The post you don’t want to read on the topic I don’t want to write about

I’m going to give you a phrase of power. Use it wisely. Ready?

I want to hear what you have to say.

If you know a developer who ought to be presenting at conferences or writing blog posts and isn’t, deploy that phrase. Say to him or her, “I wish you would submit a talk to [conference|user group] on [subject of expertise] because you have good ideas, and I want to hear your thoughts on the subject.”

You feel exasperated about your powerlessness to change the lack of diversity in our profession? To the point that you feel antagonized just hearing about it? Me, too. This is something you can do. A personal appeal, delivered one-on-one, can do so much good. Do it.

I resisted Twitter forever because, every time I asked someone why I should sign up, they answered with something irrelevant about all the funny things you could read, or whatever. No one ever said, “I wish you’d join Twitter, Sharon, because I want to hear what you have to say.

How many of us dismiss those calls for speakers, thinking “What would I talk about? I’m not doing anything cutting-edge”? Imagine if someone encouraged you, reminded you of a skill you’ve forgotten is interesting and valuable, simply asked you to share your knowledge and ideas. Would that feel empowering? Do that for someone.

A lot of you wish our industry were more diverse. You’d welcome it if it could somehow happen. But it feels like a problem far bigger than the reach of one person. Scarily so, if you want my take on it. This, however, we can do, one person, by one person, by one person:

I want to hear what you have to say.

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About Sharon Cichelli

I am a Headspring Senior Consultant, developing custom enterprise software for our clients and leading training classes on the latest Microsoft technologies. I blog about .NET development, best practices in agile software development, and my nerdy hobbies.
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  • Nolan Egly

    Thanks for sharing.  I think this is important because younger people trying to decide what to do in life will gauge whether or not there is a place for them in a particular field by what they see in the current job ranks.

    I love software development and wish everyone could enjoy it the way I do.  I’d hate to think some people might miss out on the greatest profession in the world simply because they don’t see anyone else that look like them already out there doing it.

    • Anonymous

      I love the way you put this. Yes, exactly.

  • Anonymous

    Agree, that’s why I have a blog. Maybe 2 people read a post I write but it seems to help those 2 people with whatever they needed help with. Plus answering questions on StackOverflow is pretty fun.

    • Anonymous

      :) Right. I’m always amused at which of my posts get higher than average traffic, and often it’s the goofy little “how to do x” posts. But when you’re searching, those are the ones you’re delighted to find. So yes, keeping writing those posts that seem like they’re helpful only to 2 people (it’s probably a lot more than 2).

  • Gabriela Martinez

    Thank you Sharon for empowering anybody to speak/write what we have to say. Looking forward to read your next post!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Gabriela. Do you… have a blog? :)

  • David Peden

    Nice post, Sharon. I’ve often thought to myself that I should take the time to write about my adventures in learning how to deploy and support a real application in Azure.  About how and WHY I chose the tech stack that I did.  About the pitfalls that I encountered.  About all of the great resources that I discovered (all of those people that already decided to write about their experiences).  About how totally awesome StackOverflow is (even if there are some jerks there, too).  About probably a million tangents off of that one singular topic.  At the end of the day, I have not and probably will not.  My biggest problem is not that I’m not interested or worried what others might think or even if they’ll care (I’d do it for myself just to archive my knowledge!).  My biggest problem is finding the time and making it a priority.  I simply don’t have enough time in the day.  I guess that means I’m doing too much because I already push the boundary on minimum hours of sleep.  Anyway, I’m glad you took the time to make this post.  And I’m infinitely grateful that others have taken the time as well.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today.  So thanks to everyone who has stepped up and for those that haven’t who also _don’t_ have an excuse, take Sharon’s advice.  It’s good stuff.  :D

    • Anonymous

      Your adventures in Azure and, more broadly, with your product and your business are really compelling. I empathize about the finding-the-time problem, but gosh, it would make a cool story if you started to write about it–or presented at a conference. 
      On the small scale, would you like to give a five-minute lightning talk at Austin Code Camp? Anne Epstein is coordinating a round of lightning talks, should be a ton of fun.

      • David Peden

        I’ll consider it.  Would be hard to condense something meaningful into 5 minutes.  I do plan on attending.  I think we may even be a sponsor (if John doesn’t ban me for missing UserVoice…).  :P

  • Alper

    Thanks to you, I decided that I can give a 5 minute lighting talk about writing an HTML 5/ Javascript (Backbone, jquerymobile) / PhoneGap application AAAAAND submitting it to Apple Appstore WITHOUT a Mac. Hopefully, someone will find this interesting.

    • Anonymous

      *I* find this interesting. Awesome, Alper! I am getting more and more excited about these lightning talks at Code Camp.

  • Carlos

    Unfortunately it seems like I’m always asleep when I post to my “blog.”  I guess I’m in the same camp as David — struggling to prioritize all the different things I want to spend my time on.  

    A lot of the things I might blog about aren’t necessarily software engineering topics.  I suspect it is because it is “more new” to me and therefore more interesting, but I might write more about life as an indie app developer.

    One of these days I’ll take your advice and contribute in this way, Sharon.  I’ll make sure to give you credit on my blog once it crosses over from my dreams into our shared reality :)

    • Anonymous

      There’s definitely an audience interested in stories about being an indie app developer, me included. And of course your ideas on software engineering–conversations I definitely miss. If you ever did write about it, I would love to read it. Someday…

    • Alper

      Hey I’m very interested to read about the adventures of an indie app dev.

  • Anonymous
  • AaronRiggs

    I will consider it. Would be difficult to reduce something significant into 5 moments. I also do strategy on participating.