Book Review - Soft Skills: The software developer's life manual


I started year 2016 with reading a book that I came across while I was searching for a book that would benefit me as a developer. I am glad I read this book. This book has not only helped me professionally, but also personally. This is one of the most practical books that I have ever come across. The only reason that I am writing this book review is that I have benefited a lot from this book and by spreading the word around about this book, I might help someone benefit from it.

The book that I am talking about is Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual by John Z. Sonmez. If you read the foreword written by Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob) for this book, you will get to know how John himself follows what all he has written in the book.

The book has been divided into seven sections. There are multiple chapters within each section. Each chapter is an easy read. When I was reading this book, I could read each chapter in 5 to 10 minutes. I will be highlighting the things from each of the sections that have benefited me the most. If you see the sections below, you will understand why John calls this book a life manual. In his book, John starts each section with a quote which very beautifully summarizes the section. I will be mentioning those quotes against each section.

Career

The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual.Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career! - Earl Nightingale

  • I understood the difference between an employee, an independent consultant and entrepreneur and helped me assess if I am on the correct path.
  • I got an answer to whether I should be a specialist or a generalist.
  • I understood why need to work on my people skills.
  • I have to take charge of my own career.
  • I gained perspective on how to hack an interview easily.

Marketing Yourself

Marketing is a contest for people’s attention. - Seth Godin

  • The importance of personal brand.
  • I learnt how to market myself by writing blogs or books, speaking at conferences and recording videos.
  • I understood how social networks can help me build my personal brand.

Learning

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. - Albert Einstein

  • I learnt how to keep myself up-to-date with the ever changing technologies by learning how to learn fast.
  • I understood that teaching is a great way to learn.

Productivity

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. - Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

This is one section that gave me a lot of knowledge how to manage my time and become more productive. Some things that I learnt are:

  • Using the pomodoro technique to my advantage
  • The need to build habits.
  • Breaking resistance and taking action.

Financial

Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. - Ayn Rand

  • I learnt how I can negotiate my salary.
  • It was the first time I understood how I could trade in Options rather than Equities.
  • I got insight into how can one benefit from real estate and what all should one be aware of before putting money in real estate.

Fitness

The human body is the best picture of the human soul. - Ludwig Wittgenstein

Those who know me may understand how much this section would have helped me.

  • One of the best lessons I learnt was how to make exercises fun. An example that I am taking from the book is that if you love to read books, then you can combine it with your running by listening to an audiobook while running.
  • I learnt some food hacks that will satisfy your stomach when it wants the most but without adding anything to your belly.

Spirit

If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self. - Napoleon Hill

  • I understood the relationship between the mind and the body.
  • I understood the role positivity plays in building right mental attitude and a positive-self image.
  • I got to know of some books that had helped the author a lot.
  • I learnt that failure is the road to success and instead of fearing the failure, embracing it and taking action will take me a long way in my life.

Summary

The book has helped me a lot. I hope it also helps you. Give it a try. Happy reading.

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