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I am not qualified to teach that

Dear Reader,

I was sitting on the edge of the pool setting up my gear when a student asked a question about the skill they had just learned. I opened my mouth to answer when the instructor chimed in from a ways away with the answer.

Later he pulled me aside. Apologizing for interrupting, he explained that it’s ok for me to help setup or check gear, but I am NOT QUALIFIED to teach anything. If they have questions I am to point them to him, a certified instructor.

Programmers, have this problem. I know a lot about PHP. I have put in the time and effort, I actually have the certification, I can teach people PHP.

There are a lot of topics though I am not qualified to teach on. I have not put in the time or effort to learn them in a structured environment that ensures I have a thorough understanding of the topic.

I need to be careful who I listen to.

I need to separate what I know well, from what I have an opinion on.

I need to be careful what topics I are willing to teach.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
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Leaders have to earn trust

Dear Reader,

  1. Leaders earn trust from their followers.
  2. Leaders give trust to their followers.

To be a leader, you have to understand that trust is not bi-lateral.

You don’t get trust from someone just because you trusted them. That may be the first step in the process, but it is probably not the only step. You have to show that you are a good steward of their trust. The impetus is on you, the leader, to actively earn the trust.

On the other hand, one of the many ways you can earn the trust of your followers is to trust them. To give someone your trust and let them grow and flourish in their role.

Earn your followers trust by trusting in them; or destroy their trust by making them earn it first.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

The Disney-fication of our world

Dear reader,

I took the Brightline yesterday from West Palm Beach to Miami for SunshinePHP. When we arrived at the Miami station, there were employees waiting to get on board to do their job. As we pulled past them, each was smiling and waving at us as the train inched by. It was a wonderful experience.

I learned this when I worked at Disney. Any time a Disney employee is “on stage” – somewhere the general public can see them – they were to be smiling, friendly, and helpful.

Contrast that with support at my local cable conglomerate. They are curt on a good day, and surely on all the rest. I dread having to contact them for any reason because the conversation is never pleasant.

How do you want to be remembered by those you have casual contact with, surely, or smiling?

The world would be a much better place if we all took a cue from Brightline and Disney.

Smile at people that you pass by in life. Greet them warmly, even if you don’t know them. Do this, even if you aren’t feeling it.

Make everyone around you feel like they are at Disney.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

I love writing code!

Dear Reader,

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

— Marc Anthony

I love writing code. I love writing code that makes computers do things. I discovered this love when I was 14 years old and it has never left me.

These days I get paid to write code, It is awesome. Even so, I’ve written code when I didn’t get paid, I’ve written code that I can’t/won’t sell, I’ve written code that no one else will see, just for the sake of writing code. I LOVE WRITING CODE.

Because I love it, sometimes I am overzealous in the pursuit of writing code. I’ve worked 80-120 hour weeks before. (Whether for my employer or for my own person projects does not matter.) I’ve stayed up all night writing code, I’ve sat down in the morning to write code, looked up only to find that I had forgotten to eat a meal, take a shower, or even interact with another human that day. It’s not the healthiest thing I’ve done but it was fun! It was fun because I LOVE WRITING CODE!

I’ve been told personally, privately and by some less than clever people in sub-textual tweets that I need to stop working more than 40 hours a week because I am setting a bad example for others. Newer programmers who may not know how to balance their life might see me talking about coding straight through the weekend  and think that it’s ok. I wonder, did anyone ever tell Freddy Mercury, you need to stop playing instruments, singing, writing songs, and performing because you are setting a bad example for others? Did anyone tell Sir Edmund Hillary that mountain climbing was an unhealthy lifestyle and that he should stop glorifying it?

I get it, I am blessed. (I am not privileged because of my birth. I am not lucky. I am blessed by God) I get paid to do something that I love. If you are not in that position, if you program computers and then go home and have other interests, that’s wonderful, more power to you. I celebrate you because programming allows you to live the lifestyle you choose. But don’t come down on me because computers are my other interest. Don’t tell me that I can’t continue chasing a problem long after you’ve given up and gone home because this isn’t your passion, it’s your paycheck. Honestly, that’s your problem, not mine.

If I decide to put in an 80 hour week because the problem I’ve been given to solve is interesting,  you don’t get to decide if that’s healthy or not. You don’t get to tell me to stop because my work ethic is setting a bad example for others.

For 12+ years now I’ve been helping people become developers, and become better developers.  I’ve advised countless people to ‘follow their passion’, well, this is what that means. I am following my passion. If you are blessed to love programming as much as I do and you get paid to do it, pull out all the stops, chase that problem for as long as it takes. When you solve it – and you will solve it – smile at the inner peace you have because you solved it in large part because you love what you do, and persisted in doing it long after others gave up because they have other interests. Be proud of yourself, because you really are living the dream.

Until next time,

I <3 |<
=C+

Friends

Dear Reader,

Those that don’t know me well will probably be surprised to hear me say that I am an introvert. All my life I’ve had a very small circle of friends. Even though I am a very public figure these days in the PHP community, I still maintain a very small group of close friends.

I consider a lot of you my friend.

I consider many of you my good friend.

There are however, only three, that I consider my close friend. Those three are Adam Culp, Keith Casey, and Paul Jones.

  • Adam is my practical friend. I lean on him a lot for daily advice. I always appreciate the advice and help Adam gives me, even when I fail to say as much.
  • Keith is my smart friend. I introduce Keith to people as “Scary Smart”. If you are privileged enough to get to know him as well as I do, you’ll learn that’s not a joke. I am truly honored to be allowed to call this man my friend.
  • Paul however, is my best friend. Over the course of ten plus years, Paul and I have forged a bond that holds strong no matter how far apart we are. Paul is my wise friend. I turn to him for advice on the hard problems and he never fails to help me work through my issue.

I don’t say thank you enough to these three gentlemen for the footprint they have each put on my life. Adam, Keith, Paul, thank you. I do however, thank God on a daily basis for bringing you into my life.

To all the rest of you who consider me a friend, thank you as well. So many of you have touched me in so many different ways that I can’t list you all.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=