Book Review: Brazen Careerist Gives Advice on Hacking Corporate Culture

Penelope Trunk helped convince me to take my current job at Wired News, and it was great advice — I love my job. As my friend, her advice is supportive, sympathetic, frank, and cuts through the crap: Just what you wish all of your friends’ advice would be like.

As a writer, she delivers career advice with the same directness and practicality. Trunk’s new book, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success seems positioned as a sort of career guide for twenty-somethings, but it’s equally applicable to mid-career professionals, career-changers, wannabe entrepreneurs, and even high school students embarking on their first summer jobs. With entertainingly counterintuitive chapter headings (“Do your own work last,” “Don’t be supportive,” “Use harassment to boost your career”) and brief, well-written anecdotes, Brazen Careerist is like a cookbook for hacking the corporate work world. Its main shortcoming is that its advice might seem a little obvious to more experienced veterans of the job world. But then, even I needed someone to tell me the blindingly obvious fact that I needed to take this job.

WIRED Covers the whole gamut of work, from resume writing to first-time managing to starting your own company. Advice reflects corporate reality, not wishful thinking. Engaging, illustrative anecdotes.

TIRED Emphasis on the importance of being “likeable” and “authentic” could turn a generation of workers into glad-handing fakes. Doesn’t harsh on Baby Boomers quite enough.

$23, penelopetrunk.com
*******— (7 out of 10)

Link: Book Review: Brazen Careerist Gives Advice on Hacking Corporate Culture

Link broken? Try the Wayback Machine.

Book Review: Brazen Careerist Gives Advice on Hacking Corporate Culture

Your computer is training you.

Mac OS X spinning beach ballGetting even simple things done with a slightly underpowered computer and a bunch of web-based applications means you spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for TypePad to publish a post, waiting for Gmail to populate the screen with a list of the latest messages, waiting for an image to download so you can start editing it in Photoshop, waiting for Photoshop to launch.

Each of these delays is tiny, maybe on the order of five to twenty seconds, or a minute at the most: Delays which, taken individually, are negligible. But over the course of a day, they accumulate, not literally but psychologically, so you start thinking: What else can I do while I wait for this Ajax-ified web page to load? So you flip to another tab, or jump over to your email program, or respond to someone’s IM.

The result: A five-minute task (writing and publishing a blog post, for instance) gets spread out over half an hour, interleaved with a bunch of other micro tasks, because that five minute task contains half a dozen annoying little delays that you’d rather avoid.

Your computer has trained you to become a task-switcher. It has trained you to spread your attention out across multiple tasks simultaneously, devoting only a little time to each one in turn.

This is a major design flaw in all modern computers, because the computers are designed to provide beautiful, translucent, animated interfaces, not to respond instantaneously to human commands. And, I’m afraid, Web 2.0 style applications are only making it worse.

Your computer is training you.

Zebra pens.

It seems to be a law of ballpoint pens that the best ones inevitably disappear, leaving behind only inferior writing implements. Thus I have managed, over the past year, to lose three Fisher Space Pens (really the perfect all-purpose pocket pen) while the promising but ultimately disappointing Zebra Tele-scopic has somehow managed to remain in my pocket for months, obstinately not disappearing. And since it comes in a pack of two, I’ve got another one in my drawer as a backup. Argh! The Tele-scopic shrinks down to Space Pen size for pocket transport, while the dual barrel extends, telescope-like, to make a full sized pen when you’re ready to write; at the same time the point cleverly extends. Pushing it back down to shorter length makes the point retract. Neat! Unfortunately the point also seems to work its way out when the barrel is retracted and the pen is riding in my pocket. So far this hasn’t led to any embarrassing ink leaks but it’s annoying. Also the pen is just a touch too skinny and lightweight.

The Tele-scopic’s shortcomings are even more disappointing given that the Zebra F-402 is such a good writing implement — smooth writing, fine line, comfortable grip, and perfect for clipping into a notebook or organizer. Unfortunately both of my F-402s have disappeared too. At this rate I’ll be left only with Rollerballs (smeary, for lefties) and Papermates (blotchy, inconsistent lines and totally un-ergonomic).

Zebra pens.

Geeks and Suits Rub Shoulders at GigaOm Party

Om Malik and TheLadders.com CEO Mark Cenedella joined forces to throw a cocktail party at San Francisco’s Pier 38 Thursday evening. Was this a turning point for the boomlet of optimism and hope that has been tagged with the lame moniker of “web 2.0”? Maybe, but whether it’s the high water mark or the bend in the hockey stick of upward growth is hard to tell. One thing seemed clear: For the first time since late 2000, Web geeks in T-shirts were rubbing shoulders with MBAs in blue oxford shirts and suit pants. (Many of the business class had wisely left their jackets in their Audis, and all had removed their ties by the time they arrived. Everyone knows you dress down for a web party.)

TheLadders is a job board catering to people looking for jobs paying $100,000 a year or more. Isn’t that all of us? A good number of the attendees must have been successful in that search, though, because while the free drinks flowed, the bartender’s tip glass overflowed, a sure sign that the crowd wasn’t too packed with tightfisted computer geeks or ramen-eating bootstrappers.

Justin.tv’s Justin Kan wandered through the crowd, beaming everything to his web site’s live video feed. Robert Scoble amiably and enthusiastically held court. And presiding over it all was a beaming Om Malik.

Link: Geeks and Suits Rub Shoulders at GigaOm Party

Link broken? Try the Wayback Machine.

Geeks and Suits Rub Shoulders at GigaOm Party

Floola: A cure for iTunes poisoning.

I finally found an antidote to the bloated, overgrown, poorly designed mess that is iTunes. It’s a little freeware app called Floola that is just a few megabytes in size and requires no installation, so you can just put the application file on your iPod and run it from there. Floola has a straightforward interface: A simple table lists all of the MP3 files on your iPod, which you can sort by name, album, artist, genre, etc. You can drag and drop MP3 files to and from your hard drive just like you’ve always wanted to, or play music that’s on a Shuffle, which is something iTunes bizarrely refuses to let you do. Best of all, it doesn’t slow your computer to a crawl. Granted, Floola doesn’t have network playlist sharing like ITunes, documentation is almost nonexistent, and it’s buggy, but so far it hasn’t crashed my computer or hosed my music. I’d much rather spend my time with a slightly flaky app that gets the job done than a gigantic, overdesigned monster with identity issues and a not-so-subtle marketing agenda, so I’m ditching ITunes and going with Floola.

Floola: A cure for iTunes poisoning.