We all want to be a rockstar in our life. We want to be known for something extraordinary. Maybe you haven’t given it a thought but I believe we subconsciously revere someone in our life.
It could be our parents. Our teachers or one of our friends or relatives or someone in our office.
You might be thinking about an industry leader. Like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. But I am not talking about them. I am talking about the heroes which are near to us!
One of my colleagues is very good in DSP programming. He is a go to person. I am sure you know someone who is a go-to person. You know how everybody treats that person.
Even if one has to write a very small program ( like “Hello World” program) he would go to the go-to-person. Although there are other persons who can do the DSP programming. But the go-to person is the reliable option.
This email is about how can you become a rockstar.
But What Kind of Rockstar you Should be
As a junior developer, you need to prove your existence to your boss or your company. You want to be valuable. You want to be a necessity for your boss.
You cannot become the necessity if you are like others. If you are experienced in a super cool framework that is common in the market then you are common too. If you know only those things that every other developer knows then you are a commodity.
A commodity can be replaced. It can be replaced by a cheaper option. You don’t wanna be a commodity. You want to be a necessity.
Don’t tie yourself to a particular library or tool. You don’t want yourself to be seen as someone who does cool jobs only in HTML. I don’t want you to be that DSP programming hero. I want you to be the problem solver.
You have to prove that you can solve problems for your boss right now and in the future. You have to show him that you are a go-to-person for solving problems.
So, when the times are tough– you will be the last person that your boss will let go. You can negotiate more salary and more perks and more vacations and more free time.
If you are a rockstar then everyone gives you respect. They want to learn from you. You will be assigned the authoritative position.
But first, you will have to do the work 🙂
Look for opportunities proactively. If you are a new developer in the organization or a new developer on the project then nobody will give a shit about you.
They will give you shitty sidekick jobs. Repetitive jobs. It is rare that you will be given the main role. In most cases, they will give you the main role if you are the only developer on the project.
So what you need to do is spend a good amount of time in finding the opportunities and ideas. Ask questions from other developers about their problems. Ask your boss or customers about their pains.
First look for opportunities that can help your team. For example, you have found out a library/architecture that can improve the data access time. Give this to your team and earn respect.
Secondly, look for the customer and/or your boss’ pains. Maybe you give them a report generator tool that can give them the information that they needed on daily basis.
For example, once I developed a tool that can combine data from all data sources. It was not in the requirement document. But when they see the result in front of them it became necessary and essential.
Similarly, there was a problem that our team was facing. My boss asked me to look into the matter. Out of 3 departments, I was the go to person to solve the problem. It was an optimization problem. I sorted out the code and found a solution that could solve the problem.
I presented the solution to the boss. My boss took all of my other tasks away from me and allow me to focus on that single problem. These are some of the perks of being a go-to person.
I solved the problem in two months. I believe those were the most productive days.
Being a rockstar is not easy. There are some problems too.
Problem 1– Now you are Considered the Jack of all Trade
Sometimes you are made an expert in the field you don’t want to be. It could be by accident or when nobody was there to do the dirty job and you were there to rescue.
After that heroic work, you are considered a made man in that niche. But you hate it. You want to change it but it haunts you.
For example, once there was a small task related to some sort of animation work. Out of nowhere, my boss called me and asked me to do the shitty job.(You know I was the problem solver)
I did that and it haunted me for at-least 2 years. Animation tasks added to my list and I have no choice.
So, sometimes working out of your comfort zone can be cumbersome. But you can always correct that.
What did I do? I involve myself in another critical project and everybody including my boss forgot about my victories in the animation world(I also want to forget about those victories–they were mediocre by all standards).
Problem 2- Everybody Want to Steal Your Idea
Once you have generated ideas and find an opportunity that can help your boss or team you are fearful. You know that ideas get copied.
For example, what if someone steals your idea and present it in front of the boss before you and takes all the credit.
My immediate boss used to call it ‘pouch the idea’.
The first solution is present your idea in a meeting and in front of everybody (especially the decision maker boss) so that you became the published owner of that idea.
If you present your idea in a meeting with all of your peers then I am quite sure that the task will be assigned to you. It’s an adage. “Give the task to that person who gave the idea”.
But again this alone cannot protect your idea. There’s quite a possibility that another team under an ambitious boss start working on that. They also wanna impress the boss.
So, how will you handle this issue? You just have to be more creative. If you are the person who gave the idea then you are already ahead of those opportunist morons. All you have to do is to keep yourself ahead of them.
Once I come up with an idea of developing a specific data display software which will only serve the higher ups. Like CEO of the organization. I get the immediate go ahead from the complete hierarchy of bosses and all kinds of resources were assigned to me.
Other ambitious people also jump in. They started studying about my idea. Started working on the software and in a final meeting, they presented their software to the project director a.k.a the decision maker.
I was kinda pissed off. I know the mentality of those ambitious persons. So I didn’t talk to anybody. But I know that I will win because I was working ahead of them and since I was working ahead of them I developed the module which can execute the application on the TCP/IP network.
This was the critical feature. They could have done that but they were behind. Even if they come up with the networking problem solution then they will have to figure out the interfacing problem in the presentation room.
The project director said to the ambitious persons these golden words: “We can use your software if it is in the same state as of Umair’s software i.e. if it can be used in presentation room”.
Their answer– “Blank faces”.
So if it is your original idea and you are working on that then all you have to do is keep working. Be more creative and don’t worry about copy cats. They will lose in the end.
What are Your Problems and Your Plan of Action?
Do you want to be the need of your organization or boss? Do you want to be in authoritative position? Do you want to be a go to person?
What is your biggest challenge in doing so and what is stopping you?