Book Review: Women In Tech


This is the book you need to buyIt’s been a while since I wrote a book review, mostly because I’ve been reading fiction and history, neither of which really fit this blog. However I just finished a book that definitely deserves a review, Women In Tech.

First, the TLDR: Read the book!

Women in Tech was written by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack in conjunction with women drawn from across the tech world. It is a blend of a career guidebook and inspirational stories written by women from different backgrounds. Each woman has made their unique mark in the industry.

Before I get much further with this review, it must be noted that as a man, I am not the primary target for this book. That is not to say I didn’t gain value from reading it. Far from it.

I learned a lot and enjoyed reading the book. Women in Tech is well written, humorous at times, and I highly recommend it for anyone in the tech industry. One last note, as women were the primary audience, my perspective on the book should be considered in that light.

Mapping the Career Stages

The book is structured as a series of chapters providing practical advice for navigating the different phases of a career in technology. It has a definite startup-culture view for much of the book. Even so, most of the career advice applies to the tech world that I’ve dealt with in my career over on the east coast.

There is some specific advice for women on how to remain on equal footing with men in the tech world. It is based on behavioral differences between average men and women in the space. However if you are a man who is less assertive, the advice will be helpful to you as well. Additionally, it will help managers better understand women, and others, who do not fit their mental model of a techie.

Quick tip, there is no single model.

One example is the section on how to negotiate for salary. As a whole, women negotiate their salary less often then men do. The book goes in depth as to why women, or anyone, should try to negotiate their salary. It provides several tips on how to actually do it. It is well thought out. To be honest, I wish I had read that chapter a couple decades ago.

Inspiring Viewpoints

Between each chapter is a story from one of the contributing authors. Each faced their own challenges and the stories line-up fairly well with the phase of the career that is being discussed.

The women contributing stories are Angie Chang, Katie Cunningham, Keren Elazari, Miah Johnson, Kristin Toth Smith, Kamilah Taylor, and Brianna Wu. I was following several of them on Twitter before reading the book. Now I am following all of them. I highly recommend you do the same.

Reading their stories helps to build awareness of what others have gone through. The perspectives are different than mine and that is what makes the stories valuable. The stories are recommended reading for everyone. Especially men.

But I’m a Guy…

As I’ve stated, throughout the book there is advice that only applies to women. The cheap way out would be to advise men to read the book and just gloss over those paragraphs. That would be a mistake.

The advice that applies to women is important to read. It helps men better understand what our women coworkers have to deal with during their career. From stories I’ve heard from friends and colleagues, women face a lot more challenges, challenges created by others, than those discussed in the book.

At the end of the book, there is a chapter written for men. How to Be an Ally and How to Help is an important chapter. I am not going to try and summarize as the chapter should be read in full. The subject headings from the chapter are:

  • Start The Ball Rolling
  • Women Are Not Décor
  • Watch Out For That Unconscious Bias
  • Be Deliberate
  • OMG Pregnancy OMG
  • Leading People Who Don’t Look Like You

Get the Book

If you are a man, read Women in Tech. Learn what is happening that you may be unaware of. Use the book as a starting point to learn more.

If you are a woman, read it and share. I’d be interested in what you think of the book. Could it have done more? Was it perfect? That is an answer that I cannot provide.

If you are a techie, read the book. You will learn something that will help you in your career. Promise.

Review: Every Leadership Book


Over my life, I’ve been through a lot of training outside the traditional classroom. Starting in Scouting and then transitioning into my professional life, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different Leadership principles. When mixed in with my professional experience, I think I have a firm understanding of what it takes to be a Leader.

I have read a few books on Leadership in my day. I’ve been impressed with none of them. When I saw this Dilbert strip, it all made sense to me.

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

No system works for every organization. No system works for a single organization all of the time. The Leadership style that creates a startup may not work when that startup is a market leader. The Leadership style for a software product company may not work well for an Association.

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Review: The Introvert’s Guide to Success


The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

Years ago, I started following Lisa Petrilli on Twitter as I had found some of her blog posts interesting. She had written several blog posts on how Introverts can leverage their skills to be valuable leaders.

I loved the posts because I am an Introvert. If you don’t believe me, then you’ve never seen me hibernate after a large conference or noticed how I am always easier to find in the first few days of a conference than the end of the event. Being moderately “successful”, the posts usually helped to explain why what I was doing was the right thing or gave me tips on how I could do something better. When The Introvert’s Guide to Success came out, I quickly bought it. Then like many work-related books that I buy, it took me a while to read.

Glad I did.

Serial Readings

As I read the book, I was reminded of many Science Fiction classics. Not in tone or topic, but in style. Many early works were actually a compilation of a series of short stories published in one of the magazines of the day. As such, every few “episodes”, a basic tenet of the imagined universe was restated. This makes a lot of sense in a series that is read over a year or more, but not as much sense in a novel.

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Review: The New Kingmakers


newkingmakers

I will admit that I have been following what Stephen O’Grady and James Governor have been doing over at Redmonk for quite some time. They were doing for developers what I wish people had been doing when I was a developer. When Stephen published his book, I promptly went out and got it…and then had to wait to find time to read it.

I am so glad that I did. It took a little more time to get around to writing this review, but it is important to write because The New Kingmakers is full of truth. What Stephen has written about is the critical start of the trend we are seeing all over the world of technology.

Before I go into that, let me talk about the book.

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Book Review: The Myths of Innovation


berkun-myths-210x315Back in August, I had the privilege of hearing Scott Berkun speak. If you don’t know who he is, you should. He regularly shares nuggets of wisdom that reveal a man that not only seeks to learn from research and experience, but can also merge the two into solid advice.

When I saw him speak at the DC User Experience Professionals Association meeting, he was talking about his book Mindfire. He was giving out free copies to those that participated in the presentation/discussion. When I “earned” my book, I traded for The Myths of Innovation. An earlier book of his, it is one that gets to the root of why I listen to Scott Berkun.

Enough prelude, let’s talk about the book.

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Review: The Innovator’s Dilemma


image The Innovator’s Dilemma

Clayton M. Christensen

Before I went to EMC World and marveled at how the management was missing the boat on the cloud and was diving wholesale into Case Management, I was told that I had to read this book.  After EMC World, I broke down, purchased it, and then fought to find time for it.  The book is over a decade old, so what was the rush? Let me tell you, I am glad I found the time.

I was told before I read the book that it was going to make me a little sad and despair for the future of Documentum.  It did in a way, but it also helped explain everything that was happening.  It actually increased my opinion of some people at EMC.  I am going to talk about the specifics to EMC, and other legacy Content Management vendors, in a subsequent post.  For now, let’s dive into the book itself.

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Review: Enterprise 2.0


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Enterprise 2.0, New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges

Andrew McAfee

I’ve been following Andrew on Twitter for a while and have enjoyed his posts.  So when I heard that the author of the term “Enterprise 2.0” had written a book on the topic, I was initially skeptical of the value to me.  How much new stuff would there be in the book for someone who, while not an expert, was very familiar with the topic?  After hearing about some of the hype, I decided to give the book a try.

I am glad that I did.

Aside from having a handy book that I can hand people to learn about Enterprise 2.0, the book helped me crystallize my understanding of Enterprise 2.0 and helped me think of better ways to explain it to people.

So money well spent, but what did I learn?

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