Episode 105 – How Simplifying Your Coding can Solve Big Business Problems and Grow your Career Fast with Adam Bien

 In Podcasts

Phil’s guest on today’s show is Adam Bien. Having worked with JDK 1.0, EJB, JavaFX, J2EE, and Java EE from launch onwards he has a phenomenal understanding of the language. He knows Java inside out and is a leader in the field. Adam regularly shares his knowledge by organizing workshops, speaking at conferences as well as writing books, articles and updating his blog.


(1.06) – So Adam, can you expand on that brief introduction and tell us a little bit more about yourself? Adam said that originally he wanted to learn multiple programming languages, work a bit and enjoy life. However, things did not work out that way. The demand was so high that he ended up sticking with Java. Even after 22 years, he still enjoys working with this language.

(1.55) – Phil asks if he has plans to switch to a different technology or will he stick to Java. Adam says with Java, it is impossible to learn everything. He just keeps diving deeper. But, he is also doing a lot with JavaScript. He jokes that to learn both Java and JavaScript you would need at least two lives.

(2.29) – Phil asks Adam for a unique IT career tip. Adam advises everyone to develop their own strategy. Not anything huge like – “I would like to take over the world, in 10 years time.” It has to be something logical. For example Adam has been working to make development simple for the clients he works with. He uses standards, which makes it possible for his clients to use other consultants. Adam has found that his clients really like this approach. It is one of the reasons they like working with him.

(3.30) – Phil asks when you talk about standards are you thinking of different ways of working and models as well as industry standards? Yes, says Adam. The availability of Java’s quasi-standards like JCB Java community process, Java EE and Java SE are partly behind the language’s longevity. While lots of other technologies and frameworks have come and gone, Java has remained in use and popular. Sticking with the standard means users can stay up to date using just incremental learning. Building on what they already know to learn to use the new Java innovations. There is no paradigm change needed. Understandably, clients like that because having to migrate to new technologies is always hard and bad for business.

(4.33) – Adam is asked to share his worst career moment and what he learned from it. Adam says that surprisingly he has not had any really bad career experiences. He did have one funny experience though. During the rollout of Java 6 or 7 he was due to speak about it at two Sun Microsystems locations, on two different dates. Somehow the dates got muddled up. So, Adam ended up in the wrong city on the first date, which was a funny rather than bad career moment. Although, Adam did say that when his server goes down things can get a bit crazy. Everything is on there, including his website, so he gets hundreds of emails asking him if he realizes he is no longer on the internet.

(5.58) – Phil asks Adam what his best career moment was. Adam runs something called Taskforces. For example, if a system dies in production and the issue cannot be resolved, Adam pulls together the relevant people to get things up and going again. During that process there is the often the chance to spring clean the system and make it stronger than it was before. It is a rare opportunity. If a system is running you would never dare to refactor it and rebuild it from the ground up. When a system is broken, you can do so. After all, you cannot make it much worse.

(7.02) – Phil asks Adam what excites him about the future of the IT industry and IT careers. Adam says that the fact that there is always something new to learn excites him. He also finds it interesting how technologies cycle. Adam has spotted the fact that “everything repeats every 10 years.” This pattern means that provided you do not forget things you are always ahead of the game. For example, JavaScript is becoming more and more like Java. So, now because Adam knows Java really well switching between it and JavaScript is actually very easy for him. He also enjoys the fact that in IT when you teach someone you inevitably end up learning more yourself.

(8.54) – What drew you to a career in IT? Adam is not 100% sure why he followed this career path. But, he has always been a fan of Sci-Fi and he saw computers as being related to that. For him computers have always been magical things. When he got his Spectrum computer you could not do much with it, but Adam became obsessed with making it do more. He became fascinated by it.

(10.44) – What is the best career advice you have ever received? Adam starts by sharing something he has learned in his career, rather than a piece of advice he has been given. He says that if something interests him, he just learns it and does not worry about how he is going to use and apply that knowledge. Usually, he finds that a few months, sometimes years, down the line he needs what he has learned to move a project forward. So, his advice is to “learn to enjoy learning.” Adam has found that this Meta strategy leads to success. Adam also advises developers to learn presentation and political skills. You need to explain clearly why your technological solution is good for business. After all, your clients are really only interested in the outcome not the technology.

(12.25) – If you were to start your IT career again, now, what would you do? Adam says personally he would not change much.

(13.03) – What career objectives do you currently have? Adam says he wants to make sure that he will still be programming in his 90s. Something that he feels will be good for his brain. He is working to ensure that he does not get swallowed up by business matters so that he can continue to program regularly.

(13.52) – What’s your number 1 non-technical skill? The one that has helped you the most in your IT career. Adam says he feels that it is important to stay healthy.

(14.29) – Adam can you share a parting piece of career advice with the I.T. Energizer Audience? Yes – “Stay interested and enjoy life by being productive.” Also, carry on learning and challenging yourself. This stops you from getting bored and it helps you to stay successful. Adam also says that you should try to keep things simple. Always minimize the amount of technology and code you use to solve a business problem. That way everyone can understand and maintain it.


(2.06) ADAM – “If you try to learn JavaScript and Java I think you will need at least two lives.”

(4.26) ADAM – “I stick with a standard. So I didn’t have to learn a lot, do just incremental learning all the time.”

(7.30) ADAM – “If I try to teach someone about what I learned, you learn even more.”

(9.25) ADAM – “Everything else was boring. But a computer was something from another world.”

(11.57) ADAM – “You should be able to explain in simple words, why what they are doing is good for the business. And not just from a technological perspective, because no client is interested in technology.”

(14.59) ADAM – “The learning is the most exciting thing which will keep your successful.”



Twitter: https://twitter.com/AdamBien @AdamBien

Blog: http://adambien.blog/roller/abien/

Website: http://adam-bien.com

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