Pluralsight Video Review - Build Your Career with Michael Lopp

Build Your Career with Michael Lopp by Michael Lopp (30m)

I’m becoming quite a fan of interviews, especially after Change It Up!, so was happy to see that this is in the same vein. The person of interest is of course, Michael Lopp, who I learnt is the man behind the Rands In Repose blog.

To be honest, this isn’t a blog that I have heard of which is surprising because he seems to be quite well known and I do spend most of my life on the Internet :-) So, before I say another word, I am off to read some of the things that he has written about. [The world slowly spins….] Well, what a great blog.

I read three articles that caught my eye - the first one which is currently on his home page is about joining a new team, told in the form of a narrative (very interesting take on it), one about engineers getting bored and leaving and another about writing a book.

Right. His video. This interview involves someone interviewing him (but I am not sure who), in what looks like his study. He talks about a range of things but put simply, it is about his career choices and what he has learnt along the way, all packaged up into a 30 minute short video. He explains how everyone is good at something but uses a phrase to describe it that I don’t think I have heard before: superpower. Everyone has a superpower, which to them is quite mundane, because they take it for granted. I really (seriously) liked that idea about having one and it has prompted me to re-evaluate whether I should have left my Superman pyjamas in the loft!

He also seems to say that you should just accept that for some things, you will never be good at them and that even if you try, you (probably) won’t ever be better than a ‘B’ grade. Whilst I feel we should accept ourselves for what we are, largely, I don’t think I agree with the idea that you shouldn’t try (which is how I interpreted what he said). As a teacher, I often heard parents say that they found maths difficult and just never got it. It was almost like a badge they wore which meant that they wouldn’t even try. At times, that didn’t help when you wanted to enthuse their children on a topic or to try to get them to help their child. My feeling is that we should always give something a good ‘go’ - his statement felt to me like he was saying: I can’t do this, so I won’t try because it is too hard…or I can’t be bothered…and that’s fine, because who wants to be a ‘B’ anyway. Hmm.

Branding was something he spent some time talking about and that I found especially interesting. John Sonmez and others often talk about a person’s brand and the importance of it. Why did his comments intrigue me here, then?

  • Well, for most of the interview, he doesn’t face the interviewer (though, I don’t suppose there is a rule about that.) It did make me feel he was disinterested though.
  • He swears quite a lot, causing a number of sudden drops in volume! Again, is that a crime? No, but it did seem unprofessional.
  • His interest in the interview seemed to wane. That is surprising because it seems to be his course on Pluralsight. Is it his or someone else’s? I believe the former.
  • Some of the things he spoke about were quite critical. Logo (the language) is “that horrible stuff” is one example. There were others, but generally, he just felt quite dismissive of a lot of things.

All in all, that (in my opinion) hurt my impression of him. There are some good elements that I liked, though:

  • He talks about when interviewing/choosing people for teams, he favours people that have done things in their spare time. Built something, rather than just focusing on academic/theoretical areas (which he believes have a place).
  • Interns should be given useful work to do and not “work on the wiki”.
  • Developers having a deep knowledge about something is less important than being able to just pick something up. He expects all of the ones he works with to be able to learn things quickly.
  • He often followed the ‘buzz’ when seeking new companies to work for. His theory is that you should just focus on working on interesting technology and not worry about the money; that will come along for the ride.
  • Whilst he writes about engineering, he feels it is also important to keep working in that area, himself. I agree that it keeps him “relevant”.

As for the video editing itself, the titling and transitions were a bit cheesy at times. The cuts between scenes are a little abrupt - chopping off speech - and the lighting could have been better. For instance, if you watch closely, you can see it dim and lighten as the sun goes behind clouds. I think to sum this video up: there are some good bits, but try not to be put off by his attitude. He seems to have lots of interesting things to say but I think so far, I would recommend his blog over this.

Hi! Did you find this useful or interesting? I have an email list coming soon, but in the meantime, if you ready anything you fancy chatting about, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me here or at stephen ‘at’