Oh ok, then I'll win the lottery, trip over a cure for cancer and land inside a supermodel.
That has to be one of the most vapid pieces of advice I've ever heard. It reeks of quintessential motivational-self-help-guru-dom. It sounds like great advice, but when you break it down, it brings absolutely nothing concrete to the table. He might as well add 'Water is wet, so take off your clothes before you jump into the beach'.
Everyone, including 'Ryan', already knows this.
I would usually ignore something like this, but doling out buzzword laden one-liners like 'Networking is not a dirty word' seems to have become a trend these days. Restating the obvious in memorable sentences doesn't help anything. What does help is taking his resume, deciding if he can hook him up, and directing him towards a contact he knows, since he's in the same field as Ryan. You know, actual concrete help.
Or maybe it's the smug 'see how well I condense my ideas into 2 lines? that's just too cool to ignore' attitude dripping all over this self-promotional article.
P.S. You know what's even shorter - 'Sorry. I have no clue how to help you.' It's just one line!
At my current job, we're doing "boring" J2EE stuff, but not a day goes by without someone in the office discovering something new and exciting, and talking about it. We've tried three times to crowbar some Scala into the project, just to see if it sticks (it didn't, unfortunately), we're all excited about Ruby and Python and we know how they stack up against Java.
That's building skills before you need them. If my colleague from the former job is fired, he will need to land exactly the same position somewhere else, while we're much better aligned to switch to something else.
Instead, I would have preferred to see Ramit look over Ryan's resume, whip out his rolodex and see if he can hook him up somehow, given that Ramit is in the tech field. And if he can't, direct him towards someone who can. Basically, give him some actual help.
But 'learning things before you need them' is a different thing. It should be something like "always keep learning towards your goals". And that's what people do. Unfortunately different people have different goals and motivators. That's why many will stay away from books and from exciting new stuff, as long as they still get to keep their job.
Since you talked about Scala, when I worked on my last Java project for a former employer (a period that lasted like a year) the architecture and the tools (imposed to us by upper management) were so bad, that I was desperate to find new things to alleviate the pain (that's when I read Code Generation in Action). When I got into a data-mining project I read something like 4 books in the research phase.
Nobody likes learning for the purpose of learning. It's a painful process if the learned skills aren't applied (not to mention that memory tends to garbage collect useless information).
For example I'm learning new things out of belief that doing it will improve my life in some way. I liked computer science because of the thrills of building things, and I keep on learning to break my own limits, always wanting to build better applications / algorithms. Seeing the results of my work makes me really happy (that's not too uncommon among us developers I believe). I also liked math in college because I've always enjoyed solving puzzles, and for the satisfactions of doing it before the others did.
Is this not learning for learning's sake?
PS: Our brains aren't designed, 'that way' or any other.
After just over 6 months I have been passed from pillar to post and received literally NO training whatsoever. Our code implementation is a spider's web Java/Stuts2/Springs/Hibernate setup that boggles the mind of both senior developers (who's combined brain power spent 3 hours trying to figure out the specifics of checkbox implementation on our architecture.... seriously - 3 hours!)
I'm really beginning to see that my limitations as a developer are more imposed by upper-middle management and the lack of interest my fellow developers seem to have in my skill set (they actually ignore me when I ask for help most the time (and it isn't because it's a rtfm issue - it's usually because they are still trying to unravel this awful code!))... I'm looking forward to a time when I can recapture that invigorating enthusiasm for collaboration and learning that came so easily at Uni.
and in regard to "that guy" in the office (some other comment post on this thread) - my favourite excuse for not being able to help is "oh, I don't know - I'd have to look at the code"
..... even though he's sat next to me! but still we're on an svn!!!.... how is that an excuse for not helping a fellow dev!? would you be able to help /without/ looking at the code!?
I actually know exactly what you mean -- if I had just stumbled upon this post, I would probably think the same thing.
I wrote this for my community, who know exactly what I mean: Don't try to charge $ too early, focus on the long term, invest in yourself and be entrepreneurial, etc. Many of them have read my articles from years ago that go into detail on this.
But for people that just clicked through and are seeing this for the first time, I can understand the skepticism.
Hopefully this doesn't make you think of my site as just another guru-blah-blah-blah site, because my readers have really done some amazing things -- saving millions, starting companies, automating their money, etc -- over the years.
I didn't mean to offend you. My apologies if you were. It was the smug attitude that really got me to comment.
Still, I stand by my point - there are so many ways for people to offer concrete help for people in need and all I'm seeing is one-liner advices being bandied about. Especially considering the fact that Ryan seems to be a reader of your blog and already knows your advice regarding 'being rich'. He was obviously looking for more.
(As a disclaimer, I own a copy of said book, and I think it's good.)
(Just to be clear: I'm not implying Ramit's book is or isn't bullshit - just that it's entirely beside the point)
Words put in the right style can have the most meaning to individuals. Ramit uses language everyone can understand.
I do infact also wonder if Ramit actually "concretely" helped this guy. But I'd rather wonder.