Being Geek: The Software Developer's Career Handbook


As a software engineer, you recognize at some point that there's much more to your career than dealing with code. Is it time to become a manager? Tell your boss he’s a jerk? Join that startup? Author Michael Lopp recalls his own make-or-break moments with Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Netscape, and Symantec in Being Geek — an insightful and entertaining book that will help you make better career decisions.

With more than 40 standalone stories, Lopp walks through a ...

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Being Geek: The Software Developer's Career Handbook

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As a software engineer, you recognize at some point that there's much more to your career than dealing with code. Is it time to become a manager? Tell your boss he’s a jerk? Join that startup? Author Michael Lopp recalls his own make-or-break moments with Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Netscape, and Symantec in Being Geek — an insightful and entertaining book that will help you make better career decisions.

With more than 40 standalone stories, Lopp walks through a complete job life cycle, starting with the job interview and ending with the realization that it might be time to find another gig. Many books teach you how to interview for a job or how to manage a project successfully, but only this book helps you handle the baffling circumstances you may encounter throughout your career.

  • Decide what you're worth with the chapter on "The Business"
  • Determine the nature of the miracle your CEO wants with "The Impossible"
  • Give effective presentations with "How Not to Throw Up"
  • Handle liars and people with devious agendas with "Managing Werewolves"
  • Realize when you should be looking for a new gig with "The Itch"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596155407
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/14/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 318
  • Sales rank: 791,735
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Lopp is a Silicon Valley-based engineering manager. When he's not worrying about staying relevant, he writes about pens, bridges, people, and werewolves at the popular weblog, Rands in Repose. Michael wrote a book called "Managing Humans" which explains that while you might be rewarded for what you produce, you will only be successful because of your people.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Section 1 A Career Playbook

Chapter 1 How to Win 3

Chapter 2 A List of Three 9

Chapter 3 The Itch 17

Chapter 4 The Sanity Check 25

Chapter 5 The Nerves 31

Chapter 6 The Button 37

Chapter 7 The Business 45

Section 2 Deconstructing Management

Chapter 8 The Culture Chart 57

Chapter 9 Managing Managers 63

Chapter 10 The Issue with the Doof 73

Chapter 11 The Leaper 81

Chapter 12 The Enemy 87

Chapter 13 The Impossible 93

Chapter 14 Knee Jerks 99

Chapter 15 A Deep Breath 107

Chapter 16 Gaming the System 113

Chapter 17 Managing Werewolves 121

Chapter 18 BAB 127

Chapter 19 Your People 133

Chapter 20 Wanted 139

Chapter 21 The Toxic Paradox 147

Chapter 22 The Pond 155

Section 3 Your Daily Toolkit

Chapter 23 The Nerd Handbook 165

Chapter 24 The Taste of the Day 173

Chapter 25 The Trickle List 181

Chapter 26 The Crisis and the Creative 189

Chapter 27 The Foamy Rules for Rabid Tools 195

Chapter 28 Up to Nothing 203

Chapter 29 How to Not Throw Up 209

Chapter 30 Out Loud 215

Chapter 31 Bits, Features, and Truth 223

Chapter 32 The Reveal 233

Section 4 Your Next GIG

Chapter 33 The Screw-Me Scenario 245

Chapter 34 No Surprises 251

Chapter 35 A Deliberate Career 257

Chapter 36 The Curse of the Silicon Valley 265

Chapter 37 A Disclosure 271

Chapter 38 Mind the Gap 279

Chapter 39 The Exodus 287

Chapter 40 Bad News about Your Bright Future 295

Epilogue Hurry 301

Appendix The Rules of Back Alley Bridge 305

Index 311

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 9, 2010

    A good book to help chart you technical career!

    The Good: The book was really a pretty quick read. It has lots of 'gems' of information - many of which you will find to be self-evident and well-know once you read them, but may be things that you never fully comprehended before. Some examples of this include:

    The Itch (chapter 3) - overall as tech professionals are a pretty mobile bunch, I don't know the exact stats, but I know I have averaged about 3 years per job, and I know many others who have similar resumes. This chapter describes some signs of an impending itch to change jobs, and gives advice to support analyzing and understanding the cause of the itch - helping you to make better choices;

    The Culture Chart (chapter 8) - In any job it is necessary to know the organization chart - you must be aware of who wields the power and can make or break your position in the company. But equally important (maybe more important) is to gain an understanding of the un-official leaders, movers and shakers in the company. There are many people who do not show up prominently on the official org chart, but they make things happen and drive many of the initiatives in the company;

    The Impossible (chapter 13) - It seems like so much of what we are asked to do is impossible, but there are times when 'management' doesn't even seem to try to mask it. These can be very stressful and/or exciting times. You will need to analyze the situation and determine if the the impossible request is a sign of insanity or an amazing opportunity in the making. I remember seeing a poster with Walt Disney saying something like - it's kind of fun to do the impossible. And there is really nothing quite like it!

    These are just a few of the insights that are presented in the book - I expect that you will find snippets of wisdom in nearly every chapter!

    The Bad: The only caution I would suggest about this book is the unnecessary (in my opinion) use of foul language. I am certainly used to hearing plenty of 'colorful' discussion at work (and in other environments), but I would prefer a little more effort on the part of the author and editor to present the content in a cleaner manner. I offer this in the review just as a word of caution to readers who may be offended. For me the content trumps this unfortunate flaw, but be warned.

    Summary: This book is a quick easy read that really delivers on giving the reader many insights into living and working as a geek (or nerd if you prefer the term). Many of the chapters will help the young and less experienced professionals chart a course for success in their career. But there are also many chapters that provide some pretty deep views into the life of a manager. These chapters should be of value to both practitioners and managers alike.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2010


    Are you a geek? If you are, then this book is for you. Author Michael Lopp, has done an outstanding job of writing a book that walks the geek through the decision making process of how to find a better business career than just writing code.

    Lopp, begins by showing you the endless list of decisions and tasks you can perform as you consider and engage in the search for your next job. Next, the author documents the various plays you can make as you consider the next move in your career-from the early warning signs in your current job, to figuring out how to constructively stalk your future employer without a restraining order (just kidding). Then, he shows you how to manage-your manager, your peers or just managing to get through the day, if you are already in management. The author continues by explaining how to manage your time by obsessing about the tools you use in trying to understand the people around you. Next, he examines the amazing power of figuring out how to speak the language of your peers, so that you can learn how to convey your innovative ideas to everyone. Finally, the author covers scenarios both negative and positive that might influence the move to your next job.

    Whether the need for change is pressing or not, this most excellent book is definitely worth your reading time, because you've chosen to work in an industry that will always move faster than you. Change is constant, and that means that you constantly need to consider your next move. Remember, you should never wait for your ship to come in, but rather, go out to meet it!!

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    Posted July 29, 2011

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    Posted June 14, 2011

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