Thursday, October 4, 2012

GHC12: How to Get There? Secrets of Success, in the style of GLEE

Oct 4,2012- Day two of the Grace Hopper Conference, and this is a session from the Theme Track. For those of you who don't know, the theme of this year's conference is "Are we there yet?".  I chose to attend this session as the abstract was very catchy, and felt this session would help me pick up some best practices to be successful.

Here is the abstract of what this session has to offer: 

Are we there yet? Are women enjoying thriving, successful careers in the computing industry? With the help of Taylor Swift, Frank Sinatra, Britney Spears, and more, we will share 10 secrets for success in the computing industry. Each tip will be backed by personal stories and of course music! You will dance away from this session with sound career advice.

Now, a little about the speaker: Jennifer Marsman ( a Developer Evangelist at Microsoft. What this means is- Jennifer's job is to learn all the new technologies at Microsoft and present it to the world!!! How cool is that? Within the first few minutes, Jennifer caught the attention of everyone in the room. She is one of the most energetic speakers I have ever seen, and I became her fan within the first few minutes! 

I loved her style, the way she used the stage, her presentation deck (they were simple- with just one line, and yet so powerful), and the words she chose (this just conveys the amount of thought she put behind these ideas). Loved it!

Let me now get to the 10 secrets of success according to Jennifer...

Tip 1: Speak NOW.
Song: Tawlor Swift’s 'Speak now'
This can be broken into three parts: Demonstrate passion, Ask questions, Think out loud.
All this attribute to being vocal in every possible situation. And why is this important? Take for instance your team meeting- You have an exciting new idea but you don’t speak out, and someone else comes up with that same idea after 20 minutes. You are like “!#@#!” , and it gets worse when that idea is appreciated by all, and is considered the next big thing.
Jennifer also says it’s always good to ask questions. Often people are judged smart because of the quality of questions they ask.
And now the third aspect- think out loud. This is especially important in interviews. Even from my personal experience- the interviewer is impressed when you think out loud, and interact based on all the thoughts running through your head at that moment. Never stop talking!
Above all – be genuine. Let your passion for technology shine.

Tip 2: Let’s give them something to talk about.
Song: Bonnie Ruitt’s 'Let’s give them something to talk about'
Jennifer syas, “at the end of the day – half of your job is doing great things, and the other half is communicating them”. If you don’t communicate your ideas and share them with your team- no one would ever know what you accomplished.  
Here is another secret: Managers don’t do the actual execution of work. A good manager takes the vision plan and translates them into an execution plan. Use your regular 1:1 meetings with your manager to drive conversations about the work you accomplished. They can be business trip summaries, status reports, report of all the good things you learnt at GHC, etc. When you talk- you give them something to talk about in their meetings with their manager. And, if you have done some extraordinary work- then you are making them proud in their 1:1 with their managers.  

<Random tip: Consider your org chart as if it were a family tree- it makes life at work lot easier. And, I am definitely gonna try this from tom. So, my GPM is now my Grandpa at work :) . Thanks Jennifer!! >.

Tip 3: Respect
Song: Just a lil bit
Diversity isn’t just gender, sexual orientation, color, caste, or things like that. Diversity can be something as simple as new hires from college vs people in the industry for 10 yrs.
Always remember that everyone you come across is good at something that you don’t know. Everyone is unique in their own way. You can always learn something from everyone. Look for what it is that they can teach you and respect them for that.
I totally agree with this. If each of us can learn one good thing with everyone else around us- we would all become kings of many trades.

Tip 4: Luck be a lady
Song: Frank Sinatra’s 'Luck be a lady with me'
Jennifer saw the following formula at a conference she attended.
Success= Hard work + Intelligence + Luck
She says it made her really furious seeing luck in the equation for success.  But over the time she learnt that this is completely true! Luck is indeed an element for success.
So, what you we do to be successful. In the equation we can control hard work (how hard you work), and intelligence (how much you can learn). Luck is something that we cannot control. If you see a continuous stream of things not working out for you- then maybe it’s not luck anymore. There might be something else that is going wrong, and it’s time for you to work on that.

Tip 5: Be Prepared
Song: 'Be Prepared' from the Lion King
This is fairly obvious. Being prepared will help you to be successful. Think ahead of the meetings you go to, think before you talk in public, be prepared for the day to day things you do at work.

Tip 6: Wind beneath My Wings
This refers to the mentors and role models in your life. This conference is probably the best place to find good role models. But wait, who is a mentor and who is a role model?
Mentors are people who actively help you to become successful whereas role models are people whom you worship from far.
You can have many mentors based on what you want to learn from them. Jennifer says she has a mentor for blogging, one for professional career, etc.
Another advice that Jennifer gives is, “at some point in your career- either speak or blog”. She says this is essential because this will help you be a role model for the next generation. (How true!).  The virtue of giving a talk or writing helps you be a visible sign of technology in your org. If you happen to be one of those who are scared of public speaking- then Blog!

Tip 7: I love you always forever
Song: Donna Lewis’ 'love you always forever'
Love what you do. Find something that you absolutely fall in love with. You’ll be more successful if you do what you love.
<Did you know? Jennifer spoke about what is called the Emotiv. It’s a headset that actually reads your brain wave. And there is an API to code for that. When you envision- that records that set of brain waves (Testing phase). Then in the execution phase- you can control everything with your mind. How cool is that!!>

Tip 8: Oops I did it again
Song: Britney Spears’s 'Oops I did it again'
Make Mistakes. It is ok to make mistakes. But what is important is what and how you learn from your mistakes. Your confidence grows with every new thing you learn from your mistake. Take more risks and strive to do bigger things.
I have heard my manager say the same thing. He says “it’s ok to ask for forgiveness by doing mistakes than an apology for not doing it at all”. Makes total sense. Doesn’t it?

Tip 9: Lean on Me
Song: Bill Withers’s 'lean on me'
Humans always need support to be successful. Jennifer says “out of time, health and money- pick two at any given time”.  You can probably have only two out of the three. So, delegate the thing that you don’t have to someone whom you trust and know will help you. You really can’t do it alone in this world.

Tip 10: Don’t stop believing
The final tip for success is to believe in yourself. Jennifer spoke about the Impostor syndrome. For those of you who don’t know- please read more about it at I wasn't aware of the impostor syndrome till this min, but I can now totally relate to it.  Get over the impostor syndrome and have confidence in yourself. You know more than you probably think you do. 

I hope these ten tips will help you get be successful in whatever you do. 

<Update: I got to meet Jennifer at a Microsoft Luncheon at GHC. She is totally awesome. She had the same energy and enthusiasm while talking to me. >

Happy Reading!

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