Marcus Buckingham

IT Matters and my top 10 list

Georgia Southern UniversityOn October 26, 2006 I had the privilege of presenting a guest lecture to the students at the College of IT at Georgia Southern University (GSU). I would like to thank Dr. Sonny Butler for inviting me. Below are the 10 main points I presented. My purpose was not to promote any specific technology or company, but to give the students a couple of life lessons based on my IT background and business experience.#1. Never stop learningNo, you don’t know everything after you earned your IT (or any other) degree. Never stop reading. Read IT books, business books and blogs. I recommend that you also read outside your field. For example I’m currently subscribed to The Futurist magazine.Futurist Magazine It’s a great way to expand your horizons. Tip: Every year randomly pick up a magazine or book from the business section at your local bookstore.Attend conferences, and again sometimes attend conferences outside your field.Join a mentor group or a technology peer group. I belong to Vistage. It’s the largest CEO group in the world and I’ve learned a bunch from my peers, including CEOs from a flooring company, a cosmetic dentistry, a not-for-profit organization and a chicken feed additive company. All non-IT focussed organizations — go figure…Lastly, visit other countries. You will definitely gain new insights, broaden your experience and come back to the US with a new appreciation for how privileged we are in this country.#2. Be pragmaticI was very much in love with the technical betty of both OS/2 and Smalltalk. Very soon after leaving university I realized that a technically superior product doesn’t always win in the marketplace. For example: I still think Smalltalk is the best programming language, but so what. Most of my career I programmed in other languages, e.g., C++ and ABAP (SAP’s programming language). Don’t forget your principles, however when it comes to technology be pragmatic. Fortunately Smalltalk influenced Java and also influenced programming paradigms like SAP’s Webdynpro methodology and Ruby/Ruby on Rails.#3. IT is still relevantIT is still relevant and will continue to be relevant during our lifetimes. Most productivity gains still come from improvements in technology. I think that we are only at the beginning of the impact that cheap, high bandwidth, allways-on Internet access will have on consumers and the global economy. Think about the impact of Skype, Jajah, mobile devices and soon WiMax. Btw, cool technology like iPod is great hardware, however software (iPod’s software and iTunes) continues to be the secret One laptop per Childsauce. IT is also making a big difference in uplifting the third world, e.g., MIT’s one laptop per child initiative. See my previous post on (RED).#4. India and China…and Eastern Europe, Russian, Bulgaria and Estonia… The world is flat and IT jobs (and lots of other jobs) will go off-shore. If you haven’t read “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman then you should read it now.I also recommend “Commanding Heights” by Yergin and Stanislaw. It chronicles the raise of free markets over the last 100 years. Fascinating stuff, really!I told the students that the best way to deal with the off-shore phenomenon is to make sure you remain relevant and learn new skills, e.g., project management, presentation skills, and writing skills.#5. Where will my IT degree take me — a technical or business career?You can take a technical track or move into a business career. For example, I have a Masters in Computer Science and started my career as a programmer. After a couple of years I became a consultant and eventually moved into a management position. I recently completed a 8 year tenure as the CEO of an IT consulting company. I think you can earn good money pursuing a technical career as well as a business/management career.IT Consulting is another very lucrative option, however it involves a lot of air travel and it will impact your family life. I recommend you consult while you’re not married and use the opportunity to see the world!

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Reading list update incl Guy Kawasaki

I started reading “Now, discover your strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and so far I’m really enjoying this book. I also look forward to seeing Marcus at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta this week.Art of the Start – Guy KawasakiI finished reading/studying Art of the Start — Wow! what a read. I highly recommend this book — even if you don’t intend starting anything soon. It’s a great guide to evaluate your current business practices.C.S. LewisI also finished a couple of C.S. Lewis books. Mere Christianity is a great logical approach to understanding Christianity. The Great Divorce is an allegory of the Afterlife — very thought provoking.Choosing to CheatInteresting read… This book by Andy Stanley is a must read for all overworked, stressed, and “overtravelled” businesspeople. I hope that after you read this that you make your family priority one.[amtap book:isbn=1591840562] [amtap book:isbn=0060652888] [amtap book:isbn=1590523296] [amtap book:isbn=0743201140]I would love to hear your comments about these books — or others like these…

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What a website!

I live in Atlanta and every October Atlanta hosts the Catalyst Conference for young leaders. The conference was birthed by John Maxwell the Leadership Guru and this is it’s sixth year. The keynote speakers include: Andy Stanley, Marcus Buckingham (First, Break all the rules fame) and Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz). Very worth attending. The Catalyst website is stunning and very different from what’s out there today.The company that produces it is called: FiveStone. Have a look at their website and some of their clients — very cool stuff.[amtap book:isbn=0785288376][amtap book:isbn=0785263705][amtap book:isbn=1416502661][amtap book:isbn=1590523296]

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