front matter


This book came from the confluence of several seemingly disconnected events. I was about ready to prepare a fifth edition of Be the Master, an independently published book on choosing your own success and growing that to help others. I was also looking to revise Let’s Talk Business, another independently published title focused on making business basics more accessible to technologists and other individual contributors. Finally, Manning reached out and said that they wanted to create a new “soft skills” book, one designed to help technologists with the non-technical aspects of their careers. The timing seemed perfect, and so this book—through several iterations and many revisions—was born.

Soft skills, as a phrase, totally downplays the importance of things like communicating, understanding why businesses do what they do, working on a team, developing leadership skills, and so on. These skills may not be “hard” technical skills, but it turns out most companies worry more about getting the right soft skills than they do about making sure their people know the latest version of C#, or Windows Server, or Tableau, or something else. Technical skills can be developed through training and experience, and in many ways—like certifications—can be measured, to a degree. But “soft” skills are harder to wrap an organization’s collective mind around, harder to measure, and harder to develop. Yet arguably, our ability to work with other human beings is the most critical skill for any kind of success.

This book isn’t designed to be the last “soft skills” learning you’ll ever have. It’s designed to be the first, or one of the first: a way to frame up the skills you’ll need to focus on, grow, and refine throughout your entire career. This book comes largely from my experience and the experiences of close friends and colleagues, as those experiences were the best way I could think of to ensure the book was real-world and relevant.

Whether you’re brand-new in your tech career or a decades-long veteran, I think you’ll find that this book offers valuable perspectives, new things to think about, and new topics to include in your career management repertoire. Most important, this book tries to stress the importance of your career being your career: you define what “success” looks like, you decide how to make that success happen for you, and you benefit from that success in the end. I’ve tried to frame everything in a way that puts you in the driver’s seat of your career, offering advice and observations but not directives.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope you find much success along the way!


I want to thank my friends and family—especially Chris and Donavan—for putting up with the gnashing of teeth and furious typing as I made my way through the principal writing and the editing passes.

I also want to thank the early reviewers of this book and its outline, many of whom provided invaluable suggestions and insights that they’ll see reflected in this final result: Adriaan Beiertz, Bill Bailey, Bobby Lin, Cameron Presley, Christopher Villanueva, Dave Corun, Irfan Ullah, Ed Lo, Fernando Corrales, Joe Ivans, Lee M. Cottrell, Marc-Anthony Taylor, Markus Braasch, Neil Croll, George Onofrei, Sergio Govoni, Vasile Boris, and Warren Myers.

And finally, I want to thank all of the readers of my prior efforts, including Be the Master and Let’s Talk Business, who provided so much feedback, encouragement, and constructive criticism.

about this book

This book is for anyone pursuing or living a career in technology: developers, data engineers, network architects, systems operators, security teams—you name it. People just starting out will perhaps reap the biggest and most obvious benefit, but even if you’ve been in your career for a couple of decades, I think you’ll find plenty of useful perspectives that will help you guide the rest of your career more effectively.

The contents are organized into a series of complementary topics, with each chapter essentially covering a single “soft skill” or similar subject. You can read them in any order, although I definitely suggest reading the first three chapters first, as those set the stage with some important definitions and shared concepts.

You’re welcome to contact me on Twitter @concentratedDon, or via my website,, as well as through the official Manning forums.

liveBook discussion forum

Purchase of Own Your Tech Career includes free access to a private web forum run by Manning Publications where you can make comments about the book, ask technical questions, and receive help from the author and from other users. To access the forum, go to!/book/own-your-tech-career/discussion. You can also learn more about Manning's forums and the rules of conduct at!/discussion.

Manning’s commitment to our readers is to provide a venue where a meaningful dialogue between individual readers and between readers and the author can take place. It is not a commitment to any specific amount of participation on the part of the author, whose contribution to the forum remains voluntary (and unpaid). We suggest you try asking the author some challenging questions lest his interest stray! The forum and the archives of previous discussions will be accessible from the publisher’s website as long as the book is in print.

about the author

Don Jones has been a professional technologist since the mid-1990s. He is the author of dozens of tech books and has worked in companies large and small, from startup to established enterprise. Since the mid-2000s, he has run career development workshops to help tech professionals better align and manage their careers to serve their lives, goals, and dreams.

about the cover illustration

The figure on the cover of Own Your Tech Career is captioned “Homme Baschkir,” or Baschkir man. The illustration is taken from a collection of dress costumes from various countries by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur (1757-1810), titled Costumes civils actuels de tous les peuples connus, published in France in 1788. Each illustration is finely drawn and colored by hand. The rich variety of Grasset de Saint-Sauveur’s collection reminds us vividly of how culturally apart the world’s towns and regions were just 200 years ago. Isolated from each other, people spoke different dialects and languages. In the streets or in the countryside, it was easy to identify where they lived and what their trade or station in life was just by their dress.

The way we dress has changed since then and the diversity by region, so rich at the time, has faded away. It is now hard to tell apart the inhabitants of different continents, let alone different towns, regions, or countries. Perhaps we have traded cultural diversity for a more varied personal life—certainly for a more varied and fast-paced technological life.

At a time when it is hard to tell one computer book from another, Manning celebrates the inventiveness and initiative of the computer business with book covers based on the rich diversity of regional life of two centuries ago, brought back to life by Grasset de Saint-Sauveur’s pictures.

..................Content has been hidden....................

You can't read the all page of ebook, please click here login for view all page.