My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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I want to share some words of wisdom with you again that I've shared in the past from notes I took in Dr. Ricardo Vilalta's course on Machine Learning:
  1. If you claim to know something, you will be seen as the expert
  2. Therefore, be honest about what you really know
  3. Be willing to learn and admit your lack of knowledge on certain areas
  4. Don't claim you are superior to others
  5. Don't give in to the pressure of winning over others
This week, I'm diverging from the advice found in My Job Went To India, and offering some advice based on personal experience, with the above caveat.

Most people don't talk. You might be one of them. But why don't you talk? You have an opinion don't you? Questions at least?

I think a lot of it has to do with item 1 on the list above. If you claim to know something, you open yourself up to criticism of your opinion and being proven wrong. So, you have to be honest about what you know. But you're not confident enough in your knowledge, so you pretend to know more than you really do. Doing that, you have to keep state in your head, whereas, if you were "willing to learn and admit your lack of knowledge," you could essentially be speaking functionally (paraphrasing Paul Graham, Interview with Jessica Livingston in Founders at Work).

So instead of saying something, you sit silently, hoping no one will ask you anything significant.

The problem with that approach, of course, is that you don't ever get to shine. Rarely ever will anyone who occupies a position of importance see your brilliance, your modesty, or your sense of humor. In fact, you might be lucky if they remember your name. (Unless you do something boneheaded.)

You don't have to be the smartest person in the room. You'll be wrong sometimes -- maybe a lot. But if follow the list above, you'll be miles ahead of the wallflowers - even those who have more skill and knowledge than you.

So how do I know speaking up works?

I've been trying it.

And what kind of results have I had? Outside of relationships cultivated through this blog and my other online activity, in the past six months I've been offered three jobs, none of which I initiated. (And even though you might say the blog is an example of "speaking up", I'm excluding that to show you don't need one to get the same effect, though it may amplify it.)

They aren't "work for free until we make it" jobs either - in fact, two have been from people I know and respect (the other one was from a relative stranger, so I didn't consider it very seriously). Both of those have been from people I already admire for their skill, knowledge, and accomplishments. Both are from people I'd love to work with and in both positions I'd be doing work I'd enjoy.

Can job offers translate to saving your job? I think so. If other people want you, surely someone wants to keep you. (And if not, you've got other sources from which to pull income!)

Thoughts? Oh come on, speak up!

Hey! Why don't you make your life easier and subscribe to the full post or short blurb RSS feed? I'm so confident you'll love my smelly pasta plate wisdom that I'm offering a no-strings-attached, lifetime money back guarantee!

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