Changing Your Career Trajectory with Yadin Porter de León

Welcome to episode 89 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss changing your career trajectory with Yadin Porter de León.

Original Recording Date: 08-07-2020

Topics – Changing Your Career Trajectory

2:36 – Changing your Career Trajectory

  • Yadin’s job is fairly unique. Because of his vast experience, he was betting on the fact that there will be a role that matches this.
    • He values doing things that make sense through Marketing channels which actually helps people.
  • There are not a lot of tips and tricks that really help move the needle with career progression.
    • There are many good things out there, but they involve getting in a rigor.
  • To change the trajectory of your career, you must take a step back.
    • Am I happy with the direction that I am going?
    • Do I want to do something different?
    • Some people want to just do one thing (like a Database Admin) and be really good at it. But they may want to keep doing it and have time for their family.
      • If that is what you want, decide it is what you want…and then do it.
      • Don’t feel like you need to be the CEO of a company someday.
      • Is an early heart attack something you want? There’s someone else who can do the job you are doing and be intrinsically happy doing the work.
      • If you don’t like managing people, don’t manage people. So many people hate their jobs because their manager took a management role without wanting to do it or having the skills to do it.
        • Many pursue management because it seems like the next logical step.
    • Yadin takes a philosophical approach. He’s never had the same job title twice. But that approach is not right for everyone.
      • He advocates making a declarative choice on the life balance you want (no such thing as work / life balance).
      • Everything feeds your soul and takes energy from you. Decide what you want that balance to be.
      • Every time Yadin approached a new job, he asked himself if it was going to be a new path to help him grow or just something he would enjoy doing right now.
      • If you’re afraid of trying something new every time, don’t do it.
      • You don’t have to be transformative every day. But feed the lifestyle you want.
      • Don’t chase pay and title. Don’t take prescriptive advice from someone who says you must get a MBA or a bunch of certifications. Decide on the lifestyle you want FIRST.
      • Make peace with your decision (i.e. I won’t be rich, etc.).
      • Hard core career coaches like Kat Troyer will tell you that you must do the hard work. Understanding what you want to do for your next career comes down to understanding what you want, how you want to live your life, and what will be best for your family.
      • Nick believes many people don’t think they have a choice.
        • We don’t often take the time to reflect on what now is like.
        • People feel like they are beggars more than choosers.
        • Recruiters are your friends, and you don’t have to pay them anything. DM Yadin for some recommendations on recruiters.

13:33 – Scale Your Networking

  • You need proof of work to scale your networking.
    • This can short circuit a number of conversations.
    • "If only 3 people in the world know how good you are, then those 3 people control your destiny." You need more than those 3 people to know how good you are.
      • Those 3 people are busy people with their own time constraints.
      • That’s where blogging comes into play as do podcasts and networking.
      • Choose a channel, but you must figure out a way for more people to know how good you are.
      • You must take your talent and put it out into the world so everyone knows.
        • Examples – code on GitHub, blog posts, podcasts
        • The number of followers on social media or number of hits do not matter. All that matters is that the right person reads the blog, sees the code, or hears the podcast.
        • Listen to Yadin’s story about the blog post he wrote for the VP who hired him as immediate proof of work.
        • You have to get past the fear of exposing your talent.
        • Otherwise, you will struggle to get out of that box or silo.
        • Even if you don’t get a job after interviewing, more people know how good you are.
        • Get yourself out there, or you have to stop complaining.
        • Yadin references their parting bit from the Tech Village Podcast. Stop making excuses and complaining unless you are going to own it. Start putting yourself out there. It does mean being vulnerable. It does mean people critiquing your work.
    • 19:02 – John says putting yourself out there and vulnerability seemingly conflict.
      • We all have a comfortable level of risk.
      • The same is true for putting yourself out there. If no level of risk is acceptable, you might not get any further. But make your choice.
      • John mentions that growth and progression require discomfort.
        • You’re going to be in a situation where you don’t know the answer to a question.
        • Be ok with saying you don’t know, and agree to go and get the answer for someone.
        • Yadin shares a great story about having only 5 minutes to convince someone he and his teammates could find the answer to a really important question.
        • Find those moments where you can put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If you never put yourself there, you won’t move forward.
        • Be declarative, and be ok with it (even if that is not growing at all).
        • Yadin shares with us what’s really important to him when it comes to career considerations.

24:14 – Should We All Market Ourselves?

  • Yadin shares an emergency situation in his role compared to other roles and the difference in stakes (i.e. higher for brain surgeons, etc.).
  • He chooses very intentionally not to be a brain surgeon or support an app that affects thousands of people when it goes down.
  • People hear the word comms often. Communications is just telling people what you’re doing. Whether within your organization, in an internal wiki, or in blog that communication has a virtuous cycle effect (helps them and helps you).
  • The next time a problem happens, that person will think of you. It may give you a chance to help them again, to mentor them, etc. Imagine another team seeing you as a subject matter expert. * It helps others but also gives you confidence and experience in communication.
  • Yadin gets up wondering who he can help that day while putting food on his family’s table. Marrying those two is a win.
  • Maybe your passion is doing what you do now. Maybe you need an organization that recognizes a technical career path. To progress you might need to find an organization that does.
  • You can progress as an individual contributor if the organization lets you.
    • Don’t take a management role because it is the only option…unless some other reason requires it for a time. But be declarative knowing you will only do it for a period of time.
    • "I have never been more satisfied and have never done better work than I am right now. And not one person reports to me." – Yadin Porter de Leon
    • Yadin shares the story of managing many people as well as vendors and contractors. You can be an individual contributor and make more money, do different things, etc.
    • Managing people is a profound responsibility. The people reporting to you need someone who shows up and delivers for them, someone who helps them find the confidence they didn’t know they had.
  • Reach out to Yadin on Twitter, see #vTrailMap, and subscribe to the Tech Village Podcast.
  • Yadin is most proud of his work on The CIO Exchange Podcast. Check it out on the listening platform of your choice!

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

image sources

  • Ep 89: John White

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