“Ignite Your Career”: Help is on the Way

This article was originally published in Canadian Developer Connection.

Elevator control panel with a Pictured on the right is a photo I took in New York City almost nine years ago to the day. While taking an elevator in the hotel where I was staying, I noticed a little indicator above the rows of buttons for floors – a circular bit of plastic with the words HELP IS ON THE WAY inscribed. Presumably, if there was some kind of failure and passengers were trapped in the elevator, someone in a control room would flip a switch and that little “help is on the way” indicator would light up to let them know that someone knew of their predicament and was doing something about it. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of it, knowing that I’d use it someday.

The financial crunch we’re in has given many people that “trapped in an elevator feeling”. We’re all worried about the state of the economy and our jobs. Many of us know someone who got laid off: a friend of mine got laid off in the middle of a quick IM chat with me, and I found myself suddenly unemployed a few months ago when the startup I was working for had to cut its burn rate. Where’s the “help is on the way” light when we really need it?

Ignite Your Career is our way of sending help. One of your best hedges against the current uncertainty is to arm yourself with the information you need to sharpen your skills and refine your career plan, and that’s what Ignite Your Career is all about. It’s a video webcast series that you can watch free of charge and from the comfort of your own computer, featuring expert speakers on skill- and career-building topics aimed at programmers, IT pros and architects.

The first series of hour-long Ignite Your Career webcasts will start on Tuesday March 3rd and for the following five Tuesdays. This series will be aimed at technical professionals — here’s what we’ll cover:

Date Topic
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 Industry Insights and Trends
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 Discovering Your Trusted Resources
Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 How to Establish and Maintain a healthy Work/Life Balance
Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 How to Become a Great Leader
Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 Building, Managing and Strengthening Your Team
Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 Women in IT Panel Discussion


Another series will start in May, and it’ll be aimed at architects.

With Ignite Your Career, help is on the way. All you have to do is sign up to watch the webcasts – do it now!


“The Adventures of Johnny Bunko” — A Manga Career Guide

Local tech evangelist David Crow points to The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need. Unlike What Color is Your Parachute? or Who Moved My Cheese?, Johnny Bunko is in manga form — that’s right, it’s a Japanese-style comic book.

An unusual book needs an unusual promo, and Johnny Bunko is no exception — it’s got a trailer!

In a review at Amazon, Donald Mitchell provides a quick summary of the book:

Most career writers when they want to simplify a message use a fable, with a few illustrations that show the key perspectives. The fable is clearly secondary to the details.

In The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, the story is more interesting than the advice. Having read a lot of Mr. Pink’s writing, I thought I knew what he would probably advise. But I didn’t realize that he would make the story so interesting, and that the manga format would add so much power to the story telling. Nice work!

What’s the advice? Let me rephrase to make it clearer to you:

  1. Don’t be rigid about planning out each step well in advance . . . it’s not possible to do.
  2. Build on what you’re good at (Peter Drucker originated that one) and avoid relying on what you aren’t good at.
  3. Focus on what you can do for others (start with the boss) rather than what’s in it for you (you can read more about this in How to Be a Star at Work).
  4. Keep at it. Practice makes perfect.
  5. Take on big challenges and learn from them.
  6. Make a difference.

I think I’ll pick up this book — it’s pretty cheap, and I’d like to see how Daniel Pink uses the manga format to advantage.

More Advice from Daniel Pink

Here are some video clips featuring Daniel Pink some pretty interesting giving career advice…

Abundance, Asia and Automation

Pink says that the really useful skills are those that are hard to outsource, hard to automate and that serves a need that goes beyond functional. And those skills are the right-brain ones — the ones often derided as “soft skills”.

Help! My Resume Has Too Many Jobs!

Don’t worry if your resume looks like it has too many jobs on it — the world of work today doesn’t give out prizes for lifetime service. These days, it’s about whether you can solve their problems.

Exercise Creativity at Your Job

The old adage applies: “It’s often better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” And from my own experience, I can tell you that he’s right.

Choosing a Major

Follow your interests — don’t choose a major based on what kind of job you think you’ll get after you graduate. The job market is likely to change! Follow your passion instead. You should also work on your “high concept” and “high touch” skills.