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Ten Simple Tricks That Will Make You A Valuable Colleague, Part I

Posted on 26/5/07 by Tim Koschützki

Being a productive and happy walker of the earth is what most of us aim at. Ever wanted to find out how you can quicken your programming? How you can earn a lot of money with your sites? How you can be more successful with women? How you can be a valuable colleague? Read the following ten simple tricks and find out how.

This is a two-part series. I will cover other aspects in the next part.

1. Keep Smiling And Entertain People

Smiling is probably the most important thing to be a success. Whenever and wherever you are - keep smiling. People like to go through life and just be happy. When you can get people to laugh and smile you are an easy guy to go with. They will perceive you as a happy person and will like to do business with you. Being a good entertainer can sometimes be as important as being a good coder.

2. Get Healthy And Exercise

You have to be your own secret weapon and your secret weapon needs a lot of energy and wealth. Be gentle to your body and stay healthy and wealthy. Here is a small list you should keep in mind:

  • Stop Smoking. This goes without explanation.
  • Don't eat rubbish. Refrain from fast food, fat food and candy. Eat a balanced diet with a lot of salad.
  • Exercise. 30 minutes a day is cool. Jogging, bike-riding, swimming or some hard stuff in the gym. Your body will love you for it. So will women.
  • Sleep. Your own secret weapon will need a lot of sleep. Eight hours a day is good. Try to go to bed always at the same time to make it easy for your body to keep track of its inner-clock.

3. Set Goals

Set a goal before starting anything. How can you tell if your are a success without goals? You need something to measure your success and with goals it will be easy. Either you full-filled your goals or you did not. Whenever you start something new - be it in the morning in the office or before you meet a friend - set a goal that determines what you want to achieve with what you are about to do. Writing down those goals is very valuable, too.

I for one have a Blog on my personal computer at home where I have things such as life goals, yearly goals, weekly goals and motivation stuff. This helps me maintain the bigger picture. When a new week starts I always break up the weekly goals and plan each day. I of course keep some space for additional tasks that come in unexpectedly leaving my weeks always well-planned. This makes it easy for others to count on me and it also allows me to remember other important things, like friends and going to the gym. What is your way of setting goals?

4. Measure Your Performance

That goes without saying. When you have goals you can measure if you achieved them. You should actively do so! It will help you find your own weaknesses and strengths and it will help analyse the reasons why you perform like you are performing. For example you will find out to which external distractions you are most vulnerable. Measure your results and quantify them whenever you talk to other people. This will not only sell yourself, but it will also help your teammates or customers to expect the rights thing from you.

If you told them you are "a great php programmer" they are completely lost. Most often they do not have the technical expertise to review that. However, if you told them you made your last client 15,000 bucks extra within the first month of the relaunch of his new website, people will be impressed. Measure your results and quantify. Then quantify some more.

5. Make Information Easily Accessible

You have to clean up your workspace and structure all information that you will need. Get away from thinking that people who oversee chaos are genius. It's just a dumb saying. Get clean, organized and have structure and goals with everything you do. You will be a success.

Are you about to make a new website? Have a list of Design Inspirations in your FireFox bookmarks! Do you want to be a friendly person that cares about his friends? Have a list of all your friends' and general business contacts' birthdays in your palm and be reminded of them. The send off gifts when people celebrate their birthdays. You will wonder how many of your friends or business partners will do that, too. This is an easy opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

6. Try To Be The Best-Dressed Person You See Today

Tim with Hat
People are so cursory when it comes to doing business with people. You have only seven seconds to make a great first impression. You need to be prepared for that! It's not only important for your PHP Programming - it's important for your overall success and personality. People will recognize that you take care when you dress and how you dress. There is not a hard rule as to how you should dress, it of course depends on the occasion. However, clean and shiny (light colors) are always good.

Watch your dressing - it will make you feel comfortable, self-confident and help you keep smiling.

Business Man
As you can guess, the person in the top left image is me. Probably not a very good photo that will sell my services. The person on the lower right photo is much better dressed and smiles, whereas I look almost evil. :)

As they say, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. - Paul Basar, Wildfire Games

7. Ask Yourself The Magic Question

Brendon Sinclair had a great productivity idea in his Webdesign Business Kit: He proposed that whenever you make first contact with a client you should ask yourself Why should the client do business with me?. The answer would be "To provide the best possible solution to his problem and make him a lot of money".

I am going a bit further and suggest that you ask yourself this question as often as possible - and not only with clients! For example - when you meet up with a woman ask the question. It will make you think about what the other person wants and expects from you. More so will it make you think why you are where you are and what to expect from the contact. It's something like reviewing your goals. It works like magic, try it out.

8. Keep In Contact

Now this is a classic one. Probably one of the most important things to keep yourself happy, productive and profitable. Keep in contact with everybody that could be of benefit to you, your business, your programming skills, your privacy life, etc. In my opinion it's the most essential thing to have good friends and contacts. They should be like you - smiling, setting goals, etc. You will all benefit from each other.

Having a couple of buds that drink beer all day long won't help your php career very much. Joining a PHP meet-up group will, however! Get out and actively seek the right people. You will be able to drink beer with them, too. ;)

Then keep in contact - at least once a month. Sending gifts or cards for things like anniversaries is always a good way to keep in contact. Keep in contact, then offer your services to friends and business partners. If they don't need your services at the moment they will at least ask around among their friends. However, only if you kept contact.

9. Regularly Work On Yourself

Sometimes people work too often in their business instead of on it. I think one should regularly work on one's knowledge and personality, not only to get better and better, but also to have a better way to measure your performance and eliminate the weaknesses. Here is a small list of what I consider important:

  • Learn A New Programming Language Every Year. For some of us, one year is even too long...
  • Read A New Programming-related Book Every Three Months.Our profession is a hard and ever-changing one. Keeping track of the latest technology and developments is crucial to success.
  • Regularly Read Relevant Feeds. There are a ton of cool sites with valuable content and feeds out there. Read them! Here is a list of feeds that I read regularly in .OPML format. You can easily import them into your own feed reader.
  • Read Non-programming Books. Spread your general knowledge and get interested in politics and all that kind of stuff. Small-talk is very crucial to selling your services and programming skills. However, with business partners (mostly intelligent people) you will not talk about the weather, but about sports events, politics, etc. Reading newspapers is good for you, too!

10. Use A PHP Framework

This is the first technical point I will make in this list. The second part will contain more technical tips.

Whenever possible, use a framework for your php projects. As you can guess, I highly recommend CakePHP, because it is very easy-to-use and has a steep learning curve. Even if you do not want to use Cake - do not reinvent the wheel with your programs. When you build an application from scratch you will have to worry about security, n-tier-architecture (Model-View-Controller and that stuff), internationalization, etc. all by yourself. Use a framework when possible. Period.


You can skip to the end and add a comment.

Peritus  said on May 31, 2007:

Ripped that off ?

Just kidding, keep up the good work!

Tim Koschuetzki said on May 31, 2007:

Hi Peritus, actually I hadn't heard of yet. :) But it seems to be a cool site, thanks for the hint! :)

Patrick Lee said on Jun 07, 2007:

Good post. For goal setting, make sure your goals are SMART. That stands for... Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Timely. Also, I make a list of long-term goals and then identify the medium-term mileposts needed to reach each one. Finally I'll identity the short-term achievements necessary to reach the first mile-post of each goal and which ones I can do right now without waiting on anything else. I recommend reading GTD (Getting Things Done) by David Allen. He's the one who drilled all this stuff into my head. Best of luck!

Tim Koschuetzki said on Jun 07, 2007:

Is GTD a book?

Patrick Lee said on Jun 07, 2007:

It's a book, a conference, a movement, a whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Here's the online hub:


ssiqyqojob said on Jun 18, 2007:

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subramanian  said on Feb 06, 2008:

Hi ,

Good article. I found lot of information useful for me...

I expect the continued 2nd part soon...


subramanian  said on Feb 06, 2008:


good article. I have found lot of useful information here.

I expect the second part of this article soon.


Tim Koschuetzki said on Feb 06, 2008:

Yeah I need to get around to writing that.. will do for sure. : )

Thanks for your feedback!

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