In the early days of my career I was very much the "computer nerd" totally focussed on my passion for programming and learning all I could about computers.
In many ways I'm still a "computer nerd".
As I write this blog post I'm currently up at midnight awaiting the Apple keynote for WWDC 2019 which starts at 3am Australian Eastern Standard Time. I have never missed a livestream of the keynote.
My early career was well before PC's and while I was working initially on Mainframes and Mini Computers when the PC era started I eagerly embraced having at different times; a hobby computer kit I build myself, a TANDY TRS-80, Commodore 64, Apple IIe , PC-AT and the first Mac in 1984.
I currently have a very powerful gaming PC to run my flight simulator plus a recent MacBook Pro + high quality USB-C monitor to replace my 2011 27" iMac and 2013 MacBook Air. Both of these are still going strong but nice to have an Apple computer that is a lot more powerful, and due to the high resolution laptop screen and external monitor, very easy on the eyes.
I've had to learn a lot of different operating systems from proprietary mainframe and mini computer OS's to CPM, Dos, Xenix, Unix, Linux and all the variants of Windows from Windows 95 onwards plus a plethora of Apple OS's etc.
However by far the most useful and most successful skill I developed, that took a lot of practice and study, was how to be a good communicator!
Developing great communication skills helped me move from the insular world of being enmeshed in computer logic and Devops to becoming a business and systems analyst and ultimately running the IT department for the Australian arm of a sizeable multi-national.
It also led to excelling in Enterprise Software Sales which was by far the most lucrative, character building and personally challenging aspect of my career. This was done at the same time as taking over as the CEO of the startup I was in for 20 years.
Nothing sharpens you like literally winning or losing a single $1M sale (with multiple millions in repeat business over the coming years) from the next words that come out of your mouth.
Being a good communicator not only helped me in sales but literally in every aspect of my career and personal life and helped me in seizing opportunities as they presented themselves. This included marrying my lovely wife and still being very happily married 35 years later.
Sales was the ultimate test of my communication skills and by far was the hardest thing I have done in my career because as they say "there is no 2nd place in Sales" and I very much liked to win.
Fortunately I have a lot of written testimonials to prove that I always did this truthfully, ethically and professionaly and built an excellent reputation over my years in business. Almost all the customers I sold to in the early days of the business, and through the years, were still customers when I left 20 years later and the business is still going very strong after I left.
Customer loyalty was an important criteria with the global company that acquired the business and I believe we ranked very highly in this regard.
Obviously it was very much a team effort to develop the products and services to keep these customers happy and continuing to receive value and I was not the only sales person. I was always extremely proud of our whole team and my fondest memories are the many excellent people; staff, customers, partners and suppliers I had the pleasure of working with over the years.
The reason I am saying all this is that I believe that excellent communication is a skill that can be learnt just like a programming language or an OS. It does not matter if you are a total introvert or a total extrovert, if you put the effort in and learn how to be a good communicator I’m positive it can make a huge difference to your career.
I have mentored many people over the years and have had excellent mentors myself and I have seen time and time again the proof of my statement above.
It does require stepping out of your comfort zone and both continuous learning and putting into practice what you have learnt. I'm not advocating here that you need to become a sales person but rather you develop the communication skills to achieve your personal and work goals whatever they may be.
Without the benefit of a University education I have learnt a lot of things by trial and error and practical experience and while I would have loved to have a Degree (my wife has 3!) I have learnt a lot of valuable skills that I am more than happy to share with others.
I have a lot of training material I've developed over the years and used in my consulting practice and now that I'm retired quite happy to share this in various blog posts if people are interested.
If you think this is a topic you would be interested in please reply below and I will write a lot more on this topic and hopefully pass on some knowledge and tips and tricks that I'm sure will benefit your career and you personally.
If I get a positive response my next blog post will be on the single most important skill on becoming a great communicator so stay tuned!
Cover photo by Diego PH on Unsplash