Present Yourself Well with John Sonmez

The software development industry has got a bit of a reputation. From poor personal hygiene to poor relationship hygiene to social awkwardness, how developers present themselves often stands in the way of them achieving their full potential. Developers, we have to get better at this stuff if we want the kind of careers where we are truly treated like professionals instead of assembly line workers.

“He’s also one of the freest human beings I’ve ever met.”

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer, where he tirelessly pursues his vision of transforming complex issues into simple solutions. He’s also published over 50 pluralsight courses on topics such as IOS, Android, .NET, Java, and game development. He is the host of the Simple Programmer podcast/youtube channel, the Get Up and Code Podcast, and is one of the dudes on the Entreprogrammers podcast. He is also a life coach for software developers and is the author of Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual, and is getting ready to roll out his upcoming book “The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide”.

Episode Breakdown

10:00 Why First Impressions Are Important

“One of the biggest places is not accepting reality.”

People make judgements based on a small amount of incomplete data and do it very quickly. Those initial judgements may be wrong, but people become emotionally attached to them.

13:35 Personal Grooming and Dress

“You want to dress and look where you don’t have to speak.”

Try not to smell, including your breath. While the industry really likes raggedy clothes, it doesn’t give the impression you want. Dress gives indications of status. General grooming and appearance gives people an impression of discipline.

23:30 How You Interact

“One of the things you can do to be a charismatic person is to be an enigma”

How you talk to people matters. Formality Matters, tone Matters, interest matters – focus on the other party, not yourself. If you don’t know what to talk about, food and travel are reasonable.

35:30 Manners Matter

Be as nice as reasonable to everyone. Learn to make a graceful exit from conversations that aren’t working for you. How you ask for things you need makes a big difference towards whether you get them.

39:43 Body Language and Posture

“You have knocked things over when we are recording.”

Smile when it’s appropriate and make appropriate amount of eye contact. Stand/sit up straight, but don’t appear rigid unless it’s appropriate Don’t cross your arms, look at your phone, etc.

52:50 When You Have Authority

“Authority is something you can only use once, when grenades are flying.”

Conduct yourself with authority, but don’t be overbearing like a mall cop. Authority is not an excuse to talk down to people or be otherwise abrasive. Think of power as an exposed position, not a protected one. People on either side of you can take you down when you are an authority.

59:20 Changing a Bad Impression.

“You don’t change because you are afraid of what people will think if you change.”

First stop doing harm. Start small, prefer gradual, sustainable change over sudden ones. Don’t expect people’s perceptions to change all at once. Expect that things may be forgiven, but damage is not forgotten.

IoTease: Product

Wilson X Football

This is a connected football for training and play that helps you become a better football star. When you throw it the ball tracks velocity, distance, spiral efficiency, spin rate and whether a pass was caught or dropped. It connects to your phone via bluetooth to track them. It even plays music and sounds while you are playing or practicing.

Tricks of the Trade

Freedom only works when you put constraints on yourself. Freedom is an extremely destructive concept for people that don’t have discipline. The self-disciplined have a hard time in restrictive environments and are continually frustrated. The undisciplined get less and less discipline in unstructured environments, until they get fired and rules get put in place. Think of every old school company you worked at. Did you notice something, like a sign that says “don’t lick the printer cartridges” or something similarly idiotic? That’s because somebody did.

Editor’s Notes:

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