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Making it Big in Software: Get the Job. Work the Org. Become Great. Paperback – March 20, 2010
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From the Back Cover
About the Author
Sam Lightstone is the creator of MakingItBigCareers.com as well as Program Director and Senior Technical Staff Member with IBM’s Software Group, where he works for one of the world’s largest software engineering teams on product strategy and R&D. Sam is a sought-after public speaker, author, inventor, recruiter, and mentor. He has presented to dozens of Fortune 500 companies, industrial and scientific conferences, and major universities on topics related to careers, new technology, and emerging research needs. Sam has been quoted in eWeek, InformationWeek, InfoWorld, and the MIT Technology Review. His management career has spanned from small high-performance applied research teams up to large-scale projects with more than 200 staff across multiple geographies.
Sam is the founder of the IEEE Data Engineering Workgroup on Self Managing Database Systems and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Autonomous and Autonomic Computing Systems. Sam is inventor and co-inventor of more than 30 patents and patents pending and author of several books and scientific papers. In 2003 he was awarded the title of IBM Master Inventor for his contributions to IBM’s patent portfolio and his sustained work mentoring software engineers about the process of invention. He has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University and a Master of Computer Science & Software Engineering from the University of Waterloo.
Top Customer Reviews
For starters, Sam gives a very good overview of different positions and how each fits into the business structure (e.g. functional testing vs development vs marketing vs CTO vs CEO). He comments on the importance of time management (it's how much you spend on the important yet non-urgent tasks that matters). Later in the book, he writes about how to become great, and then visionary, laying out a "path" for those who are ambitious.
To complement Sam's own experience, he also included 17 interviews with very well known people from the industry. Sam carefully handpicked 17 stars coming from different backgrounds: those with or without graduate degrees, those working for established companies or smaller shops (even Richard Stallman!). Throughout these interviews, the reader can find the key message that is played again, again, and again: there are many different paths to make it big, and it's all about loving and enjoying what you do.
The book is full of advice but most of it should be quite obvious to the average reader. Things like don't be evil, respect your coworkers, create a plan, consider changing jobs after few years, etc. All are common sense things that can be already found in tons of different books. Apart from that, I found the interviews quite disappointing. I enjoyed the first couple of interviews. Just enough to realize that all the interviews were sharing a good bunch of questions. Seriously, if you have the chance of interviewing such high profile people, why would you want to ask everyone their opinion about graduates or how they keep themselves up to date with technology? Come on! What would you expect them to answer? So, this book offers interviews with great people but the interviews themselves are repetitive and without any interesting content at all.
Don't get me wrong. The book probably has some value, but to just to recent graduates or just to all those people obsessed with grow in the corporate ladder.
And it far exceeded my expectations! The chapters cover topics that are relevant to jobs in many areas (dealing with people, leadership, growth, advancement, time management, zen (!), ...). Although similar material is presented in many other books, Lightstone's versions are interesting, original, and spiced with personal anecdotes. Not only will his book will help me to answer students' career advice questions, but I can also tell them to get it.
There is more. The book contains 17 interviews with people who have made signficant contributions to the industry in one way or another. Many of the names are well-known (Wozniak, Stroustrup, Stallman, Torvalds, ...), others less so. But they all have something interesting to say. Every interviewee answers the same questions. This is both good and bad: bad in that the answers occasionally seem a little forced, good in that we get to compare different points of view on specific topics. It's very tempting to peek ahead: what is Wozniak's pet peeve?
If you are starting a career in software, this book will be useful. If you are in mid-career, you will probably pick up a few tips. If, like me, you are near the end, it's fun to compare experiences: been there, done that! Recommended.
The book gave some very interesting quotes from the industries most successful people. Chapter 2 has the "reality checks" section and it is something I can definitely relate with. The Lotus community is an interesting group where "compatibility" and "new" must coexist peacefully - so in short somethings get widely accepted while others fade away.
"Great innovations, brilliant new technology, and breakthrough ideas are truly great only if people use them and find them valuable."
If you are in school or nearing your degree completion Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 are absolute must reads. The chapter on resumes is critical to anyone applying or changing jobs and the following chapter (Chapter 5) is even more critical with the tips for the interview process. Great stuff!
By the time I got to Chapter 15 I realized this book was more than just "making it big in software". This book is a guide for making it big in any company!
The ending chapters are what I consider the areas where I have been personally focusing my career on for the past 5 years - Patents, Publishing, Presenting, etc. I do believe in the myself that I can in fact master any technology or new idea and I think that is important for longevity in this field. I started my blog to make my writing style better and in my own opinion at least I feel it has gotten a little better over the years.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a job!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
best book ever to read before getting an hi-tech job
very inspirational , and spot on advice
To be honest this book is one of the best books , I have ever read. My major is computer science and I like to start my own start up. Read morePublished on April 24, 2013 by sas
I met Sam Lightstone in 2009. He was giving my team a talk about his baby, the DB2 load utility, which he just called "the loader". Read morePublished on January 16, 2013 by Jacobo de Vera
There is a great "secret" I tell software professionals. That "secret" is that if you want to rise to the top of your field, it's not that hard to do because so few people do the... Read morePublished on March 13, 2012 by Randy Rice
I wish this book was required reading in every Computer Science and Software Engineering program. Easily one of the best and well balanced books offering practical advice, backed... Read morePublished on February 4, 2012 by Ilya Grigorik
Sam Lightstone's enjoyable new tome, Making It Big in Software, is a great read with a lot of good advice tucked inside. Read morePublished on November 16, 2010 by Data Guy
I started reading Making it Big in Software a few days ago, and I must admit that I find it hard to stop reading. Read morePublished on September 8, 2010 by S. Copty
The title of this book actually turned me off at first; however, I was interested in the interviews so I went ahead and read it. Read morePublished on August 5, 2010 by J. MCADAMS