When I started reading "Soft Skills" by John Sonmez, I didn't know what to expect from it. On the one hand, as software engineers, we think that writing beauty code is much more important than knowledge of how to promote and market ourselves. And it is true. Although, It is extremely hard to find an interesting project without marketing and self-promotion. I doubted that someone could explain this thing to developers. I can't say that John does it ideally, but he does it quite well.
First of all, the author of the book, John Sonmez, was a software engineer. Now he is a coach, a trainer, and a real estate investor, I suppose. He says that he works as developer sometimes. Anyway, he is the guy who knows the industry inside. He has a very interesting story of his career. Although he wasn't CEO of Microsoft or Google, his advice deserves to be checked. Maybe, it's better that he wasn't a CEO in any huge corporation. That makes him more like to an average software engineer.
OK. He knows something about software development. Does he know something about personal branding and marketing? I can't answer this question. Before I read the book, I'd read some John's blog posts. Basically, he doesn't write anything extra-ordinal. Actually, after almost any marketing tip you can exclaim "It's obvious!", "Everybody knows it!" Instead of giving weird and complicated advice, John adds an example after each simple, plain advice he gave to prove it.
Not all parts of the book have the same quality. The better John knows a topic of a chapter, the cleaner explanation, better tips and examples he gives. Sections "Career", "Marketing yourself", "Learning", "Productivity" are great.
Starting from "Financial" you'll find that some chapters are not so good. I mean, that the chapter named "How to negotiate your salary" or one about real estate are brilliant. In the same time, the book contains chapter "Options: Where all the fun is" is the most controversial and dangerous in the book. I want to say that options aren't so fun. Basically, they are extremely complex and risky for amateurs. Of course, you can use them successfully, but you must be absolutely sure what you do.
Last to sections are about health and mental state. "Fitness" section is good. John is a well-built man. And it's wise to read carefully and use in your life what he says about setting fitness goals, workouts, running, and diet.
In conclusion, I want to answer two questions. The first one is "Is it worth reading?" Yes, it is. There are many good tips inside this book. Just chose one that looks more useful and apply it. If it works, choose another one and repeat. The second question is "Is this the best book you've ever read?" Of course, not. However, I found only two books about personal marketing for software engineers. That's why we actually have no choice and we should read it.
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