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What They Don’t Teach You in School


Academic year: 2022

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What They Don’t Teach You

in School

Yen-Ping Shan Ph.D.

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 1



After almost 30 years out of college…

Managed thousands of people

Hire, promoted, and fired some…

What I wish

People I hired already knew…

I had known…

Opportunity to think by the sickbed

What is success?

▪ Fame, money, power, number of people, or lasting contribution…

Most of us don’t think about the meta process

▪ We are programmed to study hard, get a degree, work hard. Why?


Your life style has little to do with how much you make…

My own discovery. Yours will be different…


Big differences out of school

 Same books, assignments, tests

 Necessity: efficiency of teaching and grading

 Graduate students start to diverge

 How many

 work on the same subject area after grad.


 coworkers have exactly the same assignment?

 Knowledge vs. How to get things done

 Ultimate goal: enhance stake holder value

▪ For you to find out: who are the stake holders

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 3


Working in a team

 Most successful projects/products are long- lived and involve many people

 E.g. Windows (45M loc), AutoPay (15M loc), front end (2.2M loc), ERA (5.5 loc)

 +10 years in the running

 More users, more profit, more enhancements

 Almost never develop anything from scratch

 Another big difference from school

 Even if you are a lone developer, still

interact with people to be successful


Working in a team means working with PEOPLE

 Before you can be a leader, learn to be a good follower

 Argue vigorously before the decision

 Once a decision has been made…

 Be dependable

 Know if you are on critical path

 Inform people ASAP when you are behind

 Build in ‘slack’ when asked to estimate

▪ When is the last time a software project came in ahead of schedule?

 No hero on a sinking ship (Brooks)

 Most importantly people skills…

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 5


Communication skills

Get the point across most efficiently

Know people’s preferred mode of communication

Learn how to give effective presentations

Put yourself in audience’s shoes

Get attention


Real substance


Body language (Albert Mehrabian)

Tell stories, use pictures and videos

E.g. crisis management and PR: Taylor Guitar, Calton Cases, UA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

Overcoming the anxiety is a big part of the battle

Rehearsals help

my first time…

Expect the unexpected and be quick on your feet

E.g. Xian


Magic of Threes

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 7

Holy Trinity


Not just in communication. E.g. Ken Kragen

• Morning basket

• Afternoon roses

• Evening Champagne and tab

Timing is important: concentrated




70% of jobs are found

Your network helps way beyond job hunting

Keep a genuine interest in other people and help them whenever you can

What’s in it for me?

▪ You never know when it will come in handy

▪ Feel good just doing it

Overcoming inertia

Choice between watching TV and interact with others..

If you are not an extrovert, ask others about their interests

Keep up with the network you already have

Schoolmates are precious (no hidden agenda, no conflict of interest)

Reach out especially when they are not flying high



It’s a necessity in life and in work

Don’t do it for the sake of bargaining

Not dealing with street vendors here

A few tips

Know your own

What can you afford to lose

How unique are you

Know your best alternative

Know the other

How much freedom does he/she have

How much do they want/need you

Look for win/win

Exercise: you just got an offer… What should you do?

Using intermediary (later in your career)

We are not experts, don’t spoil the relationship

Fisher & Ury “Getting to Yes”

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 9


What is a company?

A structure to maximize stake holder value

In the case of for profit: share holder

Note that employees are not mentioned

What are job grades/levels, titles

Motivations for you to keep working hard

Title: encourages customers to pay attention, cheapest way to make you feel good

% of bosses put company interest ahead of personal?

Not necessarily bad; how Capitalism trumped Communism

Most jump in pay doesn’t come from internal promotion

Job change

Starting something

Know when to hold them and when to fold them

Find your right tree or branch

You work for your boss more than your company

When you don’t feel right (not doing the right thing, don’t appreciate you, not learning anything): move

Much easier to find a job when you have a job


Ideal Employee…

What kind of employee a boss would love?

Do as told

Get paid nothing

Never complain

Never leave (unless let go)

Not! It’d be slavery

Knowledge based work place (and good boss)

Get jobs done right ahead of time under budget

▪ i.e. Beat the expectation

▪ Keep up with the latest (e.g. 40 hr’s and 2 conf’s)

▪ Highly sought after in the open market…

Make boss look good

▪ Understand what boss’ standing and values

▪ Take initiatives and be accountable

Oriental workers tend to check with boss too often…

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 11


Luck has a lot to do with it

Guess where the #1 students be after 30 years

Academic ability not everything

Luck is a major factor (you still need to be good)

Take chances:

story of Soong

Try new things when you are young

Try something big and impossible in your lifetime

▪ E.g. Apache

Handle setbacks

Movie: Company Men

It’s not your fault but need to be prepared

▪ Resume always updated, network activated (if nothing else to help others find jobs)

A change may be the best thing happens to you



Goleman’s model

Self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship management

Both workplace and life

Who would you like to be around?

Who can get more done?

Work to live not the other way around

Make it easier to look at things in perspective

Wish you’d spent more time at the office on your deathbed?

Find your mirror (Snow White)

You have to be proactive

One of Gallup Q12 is “Do you have a best friend at work?”

Easily forgive and quick to ask for forgiveness

Keep yourself healthy

Yes, it helps EQ!

Life long exercise habit. Lower stress, sleep better

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 13


Office Politics

Not necessarily bad

Process of allocating resources

▪ Promotion is a kind of resource too

Often no choice whether you play or not

▪ Part of getting the job done (for you and your team)

Try to understand the power structure and the network of influence

Since politics are played through people, most basic:

Dale Carnegie

For defensive measures: Machiavelli


Senior and outside of your direct organization

Sometimes you need to look for it

When given a chance to shadow, jump on it



 Company and Personal both

 Know how to read a financial statement

 Know how investors value your company

 That’s what drives your CEO and eventually your boss

 You can tell where company is going. E.g. shed a division, buy a business, start a new initiative…

 When you can talk both business and technology….

 Fight greed

 Smart people can make stupid decisions. E.g. Multi- tier scam. Chain letter. Email health tips.

 Think about retirement early

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 15


How much difference?


Respect for Military

 Two years not in vain

 Extremely large command and control system

 Deep human psychology

▪ How do you make people charge that hill?

▪ Take away then give back

▪ When you are in it long enough, you stop thinking

 Most importantly, appreciation for

 the sacrifices

 civilian life and opportunities

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 17


Characteristics of a good leader

 Clear vision and communicate effectively

 Listening vs. talking

 Care about, attract, and develop people

 Drive hard for exceptional results

 High integrity and honesty

 Much easier to relax then tighten. E.g. travel expense

 Optimistic but realistic

 Fair

 Humility and constant learning

 Flexible

 Technically savvy


Developing into a leader

 Focus on strengths not on weaknesses

 Build a personal support team

 Mentors, trusted coworker, family members

 Seek tough challenges

 Sharpen your judgment

 Use others’ cases

 Take care of your health

 The most important habit of highly effective people…

 Read and attend classes

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 19


Helpful references

 Zenger, Folkman, Edinger, “The Inspiring Leader”

 Brian Tracy, “How the Best Leaders Lead”

 John C. Maxwell, “Leadership Gold”, “The 360 Degree Leader”

 Bill George, “True North”

 Kouzes and Posner, “The Truth About Leadership”

 Tichy and Bennis, “Judgment”

 Martin, “Touch Management”

 Various books by Peter Drucker


360 learning

 Ask all around you for feedback

 Even Especially if you are the boss

 Extra curricular activities

 Most helpful and still useful over the years

 Volunteers vs. paid employees

 Try a new initiative and learn from it

 Look for opportunities to learn formally and informally after school

 E.g. company trainings, Conferences, exec ed

 Ask questions when you are among experts

 Teach

©2011 Yen-Ping Shan All rights reserved 21


Q & A

 How do I find a job with no experience?

 Get experience while in school

▪ Project sponsored by companies

▪ Internship

▪ Get to know what companies are like and what they want

▪ Networking. The more chores the better…



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