A thread appeared on Hacker News recently about how successful people operate. The comment below really struck a chord with me.

  • Don’t waste time.
  • Be mission/vision focused.
  • Be polite to everyone always.
  • Be helpful whenever possible.
  • Be insanely organized.
  • Seek and respond to constructive feedback on your work.
  • Do the shit work without whining.

All of this will build human capital with other people in the organization, which will both practically give you more resources of help from others to draw on in your work requirements, but also increases your visibility with people who aren’t on the front lines doing the work (e.g. Management). That visibility gives you the means to move in whatever direction you might desire. It also (for want of a better way to put it) usually tends to help make you layoff-proof because people know you are competent, professional, and have some flexibility to work as part of a team.

None of this means you are anyone other than who you are. Don’t kiss anyone’s ass, but also don’t be an asshole. At the end of the day with two people even remotely similar in “technical” capability, personal behaviour will matter for increasing your effectiveness within any organization.

This excellent advice would make a person extremely valuable to an employer. You want your name to be the first thing that springs to mind when someone is putting together a team to tackle a project. Just like in Pulp Fiction when Jules learns that Marsellus is “sending The Wolf”.