Soft Skills
Article Index
Soft Skills
Sections 5-7, Conclusion

Author: John Sonmez
Publisher: Manning Publications
Pages: 504
ISBN: 978-1617292392
Print: 1617292397
Audience: Everyone!
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Ian Stirk

 

 

Section 5 Financial

Software developers make good money. It makes sense to learn how it can be used optimally. Money doesn’t make you a better person, but it does give you more choices. Much of what we do or want to do is influenced by how much money we have. The topics covered include: 

  • Chapter 49. What are you going to do with your paycheck?

  • Chapter 50. How to negotiate your salary

  • Chapter 53. Do you really understand your retirement plan?

  • Chapter 55. Bonus: How I retired at 33 

This section looks at the importance of saving up to buy an item instead of taking out a loan, the loan typically includes a relatively high rate of interest, so it would be much better to save up for the item. The chapter on negotiating your salary discusses the importance of getting the other side to give an opening salary figure. The section outlines the importance of investments to make your money grow, and gives examples of using options and real estate as investment vehicles. The importance of debt is discussed, with the notable point that the interest charged on debt is typically significantly higher than the interest you get on your savings.

The section ends with a look at the life of the author. It’s interesting, detailing the many mistakes made, and plenty of hard times. The author tried many different paths to become successful, and eventually seems to have achieved it with making IT videos and real estate investing.

I wish the importance of compound interest was given greater emphasis. Einstein said it was the greatest invention of all time. To my mind, investing using options is perhaps too risky (can you consistently pick what stocks are going to increase or decrease?). Readers might want to take a look at the book Smarter Investing (www.amazon.com/Smarter-Investing-Simpler-Decisions-Financial/dp/0273785370/) as a considered guide to the different investment types, and how they have performed historically. Also take a look the Motley Fool websites to learn more about finance and investing. Most software developers should be able to get rich slowly.

 

Section 6 Fitness

The stereotype of a software developer is as a relatively weak human specimen, but it doesn’t have to be that way. This section discusses methods of improving your fitness, topics covered include:  

  • Chapter 56. Why you need to hack your health

  • Chapter 57. Setting your fitness criteria

  • Chapter 59. Motivation: Getting your butt out of the chair

  • Chapter 62. Starting RunningProgram.exe 

The section opens with a look at the importance of fitness, if you are fit you will longer, feel more attractive, have a more creative mind, and have more confidence. Similar to other sections, the importance of planning is discussed, you should set yourself a goal, and then break it down into achievable parts. The author was able to lose more than 90 pounds, by shedding 5 pounds every 2 weeks. The most important part of improving your fitness is getting off the couch, various motivational techniques are discussed including apps, use of maxims, and to picture yourself how you want to look. Various hacks to burn calories are discussed, including: using a standing desk, microwaving eggs, and non-fat Greek yogurts.

The author runs 3 times a week, and has done so for the last 5 years, so it is a habit, but interestingly, he hates running! He suggests using the Couch-to-5K app to get you up from the couch and eventually able to run a 5K race. Since the book relates to software developers, the use of tech gear for fitness is discussed, including: step counters, wireless scales, apps, and headphones.

Section 7 Spirit

This section discusses a myriad of topics that are loosely related to the mind and body, so much of it is subjective. Topics covered include:  

  • Chapter 65. How the mind influences the body

  • Chapter 67. Building a positive self-image: Programming your brain

  • Chapter 68. Love and relationships: Computers can’t hold your hand

  • Chapter 70. Facing failure head-on 

The section opens with a look at the interaction between the mind and the body. Though the Greeks knew about this link, its importance seems to have become lost with the rise of western medicine. Today there are many popular books on the mind, mindfulness, positive thinking etc. Many appear to show a link between having a positive outlook and becoming successful.

The chapter on love was insightful, the author considers it to be a numbers game (with knockbacks) – but you’ll learn how to ask someone out, date, and hopefully meet the right person. The importance of being confident and not seeming to be desperate is discussed.

There’s a useful section on failure, with a wonderful Japanese proverb “Fall down seven times, get up eight”. We all need to appreciate that failure allows us to grow and learn, we shouldn’t fear it, but embrace it.

This section was the most subjective, I didn’t agree with everything that was said, but that’s ok, perhaps more importantly it gets you asking questions.

softskills

 

Conclusion

This book is wide ranging in scope, easy to read, asking questions for the reader to consider, and presenting the author’s thoughts and experiences. The book has good links between chapters, other books, and websites (even if the most common website is the author’s own blog). The book is written by a life coach, and this can be seen in the topics covered. Each chapter ends with a short “Taking action” section - which suggests what you should do next to get the most out of the chapter.

The whole book is largely about people skills, and suggests ways your relationships can be improved to make you more successful. In many ways this book is an amalgamation of various motivational and self-help books. It contains questions that many software developers and others have undoubtedly asked themselves. I suggest you look at the table of contents and free chapters on the manning.com website to see if you like the content and style of writing. You don’t need to agree with everything the author says, but I suspect it will certainly get you thinking.

I was surprised the book didn’t cover the importance of sleep, contentment, happiness, and the different meanings of the word ‘success’. Additionally, perhaps something could have been written about the philosophy of happiness without having lots of money.

This book aims to make you the most successful software developer you can be – by enhancing your non-technical soft skills. Following the advice given in this book will certainly improve your chances of becoming successful. The book is applicable to a much wider audience than software developers. In summary, I can highly recommend this very interesting book.

 

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Pages: 384
ISBN:978-0672338380
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Last Updated ( Friday, 30 January 2015 )