Book Review: Soft Skills - The software developer's life manual

John Somnez is one of these people that as soon as you get in contact with, you instantly get inspired. I consider myself very fortunate to have come across John. He's a very energetic, enthusiastic and inspiring developer who, at the age of 33, managed to retire from the daily rat-race and turn his energy into something more constructive by contributing back to the community.

I first heard of John during a .NetRocks podcast. It was during that same podcast that I also won a competition run by John to promote his excellent marketing course "How to market yourself as Software Developer". The podcast was great and I instantly knew that John is a interesting person that has a lot to offer to the community. The material I won as part of the competition was also excellent. The whole course is very well written and if you are serious about your career as a Software Developer, then I highly recommend it. You can get it here.

After that, I decided to follow John on Twitter and to get on his mailing list. The thing I like about John is how sensible and realistic his advice is; and it should be since he's sharing his knowledge and experience as a software developer with us. We learn from his mistakes and triumphs. Some of it may not be in agreement with your beliefs or ideas, but the point is that you can learn a lot from this guy, regardless of your career status as as developer (beginner, senior etc).

Recently John published a new book called "Soft Skills - The software developer's life manual". What a title! Now, some of you may wander what a life manual for developers can look like and why you may need one. John approaches our profession with a hollistic view. If you are serious about your career and want to progress or you wish to start your own business or become a start-up founder, then you need a compass to guide you through the whole process. No one is born knowing how to be successful at what we do and most of us learn the hard way, through our own mistakes. In addition, by the time we we have the experience and know-how, it may be a bit too late for some of us to make the "jump".

This book offers the required knowledge and guidance to help you make this jump sooner, much sooner. The book consists of many (many many) small chapters and within each chapter you get a breakdown or analysis for one of the many aspects of a developer's life and, in the end, there is guidance and advice. I will use "Becoming a consultant" as an example. In this chapter you learn what it means to be a consultant in our field, the pros and the cons and how to go about becoming one in a safe manner i.e without going bankrupt in a couple of months. This is just one of many useful chapters in the book.

But the book doesn't stop there. There is more than just your career and it makes conscious effort to cover additional aspects of your whole life as a developer, such as finances, character traits, professionalism, fitness etc. It gives a true hollistic view of what it means to be a successful software developer and for every idea covered there are many actionable points that describe how you could achieve your goals.

I believe that John's approach is quite unique and maybe the beginning of a whole series of books that could spill out in other professions such as "The surgeon's life manual" etc. You get the idea. We are not just our job i.e our 9 to 5. Instead our choice of profession definitely spills into other aspects of our life and if we want to achieve balance without compromising success, then we need to know how.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who wants more from his career and life as a software developer. Besides, this book is fun to read and a good page turner, so I wouldn't give it a miss. The book is available both in hard copy and e-book format and you can get it from Manning Publications here. Make sure you use the "ssazon" code in the Promotional Code at checkout to get a special 50% discount!

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did and I look forward to find out if you've got any feedback or advise of your own.

P.S Make sure you follow me on Twitter @christosmatskas for more up-to-date news, articles and tips.

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