J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

July, 2009

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Top 10 Lessons in Happiness


    I have a guest post from bestselling author, Gretchen Rubin on The Top 10 Lessons Learned in Happiness on Sources of Insight.  Gretchen is a former lawyer from Yale, turned writer.  What’s interesting to me about Gretchen is that she studied happiness by making it a project.  During The Happiness Project, Gretchen spent a year test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study on happiness she could find.  Her guest post is a summary of her top 10 lessons.


    Read Gretchen’s Top 10 Lessons Learned in Happiness.   If you like that, also check out Keys for Skilled Happiness.

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    How To Be a Successful Individual Contributor at Microsoft


    I wrote up my top 10 lessons learned in how to be a successful individual contributor at Microsoft on Sources of Insight.  Really, these lessons apply just about anywhere, and they especially apply in our new skills-for-hire economy.  Here is a quick summary of my lessons:

    • Lesson 1. Focus on strengths, limit liabilities.
    • Lesson 2. Scale yourself.
    • Lesson 3. Know what’s valued.
    • Lesson 4. Follow the growth.
    • Lesson 5. Model the best.
    • Lesson 6. Balance the hot spots.
    • Lesson 7. Manage your plate.
    • Lesson 8. Stay in the game.
    • Lesson 9. Drive or be driven.
    • Lesson 10. You’re the sum of your network.

    For elaboration on these lessons, check out my post Proven Practices for Individual Contributors.  If you like the post, be sure to check out my related posts:

    1. Patterns and Practices for New Hires
    2. Lessons Learned in patterns & practices (Shaping Software)
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    Discover the How to Your Why


    I have a guest post by Janine de Nysschen on how to Discover the How to Your Why at Sources of Insight.  This is a follow up to Janine's previous guest post, Discover Your Why.  It's basically about putting your purpose into action.  When you lead with your why and your how, you can bring your best game wherever you go.  What you do is simply a channel for unleashing your best why and how.  You’ve probably noticed this in the movies you see, or the stories you read.  The context for the story might change, but you connect with the underlying themes.  It’s the journey and the destination.  This post is about leading your journey with your why and how for getting results at work and life.

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    Lessons in Software from Mike de Libero


    I have a guest post, Lesson in Software from Mike de Libero, on Shaping Software.  Mike was a security tester on the Microsoft Office team and has a variety of experiences under his belt.   Here is a summary of his lessons:

    • Lesson 1. All software is flawed.
    • Lesson 2. Check-in often.
    • Lesson 3. Tests, gotta love them.
    • Lesson 4. Refactor, check-in and repeat.
    • Lesson 5. Coding is easy, humans are tough.
    • Lesson 6. The more eyes on your code the better.
    • Lesson 7. Keep learning and improving.
    • Lesson 8. Simple is beautiful.
    • Lesson 9. Learn software development not coding.
    • Lesson 10. Think about your audience.

    You can read an explanation of the lessons in his post, Lesson in Software from Mike de Libero.

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    PM Skills for Life


    I wrote a post on PM Skills for Life on Sources of Insight.  PM is short for “Program Manager.”  I’ve been a PM for the past several years, and learned a ton along the journey.  I attempted to do a roundup of some of the key skills and how they help with skilled living.  Enjoy!

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    Discover Your Why


    Do you know why you do what you do?  Your why defines the difference you want to make in this world, and it inspires everything you do.  For example, I originally joined Microsoft to help change the world and improve the quality of life for people through software.  In fact, a lot of fellow Softees, joined Microsoft with the hopes to build a better world.  When you live your why, a lot of other things fall into place.  Sounds great, but how do you actually discover your why …

    Well, I have a guest post from Janine de Nysschen on how to Discover Your Why on Sources of Insight.   Janine is the founder of Whytelligence and has more than 25 years of experience in the strategy and intelligence arena.

    Even if you already know why you do what you do, check out Janine’s advice to be sure you don’t fall into the logic trap – you should be emotionally connected to your purpose.  So put on your curiosity cap and read discover your why with an open mind.  Discovering your why, just might change your life.

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    Proven Practices for Getting Results


    My other blog, Sources of Insight is focused on effectiveness.  I launched it as a way to put more focus on getting results and to help give my mentees a more focused path (I’m a mentor at Microsoft and regularly carry ~8 mentees.)  One of the mantras on Sources of Insight is “Stand on the shoulder’s of giants!”  The idea is that I share the best insights and actions I can find for work and life, from books, people, and quotes, along with my experience both inside and outside Microsoft. 

    Given my history on the patterns & practices team, my blog is heavily geared towards principles, patterns and practices to help people make the most of what they’ve got.  I don’t care whether you’re an architect, an engineer, a tester, or whatever … we’re all in this together, and life throws curve balls.  The purpose of the blog is to give you an unfair advantage, by sharing the world’s best insight and action for work and life.  It’s ultimately a collection of patterns and practices for skilled living.

    One of the things I haven’t been happy with is my tag line on Sources of Insight.  I’ve tested several flavors but they didn’t resonate for one reason or another.  My latest one seems to be working out pretty well.  It’s simple and to the point:  “Proven Practices for Getting Results!”  It was actually a challenging exercise to find a tag line that actually worked for my readers.  I bounced it against a broad set of people for feedback, from marketing experts to developers to you name it.  I wrote up some of my lessons learned in designing an effective tagline in my post, The Design of an Effective Tagline.

    Be sure to stop by and say hi.   Feel free to introduce yourself and let me know any hot issues you’d like to see information on and, if it’s on topic, I’ll see if I can work it in.  The main focus in the blog is a set of hot spots for life: mind, body, career, emotions, financial, relationships, and fun.

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    Lessons in Software from James Waletzky


    I have a guest post, Lessons in Software from James Waletsky, on Shaping Software.  James is a Development lead at Microsoft, with several years of coaching teams on Agile practices and software engineering under his belt.  Here is a summary of his lessons:

    • Lesson 1.    Keep it simple.
    • Lesson 2.    Define ‘done’.
    • Lesson 3.    Deliver incrementally and iteratively.
    • Lesson 4.    Split scenarios into vertical slices.
    • Lesson 5.    Continuously improve.
    • Lesson 6.    Unit testing is the #1 quality practice.
    • Lesson 7.    Don’t waste your time.
    • Lesson 8.    Features are not the most important thing.
    • Lesson 9.    Never trust anyone.
    • Lesson 10.    Reviews without preparation are useless.

    You can read an explanation of the lessons in his post, Lessons In Software from James Waletzky.

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    Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee


    I have a post on Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee on Sources of Insight.  Bruce Lee was one of my early inspirations.  He was a patterns and practices kind of a guy.  In fact, Bruce influenced my software engineering approach.  Rather than lock into a single style, he took the best techniques from various martial arts and measured against effectiveness.  For example, he took a boxer's hands and a wreslter's grappling skills.

    Here is a summary of my lessons from Bruce:

    • Be YOUR best.
    • Absorb what is useful.
    • Keep an open mind.
    • Aim past your target.
    • Stay flexible.
    • Focus on growth.
    • Master your mind and body.
    • Apply what you know.
    • Make things happen.

    My favorite Bruce Lee quote is "Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”  It's all about finding what works for you and not blindly adopting things.

    I've included a more exhaustive list of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes in my post, Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee.  Whether you're a Bruce Lee fan or on a path of personal development, I think you'll enjoy the tour of Bruce's insight and words of wisdom.

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