Every year, Quest Software convenes a Customer Advisory Board at the home office in Aliso Viejo, California. We bring some of our highly experienced customers out for a couple of days to talk about what’s happening with technology, and good times are had by all.
At the welcome reception, I was struck by how many of them had a great sense of humor. I was standing in a room with a couple dozen seasoned and talented IT people, yet jokes were flying around left and right. Let’s face it, us geeks aren’t exactly renown for our ability to light up a room. We can be funny-ha-ha in private or on the intertubez, but this was a group of near-strangers that were cutting things up.
The morning after, as I was thinking back about it, I figured there were two possibilities:
Option 1: We Hand-Picked Funny Customers
If we hand-picked the comedians, then I bet we’re not the only company who would do something like that. I bet funny people are more likely to get invited to events like this because they’re more enjoyable to be around. After all, who wants to invite a bunch of grumpy people to hang out in a conference room for a few days? If I wanted that, I’d just call a team meeting. <rimshot>
For the record, funny customers doesn’t mean happy customers – we’re not surrounding ourselves with yes-men by any means. To force the products to get better, we have to hear brutally honest and honestly brutal feedback.
Option 2: Funny People Are More Likely to Succeed in IT
Who gets promoted into higher-level IT positions like DBA management?
To answer that question, back up and ask yourself who does the actual promotions. When was the last time the CIO came to you and said, “Hey, I’m thinking about appointing a new DBA manager. Who’s the best person for the job?”
Promotions aren’t handled by underlings – the higher-ranking folks pick and choose who they promote. For better or for worse, they often don’t do it with the feedback of the rest of us. They think they know what we think and who we like, and they might take it into account, but they may not. However, they know exactly who they like – they like people who are easy to get along with, easy to interact with, and easy to sit in a conference room with. Sadly, management involves meeting after meeting after meeting. Why bring bores to the meeting?
Either way, if you wanna get ahead, have a sense of humor about what you’re doing. If you think things are too serious in your job now, then brace yourself, because problems get worse as you go up the corporate ladder. Getting promoted to management means worrying about who you’re going to lay off, how you’re going to handle Johnny’s drug problem, or how you’re going to decide who gets a raise. Employees are much harder to manage than technology, because servers don’t bring a gun into the office to take revenge.
Life is short and workdays are long. To get the most out of both, get yourself a sense of humor pronto. Stop taking yourself so seriously, and people will be more likely to invite you to fun stuff and bring you up the corporate ladder.
(Note – I’m on vacation, so I probably won’t be responding to comments for a few days. I scheduled this post ahead of time. I’m on a sailboat in Lake Michigan, and I’ll respond if I get within wireless range. And yes, I’m bringing my laptop.)