Great books I’ve read/listened to recently for career development or personal development

I am very big on career development and personal development, and one of the techniques I use to help with this is to read or listen to books that improve my knowledge and/or self awareness. Here’s 5 great books I have read recently:

This one is an additional resources to compliment the Business Mentoring programme that I am currently participating in. Check out Self Made book by Bianca Miller-Cole and Byron Cole here https://amzn.to/3QKedQr

This one I bought years ago in Paperback and ready through most of it then apart from the one section I didn’t think was relevant at the time – Selling. Year later I realise its a chapter I probably should have taken seriously so I’ve making up for it now and listening to the audiobook version. Check out Brian Tracy’s book No Excuses here https://amzn.to/3HzMwFu

This book is the second book by Bianca Miller-Cole and Byron Cole, followup after more experiences and feedback from readers and mentees after the first book. This second book is definitely speaking to the things I have been experiencing recently. Check out The Business Survival Kit book here: https://amzn.to/3Na45Nv

This book I bought after attending a training course Financial Freedom and Passion and Profits from Property, hosted by the lovely George and Sarah Choy. It’s definitely helped me make a few changes and take up some new habits in regards to budgeting and money management. Check out Retire Now by George Choy and Sarah Choy here: https://amzn.to/3y6cAFq

I bought this book years ago and never got around to using it until 12 months ago. I haven’t read it cover to cover yet, but used it more like a reference book and jumped into relevant chapters I needed to help me prep for specific interview. I love Gayle’s style of writing as its easy to read and really engaging so far. Check out Cracking the Coding Interview book by Gayle Laakmann McDowell here: https://amzn.to/39zH20W

Bought this Leading Quality book by Ronald Cummings-John and Owais Peer on kindle ages ago so I could read it while commuting. Covid had other ideas and I’ve avoided the commute as have been working at home since 2020. Only just rediscovered this one so only just started reading it. Since I’m in a leadership role now I thought it would be wise to invest some time in developing myself in this area. It’s pretty good so far. I’m hoping I’ll be able to implement some of the things it suggests to improve the quality of the product I’m involved with delivering to the public. Check out the Leading Quality book here https://amzn.to/3zKOEZ9

So these are some of the books I’m currently reading or listening to for career development and personal development. What are your favourite books that you are reading at the moment? And have any of them impacted your career/work/business/life?

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What I’ve Learned From 15 Years At The Same Company in Tech

According to LinkedIn it is my work anniversary month and they are telling me I’ve reached 15 years at the same company. Lord have mercy!

I’ve been so busy that I forgot to even celebrate (or cry) on 4th June, the actual anniversary day.

LinkedIn has got me here all in my feelings. Reminiscing about the good times, and vex about the not so good times. In truth it’s been a rollercoaster of a journey the last 15 years, especially the first 10 years, but everything happens for a reason, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without these experiences and lessons in life and career.

Here’s 5 things I’ve learned from spending 15 years at the same company in tech:

Never stay in the same team too long

I spent the first 10 years in the same team, doing the same things day in day out, until the role changed focus abruptly. Nightmare. But when I eventually moved to a new team within the department it felt like I was working for a brand new company… Modern tech, fresh faces, new ways of working, new projects. It was a blessing. I moved teams a few times until I found the tech, project, and product I really enjoyed working on and felt proud of. Finally found my passion too… Mobile Development.

In order to survive even 10 years at the same company it’s wise to move around the department/company so that you get a better understanding of the business and different domains. This also helps to build good relationships in different areas with key people, relationships that you can leverage later on in your tech career.

Never stick to one technology stack

Whatever you do, never focus on one technology for the majority of your career. I made the mistake of being territorial about Java because it took me so long to be taken seriously as a Java developer that I was damn well going to be a Java developer for life… Little did I know I was cutting myself off from lots of opportunities to grow, and to work on other exciting products. When I finally opened my mind to other technologies new opportunities came thick and fast to widen my knowledge and experience, and I became a better developer because of it.

It’s your responsibility to keep up with the ever changing technology

Don’t get comfortable or complacent, especially after learning your first major tech stack (in my case Java). 10 years in the same team working on the same thing will keep you in your comfort zone. If you have the opportunity to regularly learn new technologies and apply them to your existing project and in your existing team then that’s great. However, if not, at least make the effort to do some skills development or at least have an awareness of what tech is new out there, and find out what opportunities are available in other teams with your department or company to get to use them.

Promotions are not handed to you on a plate… You need to do the work and have a positive mindset

I have to admit I was a bit naive in this space… Throughout most of my career I thought someone would tell you when you are ready for promotion and it just happens. That’s not exactly the case… And it took me 12 years to come to that realisation. You have to take responsibility for your own career development and put a plan together (with assistance from your manager if they care and/or are willing to support). Know what you want in life and career and create a plan to get there. Once you’re clear on what you want, start taking ‘inspired’ action and go along about it with a positive mindset. I don’t know for sure why, but the help, assistance, encouragement, and opportunities will start to appear when you least expect it. Mindset is everything. If you are struggling with this, get help from a coach or therapist until having a positive mindset becomes the norm. Also surround yourself with like minded people who are on a similar journey to you.

Not everyone is for you, but there are some great cheerleaders and supporters too. Know the difference

Tech careers can be very competitive. Most people in tech are generally decent humans and will celebrate your achievements and encourage you to push on and achieve more, and that’s great. Unfortunately, there are those who will smile in your face, but just hate to see you achieving, progressing and getting the recognition you deserve. (Could also be known as Frienemies). Please don’t waste your time or energy trying to convince said people of your worth. It’s their issue not yours. Keep on keeping on! Focus on build a thriving career in tech and building good relationships with the ones that cheer you on.

BONUS – Never turn down opportunities you feel you are not ready for

I’ve let so many opportunities slip through my fingers it’s unreal… and the feeling of regret is painful. However, at the 12.5 years point as a Senior Developer at the same company, my mindset started to change. I was encouraged by a colleague to consider applying for a leadership position, one of the roles I’ve been doing for the last year. If I tell you I tried my hardest to run from this opportunity, but many people pointed out that I had already been leading people in many ways for many years and I just needed to focus that energy and do it with intention to have influence and make a difference. My feelings were that I’d just got comfortable working on the technology and product I loved, and was I really going to stop doing what I love everyday for a role I wasn’t 100% convinced about. It took me a further 12 months to accept they were right, and I should put myself forward, which I begrudgingly did. Blocked in my first attempt (that’s a long story for another day), paused on my 2nd attempt due to the pandemic, but as they say 3 times a charm so I tried again. 15 months after taking that leadership role on, I’m still involved in contributing to a product I love, and being able to create career development opportunities for people who want to grow their tech careers. And it is so satisfying to help make that happen. Damn it!

Overall its been a good 15 years, but I the last 5 years have been great for the most part, and I’m immensely proud of the products I have contributed to and the team I work with. Here’s to the future.

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Exceptional Female Role Models Interview

I sat down for an open and honest chat with Richard Pickard (CEO of Inclusive Search, Champion of Women in Business) for the Exceptional Female Role Models series, about my journey into the technology industry, diversity in tech advocacy, and the lack of representation of underrepresented group in tech, and my hopes for the future.

Check out the interview here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/exceptional-female-role-models-dionne-richard-pickard

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STEPPING UP TO LEAD

Leadership

So this happened earlier this month… On 12th April I got promoted to be an Agile Development Lead, after 13 years and 10 months as a Senior Developer at TfL. Better late than never I guess :-). Apparently Agile Development Lead (ADL) is equivalent to an Engineering Manager externally, as ADL role is not a common description for this type of role in the outside tech world.

Stepping up to Lead

Over the last 2.5 years I’ve had the pleasure of developing on the first mobile app I’ve ever developed on, and one of the most interesting Android apps out there, TfL Go (a travel planning app with heavy focus on accessibility). I’ll now be stepping up from Android development (although currently juggling both Senior Dev and ADL roles for the time being), to now lead the same talented Android and iOS developers that have got the TfL Go app to where it is today, into the hands of the users and hopefully helping to make planning travel across London that little bit easier.

Apparently, it’s important I step up into a tech related leadership role. With only 20% of people in tech being women, and a ridiculously low 0.7% being black women in tech, apparently I need to step up as a role model in tech leadership, to be effective at encouraging a new generation of women and black people to get into tech (both currently very underrepresented groups in tech).

My sponsor rightly pointed out that if I’m not even willing to step up, how do I expect anyone who looks like me to see themselves in a leadership role. I cursed him, but damn, why does he have to be right all the time lol.

It’s going to require a total mindset change, and one that I’m currently battling with. Luckily I inadvertently started developing leadership skills a few years ago, through the ‘extra curricular’ activities I’ve been doing in the tech community (although I didn’t realise I was developing those skills at the time).

Active Listening, Coaching, Negotiating, Public Speaking, Presenting, Sharing Authentic Experiences, Recognising and Nurturing Talent, Being Supporting, Giving Praise, and Being Direct (to be fair I’ve alway been like this lol), apparently are all skills required to be an effective leader. Yet I have so so much to learn, and I’m not 100% sure an official Leadership position is for me (it feels different and less scary when your doing things on a voluntary basis).

Giving up what you love to do day in day out for a greater cause is damn hard. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been an emotional wreck for the last 2 weeks, once I realised I am not going to be coding every day. Gonna have to come up with a plan to satisfy my coding hunger another way, because I don’t think I’ll ever fully accept that one.

But I’m give this a shot. If me stepping up as an Agile Development Lead will encourage even one more person from an underrepresented group to get into tech, and eventually step into a leadership role themselves, then it will be all worth it. If I can do it so can you :-).

#womenintech

#blackintech

#diversityintech

#techleadership

#getintotech

#technewbies

References for the stats:

British Computer Society – Record numbers of women in IT – but black women still under-represented, https://www.bcs.org/more/about-us/press-office/press-releases/record-numbers-of-women-in-it-but-black-women-still-under-represented-new-research-finds/

Diversity and inclusion | BCS BIMA Diversity and Inclusion report https://bima.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/BIMA-Tech-Inclusion-and-Diversity-Report-2019.pdf Tech Nation Diversity report https://technation.io/report2020/

The Edge Foundation Skills Shortage report June 2020 https://www.edge.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/skills_shortage_bulletin_7_web-final.pdf

The Edge Foundation Skills Shortage report Jan 2021 https://www.edge.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/edge_-_ssb-8_web-1c.pdf

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Problem: Using Godaddy Email forwarding through Workspace email not working

I had an issue trying to forward mail from info@mydomain.com to another email hosted on gmail, and I solved it by setting the MX records on mydomain DNS settings.

How to do this:

After logging into your account, and after you have setup Email Forwarding in Godaddy, go to the My Domains page on the Godaddy website.

In the My Domains page, locate your domain name (e.g. mydomain.com) in the list of domains and click on the 3 dots next to the domain name. Select the Manage DNS option. This will take you to the DNS Management page for your domain (You can also access the DNS Management page through the Domain Settings page and click on the Manage DNS link at the bottom of the page).

On the DNS Management page you will see a list of different Records.  Click the ADD button at the bottom of the Records section.

A dialogue window will open, and the Type field will display. select MX from the Type dropdown list. This will display more fields to complete.

Add the following record:

For the Type field:             MX

For the Host field:             @

For the Points To field:     mailstore1.secureserver.net

For the Priority field:        10

For the TTL field:              1 hour

Then click save. And the dialogue window will close

Add another record by clicking the ADD button again.

Add the following:

For the Type field:                MX

For the Host field:                @

For the Points to field:         smtp.secureserver.net

For the Priority field:            0

TTL:                                       1 hour

Click save and the dialogue window will close.

Give it a few minutes ,and then send an email to your new domain email address(e.g. info@mydomain.com) from another email address (not the email address you are expecting to receive the forwarded messages), and you should now see that the message you sent is forwarded to the email address you wanted to receive the forwarded messages.

Hope this helps someone 🙂

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Actions On Google Workshop Codelab Issues

So yesterday I attended the Build Actions for Your Community (Actions on Google) Workshop. It was an opportunity to learn how to develop Actions for Google Assistant (the voice assistant available for users of Google Home, or Google Assistant in a Mobile device).  The workshop was  brilliant and I learnt a lot, and there were plenty of mentors on hand to help guide you and keep you motivated.

I managed to complete CodeLab Level 1 last night and attempted to start CodeLab level 2, but was hitting an issue when trying to install the required Firebase tools on my laptop.

The issue was around npm not being able to find the module ‘internal/util/types’ when trying to install the firebase tools with the command npm -g install firebase-tools

FULL ERROR MESSAGE:

Darwin 17.5.0
npm ERR! argv “/usr/local/Cellar/node/10.7.0/bin/node” “/usr/local/bin/npm” “i” “-g” “npm”
npm ERR! node v10.7.0
npm ERR! npm v2.14.7
npm ERR! code MODULE_NOT_FOUND

npm ERR! Cannot find module ‘internal/util/types’
npm ERR!
npm ERR! If you need help, you may report this error at:
npm ERR! <https://github.com/npm/npm/issues>

npm ERR! Please include the following file with any support request:

After spending hours of faffing around trying to work out a solution, today I finally fixed it with the following:

sudo rm -rf /usr/local/lib/node_modules

brew update node

I then ran the firebase tools install command again:

npm -g install firebase-tools

Which produced the following output:

/usr/local/bin/firebase -> /usr/local/lib/node_modules/firebase-tools/bin/firebase

> @google-cloud/functions-emulator@1.0.0-beta.5 postinstall /usr/local/lib/node_modules/firebase-tools/node_modules/@google-cloud/functions-emulator

> node scripts/upgrade-warning

If you’re using the Emulator via the Firebase CLI, you can

disregard this message.

If you’re upgrading @google-cloud/functions-emulator, these

are the recommended upgrade steps:

1.  Stop the currently running emulator, if any:

        functions stop

2.  Uninstall the current emulator, if any:

        npm uninstall -g @google-cloud/functions-emulator

3.  Install the new version of the emulator:

        npm install -g @google-cloud/functions-emulator

If you have trouble after upgrading, try deleting the config

directory found in:

    ~/.config/configstore/@google-cloud/functions-emulator

Then restart the emulator. You can also check for any renegade

Node.js emulator processes that may need to be killed:

    ps aux | grep node

+ firebase-tools@4.0.2

added 547 packages from 274 contributors in 16.264s

It worked 🙂

Thank the lord!

Looking forward to completing Codelab Level 2 now.

Good luck everyone 🙂

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How do you keep your tech skills and knowledge up to date

I attend Tech events every month (mostly free and some paid for) to learn about new tech and keep up to date, and over the last 4 years attending these one thing I’ve noticed time and time again is that there is rarely anyone who looks like me at these events.

1) Just wondered how you all keep your tech skills and knowledge up to date?

A) Self Study (reading tech books / articles /online tutorials)
B) Attend free tech events and seminars
C) Attend courses, tech events and/or seminars paid for by you
D) Attend courses, tech events and/or seminars paid for by your Employer
E) On the job training only
F) Work on a side project/’tech for good’ to keep skills up to date
G) I don’t keep my skills and knowledge up to date
H) Other (if its this option elaborate)

2) Have you found actively keeping your skills up to date has helped you progress in your career?

Answers on a postcard please (or just post in the comments box below would be great :-))

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