Author: Aaron Erickson
Publisher: Addison Wesley, 2009
Aimed at: Professional developers
Pros: Sets out to be motivating, some humorous anecdotes
Cons: Imparts a false sense of security
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot
This is a smug little book. Its subtitle, "Surviving and Thriving in the World of Technology Consulting" sets out what it is about and it proceeds to explain why you are worth a huge hourly rate and why a company would be mad not to hire you to tell them how things work. It tells you to establish yourself at the center of the IT universe and encourage people to beat a path to your door. You ARE the greatest thing since sliced bread, a better mouse trap and clearly the world WILL beat a path to your door. It’s a comforting book to read full of reassurance, analysis and advice. It’s the sort of book that tells you to sharpen your pencils and get your desk in order. It’s motivational. Even when it's telling you about the problems it still puts a positive spin on the process and leads you to believe that you will succeed.
There is nothing wrong with motivational books as long as they aren't going to encourage you to do something dangerous and I'm not at all sure that this book is entirely safe. If you are already a consultant then you might find the book useful in focusing you on the non-programming aspects of the task. There are some useful and humorous sections describing how to figure out what is important. If you are in the situation or have been then there are many things that will resonate and you will feel that this is an important and worthwhile book.
If you aren’t part of game then you will appreciate the commentary and might even be tempted to jump in and take part but… in practice it’s a lot harder than the authors makes out. The elephant in the room is one simple fact - you have to be good to succeed. In fact it's even stronger than this - you have to be very, very good and you have to have the personality and raw people skills to carry the whole trick off. What this means is that no matter how much you absorb the anecdotes in this book, no matter how hard you try, if you don’t have the right stuff you might as well just read the book and dream on.