Episode 50 – Strive To Be The Dumbest Person In The Room with Phil Japikse

 In Podcasts

Phil Japikse is an international speaker, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and a passionate member of the developer community. He has been developing software for over 30 years and has been heavily involved in the Agile community since 2005. Phil is also a published author with LinkedIn learning as well as co-author of the book “C# and the .NET 4.6 Framework”.

In this episode Phil tells us why we should seek out situations where we are the least knowledgeable person in the room. Phil also talks about involving the right people when designing and developing software and the importance of being polite and respectful to others.


Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:53) – Phil introduces Phil Japikse

(01:24) – Phil mentions that he has just released a Pro C# 7 book which is the next version on Apress

(01:57) – Phil talks about volunteering, including running the Cincinnati .Net User Group, sponsoring the Mobile Developer User Group as well as a couple of other groups

(02:18) – Additionally, Phil is a member of the National Ski Patrol and a “Medic On Skis”

(02:27) – Phil also spent fifteen years as a firefighter paramedic


(02:37) – Unique Career Tip: Phil says that you should always strive to be the dumbest person in the room

(02:59) – We tend to stay where we bubble to the top of the food chain because we’re comfortable there but you stop growing

(03:14) – Seek out situations where you look around the room and think to yourself that you’re an idiot

(03:25) – Always have somebody who can be your mentor; don’t always be the mentor

(03:43) – Phil says that sometimes it’s hard to recognise when you’ve become the big fish because we do like feeling important

(03:53) – Phil says that one of the reasons he became a conference speaker was to hang out with people smarter than him, which is invigorating

(04:07) – You can learn straight from the people who are either creating technology or closer associated with it

(04:18) – It can really recharge your career


(04:27) – Worst Career Moment: Phil talks about a situation where momentum took him away from Agile principles

(04:49) – Phil talks about writing software for the Nursing Home and Long Term Care industry

(06:11) – Phil talks about the process of gathering requirements for a new system, except from the Nurses who were going to use the system

(06:28) – The software was built to be used on tablets and the developers thought it was great

(06:36) – Everybody was thrilled with it, except for the nurses

(06:52) – As a result, the software failed miserably and the nurses refused to use it

(07:11) – All the other software developed for the project had been successful and Phil believes that the team had become over confident

(07:31) – It really was a wakeup call and Phil talks about involving people in the software development process


(08:43) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Phil talks about being a non-Microsoft employee and speaking at Build

(09:25) – Phil talks about working for an insurance company who had a purely Waterfall approach to software development

(09:51) – Within six months Phil had got them to a point where they were using a Kanban Board and doing daily stand-ups

(10:05) – Phil describes over hearing a couple of developers and a couple to quality assurance analysts talking about how he had changed the way they worked


(11:22) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Phil Japikse talks about the changes in I.T. during his career

(12:23) – Phil says that you can’t necessarily keep up with changes in technology

(12:38) – In I.T. we’re trying to solve problems, making jobs more efficient and saving companies’ money

(14:06) – Being able to take a group of people who don’t really know what they want and coming up with something that makes their lives better is what excites Phil most


(15:17) – The Reveal

(15:21) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “It was easy, in comparison to becoming a doctor”

(15:59) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “Open the door. Always be polite and always show respect”

(16:55) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”Focus on blending process and technical skills”

(17:32) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “Annuity rewards. Releasing books and publishing courses”

(18:32) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “Active listening”


(20:00) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Phil Japikse says you must never stop learning

(20:17) – “Once you think you’ve seen it all you need to get out because you stop learning”

(20:27) – Keep learning, keep trying to get better and be the dumbest guy in the room


3 Key Points:     

  1. Seek out situations where you look around the room and think to yourself that you know the least
  2. Always talk to the people who will be using a software system when designing and building it
  3. Always be polite and show respect to others


Resources Mentioned:

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