How do you keep up with change?

I can tell you that for me it is not as easy as it used to be.  When I look around at the projects going on at TempWorks, I realize I have to sprint faster than ever to keep up.  I’m 53 now, and things just don’t come as quickly as they used to.   My broad mind and narrow waist changed places years ago.

Nevertheless I’ve put together a continuing education program for myself that at least makes it fun to stay in the game.  There are two parts to it.  The first is to hang around smart people.  The second is to constantly seek out great trainers.

Hang Around Smart People
One of the biggest blessings for me at TempWorks is to hang around smart people.   We’ve got them in spades.

A walk around TempWorks is for me like having a private team of professors, sports coaches, and movie producers at my personal disposal.  The lame questions, asked often with a coffee cup in hand, make me into a moden Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole), Peter's boss from Office Team.   But I love it just the same.

When I say smart, I’m thinking of people like Jeff Bradford, our developer who singlehandedly  wrote our XML based matching system.  Our clients make their money by making great candidate matches for their clients, so having a super fast and flexible matching engine like what Jeff built with XML means everything.   For me, a walk through his code is like a promenade through le Jardin des Plantes.

By smart I also mean our VP of sales, Casey Kraus.  Casey is book smart but where he really excels is in the emotional IQ department.  When situations get tense, like when a client is upset about something, Casey has a unique ability to calm our end down and get to the root of the problem which invariably leads to a solution.  For someone born with a congenital bad temper, watching Casey in action is like having Dale Carnegie as a personal coach.

It’s not right to only mention two people here at TempWorks.  There’s Paul our CTO who has won accolades from Microsoft for the development of TempWorks Enterprise.  Jason and Aaron, top notch designers.  Derek and Kevin, developers of many of our web products.  Jathan, Ali and Musa, who do flawless implementations.  Mari, an incredibly disciplined project manager.  Maria Dourgarian, who has rewritten all my accounting software.  And Andy, my coffee buddy and inveterate jQuery coach.

That still leaves out a lot of people but I want to get on to the second way I stay educated, seeking out great trainers.

Take Advantage of Great Training

It used to be that to get great training you needed to fly somewhere.  When I started at United Airlines in 1979, Univac flew me all over on two or three day trips to get specialized software training.  That’s no longer necessary or even helpful any more.

Currently I use two online training programs whose quality far surpasses anything I’ve experienced even at the exclusive private college I went to.    Those programs are PluralSight and ThinkVitamin.  They both have limited free videos and full-library of extremely well done training videos for paid members.

PluralSight is how I stay current on hard-core software development.   Their tagline is “The professional On-Demand! training library designed for developers, by developers”.

PluralSight has a heavy emphasis on Microsoft, but if you’re not doing Microsoft platform stuff I still recommend them.  For example, I just finished up PluralSight’s jQuery course by Dan Wahlin.

ThinkVitamin is a great resource for anyone interested in the future of web applications.  Their tagline is

“LEARN WEB DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT - High quality video training to keep you on the cutting edge” which is a bit stodgy as pitches go considering how great their training courses actually are.

I’ve completed their Responsive Web Design course that teaches how to make websites adapt in a friendly way to different sized devices (desktop, tablet, mobile phone etc).   I highly recommend checking out their main website http://thinkvitamin.com/ and changing your screen size to see how responsive web design plays out in practice.

I’ve also completed ThankVitamin’s HTLM5 mobile web app course https://membership.thinkvitamin.com/library/html5-mobile-web-applications and have since started a skunkworks project of building a mobile only recruiting app using jQuery mobile.

Summary

Well this got longer than I intended.  Really I wanted to just give a great shout out to some really neat people that have enriched my life.

Tags: Staffing Software, Technology, Jquery, HTML5, Mobile web application, Responsive web design