Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Personal Policies for achieving "The Good Life"

Good Life Policies ... This is only one.

Maybe a series will come out of it.

The policy is: Unplug for the weekend. Always. Recently, TheHackerCIO got pulled into a client's production support. When a competence vacuum develops, and believe me, this happens a *lot*, a production degradation or outage tends to suck good people into the support call. And that is precisely what happened at this client. It was all right with me, because I was authorized to bill whatever hours I worked. And when the contract ended, due to budget & contractual considerations, one of my colleagues told me the discussion centered around, "What will we do without <<TheHackerCIO>>? He's always there, whenever there's a problem?" Well, of course, they used my real name!

But it was *after* this client that I realized I was checking and answering email late at night and answering calls on the weekend for a non-production-support client. And what made it worse was that I was *not* being compensated for this exercise in "Going the Extra Mile."

So I quit. I "just said No."  I established the "Unplug After Hours and on Weekends" policy. It was easy. On Friday I put in an autoresponder message on my email client, to inform people that:

"I am not on the call rotation for support this weekend, and I will be unavailable for electronic communications. I will consider your email first thing Monday morning. For urgent matters please contact my supervisor"
Mind you, I have no idea who actually *would* be on the call rotation. This contract didn't really involve production support, lol! So the statements above are entirely true! I recorded a similar message on my cell phone:
"I am not on call rotation for support this weekend, and I expect little to no cellphone coverage. Please leave a message if you wish a response on Monday, or for urgent matters contact Johnny Useless at <number-redacted>."
Then, that weekend, I didn't check my work email. Nor did I pick up any work calls. I let 'em all go to voicemail. After a week or two, I've never been troubled again.

I'm now far more rested and refreshed each weekend for the coming week. I even started applying this policy to my after hours email. If you don't set boundaries, people will continue taking. And taking. Until nothing is left. I will always be available for after hours work for a client...

So long as they pay for it ...

I Remain,


Why should I be connected to work if I'm not getting compensated for it?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Why Resume Updating Is SO important

This is not Simon Says. It's TheHackerCIO says. And one thing he says is that resume updating is of crucial importance to your career. Don't take it lightly. And don't do it hastily. Let's see why ...

Last week I listed 4 benefits to the principle: "always be looking for that next job." They were:

1. You need to keep your interviewing skills fresh, and having at least one interview per quarter forces you to.
2. You need to keep your resume up to date, and this makes you do it.
3. You have to review technical material in order to be on the top of your game for an interview. Review is always good. And part of career self-development.
4.  Knowing that You have a quarterly quota keeps you looking at industry trends, such as whether an enterprise architect is a thing of the past. (see yesterday's blog posting!)

...and the question was this: why should #2 be higher than #3?

Why in the world would resume writing be nearly as important as interviewing?

The reason is that they are reciprocally interdependent on each other. They are symbiotically related. One cannot interview properly without having updated the resume. The resume, in turn is informed and focused by interviewing experiences. But as with most symbiotic relationships, there is a dominant member. When you see Mr. Shark, you know he's the dominant member & the Remora ... well he might be helping out a little, cleaning house, so to speak, but mostly he's there to get dinner. The same thing is true of resume writing. It might be even more important than interviewing practice -- at least in your case!

Now in *my* personal case, I *already* spend a lot of time writing my resumes and don't need any improvement in that area. I'm already a world-class writer. And thinker.  And this helps a lot with my resume writing. I've got cites, for instance, from McGraw Hill to prove it: not that I need to prove it. But I always back up  what I say. That's part of the "More honesty than you want" principle, closely adhered to by TheHackerCIO.

In my case, where I don't do so well is in interviewing. This too comes from the "More honesty than you want" principle. But that is a posting for another day. I can at least mitigate things a bit by doing more interviews.

But before you do an interview, you need to reflect on your whole career in the context of this particular job description. And then begin revising. Editing. Probably rewriting the whole thing. And after you get done you ought to know 3-7 stories about how uniquely capable you are for this role; or how you would approach it. These are going to be key to work into the coming interview.

You also use that material to set the stage for the interview: by writing the cover letter. This should be done after you have spent a good long while reflecting on your whole career and rewriting the totality of the resume. For me, this took a full day. Really, to properly do this takes longer, but normally you can put off a headhunter for one day, and promise to get the resume out by first thing in the morning.

So do that. In fact, do it now!!!

I Leave off Here .... To Be Continued .... By ...


Friday, July 13, 2018

Searching For A Decent Job ...

Always looking.

TheHackerCIO is looking for a decent job.


TheHackerCIO just applied for another job. I'm not really in need of a job. I've got plenty of work. Too much work, in fact. But one of my Heros has convinced me, with ample reason, that I should *always* be in search of work. The economy is supposed to be "roaring" right now, if you listen to Fox. But it was fine and wonderful if you listened to the other side of the fence under the previous administrations. But everyone old enough to remember 9/11 knows that the economy has never been "roaring" since. So you have to protect yourself.

My hero spends a couple of hours a day looking for new opportunities! My resolution is not so strong. I only target one per quarter. My rationale is this, now arranged from most to least important.

1. I need to keep my interviewing skills fresh, and having at least one interview per quarter forces me to.
2. I need to keep my resume up to date, and this makes me do it.
3. I have to review technical material in order to be on the top of my game for an interview. Review is always good. And part of career self-development.
4.  Knowing that I have a quarterly quota keeps me looking at industry trends, such as whether an enterprise architect is a thing of the past. (see yesterday's blog posting!)

As a bonus to the active readers from the fans who follow TheHackerCIO, if anyone can figure out why #2 is more important (to me) than #3 -- the *reason*, that is, I'll give you a "shout out" in Monday's followup posting. email me at: thehackercio at gmail dot com.


So I've presented 5 reasons to be always on the look-out for a new job, when you add protecting yourself in an eternally crappy economy to the 4 personal development benefits. It's a pretty compelling case! Overwhelmingly so, actually.

But I saved the best reason for last. It's like your dessert.

It's pretty cynical, I suppose.

As a clue to why I say this ... the image at the top of this post shows a statue of Diogenes the Cynic. He always carries a lamp. Because he's said to have always been "looking for an honest man." He should have met me! I would have told him more truth than he wanted to know -- especially about cynicism. But cynicism is a topic for another day ...

Getting back to work, and looking for it ... and the reason to always do it ...

Frankly, .....

Jobs suck.

It's not that work *has* to suck. Work *can* be good, challenging, fun, and satisfying.

It's not that co-workers *have* to suck. They *can* be intelligent, comprehensible, helpful, and dependable.

It's not that management *has* to suck. Wait, I'm not sure about that one ...

But we all know that (unless you're super lucky) the job you're in right now DOES suck. The work sucks, the people suck, and the managers suck.

But you can't resign yourself to that! To do so, is to give up on life. As Steve Jobs put it in his commencement speech:

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
I think I've been fairly lucky to be able to recall a few times (maybe three or four years) in my career where I was able to do what I loved and do a great job at it. And I loved it. That time is not now. In fact, that time has not been around for far too many years. This, then, is the MOST COMPELLING reason to NEVER STOP LOOKING for a job. Yeah, I shouted that. It needed shouting.

Don't settle.

Never stop looking for your next job.

I remain,


Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Enterprise Architect Is Dead ... Long Live the Enterprise Architect

I got pinged by a headhunter this week.

They are seeking an Enterprise Architect.

Since I recently vowed to *always* look for a new job, I told them "Sure! I'm interested for the right opportunity and compensation." Then I promised to get an updated resume out by tomorrow. After that, I grabbed a cup of ...

... my favorite beverage during work hours ...

Then I called up my friend and colleague, whose name has been changed to protect his innocence, "T. Mountain", who used to work as an Enterprise Architect for a 6 Billion dollar a year company. And a darn good one, I might add, based upon my personal experience and knowledge of his experience, attainments and manner of working. We had worked together at a brokerage firm many years back. 

I called T. Mountain because I remembered that he had been laid off from, oh what the heck!, the company shouldn't be protected from the guilt of their stupidity! ... He got laid off from Lexis Nexis. When I got T Mountain on the horn, we had the following exchange...

TheHackerCIO: "So tell me, you got the Ax at Lexis right?"

T.Mountain: "Yes, ... actually they eliminated the role."

TheHackerCIO: "What did they say? Was it like, 'So we no longer have an Enterprise and therefore we have no need of an Enterprise Architecture." Or was it, "We no longer desire to pay any attention to architecture, because we'd rather be agile and not plan anything we do."

T.Mountain: "Actually, they kept Domain Architects and Solution Architects. So they just eliminated the Enterprise Architecture role. 

TheHackerCIO: "What is s Domain architect?"

T.Mountain: "They handle a particular subject area domain, so they are kind of technologists who are also SMEs about some aspect of the business."

TheHackerCIO: "I see! So did they say, 'We've decided that we no longer want to have enterprise-wide integration and planning. We want to move back to where each Domain can be a separate, uncoordinated "tower," or "stovepipe," unconnected to any other system in the enterprise. We want to avoid having systems in separate groups aligned to a common strategy or business purpose?"

<laughter on both sides >

T.Mountain: "No, they just said they no longer required the role, but of course what you say is the natural implication of their actions."
TheHackerCIO: "I'm asking you about this partly to laugh about the Dilbertian nature of their stupidity, but also for a serious purpose. I'm applying for a contract as an EA and I thought that those kinds of roles had died. I knew you got axed."

T.Mountain: "Yes, the EA role was eclipsed for a period, but it was a brief cyclical downturn. Many of the people at LexisNexis are upset that we are now gone. And I've seen a lot of resurgence in enterprise architecture demand recently, especially in my LinkedIn searches."

TheHackerCIO: "Well, that's good to know. And of course the key to such a position is that you have to have some power as well as responsibility, or else you can't succeed.

T.Mountain: "That's right. Be sure that your boss has executive sponsorship, so that EA is actually respected and has enough power to actually deliver value. At Lexis this was not the case."

TheHackerCIO: "Of course not."

T.Mountain: "We had the Domain Architects and Solution architects ... they just ignored our direction and suggestions."

TheHackerCIO: "Of course. Thanks for your time ..."

And so, I remain .....