You're Being Treated Like a Child

My son likes to think he's a lawyer and, unlike many children who ask the same question over and over will often ask the same question multiple times but with different angles. At some point, usually pretty early (I like to think I'm a smart guy), I realize he's doing this, and I shift into giving a response that I've found works well. I can't claim credit for it, I read it on a parenting blog.

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You're Only Getting Half of the Lesson

My friend Rick shared a story with me this morning, about a seminar and a lesson. I quote it here:

Once a group of 500 people were attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity. He started giving each person a balloon. Each person was then asked to write their name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room.

The people were then let into that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written on it within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos.

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Help Me to Help You

Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages,” is a well-known tome on five ways that humans tend to express and experience love for one another. Of the five, one is “Acts of Service.” That is, doing things for other people. As it is in life and relationships, so it is in business. Often, helping others through actions can provide benefits not only for the recipient, but also for the helper.

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I'm a Ninja and I'm OK

I tend to peruse the job openings posted to LinkedIn and other such sites. There is some value in keeping up with who is doing what by watching hiring needs (don't worry, GoDaddy, I'm not on the market). Something I've noticed lately, though, is that a lot of companies are starting to add statements like this to their listings:

"Anyone with 'Ninja' in their title need not apply."

Now I get the sentiment - companies aren't interested in people with inflated egos or a disproportionate assessment of their abilities and worth. But that said, lighten up, Francis.

If you check my LinkedIn profile, you'll see that I list "Powerful Internet Ninja" as my title when I worked at Demand Media. As I said in my profile, there are those who look down at using "Ninja" in a job title. To those people, I say lighten up. I did some pretty cool things at Demand Media, many of which were, while completely moral and ethical, somewhat sneaky in terms of strategy and competition. "Ninja" describes what I did sometimes, and it just sounds cool. If you think that detracts from my skills or makes me somehow pretentious, I will politely smile and disagree.

In other words, it's pretty clear I don't take titles seriously. Anyone who is disqualified from consideration based on the fact that they get a little humor out of their self-claimed title (along with, let's be honest, self-claimed experience) probably doesn't want to work at such a company, anyway. That's a pity, because some of the best technologists I know have senses of humor that make mine look absolutely pedestrian.

Then again, maybe such a line in the sand is a good gating function for everyone.

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