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I don’t think I can afford that

Dear Reader,

Recently I was listening to “Ready, Fire, Aim“, a fantastic marketing and business book.

In it, the author, Michael Masterson, wrote about a lesson in negotiating that he learned from a business partner he once had that he calls BB.

Masterson writes:

“…I have discovered a much simpler, more elegant, and immensely more effective negotiating tactic that anyone, even a timid person like me can quickly master. I learned how to do it by watching BB. …It goes like this:”

Business colleague: “So what do you think it is worth?”

BB: ” I don’t know, what do you think it’s worth?”

Business colleague: “I was thinking maybe $500,000”

At this point, BB responds in one of two ways. Either he says “That seems fair to me,” or he says “Gee, I don’t think I can afford that.”

This struck home with me because I’ve sat on both sides of the hiring table; that’s the toughest negotiation most people will face. I’ve been the timid one, hat in hand, asking for what I thought was a “fair wage”, and I’ve been on the other side, the person with the job to fill, but also the budget to stay within.

Some of the best hires I’ve made have had zero negotiation over salary because for a long time, I’ve adopted a method similar to BB.

I ask the person “What do you want for a salary?” Not “What do you expect?” or “What do you think you deserve?”, specifically, “What do you want?” This not not a trap. There is no “Ah-HA! GOTCHA!” moment here. It’s a simple and honest question to which I expect a simple and honest answer. I expect the person to tell me what they want. Not the current market for their position, not a low-ball to get the job and then “figure out how to get a raise”, I expect them to tell me what they want. What it will take for them to be happy and satisfied in the job?

Then I have to make a similar choice to the one BB had to make.  “Can I afford this person?”

I know what they want, I know what my budget is. If the numbers line up, we have a deal. If not, I let them know that I simply can’t afford them, sincerely thank them for their time, and see them out. Back-peddling here on their number is a sign that they weren’t honest with me in the first place so it doesn’t help their case.

I do not negotiate salary. I expect people to be honest with me and if they are honest with me then they aren’t going to be happy with a salary below what they have asked me for. Yes, if we are close, we can discuss it and see if we can come to something that we are both happy with, but it’s got to be close for me to do that.

I want every developer who works for me to be happy at work. You can’t be happy if you are worried about your finances, so I don’t want any developers working for me that are worried about finances.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
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Why I love Scuba Diving

Dear Reader,

I love Scuba Diving. I love it so much I volunteer to help others learn how to dive at least once a month.

One of the reasons I love scuba diving is the respect that divers find for each other. When sitting on a boat gearing up to dive, there is a lot of joviality and joking around, but there is very little insulting people, calling people names, or other insulting behavior. I don’t have to worry that I might say the wrong thing around divers because we are all committed to each other. See, when we hit the water, whether 20 feet down or 100 feet down, we are all each other’s buddies. We all depend on each other to make it back safely. We have to respect each other, even if we don’t agree with each other.

Contrast that with tech, my chosen profession. I keep my opinions largely to myself in tech because I never know if someone listening might not like what I say and go to my employee to see if they can have me fired. (Not a far fetched scenario, it’s happened before to others.)

I watch my tech peers on social media normalize hate over things like political opinions. I’m not pointing fingers at one side or the other and if you think your side doesn’t do it then you are wrong. (but don’t worry, I’m not going to ostracize you for it) People that I consider smart people throw words around like idiot and moron simply because they don’t like someone’s opinion or actions.

I used to be that person. There was a time when I labeled people with terms like that – and much worse – because I disagreed with them. Then I began to look at my words from the outside and spent a year or more in deep soul searching.

One thing I have realized in my 30+ years as an adult is that calling people names like idiot, moron, “insert your favorite political insult here” says a lot more about the insecurities of the speaker, than it does about their intelligence of the target.

I like scuba diving because I’ve never heard a boat mate call another boat made a moron for expressing an opinion.

Maybe we all need to treat each other like our lives depend on each other.

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

Thank You for Small Acts of Kindness

Dear Reader,

Five or six years ago, my good friend – and the Don of the PHP Community- Mr. Michelangelo van Dam – was listening to me ramble  at a conference.  I was rambling on about the fact that every time I go over to Europe, I have to lug around my crappy power converter, and sometimes the converter won’t fit on the power strips provided at conferences at the podiums. I’ve actually had to present on batter and hope that the battery lasts. (it always did)

A while later, I ran into Mike in the hall and he handed me a cord. It was the cord to an Apple power adapter but with the European end on it. He told me that he had several spares and asked me to take this one. I smiled and took it and thanked him for his kindness. When I got home, I put it gently int my “cable box” (any audio geek or programmer knows what that is) and honestly, I forgot about it…that is until last week.

I am working  with a company that is Mac-centric so while my primary machine is now Windows, I am carrying my Mac with me so I can get work done. The problem is that I still have that 1 crappy power converter. While packing, I remembered Mike’s gift. I dug through my cable box and there it was just waiting for me to remember it and use it. I’m happy to say that as I sit here and type this on my Windows machine, my Mac is quietly humming away building a docker container or some such nonsense. Both machines are powered. :)

I know that any Mac user usually has 2 or more of these cables laying around from old power supplies that have crapped out but the cord is still good, so I know that it didn’t cost him much to give it to me; but that’s not the point. He saw a need, and he quietly did what he could to fill it. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t use the cable until years later, what matters is that he made the effort to solve my problem…and it eventually did.

Open source developers are like this. They give of their time to build things, things that you may not need right now. When you do need them, they are there and ready for you. Their acts of kindness – small or large – come into play exactly when you need them.

The next time you install a new open source package because it’s exactly what you need to build the project you are working on…take a moment to drop the author an email and thank them. Thank them for their act of kindness. You’d be surprised at home many of them never hear from users and are appreciative of your small act of kindness.

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

 

p.s. Thanks Mike for the power cord…it is EXACTLY what I needed. :)

My 2019 in Content

Dear Reader,

Creation

In 2019 I created

Consumption

In 2019

  • I read 19 books. Not the 24 I had hoped for*, but better than the 12 in 2018.
  • Consumed entirely too much TV – TV being the generic term for movies and episodic tele-plays I consumed across multiple devices – which is why I didn’t hit my numbers on books. I’ve got to flip that.

Conclusion

I’m ok with my 2019 stats, but I think I can do better. I’ve already started writing a book that will be published early next year and I’ve already roughed out a keynote talk. I’ve also started a third podcast. (More on that later)

This post isn’t to brag, and it is not to make anyone feel that they haven’t done enough. I’ve done this much because of how I am wired. I am wired to create things. (Note: I did not say anything I created was good, just that I created it)

I firmly believe that I should create more than I consume, but that is a maxim for me, not for everybody. You do you and be proud of it.

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

 

* When you count re-reads, I went well over 24. Some books I read 3 times this year.

Why I teach

Dear reader,

I am a selfish person. I do not generally like to share my time with anyone and would rather spend it doing the things I love like video games and scuba diving. However, I owe a debt that I am honor bound to repay.

I am where I am in life because others helped me get here. Yes, I am a self-taught programmer, I mean that in the traditional way of I have no formal training in software development. But self-taught does not mean that I did it all myself. I learned from others. I read their blogs, I listened to their podcasts, I went to their conference sessions. I did the learning, but others all around me taught, mentored, and generally lifted me up to where I am.

Knowing this, I spend a portion of every day trying to help others. Some efforts are more successful than others, but as long as I am trying, I am paying back the debt I owe.

Others sacrificed so I can be where I am. It is my duty to sacrifice so that I can lift the next generation of developers up higher than I could go. To lift them up on my shoulders so that they can stand there and see further than I ever could.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
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