Be Where You Are

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“What’s your next career move?” I hear people ask each other a lot. Some people even ask me, and as I’m fifty-five, statistically it’s not going to be a long discussion. Maybe I seem really fascinating, but I somehow doubt it.

If you wonder about my hobbies – writing, art, etc. – that might be of interest, but they’re not exactly careers. No, people are more asking about my job, which is IT Portfolio Management. I’m a nerd wrangler and productivity guy – which probably makes most people want to hear more about that creative stuff and not, say, workflow diagrams.

The thing is that my ambitions are more or less staying where I am. That can mean some pretty short dinnertime discussions when talk turns to jobs (and I’d like to discuss things like the latest anime).

I like managing Projects and making them harmonize together. I like data mining and measuring real performance and what’s valuable – and getting into fights over real value. I like helping people make things happen.

I mean maybe I might be some kind of Associate Director or Specialist Manager which are often more “Portfolio Manager who gets to come up with ideas.” But I’m just the getting things done guy. That’s who I am, I like where I work, so you know . . . let’s stick with it.

I think we’re encouraged to want to keep climbing, and for no good reason. If you have certain goals and so on, then go for it – I’ve met people who have achieved lofty heights (and pay rates) but it was part of a plan. But don’t climb just the for sake of climbing – the money is probably not worth it, trust me.

The other problem is if you learn to climb up, you’re going to have to learn to climb down. You need to factor in things like stress, retirement income, impact on your social life, and so on. You might also find yourself dealing with politics and publicity you might not be ready for, especially in the age of social media.

There’s no reason to keep climbing if you’re happy.

Honestly, maybe there’s a future career for someone – Reverse Job Coach. People come to you to learn how to slow down.

I just won’t be doing it. I’m happy where I am.

Steven Savage

The Benefits Of Work From Home

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

With COVID-19 being an obvious issue at the news, there’s stories of campuses, businesses, etc. doing work from home, study from home, etc. This has made me think more about working from home, and I wanted to share some insight.

This has long been a part of my life – I was doing telecommuting experimentally back in 2005. Over the years I’ve seen more and more telecommuting, and the latest health crisis has made people much more interested in it.

I’d say it’s about time. Of course I live in the Bay Area which is dense, has lousy traffic, and in my experience people love to infect each other. However the latter may be due to bitter past experiences – OK it is. I’ve heard “I/my kids were sick but I/they aren’t infectious,” and then two days later I’m curled up in bed because my body is a virus theme park.

So as we find working from home (WFH) may become very vital let’s talk about the positive sides. Let’s talk the benefits so you can pitch it!

Benefit One: Realizing we can do it.

Note how I just ran to discuss why WFH is good? That’s because the tools are already there and have been for years. So first of all realize this isn’t “how can we do it,” the how is there. Trust me.

Benefit Two: Disease Mitigation

Let’s get to the obvious at this time – when more people work from home they make each other less sick. If anything, I think near-mandatory or increased WFH during disease seasons would make people’s lives much easier.

But also there’s another benefit in that people have more time to work out, exercise, etc. Healthy meals can be there in the kitchen. It’s just good in many ways.

Plus, again, disease mitigation. I mean you may get sick, but you’re not spreading it

Benefit Three: Less Traffic

Again, I’m biased because I’m in the Bay Area. It may not be as bad as people think, but once when I was moving there I was in a hotel, reading about the slowest intersection at the time, and realized it was outside my window. That was memorable.

If we get less people commuting, we get less traffic. Any geographic area could probably engineer a decrease significant enough to make WFH pay off in better commutes.

This means more time, more sanity, and less stress. Plus, it may mean less crowding on public transit which means an easier time and less disease.

(BTW, I’m for free public transport as well to really benefit a community).

Benefit Four: More Time

Obviously WFH means people have more time. But I find it’s more than you think – this goes back to my old experiences in fact.

  • Working from home usually means more is at your fingertips and you spend less time walking around, going to the cafe, or trying to find the bathroom in a giant office (been there). Your house is a time-saver.
  • Working from home reduces your routines. Check your email while you eat breakfast. Start dinner and then go back to finishing a report. Shower while numbers crunch.
  • It’s easier to timeshift as you’re near important things like your doctor or a store. You can also be there for deliveries.
  • Working from home obviously saves you commute time. I saved that for last.

Benefit Five: Better Techniques

Working from home will require you to rethink things like how you do work, how you schedule meetings and so on.

Take it from the Agile Program Guy, a lot of our plans, meeting, techniques are just there. We don’t question them. We do this “because.” Work from home is a good shake up because it asks you to do whats important in better ways.

It also asks you just what is important. Trust me, there’s probably more pointless stuff than you realize (or you don’t want to admit it).

Benefit Six: Appreciate those who can’t

If you can WFH you might find others can’t. Good. That’s going to be a way you find who else should be paid more, treated better, and otherwise respected.

It may also mean you can figure how to give them the WFH benefits eventually.

Benefit Seven: Saving money

Office space is expensive. Tech is expensive. That automated coffee machine you got that is more advanced than your laptop is expensive. Maybe you’re overdoing it.

On the other hand, having people work at home, etc. saves money. Period.

However, let’s note that money should go somewhere. The savings should be spread around, people should benefit. Maybe that always-breaking coffee maker could be ditched so people got better computers.

Also, people should be reimbursed or supported for their new expenses from work from home. Keep that in mind.

Benefit Eight: Mental health

Commuting, being stuck in the workplace, etc. can be taxing. Having more time, less commute, and so on is often good for people. It might not be good with the isolation, so let’s get too . .

Benefit Nine: Thoughtful socialization

When there’s more work from home, you also think of how to connect with your co-workers better. Being in the same place a lot can really make socialization less fun – that’s one reason I and some people I know like to make fun events. You know the real kind like “eat a lot of food.”

So iif we work from home more, we find better, new, and appropriate ways to connect with our co-workers.

So What’s Next?

Well, what’s next? Let’s home we start working from home more, using the benefits, and learning how to lead our lives differently. Disease aside, there are lots of other benefits.

Let’s also keep in mind this doesn’t sove a lot of other career issues people have, from low pay to locations with few opportunities to college debt. There are many, many other issues to solve, this just solves some.

But maybe a change helps us think about other problems and solve them.

Steven Savage

Why I Wrote It: Fan To Pro

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Ah, Fan To Pro. My attempts to give people advice on how to use their fandom in their careers. The first book I wrote — and the first book I rewrote.

Let’s ask just how it came to be, so we can share our stories of why we make books.

Fan To Pro didn’t start as a book. Or sort of did.

Fan To Pro’s origins go back to 2005 and 2006. Several friends and I kept discussing just how much talent there was in fandom. We wondered how we could support people, especially those wanting to use that in their careers. Our solutions were simple: we weren’t sure.

For a while, a friend and I considered a book, but we weren’t sure what to do. How do you take “hey, you could do this for a living” and make a book out of it? It went nowhere.

What did happen was we created a blog, now closed, called Fan To Pro (later MuseHack). This got us into blogging about careers and career news and introduced us to a range of similar people.

At the same time, I called upon my nascent coaching skills and began presenting about careers at conventions. I spoke on general career advice and brainstorming, and the act of speaking helped me mine my knowledge. This was around 2007-2009, after over a decade in my career, and I had a lot to share.

I also was always working on improving myself. I’d go to professional meetups, get training, and read books. I got exposed to the world of coaching and career books, and that led to a realization.

Why not share my geeky career advice from my point of view. Take what I’d learned and seen over the years and collate it into a book. I already had plenty of presentations and experience, after all.

This was an important lesson. I hadn’t realized what I knew or what I could share until I’d tried. Sometimes we don’t know what we know until we share it.

All my friends and family were supportive, so I got down and wrote my book. Also, they were kind of surprised it took me that long to realize my skills.

The first Fan To Pro was kind of mediocre. I mean, there was good advice, but it had an awful cover, some odd formatting, and there were a few things I missed. But I did get the book done, and I had a starting point.

There are some things where you have to do something and move on to see where you are.

But I wasn’t done. After a few years, I realized I had learned a lot, and it was time to rewrite the book. I sat down, got a professional artist, and revised the heck out of it.

The results were much better. I’m proud I wrote the first book, but I’m proud of the second book. I improved the style, added more information, shared my lessons, and organized it better. It was a far better book.

It also felt like I’d “gotten it all out.” I had shared more lessons, gone into more depth, and connected better with the audience. The book feels complete

Will I ever rewrite it again? I don’t know. I wrote it at a time in my life where it feels like a “got” the big picture. As my career continues, as I age, as the economy changes, I worry my more recent experiences are less applicable. Bluntly, I’d be afraid to screw it up.

But who knows – I never thought I’d do a book at one point in my life . . .

Steven Savage