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Showing posts from 2023

Lessons

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When you're 11 years younger than your oldest brother, you get to learn a lot through them. You learn how to blow air through blades of grass and make it squeal. You learn the hilariously reckless fun of riding your bike around in circles while he tries to knock you off by throwing a basketball at you. You learn the right way to make a snowball. How to eat cherry tomatoes. You learn how going fishing isn't about the fishing but about the sandwiches you pack. You learn how to code. As you grow into adulthood the 11 year gap narrows. You learn how you can help in ways you couldn't before. You can help him move into his first house, tile his bathroom, grow cherry tomatoes... And yet you're still learning from him. How to get a job, prioritize what's important, how to be a dad. And as the years go on, the gap continues to narrow until one day it's no more. He relies on you as much as you him. But he's still not done teaching you things. One day, he t

Jam on Toast

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6 years ago I went for brunch at a small cafe in Cambridge, MA. I took a picture of the jam & toast I was served. It's hard to get jam & toast wrong but as simple as it can be, it can still be taken to new heights. The right bread, the right fruit. This was a memorable encounter.  People will forget the texture of the toast, they'll forget the sweetness of the jam, but people will never forget how jam & toast makes them feel. I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere - maybe about the work we deliver, the infinite possibility for improvement... or maybe it's just as simple as making sure you always make time to enjoy some jam on toast. Trust me on the last one - you'll thank yourself (and me) in 6 years.

null

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Seeing a null in a very large tech company's app is a nice reminder that small but obvious mistakes can slip past even the best of them.

Emily.

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When my daughter was 2 she began telling us of an imaginary friend "Emily." Emily was imaginary friend who'd show up whenever she was feeling lonely - if she was playing by herself at preschool or, in particular, at naptime when she was trying to get herself to sleep. One day, when she was 3, I was asking her more about Emily and she told me how Emily "lives in her heart." She told me how, at nap time, she'd ask Emily to visit the hearts of the people she was missing - her mom's heart, her baby brother's heart, mine heart, and then hearts of the rest of her family and her friends. When she reached the end of her list of people, she could then fall asleep while hugging Emily's heart, and with Emily hugging hers. About 6 months later, my daughter announced one day that she no longer 'needed' Emily, and that she'd made her up to help her feel less afraid. There's no metaphor here, no deeper meaning, connection back to careers, growth

Pong - A Laptop Bag

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  So my daughter surprised me with a "laptop bag" she decorated for me - which was an opportunity to build Pong for the hundredth time - but, for the first time, to her spec - and with her watching along. I've built so many variations at this point. One of my most favorite variants that I built 20 years ago is one I called ' Pango'. You can tell Pango is old, because it's from an era where lens flares meant good design. Pango let you move in all directions, and required you to first break a hole in the wall protecting your opponent's end-zone. And while Pong is not necessarily complicated to build, it's always a fun exercise to see how much faster & better you can build it. For example - building the collision detection to avoid cases where the ball gets trapped within the paddle, and bounces back and forth rapidly. Or including momentum transference that can alter the ball's angle. My daughter version includes a yellow obstacle that moves back

Last on the Bus

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Some time ago, I decided to go through all my old files (some of them being as much as 25 years old ) to find all the things I'd posted online since the late 90s. Hundreds of journal entries (before it was known as blogging), updates about things I was coding, and then a lot of day-in-the-life type posts from my college days. I took a bunch of them and re-uploaded them within this blog - preserving their original publish date. Walking through them is not only seeing the progression of the internet, but my progression from student to professional. It's interesting to put myself back in the mindset of being a college student - and re-reading post after post after post where I was running on fumes, sleeping in the school library, barely scraping by. With graduation on the horizon, I relived the stress and anxiety of starting my first professional job hunt - and then ultimately the transition to adulthood. I remember the final day of my senior year in high school. The final bell ra

Connecting the Dots

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This past weekend I read a fascinating article by Cognitive Scientist and Marketing researcher Hang-Yee Chan. In this article Dr. Chan, backed by brain-scans, supports the case that storytelling is one of the most effective ways to land your message. More specifically, crafting a linear narrative triggers the consumer to a process   called mentalizing , "which is the ability to decipher the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of others. It's what makes human beings social, allowing them to interact and coordinate based on subtle cues. Mentalizing is also key to story comprehension." I come from a long line of great story-tellers (it's one of the things that pushed me to pivot from writing code to Product Management) but it also had me thinking about a lot of the advice I give around crafting a solid resume. First - I think it's worth reiterating: my own views on resumes have evolved over the years. I don't think resumes carry the same weight in the job-applica

Messages

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Dall-E drew me this picture... 10 points to whoever comes closest to the prompt I gave it. I've finally caught up on a month's worth of messages / resume reviews / advice.  If you haven't received a response, please msg me again - and apologies for missing it.

Penny for your thoughts...

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AI-Generated: "Chalk & Pastel Album Cover of 90s Kids Jumping in a Pile of Pennies" If I want your thoughts, I offer a penny for them. However, when I provide input, I am giving my 2 cents. The moral: People value their own input more than that of others. I'm not sure if others have made this observation before - but this is the kind of youthful cynical observation that my 14 year old self would have thought profound.

Lost in the Maize

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If you're lost in the maize,đŸŒœ feeling fried and roasted, 🍗 get yourself unghosted : đŸ‘» with resume reviews 📃 and mock interviews đŸ‘©‍đŸ’Œ on our live stream, hosted đŸŽ„ by me, and who you guessin? 💭 the one and only Taylor Desseyn  Join the event

Unghosted / Halloween

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  Just 1 week until our #Spooky #Friday13 episode of #Unghosted where Taylor Desseyn and I will be doing #resumereviews and #mockinterviews LIVE ! And with this being October, there's a higher than normal chance we'll even be in costume. (I haven't consulted with Taylor on this...) Hope you'll join us! đŸ‘»đŸŽƒđŸŠč‍♂️

Surf's Up

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I'm behind on messaging a lot of people. If you're waiting on a response from me, I'm sorry - I'll try to get back to you soon. While I could, in all honesty, just say "I'm busy" and leave it at that, the reality is...  well, I'm busy. Thankfully I'm fortunate to say I'm not being disrupted by any large & life changing events. I'm just reaching one of those points I think we all reach at various points... when everything all happens at once, and we're just barely staying above water. Maybe these moments are worth recognizing - when you're able to be the good husband/wife/partner, the good dad/mom/guardian, the good son/daughter/child, the good friend, the good neighbor, the good coach, and you're even good at tending to your own needs... but all of that takes time, takes intention, takes energy. It's the feeling you get perhaps just before you feel overwhelmed... and, (if you do it right) maybe you will avoid

Product Endorsements from ...Before?... the Grave

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Tom Hanks talking about the ad that uses AI&Deep Fake technology to use his likeness in order to promote some dental plan reminds me of 15 years ago when the One Laptop per Child organization used John Lennon's likeness to promote their mission. I wrote about it back then - pointing out the problems of someone's likeness being used without their consent (in Lennon's case, Yoko Ono gave her approval) not thinking there'd come a time when living people would have to contend with the same issue. While I don't think anyone's likeness should be used without the explicit consent of the person (even their estate requiring explicitly approval) maybe (hopefully) the silver lining good news here is celebrity endorsements will become so diluted with fakery that they'll no longer be meaningful.

Nostalgia

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Was going through some old blog posts, and "What's New" updates to a webpage I had in high school. It's an interesting relic - seeing what was important 23 years ago... Nov 6, 2000: The tough thing about Entertainment sites is there's so much competition out there, that it's very hard to get ahead, or even close to the head. There's so much to do. Maybe I should add electronic cards, so that people can send their friends e-cards. That will be a good feature. Well, I'll be getting to work on that, I guess. So, things I will be working on for a while (meaning that I will be updating the site even less) are: 1. I'll be working on getting a greeting card section, to send to your friend by e-mail. 2. I'll be working on a better main page, after you opened up the site window. 3. I have to make a banner, so I can begin trading banners. 4. I'll be adding new games. 5. I'll try to add a download section, where you can download some games onto yo

Unghosted.Live

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Taylor Desseyn and I have a new landing page for Unghosted : Catch up on previous events, attend upcoming events, and register to appear on the livestream! https://www.Unghosted.live

Bad vs Good vs Great Interviewers

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(This image was generated with AI) Interviewing tip for those on the job hunt: Bad interviewers act like gate keepers / bouncers / powerful decision makers. They act with an air of superiority, don't do an adequate job of making you comfortable, welcome, or at ease. Their hire/no-hire decision is subjective, unclear, rooted in opinion and impressions. Good interviewers take time to break the ice, make you feel comfortable and take the pressure off the interview. Their hire/no-hire decision is based on how well you present your experience and knowledege, and works off a more objective framework. Great interviewers are on your side. They cheer you on, help you grow. Their hire/no-hire decision builds on the objective framework the good interviewers use, and they're looking for how well you demonstrate your potential for growth & the diverse value you bring as an invidiual to the team. You may still not get the offer, but the interview will likely continue to be a great resour

Unghosted Episode 2

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If you're #jobhunting but feeling #ghosted, if you're #opentowork but also #opentofeedback, if you're #talking but not #talkingwithhands then you need to join Taylor Desseyn and I next week on our #Unghosted live-stream where we review REAL resumes by REAL people in REAL time. If you want your resume reviewed live, send it over to Taylor (details in the event.) #opentohelping #opentounghosting #opentoexcessivehashtags Update: You can see the recording of the  live event here...

M&Ms and Ice Dispensers

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This is one of my favorite memories I get on my phone around this time of year. I hope it gives you the smiles it always gives me.

Short Tidbits of Advice

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Reviewing your resumes, I jotted down a bunch of quick & trivial things for people to keep an eye on.  Make sure your resume FILE contains your name - don't go with a generic "Resume2023.pdf"; "Your Name.pdf" or "Your Name - Your Title.pdf" is an easy way of avoiding some (rare) situations where your resume file gets lost in a stack. File size: We're well past the age of floppy disks - so while disk space isn't the concern here, a 5Mg Resume means your resume probably has more than it should. :) PDFs over Word docs. Your resume should be a document in its "final" state. PDFs will preserve your font choice, your formatting better than Word. LinkedIn URLs: Remember when an email address in your resume was a novelty? Well, now the hip kids are including their LinkedIn URL! Be hip like them. Make sure your resume is free of typos (Fun Fact: Surveying a bunch of other hiring managers, I learned a lot of them are more likely to pass on

Just the Facts

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  With 80ish resumes left to go, I just want to share this one piece of general advice: Don't be ADJECTIVE heavy: "Dramatically improved the speed of a process to be much faster" Be FACT heavy & be NUMBER heavy: "Reduced process time from 8hrs to 2hrs, saving $80,000/year."

Progress

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  Flight was delayed late into the night, but was able to get through a fair bit of them. The rest are to come. Stay tuned. 😮

Time for another Resume Review challenge!

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I have a long flight coming up and figure the most constructive way to pass the time would be to review as many resumes as possible, for free. You have a deadline of 11:59:59pm PT, August 25th, 2023. If you DM me your resume, I'll give you as much constructive feedback as I can come up with. Flood me with resumes & make me regret this post! Help spread the word by resharing. 💛 Illustration credit goes to the incomparable David Neal - content creator, manager of development relations, community builder, and drawer-of-custom-profile-pictures. He's worth a follow!

Who is Your Target Audience?

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In the thousands of resumes I've reviewed over the years, almost everyone fails to consider 1 key person from their target audience. And it shows.

Quantify Quantifiables

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"Quantify things!" "Make sure you quantify your experience!" "And quantifiable impact statements." "Quantify, quantify, quantify!" It gets said a lot... but some people struggle with it... so here are 4(ish) ways to quantify your #impact on your #resume

The All-Seeing Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg

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This robot has represented so much in my life. From hearing about the wild dream to being a part of building cutting edge disruptive technology, from 6 people to 60, from Startup to Acquired, from hiring coworkers to building life long connections. Despite the changes this robot witnessed, it also represented consistency: Injecting genuine personality into everything with fearless vulnerability, tackling every problem with the belief that the solution was not in the product but in our attitude, and most importantly - loving people, loving connection, loving the highs and lows. For me, this bot represents the all-seeing eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, from The Great Gatsby. It has witnessed a time many of us think of fondly, and it has witnessed my life since - navigating a world without my Gatsby. He would have turned 50 yesterday (anyone who knew him would probably chuckle at the absurd silliness of him as a 50 year old...) We used to joke "I fought the bot and the bot won,"

Falling Behind

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  Bad news. After staring for too long at a PowerBI, it came to my attention that my hair part line is really behind target.

Cover Letter Fan-Fiction

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I heard someone say requiring cover letters is like asking candidates to write fan-fiction about working at your company. 😄 Jokes aside, I think seeing a cover letter as a literary work is a good framework for when to write one, and when not to: Don't If... It's imaginative: "At your company I would..." It's autobiographical: "And then I turn 22..." It's irrelevant: "I really like charcuterie..." Do If... It's a short form persuasive essay that can't be immediately inferred from your resume: "I was the lead developer on the very product your company now uses." There is no 2.

Sand Sculptures

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Listing hobbies on your resume is like sharing a picture of your beach vacation on LinkedIn. If you do, it should be relevant in obvious ways. If it's not relevant in obvious ways, then it should be a conversation starter. If it's not a conversation starter, it should at least pique one's interest. If it's not piquing interest, then it's just taking up precious space... ...just like a giant sand-sculpture takes up precious space on a crowded beach.

On Giving Criticism

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After years of trying different recommended techniques for delivering criticism (looking at you Compliment Sandwich) I've concluded: no matter how you deliver criticism, it's going to be a tough conversation. There's no avoiding it - people will get hurt, grow defensive, get upset, be offended, or at a minimum be mildly irked. It's led me to wonder: why should expecting otherwise? Being criticized sucks. In my own situations, even when I ask for criticisms from those I trust and admire, it stings when I hear the criticism. I feel compelled to defend myself, to explain myself, to give a reason why their criticism doesn't have the full picture. I feel defensive even when someone validates something I'm already criticizing in myself. The result: I'm tired of pretending emotions aren't real. I'm tired of pretending there's some sterile, stoic, clinical way of giving a Spock-like logical assessment of someone's flaws and that it will be met well.

Mechanical Keyboards

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Almost 20 years ago, as I was wrapping up college, I was walking downtown and passed by a small antique store. I'd normally have kept walking but something caught my eye. The most beautiful Model 3 Underwood Typewriter. It wasn't working. The keys were jammed, some armatures were bent, the spindle wasn't...spindling. But it was still beautiful. I loved the mechanical genius of it all. The pure ballet caused by pressing a single key, rotating the ribbon, moving the paper just so slightly. No wires. No plastic. It was gorgeous. But not gorgeous enough for me to pay the sticker price, (I was still a student, after all). So, I haggled the price down - and then lugged the 50lbs machine 23 blocks back to my apartment. People on the streets lit up when I passed them. One person even made an offer to buy it off me while I carried it home. But it wasn't for sale. I got it back to my apartment, and spent the next 4 hours cleaning it, and restoring it to full functionality. I love

Just in Case

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"Mom? .... Mom?? Can someone get my mom for me?" This past weekend, I'd seen a boy climb half-way up a structure before his fear of heights struck. What made matters worse: younger kids were climbing around him with confidence and ease. Seeing his panic, I asked him where his mom was and asked if he needed help. He looked around, hesitated, and replied: "I'm kind of scared." But then, just as he finished saying this, he inched his way upward some more. I wasn't expecting that - and chuckled. "Looks like you're able to keep going though!" I checked in on my own kids - and when I glanced back, I'd seen the boy had climbed even higher. "Well, look at you - you're doing awesome! You're pretty much at the top!" I called out.  Watching him climb over the top edge, I gave him a thumbs up and said "Great job!" and went back to my kids. Moments later I heard his voice call down to me: "Thank you so much for helpi

Self-Appreciation

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A few years back my daughter gifted me a little book called "Things I Love About Dad," with pages of prompts that she's been filling out over time. The other night she told me she filled out a new page: "I love that you taught me to appreciate me." This one may just be my favorite page to date. It's so easy to confuse appreciating oneself with being confident, having an ego, or being arrogant. But those others show themselves externally. Appreciating yourself is being friends with your inner monologue, it's knowing you may not always get things right and may make mistakes, but it's acknowledging the intention that's behind them. It's writing a post about a personal note from your daughter, worrying if you're conveying the right message, debating whether to hit post, and thinking 'if it helps someone pat themselves on the back instead of beating themselves up... it's worth it.'

Cover Letters & ROI

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  Someone recently asked for my take on cover letters - and while in the past I'd say they're largely pointless unless they provide details your resume cannot (a personal link to the company, an employee, the product - or best of all, some specific experience that would be invaluable to the organization) this current job market has me re-evaluating. I still believe (based on data) that many cover letters will get ignored - when volume of applicants go up, hiring managers don't have the time to read them all. They'll prioritize the resume first, then - if the candidate looks appealing - they may gloss over the cover letter. They may then read the cover letter in more depth in advance of the interview - but at that point, the ball's already in motion. Below 1,000 employees and your cover letter will have greater impact than above 1,000 employees. The smaller the company, the more they'll want to have information about their candidates, rely a lot more on trust, an

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Comparisons

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Dear Old Me, Whether it's in classes, talking to friends, or in interviews - I'm really feeling like I'm never good enough. When I see what others can do, the solutions they create, it looks so easy for them. I really want to be a programmer - so hopefully you've gotten better? ~Alishah   -- Dear Young Me, Let's start simple: Output is a terrible way of measuring difficulty. You never know how hard something is for someone - even if they explain their thought process. That's why we say  "they make it look easy."   Have you ever looked at one of those images that has a hidden image inside it? The first time, it can be tricky to find - but once you see it, it's always there. A lot of problem solving boils down to how many things you've already seen. The fewer things you see for the first time, the better equipped you become at solving them. Part of the trick is taking those problems and simplifying it down to basic parts. Then, whenever you encou

Mistakes on Stage

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My daughter was telling me how she's nervous of her upcoming recital. Asking why, she said how was worried about messing up in front of others and getting embarrassed. Being the supportive parent I am, I said "Well, I can promise you this: you will absolutely mess up. It will happen, and there's no avoiding it." Seeing this was doing nothing to build her confidence, I elaborated: " Perfection is impossible. There are no perfect performances. Everyone messes up - and really, a perfect performance isn't always that interesting. It's robotic. The thing that gives music its 'soul' is imperfection." What wows people is how you handle the mess up when it happens. Do you shut down and walk off stage? Are you so scared of messing up you never get on the stage? Do you laugh at the mess up and forge ahead, continuing to make more mistakes? Do you pause, reset, and continue on without further mistakes? Or do you take that mistake and make something out

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Novelty

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  Dear Old Me, So - you wrote recently about how "all the answers become distractions." What did you mean by that? It sounded good, and I wonder if it's what I'm dealing with? As I get better with coding, I'm constantly getting new ideas. Ideas come faster than I can build them - and I just can't keep up. Are you still dealing with that challenge?  ~Alishah P.S.  Did you ever finish Zinglok-725? -- Dear Young Me, The problem never goes away. Someone I/you (we?) admire called us creatively erratic - and while it stung to hear, it was only partially accurate. The thing is, you'll eventually learn to manage it in a few different ways: You'll get better at identifying what intrigues you about the idea. Ideas will come to you as massive projects - but if you spend the time to dissect it down to the trivial bit you'll usually come to the conclusion that: the problem you're interested in has already been resolved, and the rest is just an interesting i

SkatGPT

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  Everyone's talking about ChatGPT. Today, I'd like to introduce SkatGPT . ...Jazz singers, be afraid...

Hearing What You (Don't) Want To Hear

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  Insecurities can really mess with our senses. You hear things differently. You hear the things you don't want to hear. Compliments become invisible while you see criticism everywhere - explicit, implied, subtly hinted at. Feedback becomes the evidence that validates your worst fears about yourself. Praise only comes from those you've duped. Take time to impress yourself. It'll help you see things as they are.

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Perl

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Dear Old Me, HI! Did you ever become a coder? Should I learn Perl?  What about ColdFusion? I'm worried I won't ever get a coding job unless I learn them all. ~Alishah -- Dear Young Me, Don't bother learning Perl. I don't know a single coder who knows Perl. In fact, you'll come across dozens of languages over the next 20 years. Every one of them will do the same thing but in slightly different ways. Instead learn how to break problems down into simple steps. That's the important skill. Ask yourself how you'd solve a problem manually  (like how would you find the word "tiger" in any book?) . If the problem is too hard on its own, or too hard to then translate into computer instructions - then ask yourself what tools or tricks could make it easier  (what if the book had an index or table of contents?!) In fact, you'll often find a lot of problems either: Lack a structure; If so, introduce what you need. Have the wrong structure; If so, break and r

If it matters 100 yrs from now... it was important.

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  I'm a sucker for a hidden message. The mysterious letter that shows up, a digital easter egg tucked away, geo-caching, a cryptic riddle... 6 years ago, we were changing out the original mirror in our bathroom and, prying it off the wall, found this message: If it matters 100 years from now ... it was important. Weirdly, I'm finding myself giving similar advice to others as I review their resumes. I'll read through their professional experience - either a paragraph or bulleted list of tasks they performed - and I'll hit them back with: Why did it matter? If it matters enough to include on your resume, it was important. State why. This is what it means to focus on your impact . e.g. I would reviewed customer support cases each month, and was also responsible for keeping our technical documentation up to date. Why does this matter? What makes it important? There's a hidden feedback loop in there that's not being called out, and the impact is lost. Typically, we r

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Persistence

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Dear Old Me, Remember how you struggled with Bit Blitting, so you made that Calvin & Hobbes fighting game using transparent icons? That was a cool but hacky way to solve that problem. Are you still stubbornly persistent? I really hope coding gets easier, because it's hard to learn how to get better. ~Alishah  -- Dear Young Me, You'll soon marvel at how much easier things gets. Learning Bit Blit through random blogs wasn't easy. Now there are now better websites like StackOverflow and Wikipedia that do much better at explaining concepts - but technology is also much more powerful and faster, so you don't have to do as much from scratch . Oh - and there's also something called ChatGPT now - it's AI that can write code based on your prompts - but that's probably a discussion for another day (honestly, we're still not sure of all the implications of something that powerful!) You don't know it yet, but the thing that made you good is exactly what I

Always Be ... Growing?

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ALWAYS. BE. GROWING? No. I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day about how LinkedIn/Corporate culture creates this pressure to use every waking minute to "invest in yourself" and to "grow grow grow". That if you don't have a side hustle, or if you're not able to monetize or leverage what you're doing to help in your career, that you're wasting time. After that conversation, I went outside and for about 45 minutes threw these foam boomerangs with my kids. My step counter gave me no credit, because (as you can see) my feet never had to move. And there was a moment when I just paused and thought: This is fun. I'm enjoying this. It reminded me of being a kid - when you would play well past sunset, as the air got colder and crisper, but you were just enjoying the simple activity you were doing. Afterwards, I felt great - and, the truth is, while you don't need to always be growing, moments like these can wind up doing more for

1997 Holiday Crafts Fair

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Found an old photo from 1997 when I appeared in the local paper (up front, holding the CD). Sadly, what the article fails to mention is that my group was selling holiday-themed computer games that I had coded in VB4.  Admittedly, they didn't sell as much as the Mistle-Toads  (which definitely had better branding.) 🧑‍đŸ’»

Work Experience vs Professional Experience

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In reviewing a bunch of resumes this week, I noticed quite a lot of resumes with a  "Work Experience"  section. In each of those resumes, people had de-valuing some very valuable  experience - and I write that with no exaggeration. The problem is people were looking at their experience purely through the "Job Title/Relevancy" lens and had reduced their experience down to a list of discrete, random, disconnected jobs. No interconnectedness, no narrative thread weaving through it all. As much as you may feel some jobs have no way of being connected, the reality is  you   are always the connection . To not connect them on your resume is to lose all that growth, knowledge, skills, impact, value, and trajectory. In other words - you lose the " You " in the resume. I recommended they start with a small change. Reword "Work Experience" to "Professional Experience" because, ultimately, every single job they had was in service of building their

UX and Birth Years

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The older I get the worse the UX becomes when selecting my birth year. There was a time when the top of the selection list was really close to my birthyear. Now, there's just so much scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

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