Book Review: Soft Skills

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One of the challenges of being a software developer is keeping current. Technology moves so quickly that it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. At times like this you can definitely use some productivity tips. This is how I landed on this book. It has productivity tips alright, but it has so much more to offer.

Soft Skills by John Sonmez

The software developer’s life manual

The subtitle explains it clearly in a few words. The book is not only about productivity but it encompasses all aspects of life. From money management to fitness, from career tips to handling failures it indeed proves to be a life manual.

This is unique book in the sense that it has sections about fitness and spirit. To be honest when I first started reading the book I was planning to skip those sections. But then it hit me: Most of the challenges I have to face are not technical. Technical problems are easy to solve especially in the age of Google and StackOverflow and all sorts of online resources. The real challenge is keeping the motivation up, staying healthy and fit (standard beer & pizza based diet of a developer doesn’t cut it) to increase productivity and overall success, managing your money wisely (which unfortunately means I shouldn’t buy every gadget I see!)

Structure of the book

The book is 504 pages and divided into 7 main sections:

  1. Career
  2. Marketing yourself
  3. Learning
  4. Productivity
  5. Financial
  6. Fitness
  7. Spirit

In the first 2 sections, you can find many helpful tips & tricks regardless you are an employee, freelancer or an entrepreneur. Apparently John Sonmez went through all these stages in his career so he knows what he is talking about.

As I mentioned keeping current is key in our industry and Section 3 addresses this need very effectively.

Since there is so much to learn time management becomes an issue on its own and that’s when you need to improve your productivity. You might not like some of the advice he gives (like quitting watching TV!) but deep inside you’d know he is right.

Money management is especially crucial if you are trying to run your own business. I don’t think finance is any developer’s strongest suit so this section is something to read twice for people like me!

I recently lost a lot of weight and now feel much better about myself. And better yet I feel a lot more productive. Physical fitness is very important. Since our job doesn’t force us to be fit it’s very easy and tempting to let it go. But the consequences are dire! So incorporating a healthy diet and exercise is extremely important to be successful. This section comes with a lot of great advice and techniques to address this.

There’s no way you can achieve any significant level of success if you are not mentally prepared for it. Final section of the book covers mind and soul. From handling relationships to getting back on horse after a failure, it comes with a lot of useful advice and references to good resources.

These 7 sections are divided into 71 chapters in total and they are very easy to read. Since it takes minutes to read each chapter I never had to put it away in the middle of a chapter.

About the author

I like and respect the author, John Sonmez, as he is very prolific and successful. So from the first page I knew for sure the information in the book is not theoretical or made up in any way. Even Uncle Bob’s prologue is an evidence that this guy is methodical, persistent and follows the plan until he achieves success. This is exactly the kind of person you would like to get career advice from!

Conclusion

Generally I find such books fluffy and stating the obvious but not this one because I know I’ve been following the author’s work quite some time now. I know he is very candid and sincere and so I know every word in the book is written by a developer who already had similar challenges and tackled them. Overall, this is definitely a great book to read and keep around for future reference.

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