitude, challenge yourself with a continuous learning curve, and be your unique, creative self. However, effectively finding and securing a job in tech can be awfully intimidating. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to make the transition less overwhelming and nerve-wracking. 

Build up your soft skills

First off, it is important to hone the soft skills that are essential for a career in tech. Prospective employers can teach you hard skills, such as coding languages, programming algorithms or data structures. However, you are expected to already be proficient in soft skills, which emphasize your personal qualities and character. For a high-paying tech role, you need to be expert in information synthesizing and troubleshooting. Similarly, it is fundamental to be well-versed in project management, analytics, and perseverance. In fact, you should be extremely seasoned in key principles of effective communication. Other important skills to focus on include resourcefulness and organization. 

Master advanced tech & programming tools

Next, you should master advanced tech and software development tools. Modern information technology (IT) teams rely on several powerful solutions to revamp efficiency, productivity, and project management. For example, you can optimize your pipeline with a Docker registry by JFrog, which will help to automate development, manage distribution, and perform secure vulnerability analyses. Adopting these solutions, you can maximize resource utilization, reliably deploy containers, and better team collaboration. Naturally, these tools help your secure images and gain deeper insights into issues, which will promote operating system stability. 

Attend tech conferences, workshops, & seminars

Now, you are ready to attend some technology conferences, workshops, and seminars. In fact, you may even want to check out some local IT expositions, trade shows, or career fairs. Most jobs are obtained through professional networking, and technology is no exception. Attending local meetups is a great way to integrate yourself into your municipality’s IT community. At each gathering, professionals in tech will collaborate to share relevant work subjects, advertise open roles, and mingle with prospective candidates. This will provide you with first hand, expert knowledge, as well as entrance into new professional circles. 

Get active on social media

At this point, you should try to get and remain active on social media. Social media has become a major hub for making connections, sharing information, and recruiting top talent in the tech world. You can take advantage of this rapidly-growing network by starting tech conversations and interactions all over social media. Follow along with basic conversations, or dive into deeper, niche areas of interest. This way, you can become an active member of the community, which will help you gain new contacts and boost career opportunities. In fact, bolstering your social engagement will even help you to garner attention from industry-leaders in tech. Since you may be speaking with prospective employers, it is important to additionally work on your social media etiquette as well. 

Brush up on your interviewing skills

Of course, it helps to brush up on your interviewing skills to get a job in tech. Tech interviews are often much different than your typical job screening. Be prepared to answer questions that are directly related to your hard skills, experience, or proficiency in technology. Simultaneously, you should be ready to discuss any recent tech projects, such as software, mobile apps, or website. At the same time, you may want to brush up on some notoriously tricky interview questions to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Moreover, there are several simple job interview tips that you should certainly follow in preparation for your job examination. 

There are plenty of important steps to help you secure a tech career. First off, build up your soft skills portfolio. Next, master some popular IT and programming tools, such as Docker registries. You should attend some local tech expos, workshops, and other informative gatherings, and get active on social media. It is additionally important to brush up on your interview skills. Follow the steps highlighted above to learn about how to get into a tech career.

June 25, 2021 Marcus Terry 0 Comments

In the earliest days of my business, I wasn’t so much running toward a passion or purpose but running away from my disengaging full-time job. And that absence of purpose scared me. This was the next phase of my life, and I wanted it to be infused with intention.

And also… I had no idea how to achieve this.

Then one day, browsing aimlessly in a bookstore (a tactic I recommend anytime you’re struggling with literally anything) I stumbled on a book called Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

At first glance it sounded a little squishy. But I noticed the book is based on a course of the same name, authored by two professors who famously teach at Stanford University – an institution not known for its squishiness. So, I grabbed it.

Its purpose is to help you answer this question: Can we apply design thinking to the “wicked problem” of designing your job, your career, and even your life? Evans and Burnett believe we can.

Design thinking is a means of user-centered design. It’s about designing not the best outcome, but rather the best path for a particular user. In the case of this book, the user is you. Today I’ll introduce you to the five phases of the design thinking process, and how Burnett and Evans might encourage you to harness it in designing your ideal life.

Whether you’re on a quest for joy, change, or a fresh start, welcome to your new beginning.

Design thinking … is about designing not the best outcome, but rather the best path for a particular user – in this case, the user is you.

Step #1: Empathize

Design thinking begins with empathy because you can only design for a user you understand. And since you are the user, this phase is about self-awareness. So how can you get to know you a little bit better? There’s a process Burnett and Evans describe called wayfinding, which is a simple method of self-discovery that puts you in the direction of where you need to go.

Through wayfinding, you’ll discover which activities engage you (leaving you feeling inspired and “in the zone”) and which sap your energy. The process is simple: keep a journal (here's a good example of one). For the next few weeks, keep track of your work and home activities throughout each day. Whether it's writing a sales pitch, reorganizing your sock drawer, or anything else. For each activity, grab your journal and log how high or low your engagement was during the activity (did you enjoy your time spent?) and how you feel afterwards (energized or exhausted, positive or negative?).

This process will reveal some important information about you!

Step #2: Define

The next phase of design thinking is to define the needs or insights you’ve gained through empathy. So after a few weeks, take a closer look at your journal and do a bit of reflecting. What captures your attention? Any surprises? 

When I did this exercise, I validated some things I already knew – I love spending time with people and learning about topics of interest. But the news to me was that I was also enjoying writing copy for my website. This insight led me to start publishing an email newsletter which has since become critical to my business growth.

Now it’s your turn. What insights pop out for you? What assumptions can you validate, and what new things did you discover?

Step #3: Ideate

Now it’s time to develop a set of possible solutions. This phase is meant to be playful and exploratory, leveraging the insights you’ve collected.

Burnett and Evans call this Odyssey Planning. I love this phrase – it sounds more like an adventure in the wilderness than a planning process. How you craft your odysseys is up to you – you can draw, write stories, brainstorm or create a mind map.  But the goal is to generate possibilities using pen and paper.

“Each of us is many,” Evans and Burnett say. “The life you are living is one of many lives you will live.”

So start with three possible lives:

  • A better version of the present – what your life would look like if everything stayed the same, but you added in more of the engaging and stripped out some of what leaves you drained
  • An alternate version of the present – what your life would look like if suddenly your job went away
  • A what-if-money-were-no-object version – what your life would look like if finances weren’t a constraint

Let your creative brain take over here. None of these will be your final life design, so don’t be hampered by too many rules. This is only about possibilities.

Step #4: Prototype

This phase is about collecting data to inform how we turn ideas into action plans. Now that you’ve crafted three possible lives that sound great to you. What can you do to test and validate those assumptions?

Who in your life has lived pieces of your envisioned lives? If one Odyssey involves you opening a restaurant or becoming a stay-at-home parent or launching a side hustle, who do you know who has done these things?

Find and interview people who you trust to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of their experience. Arm yourself with as much information as you can, so you can ultimately make informed choices about how to proceed.

Find and interview people who you trust to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of their experience. Arm yourself with as much information as you can.

Step #5: Test

The most valuable thing I learned while going through this life design process was that change needn’t be wholesale. You don’t have to throw out one life and take on another. You can take just one step at a time. Here’s where you put your insights, your possibilities, and your data into a blender and take small sips of the smoothie that emerges.

Maybe in your current job you spend a lot of time in meetings that drain your energy. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your job or boycott meetings. But can you craft a small experiment in which you opt out of one meeting per week and replace it with something that really lights you up? (Go back and check your journal to find the things that make you happiest).

This was my approach. I didn’t throw out my business. Instead, I started turning up the dial on things I believed would make me happy – choosing different clients, saying no to certain projects and yes to others.

If I was right, I kept going. If I was wrong, everything was reversible because I was doing this in small steps, rather than giant leaps. This process can be fun and invigorating. The beauty of human-centered design is that there is no right answer. There’s only the outcome that lifts you up.

And now it’s your turn. Are you ready to build the life you love?

 

June 25, 2021 Marcus Terry 0 Comments

The average salary of an architect is $76,100 per year. Have you ever wondered how much an architect earns? Becoming an architect requires an investment of money and time, but pays off in the form of a rewarding career that comes … Continue reading →

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June 25, 2021 Marcus Terry 0 Comments

The average salary of a physical therapist is $84,020 per year. If you’ve ever undergone physical therapy you know how important the work of physical therapists is. The job of a physical therapist is one that requires high levels of skill … Continue reading →

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June 24, 2021 Marcus Terry 0 Comments

If you’ve made a purchase online or over the phone, you’re probably familiar with the three sets of credit card numbers you have to hand over. These numbers include the credit card number, the expiration date and the CVV. If … Continue reading →

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June 24, 2021 Marcus Terry 0 Comments

I’m in the business of facilitating interactive leadership experiences – workshops, group coaching programs, etc. Pre-pandemic if you’d asked me to deliver a program remotely, I’d have looked at you side-eyed. Impact without interaction? Couldn’t be done.

But when the pandemic hit, I was suddenly forced to figure it out. And the only way to do it was through massive creativity. I’m proud of – but not alone in – my craftiness. So many of us had no choice but to bring the impossible to life in 2020. Whether homeschooling your kids, working from a closet, or selling to clients you’d never met in person, every one of us has achieved something previously unimaginable.

So what’s the magic that unlocked our untapped stores of creativity? It’s the constraints that the pandemic forced upon us.

A constraint – a limitation or restriction – generally sounds like a bad thing. But sometimes when you’re struggling to get something figured out or over the finish line, a forced constraint is just the thing you need. We all have traditional patterns of thinking. But constraints force us to reimagine – challenging us to make new connections, to look at old things in new ways, and generally to be scrappy in our approach to solving problems.

So if you’re struggling to get something over the finish line and into the market, let’s talk about the different types of constraints you might help you get over the creative hump:

Time constraint

Let’s say you’ve got an idea you want to pitch to your boss – maybe it’s a new product or a new customer service strategy. This could be your big break. You want it to be perfect. And you’ve promised yourself as soon as it is, you’ll schedule that meeting with the boss.

So…the big news here is that perfection isn’t coming. Ever. And without a deadline – forced or otherwise – you’ll be polishing this thing until it becomes obsolete. What you need is not that final data set or a cleaner prototype, but a time constraint. Let your boss know you have an idea you’d like to pitch. Get the meeting scheduled. Now you have a finish line. Your task is to define “good enough,” find a way there, and stop.

Without a deadline – forced or otherwise – you’ll be polishing this thing until it becomes obsolete. What you need is not that final data set or a cleaner prototype, but a time constraint.

I remember building my first ever workshop. I designed it and was getting ready to sell it to a client. But I just needed to revise it first. And then again. And then again. Finally, I created a time constraint. I scheduled a bunch of pitch meetings and had no choice but to be ready for them. I made a simple checklist of what must be complete before I pitched it, and I let the rest go. 

My checklist included:

• Clarity on what problem or challenge this program is solving

• A clear description of flow and sequence

• A balance of education, practice, and conversation

• A discrete set of takeaways for each participant

Those were my essentials. I had to complete those ahead of my forced deadline. The rest could come later.

Now it’s your turn. Where do you need a constraint on your time, and what items will go on your essential checklist?

Resource constraint

In the days of in-person workshops and meetings, I would sometimes kick off an executive session with the infamous marshmallow challenge. It’s a team-building activity that invites leaders to problem-solve collaboratively…and creatively. The gist is that you split your group into teams, each receiving some dry spaghetti, a marshmallow, string, and tape. 

Teams are challenged, using only that strange menagerie of supplies, to build the tallest possible freestanding structure. The team with the tallest tower wins.

The activity has never failed me. I’ve watched a CEO climb on the shoulders of his CFO to the get that final marshmallow on top – pretty much anything goes. But what blows my mind about this challenge is the sheer number of different solutions I’ve seen teams come up with, using only those four items. The creativity seems boundless.

Having just a few resources at your disposal forces you to rethink the basics and how you might leverage them in new ways.

So now back to you and your product idea. What would you do if suddenly your data sets and technology platforms and potential funding vanished, and you had to make a splash with just the most essentials? What’s your version of dry spaghetti and a marshmallow?

Can you find something that is distracting you from getting to the finish line – maybe an excess of available data or too many website plug-ins – and just imagine they suddenly no longer existed? How might you expedite your journey to the finish using only what’s right in front of you?

Having just a few resources at your disposal forces you to rethink the basics and how you might leverage them in new ways.

Impact constraint 

And finally. You need that creative burst to deliver the thing that will change the world.

Or do you?

Maybe your opportunity is to shrink the scope of what you believe you need to deliver. One client, Jenny, reached out to me because she’s been struggling to get her team to collaborate. Months after she began striving to “crack this nut,” as she puts it, she’d gotten nowhere. “There are so many factors keeping them from collaborating and I just don’t know where to start,” she shared.

I challenged her to shrink the scope of her question. “What if,” I proposed, “instead of solving for everything keeping collaboration at bay, we start with just a single instance, and then expand our scope from there?”

So we started with a pair of client managers on her team. When we asked what keeps them from collaborating, they explained that they tend to work in silos, and neither had much perspective on what the other was working on. They simply didn’t realize collaboration could be useful.

To solve just this problem, Jenny decided to repurpose her weekly staff meetings. Instead of her providing updates to the team, she began inviting team members to share with each other some highlights of their current projects. This created a forum in which opportunities for collaboration could be identified, triggering it to happen more organically.

Once Jenny had gotten the ball rolling, she grew comfortable seeking further opportunities. She learned that finding the time, and having the tools and resources to enable collaboration were additional challenges, and she has since made headway on these fronts as well. But one at a time.

Sometimes the key to solving a big challenge is starting with a small one. Often your mini-solution will provide insights to inform a broader one.

Now it’s your turn. Back to that customer service solution you’ve been noodling on. Are you feeling stuck because your imagined solution simply doesn’t meet every customer’s needs? Why not start by solving for just one customer? Pay attention to what problem it solves and why and use that insight to make your solution more expansive over time.