Episode 83 – Python Expert Michael Kennedy Shares His Secrets For Achieving Your IT Goals
In this episode, Phil interviews Python Specialist Michael Kennedy. Michael is the host of Python Bytes and Talk Python to Me. He is also the founder of Talk Python training and a fellow of the Python Software Foundation. Michael has been working in the developer field for more than 20 years and has spoken at numerous conferences including NDC and DevWeek.
(0.59) – Phil asked Michael to tell the audience a bit more about himself? In response, Michael explained that when he started his work life he focused on the science sector. While working on his maths PhD, he discovered programming. He said, “It just really connected with me”. That was 20 years ago, yet every day he feels a little bit more excited than he was the day before. With IT you are always learning, which is exciting.
(2.05) – Phil asks Michael for a unique IT career tip. Michael started by saying that it is important to remember that “small things add up”. He said, we often overestimate what we can accomplish in a week, but massively underestimate what can be done in a couple of years. Michael pointed out that you need to carry on learning to progress. He also explained that it is important to realize that in the IT world there are no longer gatekeepers. The days when you had to ask permission from somewhere like IBM or Oracle to be accepted into the IT world are gone. Today, you are in control. “You no longer have to ask permission to be part of this, excel and be a leader, you just have to want it”. If you want to do something all you have to do is to work gradually towards doing it.
(4.13) – Michael was asked to share his worst career moment by Phil. Michael said that happened while he was working for DARPA, which is an advanced US government research facility. He was working on a secret project that used software to pull together the efforts of several companies and organizations. Unfortunately, the software did not work properly, so needed debugging. Under normal circumstances that would be a tedious task, but not a huge problem. But, for this project, his main partner was a man from the UK and he did not have the necessary security clearance to attend the meetings where the issues were discussed. He could not be in the room. Someone had to summarize what the problems were and he had to use that information to debug the software. Very stressful.
(6.55) Phil asked “did you learn anything particular from this situation?” Michael said, yes, we should have tested more and used a technical person who could have physical access to the thing we were working on.
(7.23) – On the flipside, Phil asks Michael what his best career moment was. Michael explained that he started working as a developer and enjoyed that work. But it was starting to teach programming and developer skills that has been the highlight of his career, so far.
(11.14) – Phil wants to know what excites Michael about the future for the IT industry. The fact that it is relatively easy for new people to enter the field and learn is something that Michael finds exciting. Students no longer have to hope that they can work it out from a book because there is plenty of support available.
(11.14) – What drew you to a career in IT? Michael enjoys the fact you actually get to build things, rather than just working with theories. He enjoys the debate involved in developing a product and being able to press the button and find out if what you have done actually works.
(12.10) – What is the best career advice you have been given? Because Michael was self-taught he said that he did not get much IT career advice from mentors and teachers. But, after speaking to others working in the field, he thinks that the most important piece of advice he can share is “just take action.” He said, “Even if you go the wrong way you will learn enough that you actually learn more about what the right way is.”
(13.38) – Phil asks what approach Michael would take if he were to start his IT career again, right now. Michael says he would have been more selective and strategic when it came to choosing the projects he worked on. He feels that this would have made things easier for him.
(14.30) – Phil asks what career objective Michael is currently focusing on. Michael said “I’m really focused on trying to inspire and inform developers”. The fundamental goal of his podcasts is to make people aware of new things that they should be interested in. He is working to make it easier for people to learn Python and develop successful IT careers.
(15.33) – What would you consider to be your most important non-technical skill? For Michael, learning to speak publicly had been especially beneficial. The urge to share helped him to overcome his fear and communicate better.
(16.36) – Phil asks Michael to share a few final words of career advice. Michael said – “every day, think about where you want to put your energy and really what you want” That may mean taking a job for 5 years with Google, so that you can learn the skills you need to build your own product. Whatever you need to do to achieve your dreams, just go ahead and do it.
(1.30) Michael – “Every day, I’m just a little more excited than I was the day before about it. It’s great.”
(2.00) Michael – “We often overestimate what we can accomplish in a week, but massively underestimate what can be done in a couple of years.”
(3.38) Michael – “You no longer have to ask permission to be part of this and excel and be a leader. You just have to want it.”
(3.45) Phil – “I think the opportunity is there. And it’s up to the individual to take the opportunity.”
(10.40) Michael – “Because so much stuff is new you don’t have to do it for 20 years to be an expert”
(13.20) Michael – Just take action. He said, “Even if you go the wrong way you will learn enough that you actually learn more about what the right way is.”
(18.00) Michael – “Every day, think about where you want to put your energy and really what you want.”
CONTACT MICHAEL KENNEDY: