Having been selected as a repeat IBM Champion in 2012 I was able to explain myself more clearly in terms of what it is that I do. This is a video blog on the IBM developerWorks website: IBM Champion Alex Ivanov on Requirements Management with Rational DOORS.
It certainly helps to have an award next to your name, given out by vendor. Moral of the story here, is there are so many people in this world, with so much information to process, any chance you get to make yourself stand out – go for it! Over the past year I’ve improved my communication skills due in large part to completing two Dale Carnegie courses: High Impact Presentations and Effective Communications, so now I have a new pair of lenses to look through as far as how to approach the situations I had done with no real training in the past.
Needless to say I’m completely sold on the effectiveness of the Dale Carnegie methods and am enjoying putting into practice everything I have learned.
Breaking out of my shy shell began with people asking me about my code (i.e. what does it do, and how can it help me). I wasn’t big on answering questions, what if I didn’t know the answer. When people ask you things on topics you know well a strange thing happens, you gain confidence by providing answers and having people thank you for it. I was thinking to myself doesn’t everyone know this, apparently not. Provide answers when they add value and your confidence will grow.
I always enjoyed working with others and sharing my knowledge and in June, 2012 I got a chance to be a movie star. I was escorted into a green room, had some powder put on my face and was asked many questions around how my company uses DOORS (IBM Rational DOORS as I was told to say as opposed to just DOORS). 5 months after the 30 minute interview a nicely made clip appeared on YouTube.
I am glad I wasn’t the one dealing with video & editing, all I had to do was answer questions based on my experience. This video illustrates another important point I have really come to appreciate of late, we all have a limited amount of time, so it’s important you focus on those things that you are confident in and let others take care of the things you aren’t. You have to remain genuine in whatever it is that interests you, and others will be able to tell when it is coming from the heart.
This interview took place at the IBM Rational Innovate 2011 conference. Leading up to this I had already attended 8 conferences, 7 through Telelogic User Group conferences because I’ve been around DOORS for 12 years. I’m happy I stuck to what interested me as opposed to spreading myself thin and going after different job roles, which is frequently what is recommended to get broader experience. What isn’t mentioned is that if you stick with what you like (and are lucky enough to find something you enjoy) you can go out of your way to continue learning about many different topics to ensure you are always expanding yourself (my current favorite learning mechanism is video based courses on Udemy.com).
Talking to other people has helped me become a better rounded person, being in a role where I’m able to help others has also been a tremendous help. Don’t just do what you are told, go out of your way to help any time you can (not only when people ask). In this short interview I talk about my recommendations to find yourself mentors, formal or informal, with the advent of social media you have access to a tremendous amount of bright minds so this could be as easy as following someone’s blog.
The first blogger I followed for several years was Trent Hamm of www.TheSimpleDollar.com, needless to say I recommend checking his site out. I used his site to discover many of the books that helped me become the person I am today.
As you will notice from this post there are many variables at play here, and regardless of where you are you can start checking out some of the recommendations here or find what interests you, I can’t stress how important I think it is to get out and meet people whether it be in person or online, with the amount of information out there I find it’s next to impossible to just seek things out, and my time is better spent learning from people that have been there done that.
This interview was particularly exciting for me as IBM unveiled a new recognition in 2011 and I was selected into an elite group of only 10 people across the world that were recognized as IBM Champions. This included having my picture and name flashed on the big screen as part of the morning’s keynote session (over 4,000+ people in attendance).
Now you might wonder how I was selected as an IBM Champion, the answer is simple, I have always gone out of my way to help people and when I learned through my network that IBM was accepting nominations, I nominated myself. Another lesson here is that if you don’t ask you won’t ever get a Yes, so ask and go after the opportunities that life presents to you. They are all around us sometimes we are just too caught up in whatever life throws at us to pause, reflect and take in what we could be doing.
Back in 2002 I was two years into my job as software developer at Raytheon, who was just getting started with writing DXL (the scripting language that is packaged with IBM Rational DOORS for extending core functionality and making DOORS easier to use). Here I got a chance to attend my 1st ever work conference the Telelogic (now having been bought by IBM) User Group Conference being held at the Rio in Las Vegas.
This was quite exciting as it was my 1st trip for work and my 1st time in Vegas. The one memory that stands out the most apart from attending numerous talks on IBM Rational DOORS and meeting lots of new people (well more like I was a complete wall flower who was too shy to talk to people, so how many people I actually met is probably not that high) One of the few people I do remember is Brian Gusso who also worked for Raytheon at the time, he was around my age and when you don’t know many people it’s often easier to find more things in common with people your age (not always).
I recall one of the events of the conference was a social hour at the top of the hotel, so we showed up I’d say about 20 minutes early not wanting to miss any of the festivities and were told the doors aren’t open yet. So what were we to do, we gravitated towards the slots and I figured I’d give the nickel slots a go.
To my amazement I hit the jackpot on my 1st spin and sat there dumbfounded as the lights went off and the nickels kept coming out of the machine. Needless to say it made for a nice conversation starter, sometimes you need one of those. I ended up with several cups worth of nickels which I promptly turned in for my hard earned $20 or so.
In retrospect it’s all about the experiences that we take away so I recommend you pack your life with as many of them as you can, as my little story illustrates I hardly remember the details of the conference but it’s the people and the experiences that really stand out.
In February 2015 I’ll be returning to Vegas to speak at the IBM InterConnect conference.