Two posts earlier I was asked some questions by Suhit in the comments... Here be answers. He is talking about how he, as a non-tech person, can break in to tech. He is looking more on the IT side of things, but thinks much of what I am on about may hold true. He may be right, but I am not too helpful there (of course thinking that I am always correct....)
My idea was to learn technology and understand it the way I would do if I was investing in the stock market. Enough stuff to differentiate between what the individual companies are doing and its strategic importance and the direction of the entire industry but not as much as a tech guy.
Is that a good way to think about it?
What do you suggest? How do I get upto speed on something?
Also, how will you assess what I know?
My thoughts on this:
Dangerous. Knowing where the industry is going is neccesary and useful, but you need to have some idea of where you want it to go. I resonate better with people who say "I think that *this* is interesting and that by bringing together *these guys* and *these guys* maybe we could go there" or "This company is doing cool stuff, and that will lead to here and that is cool becuase then you can do this". It can be from what they have said they will do, but I want you to have an opinion about it and beleive it. You need to show some passion about things and have picked winners and losers. I want you to think that some company is wrong, becuase by doing that you will have to have a reason and you will have to have put some thought in to it. Just reciting back to me what the industry is doing now is, I think, a base level criteria for being at the interview. If you can't do that, then you shouldn't be in the business. Having a truely beleived in opionion about stuff is harder, but more attractive to me.
I will PROBABLY disagree with you. I am rather opinionated that way. However, this is NOT a negative. We are on a streak now of only hiring people who I think are wrong, but the showed intellegence in their arguments and showed that they actually beleived what they were saying.
I keep saying "beleived" and I mean that in far more than the "your lying" sense. I mean that in the evangelical religious sense. BUT - you need to be able to change this deep beleif on a dime when the data says you should. When is that? I don't know... you know it when you see it. I am probably to quick to change my mind sometimes. I can, and this annoys the hell out of my wife, very deeply and truely beleive the opposate side of an argument with only a minutes warning. If I am wrong, I have to change, becuase reality doesn't really care too much about my opinion. If I can sense that you are like that, I will be more likely to push to hire you.
The warning I would attach to that last paragraph is that not everyone agrees with me. There are, and they are also succesfull, people who beleive in the "Full speed ahead=we are right, you are wrong and reality doesn't matter" statements around. I don't mix well with them....
I had previously said "Be yourself" during interviews, and this is a case where you are going to have to do that as you don't know whether you are getting me or the other guy ahead of time.
How will I assess?
I will ask questions and see how you answer and what you say and whether you listened to my question. Can you answer my follow on questions? Is there depth to your answer, or are you just parroting stuff back that you heard elsewhere? Summed up above as "Do you beleive?" because you have to understand in order to beleive (where this concept departs from the religious overtones).
Is this a good way to think about it?
Yes, subject to caveats above. Did I mention beleiving?
What would I suggest?
Read everything in sight that you can understand. There are lots of intro's to this and intro to that and intro to the other. Read them. Know them. Read and understand company reports. Annual/quarterly reports have to have the dirty laundry in them. I know what is "known" in the industry and what is in the reports goes beyond what even most in the industry "know". It is all in there in small print. Read everyone of those that you can get your hands on for the industry you want to go in to and know what they say. You will get a fuller understanding of what the real issues are.
Skip market research reports. Frost and Sullivan and the ilk are, for the most part, more useless than toilet paper. If you have to use that, you probably are in trouble. People buy these to justify their jobs and to show that they are spending money. Reading the ones for our industry is dangerous as what they "Know" about our company is so funny that you may hurt yourself laughing. Using that as a baseline, you have to assume that the rest is crap as well.
Read the PR. It is fluff, but gives a big sense of where people SAY they are going. Go back to the quarterly reports and compare. Frequently entertaining for the complete opposate picture they present.
Know where the money comes from. Who are the customers? How much money do they have? How can they spend it? You may have to ask people this, but it is always good to know.
Other.... I am sure will come to me, but as a homework assignment goes that is probably pretty heavy lifting....