Shameless Self Promotion


A Trip to the Humane Society

Way back in 2001, I took a trip to the local humane society. Ostensibly, I was going there with my girlfriend at the time to look at kittens. We were resolved about not getting a cat that day. This story wouldn’t be interesting if we didn’t get a cat, so I’ll spoil the ending for you and let you know that we did take a cat home that day. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the time to visit your local humane society, but I will let you know that it is a series of cages filled with the cutest animals you have ever seen. The kittens are particularly cute balls of fuzz that either nap in a ball of kittens, meow in a pile of kittens, or frolic in some kind of tumbleweed of kittens. On that magical day, my normally cold heart was warmed by frolicking kittens and I took one of them out of a cage and brought her to one of the little rooms where you can acclimatize to an animal and make sure it isn’t going to try to claw your face off. Sure enough, this kitten did not want to claw my face off. Instead she wanted to run in circles, meow, rub up against my leg and beg for attention. The very reason I pulled her out of her cage was because she was perched at the very front of the cage, waving one tiny paw through the bars, crying for attention. In short, she was a vocal kitten.

The Pay Off – For Someone

Eight years later, I still have that kitten, although she has grown to be the largest cat I have ever seen. If you are reading this after 5 PM Eastern time, there is a very good change that this cat is perched behind my head on the back of my desk chair. She still gets a lot of attention because she still calls out for attention – she shows me the toys she has “killed”, the socks she has shredded, and makes me aware of the random other things that cats do when people aren’t watching. The point is that she knows how to get the attention and praise that she wants. Over the years she has learned the most effective ways to annoy the heck out of me and still get a positive response. Because my cat demands my attention, she gets it.

What Does This Have to do With Anything?

The point is – if my cat can figure out how to get attention and praise, you can get attention and praise (or free tuna). More appropriately: you can make your accomplishments known and profit from them.

Your Accomplishments

First off, it’s important that you start keeping track of your accomplishments. A few months ago, I mentioned making a personal development plan. One of the things in your PDP should be a list of your accomplishments. It’s going to be silly for you to make a list of your accomplishments once a year. Instead, I keep a list of my accomplishments in a text file. You could just as easily use a spreadsheet, One Note, Outlook, or any other record system. The point is that you’re recording your accomplishments.

Record and Review

Any time I do something that I’m particularly proud of, I add it to this list. If I’m not at home, I’ll send my self a reminder email from my phone to add whatever I’m pleased about to my list. The key about my approach is to record everything that you do and review it later. Don’t think, just record it. Did you fix a server and resolve a production outage in 30 minutes when it could have taken 24 hours? Record it. Re-write a stored procedure to use 95% fewer reads? Record it. Save the company $10,000,000 by shipping flanging skrill production to Denmark? Record it. The point is, you’re recording it. You can filter it later. I like to review this list of accomplishments weekly, at the very least. This keeps my recent accomplishments fresh in my mind and it helps me focus on my goals. A lot of the time, I’ll open up a copy of my PDP and have it in front of my while I review my goals. This not only helps me determine if I’m on the right track to meeting my goals, it also helps me keep track of whether or not my long-term goals and my current situation are aligned. This also gives me the chance to revise my PDP as the year goes on, rather than marching forward foolishly thinking that my goals from three months ago are still one hundred percent valid. At the end of the day, you won’t get anywhere without making people aware of you, what you’ve done, and what you expect in return.