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5 Must Read Career Books

We all face challenges in our careers at some point or another, and the truth is, we spend most of our lives at work. So why not make the most of it? Whether you’re feeling stuck in your current position and need a boost or are transitioning to a new role, we are firm believers that even in this age of technology, some of the best answers can be found in a book!

To help give you a leg up, we’ve compiled a list of must read career books chalked full of advice and tools to help you tackle everything and anything.

1. Master Your Next Move by Michael Watkins

Experiencing a lot of change in your career? Master Your Next Move offers insight into some of the most important transitions that occur within our careers. From overseas assignments and on-boarding at a new company, to getting promoted and having to lead former peers, sometimes even a good career move can be challenging. In his latest book, Michael Watkins lends a helping hand to those in leadership positions looking to excel as they climb the ladder.

2. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

Looking for more fulfillment at work or in general? Designing Your Life suggests that in order to live a life of fulfillment, one should apply the concepts of design to both their personal life and career. After all, every design begins by solving a problem. If you want to rework your career, start by rethinking your approach.

3. Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness by Kerry Hannon

Hate your job? According to a recent Gallup Poll, 85% of people do. Kerry Hannon’s Love Your Job explains how you can make the most of your current position by changing your perspective. Hannon offers tips on developing positive thought patters and habits that will reinvigorate you and give you a new found purpose at work no matter what stage of your career you are in.

4. Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? by Seth Godin

We all know that in this new age of the workforce, innovation is key to staying relevant. Seth Godin’s Linchpin paves the way for anyone looking to make a lasting impact. The book begins by posing the following questions, “Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable.”

5. The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle

Anyone who has ever been in business, knows about failure. For those who have recently experienced a set back at work, Megan McArdle’s The Up Side of Down is an inspirational guide to reinventing yourself in the face of failure by learning from the experience instead of allowing it to debilitate you.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

Six Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Bill Gates

Bill Gates is a household name. This is especially true to the households that spent their formative years in the late 80s and early 90s when Gates worked to make computers a staple in the family home. Most people know that he’s the founder of Microsoft, one of the most popular operating systems in the world. Most people also know that he dominated the Forbes list of richest people in the world since 1993. In 2017, he was bested by Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, but still holds the number 2 spot today. Another commonly known fact about Bill Gates is that he gave a laughable deposition testimony during the 1998 Supreme Court case United States v. Microsoft over antitrust litigation. And that Microsoft ended up being charged with monopolization, tying, and blocking competition.

For the most part, Gates’ life has been in the public eye over the last twenty years. If you’ve seen a documentary on the life of Bill Gates and the rise of Microsoft, the details mentioned above are all covered. However, there are a plethora of things that most people don’t know about Bill Gates. From his personal life to his dedication to philanthropy, you probably didn’t know these six things about Bill Gates.

The first computer program Bill Gates wrote was a tic-tac-toe game.

After his prep school raised enough money to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and time on a General Electric (GE) computer, Gates’ interest in programming grew. His teacher’s noticed and excused him from class to continue working on his ever-growing interest. The Teletype model was the first machine he wrote a complete computer program on. The program allowed computer users to play tic-tac-toe against the computer. The ability to get a computer to perform a specific task fascinated Gates and he spent the rest of his time in school creating computer programs for his alma mater and other local-area businesses.

He almost got a perfect SAT score but did not graduate from college.

At the age of 18, Gates was named a National Merit Scholar. Later that same year, he scored a 1590/1600 on his SAT and was accepted to Harvard. Throughout his two years at the Ivy League school, he never decided on a plan of study and spent most of his time with the school’s computers. Despite his intelligence, he did not graduate from Harvard. Instead, he took a leave of absence for an unspecified amount of time to work on Microsoft. As the company rose to success, he never returned but stated multiple times that he “could always go back to school” if Microsoft failed for some reason.

Bill Gates has stated that he is concerned for the future of superintelligence.

With most of his life focused around and driven by software, it’s no surprise Gates has thoughts on the future. Popular forum platform, Reddit, often hosts AMAs or “Ask Me Anything” sessions during which influential people invite Reddit users to do just that and ask them anything. One user asked what Gates’ thoughts on superintelligence were and his response was one of concern. He sides with Elon Musk, another influencer in the information technology sector, and stated that “first the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”

One of his biggest philanthropic missions to date is to eliminate polio.

Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, are both chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is the largest private charitable foundation in the entire world. The mission of the foundation is to improve global health while saving lives. The foundation has also partnered with Rotary International, an organization that brings together professional leaders with humanitarian efforts, to eliminate polio. The foundation also supports the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in worldwide agricultural development. Currently, in addition to their partnerships, the foundation is supporting the International Rice Research Institute’s efforts to develop a “golden rice” that will fight vitamin A deficiency.

The Gates’ family residence is a 66,000 square-foot mansion in Washington state.

Bill Gates, his wife Melinda, and their three children live in a 66,000 square foot property that overlooks Lake Washington. The property is an earth-sheltered mansion built into the side of a hill. It’s designed in the Pacific lodge style with classic features as well as technologically-forward features. The home has a private library with a dome roof and oculus but also features a 60-foot wide swimming pool with an underwater music system and a server system throughout the entire estate.

In addition, the home also boasts a 2,500 square foot gym and a 1,000 square foot dining room. Often referred to as Xanadu 2.0, a Citizen Kane reference, the home features 7 guest rooms, 24 bathrooms, a 23-car garage, and a beach made out of imported sand from the Caribbean. Want to see the inside of it? There are some ways to do just that if you can catch Gates when he’s auctioning off home tours. Some tours have been bought for as much as $35,000 a piece.

His dedication to philanthropy will outlast his lifetime, his wife’s lifetime, and his closest friend’s lifetime.

Bill Gates, his wife, Melinda, and his closest friend, Warren Buffett, are all very dedicated to philanthropy. In fact, they are so invested in giving back that together they signed a “Giving Pledge”. This pledge commits them to each donate at least half of their wealth to charity over the course of time. The campaign itself is available for anyone who is wealthy to commit to. As of 2019, the Giving Pledge had 191 signatures from individuals and couples across 22 countries. Their commitments total over $1,000 billion dollars.

The next time you hear the name Bill Gates, or he comes up in conversation, remember that he is more than the creator of Microsoft. Gates is also a well-known philanthropist, an advocate for slowing down on developing artificial intelligence, and much more. If you’re interested in learning more about Bill Gates, his website https://www.gatesnotes.com is a great place to start. On the blog, interested parties can find a lot of additional information on Gates’ philanthropic efforts, books he recommends, and people he considers his heroes. There is also a fascinating biography by Michael B. Becraft on gates, aptly titled “Bill Gates: A Biography”.

Preparing for the Remote Work Culture

If you’re making the transition to remote work after working in an office from 9-5, 5 days a week, you’ll quickly learn a notable difference in the work culture. Whether you’re looking to work from home or are an employer wanting to outsource tasks, getting familiar with the customs of those who work remotely will help you know what to expect.

Here are 3 unwritten rules of remote work:

1. Everything starts on time.

Because you’re not sitting in traffic during your morning commute, there’s really no excuse for being late. In the remote world, meetings start on time down to the minute. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that it allows you to better manage every minute of your day. Couple that with the fact that you could be collaborating with someone in a different time zone, and every minute really starts to count. To make sure you don’t experience a technical delay, get used to checking your equipment early each morning.

2. Communication is key.

Sure, communication is key in any work situation. But when you’re communicating with someone who isn’t sitting in the next cubicle, it becomes even more prudent. In fact, 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal, so if you’re working remotely online, it can be easy for a few things to get lost in translation. Expect to over communicate by being prompt in your responses and utilizing the many tools available to you. Remember that the tone of online communication tends to be straightforward and casual. When it applies, provide links or visual examples for full transparency. Shared calendars and collaborative applications can help to keep everyone on the same page, whether it be project deadlines, tasks or vacation days. 

3. Nurture workplace relationships.

Yes, workplace relationships are still a thing when you work from home. While they can be hard to cultivate because of language barriers and time zones, a good workplace dynamic is an invaluable asset and can help ensure a project’s success. Taking the time to build camaraderie through friendly correspondence can go a long way. When possible, opt for an in person meeting, video or phone call, and consider using a chat app for water cooler talk.

As an employer, think about implementing a remote work policy to help establish standards and keep everyone accountable. A company mission can help communicate your vision and values, and as a result keep remote employees motivated.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

3 Things That Set Number8 Apart

With so many options for IT consulting and agile software development, why choose Number8?

1. We offer a blended model.

At Number8, we offer all the benefits of typical offshore tech support with nearshore capabilities. Our headquarters are based out of Louisville, Kentucky and we have technical professionals throughout the U.S. We also have more than 100 associates in a total of six countries including our offshore team in Latin America and nearshore office location in San Jose, Costa Rica. Whether the need is local or can be handled off-site, we are able to work with our U.S. clients in their timezone and language with the best possible mix of development assistance.

2. We treat our employees differently.

It’s our mission at Number8 to give our associates and IT contractors the opportunity to develop a rewarding and challenging career while enjoying the best possible work-life balance. We pride ourselves on our employee retention rate and value building long term partnerships with our clients as a result of it.

We also understand just how important family is and the ability to have a flexible work schedule is a major benefit of working remotely. For example, one of our Junior Developers John Lewis, who came onboard about a year ago, has recently decided to shared his story with the Number8 family. After the passing of his wife last April, he now lives in Costa Rica with his three children.

“N8 is an incredibly unique company and I think that comes from its foundations. The entire team as well as my clients have been incredibly supportive during what has been a depressive period for me. I couldn’t work for a month, and though I thought I would lose my job I didn’t. I can’t even count the number of times someone has asked me if I needed anything. Though Christmas was particularly hard for us, as it was my wife’s favorite holiday and our gifts from the U.S. were stuck in customs, Number8 surprised us again. Literally the only things under the tree were the gifts that Number8 gave to my children. I am so grateful to Number8 for all the resources that they’ve put at my disposal. I honestly cannot express it any more because it is so emotional for me. To everyone who has supported me, I can’t say thank you enough.”

3. We are experienced in a breadth of programming languages.

Having been in the custom software development business for several years, our professionals specialize in a full range of programming languages and skill sets including:

-Microsoft .Net     -ASP.Net     -Javascript     -LINQ Visual Studio

-C++/C#         -MySQL       -Oracle       -OO Development

-Microsoft SQL Server        -Ruby         -Agile Development and Scrum.

Additionally, we do a considerable amount of Java development, and a lot of front-end development using javascript MVC frameworks like Angular, Knockout, Ember and Backbone. We also have software development teams working in PHP (Aura, Yii, Zend, Laravel, Symfony, Phalcon, CodeIgniter, Cake).

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 give us a call at (502) 890-7665.

3 Ted Talks That Will Change the Way You Think About Work

Sometimes we all need a little pick me up during the work week. What better way to reboot the mind and motivate ourselves to keep carrying on than a really good Ted Talk? Here are our favorite talks that will help change the way you think about stress and work.

Kelly McGonigal- How to Make Stress Your Friend

In her 2013 Ted Talk, Psychologist Kelly McGonigal challenges the idea that stress is the cause of all our problems by siting a study that illustrates stress is actually only harmful if you believe it is. In this study, participants who experienced stress, but didn’t believe it was harmful, had a lower risk of death than those with less stress.  According to McGonigal, “How you think and act can transform your experience of stress.” Instead of viewing signs of anxiety and stress as the body failing to cope, think of it as the body getting energized and rising to a challenge. Re-framing the way we perceive stress often results in a healthier stress response, or what McGonigal calls a “biology of courage.”

Stressed at work? Watch it here: 

Shawn Achor- The Happy Secret to Better Work

Psychologist Shawn Achor’s 2011 Ted Talk aims to reverse the status quo when it comes to our formula for happiness and success. According to Achor, “Success is predicted by optimism levels, social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.” Though we tend to think that working harder will give us more success and more success will make us happier, we are always changing the definition of success. “If happiness is on the opposite side of success,” says Achor, “your brain never gets there.” Instead, we should make use of what he calls the “happiness advantage.” When we’re happy, our brain performs better. This is because in addition to making us positive, dopamine also turns on all the learning centers in our brain. As a result, we’re often more productive when we’re happy and every single business outcome improves.

Interested in the happiness advantage? Watch here:

Theresa Glomb- Let’s Make Work Better

Organizational Psychologist Theresa Glomb’s Ted Talk addresses the negative conversation we so often have around work and offers advice on how we can take more power over our work lives. According to Glomb, the bad things that happen at work can have as much as 5 to 10 times the impact on our mood than the good things. To remedy this “asymmetry affect,” Glomb offers a few tricks to make us happier at work. Namely, work hard, have fun, choose kind and be present.

Looking for a fresh perspective at work? Watch here:

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 give us a call at (502) 890-7665. 

How to Approach Project Management the Agile Way

An agile approach to project management has become prolific within many industries ranging from software development, construction and even marketing. Approaching a project the agile way ensures the product meets the client’s needs in a timely manner. The agile method also specifically makes room for improvements along the way rather than at the end when a lot of effort has already gone into the finished product. The result is often a shorter development cycle and quicker product release.  

However, an agile project manager’s duties differ from that of a traditional one’s. While the typical project manager is tasked with communication and quality control and manages the scope, cost, risk and personnel, many of these responsibilities are spread throughout the team in an agile workforce. 

Agile encourages team members to determine how to best achieve their tasks, report on their progress and determine their own schedule. Instead of a project manager, teams evaluate their own time and cost as they move through their work. Project goals are set by what is called a “product owner” and an agile project manager is referred to as a “scrum master.” 

The scrum master (or agile project manager) deals with problems as they arise and handles interruptions so his or her team can focus on the work at hand. This often comes in the form of facilitating meetings and discussions, removing progress blockers and setting priorities.

While traditional project management dictates a detailed master plan that must be followed, the agile way aims to determine the requirements as the project progresses. For this reason, an agile project manager tends to only be utilized in particularly larger complex projects. 

When approaching project management through the agile mindset, one must:

Be Flexible

Agile is built to incorporate regular feedback, updates and changes in requirements. While it’s important to understand the end goal and overall scope of a project from the start, an agile project has many cycles to it’s completion. Therefore, an agile project manager must be flexible enough to work with what is thrown their way rather than adhere to an unchangeable itinerary. 

Prioritize Client Satisfaction

At the end of the day, project management has always been done in the name of customer service. This is perhaps exemplified in the agile model as a project manager is in constant flux when it comes to meeting a client’s ever changing needs. It’s important therefore to remember that the end goal is to ultimately satisfy the client even if it’s at cost to the original plan.

Embrace Meetings

Coordinating with team members, stakeholders and clients still remains a large part of an agile project manager’s role. The agile methodology embraces daily meetings often called “scrums” where everyone participates in team transparency. During these scrums, everyone shares what they accomplished the day before as well as what they are working on that day. These are brief workflow updates and can even be done standing up. If not done in person, video conferences are another way of establishing accountability. 

Be Prepared to Problem Solve

Central to an agile project manager’s responsibilities is the ability to quickly adapt and correct course when need be. Continuous improvement ultimately saves valuable resources by reducing the risk of a larger scale failure in the end.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at(502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

The Benefits of Working Remotely from a Number8 Developer

This week on the blog, one of our very own developers turned team leaders, Max Madrigal shares his experience with working remotely.

Having joined the Number8 team in 2013, Max worked as a developer for 3 years. During that time he was given the opportunity to grow into a leadership role, and as a result has been a team lead for nearly 4 years now.

How did Max know he wanted to work remotely?

“After trying to have my own company in Costa Rica, I realized I wanted a job that could offer me a similar lifestyle to that of an entrepreneur. Though running my own company didn’t work out, the experience really taught me how to manage my own time.”

With the help of a few referrals, Max came aboard Number8.

“The recruiters at Number8 really helped me hone my English language skills. They saw something in me and took the time to pair me with the right customer.”

Everyday Madrigal enjoys the diversity of working remotely.

“I get to interact with people from all different backgrounds, and often in many different parts of the world.” And even though he often works from home or in an internet cafe, everyday is different. “I’m always meeting new people and doing new things; whether it’s researching solutions or developing new tech.”

Max is in charge of two development teams. 

As team lead, Max is tasked with reviewing their progress, coordinating meetings with the customer, as well as helping his team solve issues as they arise. “Often we work in the time zone of the user so we can have meetings with them.”

One of the many benefits of working remotely for Max has been the ability to travel.

Hungary, Colombia, Guatemala, Chicago, Argentina, Chile, Panama and Honduras are among the many places Madrigal has checked off his bucket list. He also spent 5 months in Europe exploring Germany, London, Venice, France and Norway, where he was able to see the northern lights. “There’s just nothing you can really compare that with.”

Throughout his travels, Madrigal was able to keep working without a beat.

During his free time, he has trained for and participated in 3 marathons. “I would get up at 5am and train for an hour, come home to shower and eat breakfast, and then work until disconnecting at 5pm.”

While working remotely usually comes with the misconception of always having to be on the clock, for Max it has been nothing short of a freeing experience.

“The support has been amazing. I have been able to communicate with the customer and manage my own time without any restrictions.” Depending on the day, Max often travels to his parent’s town to be with them or his brother’s family as well as friends within his local area.

When his nephew Sebastian was diagnosed with cancer last year, his brother’s family was forced to move to Costa Rica and then Argentina in order to receive the proper treatment. “It was a really hard time for the whole family. However, I was able to make the transition with my brother and sister-in law. I had the ability to go to the hospital and work around their needs. This really made the difference during a time period that would have otherwise made it difficult for the family to support themselves while getting the right treatment.” Sebastian has now recovered from the tumor, has his vision and is a healthy and happy boy enjoying his sister. “I am more than grateful for having the opportunity to stay extremely close to family.”

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

 

The Top 3 Locations for Outsourcing Software Development

Outsourcing software development has become an increasingly popular path for startups and small businesses alike. Instead of taking on the overhead of hiring employees in house, utilizing a remote workforce allows you to focus on your core business functions while growing at an affordable rate.

When it comes to outsourcing, there are a myriad of options available. One can opt to go Offshore, Nearshore or Onshore in terms of finding a remote workforce. Countries farther away are Offshore, those nearby are considered Nearshore, and Onshore means operating within your own country. Depending on your company’s origin, there are many pros and cons that come with selecting a specific location to outsource your software development needs.

While the U.S. and Canada each have tech reliant economies, the cost associated with doing business there tends to be higher and the demand for skilled workers has resulted in a shortage. Therefore, most businesses are left with the option to take advantage of the resources of a more global market. Here are the top 3 countries for software development in terms of quality and cost:

Latin America

While many South American countries including Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia are becoming increasingly adept in the tech world, Costa Rica is a popular choice when outsourcing software development work. Their top notch IT programs produce good programmers and their culture has embraced innovation in technology as well as the agile methodology of project management. 

Asia

While India and the Philippines are known for their IT services, China is the leader when it comes to the outsourcing industry in Asia. China produces twice as many graduates as the United States, and as a result has a vast tech advanced work force. Coupled with it’s growing economy, China is a hot bed for outsourcing software development tasks. 

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, Poland and the Ukraine dominate the field of outsourced software development work. Both have an abundance of educated software engineers as a result of rich STEM educational programs. 

Before outsourcing your company’s software development, you’ll want to properly vet each agency to ensure a high quality of work. Take language, cultural barriers and possible travel expenses into account as well. Countries with a stable and supportive government offer a more favorable business climate to operate in, and a difference in time zone could reduce the time to market or make communication difficult. 

At Number8, we help businesses optimize their operations with onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing. Our teams–both foreign and domestic– provide effective communication and service that allow your business to grow at a rate that keeps up with your market. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!