097: Engineering Your Career – Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash [Podcast]

Do you have the technology skills, but feel left out of the leadership and decisions? Do you feel under appreciated? Is it as if all the important decisions go on with limited input from you – even when they are stupid decisions? How can you become part of the bigger conversation and get the bigger salaries to go with it? Do you need to do some engineering for your career?

Engineering Your Career - Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash

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Key Principles for Engineering Your Career

  • It isn’t about technology stupid
    • No one talks about a hammer. The hammer is the technology.
    • People care about the result of using the hammer.
  • Only those who get noticed get rewarded – The Janitorial Principle
    • You never notice a janitor unless they have done something wrong.
    • Key is to add value in natural ways.
  • Question the power – The power is not the answers you give – it is in the questions you ask.
    • What are we trying to accomplish here?
    • Why?
    • What does success look like?
    • What happens once we have success? What does that mean?
  • It is always about the people
    • team members
    • customers
    • leaders

What Can You Do Now to Engineer Your Career

1. Ask Better Questions – Who are the leaders and thought leaders. Seek out chances to ask them questions.
– What challenges are they facing?

The goal is to learn how your technical skills can solve their problems. But, you have to know about and really understand the underlying problem.

Often the problem being worked on is not the real problem. Recently I was working with a company who had a lot of effort in developing prototypes. But they needed to ask what the purpose of the prototype was. They needed to win over investors. Once a few questions were asked – they realized they needed less work to get in front of investors – at a savings of $200k.

2. Ask for Counsel  – Everyone likes to be asked for advice. Seek out thought leaders to get feedback on your issues. The result will be that you get into a discussion and will learn of bigger things going on around the company.

3. Make Meetings Count 
– Listen for the purpose of the meeting. The REAL purpose.
– Ask the “elephant in the room” question. You are not the only one who wants to know the answer.
– Ask the question behind the question – in other words – keep asking why.
– Example: A friend started paying attention to the purpose of the meetings that droned on all day. He started asking the obvious question. Before the meetings he would ask the purpose. Often with one phone call before the meeting, he solved the problem. The result was no meeting and a savings of wasted time. When he does find himself in a meeting, he asks about the desired outcome.  his simple questions of meeting purposes has him labeled as the get it done guy.

4. Bring People Together. Be the one who knows of the other technology people who should be at the table. They may be in the same company. I was working as a consultant for a large organization. A few rows over from where I was meeting was another team working on a significantly different problem. But – one of them knew me and knew I had expertise in their area. Soon I was brought in to help solve their problems. The real winner (for me and them) was the person who introduced me.

To do this – grow your network intentionally. How? Check out Networking for Introverts!


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2 thoughts on “097: Engineering Your Career – Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash [Podcast]

  1. My first Dale Callahan podcast. it was informative and helpful. I’ve made some of the same mistakes, thinking it’s about the technology, but I’ve also put the people first and experienced great results. I’m a Systems Admin by title, but Systems Engineer by actual work.