How to be a successful computer professional
Also be sure to check-out my tips for for
observational skills and the
skills of personality
I recently had a question from a College student
about how a person can stand-out on their field and become a
top-shelf computer professional. It’s not a “secret” really.
While I advocate a strong education in science
or business administration, it's also important to be articulate and
to have on-your-feet thinking skills. I recommend
Toastmasters and better still,
to learn the communications skills that are vital for success.
Personal success is really nothing more than a
strong moral compass, simple common sense and lots and lots of hard
work. Here are some of my guidelines.
Have High Personal Standards and
I’m sometimes criticized for having
job screening requirements. I make no secret that I prefer
people with high moral standards, people with top-notch educations
people who give-back (servicemen, people who donate time to
charities) and people with a demonstrable work ethic, and above all,
no history of moral turpitude (paying bills late, criminal
convictions). I have many consultants who far exceed my own
abilities, and I make no excuse for hiring the best people that I
Click here for more on
personal integrity and honesty
I was always rewarded for following-through
with tough challenges and I’m the first to admit that once I
locked-in to a task, I let nothing stop me. I firmly believe that
the only thing to be ashamed of is not giving 100% to every task you
I learned that I was not going to be stopped by
people telling me that something cannot be done, and I worked
relentlessly on every ask I undertook. There is an old saying
“If you want to get something done, give it to the obsessive guy”.
When I was teaching graduate school at the University of New Mexico,
I would give students difficult problems that other experts said
“could not be done”.
Have a real work ethic
I have always had contempt for self-entitled
people, and I hate those annoying TV commercials offering to give
people “the cash that you deserve”.
Who the hell says
that you deserve anything?
You get paid exactly what the market demands,
and not a penny more. My strong work ethic was because I grew-up
poor (my Dad was a Disabled Veteran), because I had high-standards
imposed by my parents and because I was orphaned as a teen. I’m
also very conscious of providing value for my clients and all of my
consultants share a real desire to be as productive as possible.
Get Real-World Experience
The “Catch 22” argument is a common theme with
many aspiring DBA’s. I get e-mail saying “I need experience to get
a DBA job, but I can’t get a job without experience”. If you have
this problem, do what I did.
I worked for free for my professors and took my
first job at a place with very low-pay, just to get the experience.
I later did database work for charities to sharpen my skills, and
there are loads of charitable organizations who want volunteers with
The USA is a true bastion of upward mobility
and anyone who wants to be successful can get there with hard work
Thinking outside-the-box is the hallmark of
American Ingenuity and you should always foster your creativity by
exploring new uses for technology. Being hindered by proctologic
thinking is a serious deficiency for any computer professional.
Creative people commonly face objection from experts who say that
because something has never been done, ergo, it cannot be done. Me
and my wife Janet faced this when we were attempting to
horses and we were told by experts that it was impossible.
We faced even more ridicule from experts who assured us that
horses could never be trained
to safely guide the blind. The experts said it couldn’t be
done, so we went ahead and did it. Today there are four
full-time guide horse teams in America. We also saved a horse
with a broken leg by questioning experts who told us that it
couldn't be fixed.
Don't trust any expert who say "It's never been
done, so it must be impossible".
Also beware of turgid experts who oppose novel
uses of technology solutions. For example, American drug
researchers discovered that the anti-depressant Wellbutrin reduced
nicotine cravings, and today this drug has helped millions of people
When Oracle expert Robin Schumacher discovered
that using Oracle multiple blocksizes improved I/O throughput, some
experts said “You can’t do that! Multiple blocksizes were made for
transportable tablespaces, not for I/O segregation.”
Don't trust any experts who say "Do can't do
that. It was made for another purpose".
It takes guts to put your reputation
on-the-line and to invest your savings into new endeavors. Starting
a consulting business requires money, lots of friends and
connections, but most of all, courage and a firm belief in your
My father spent years in a Veterans hospital when I
was a kid, and I spent hundreds of hours chatting with “real
heroes” in the hallowed halls of the V.A. wards. I know courage and I know cowardice, and I believe that
there are many courageous people in the USA and it’s my job to find
them for my staff.
Right is right, wrong is wrong, and I have the
strength of my convictions to guide me. I recently went to great
lengths to expose an
Oracle scammer, and I have the guts to fight for what is just
and right, no matter the personal cost.
So, there it is, everything you need to know.
Like my Grandpa always said “There’s always room at the top”.
It’s true, you know. . . .