Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

You’ve Got Talent - Now Get Out There!

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Last Saturday night, an unattractive, overweight, 47-year old spinster from Scotland appeared on the UK television show Britain’s Got Talent. If you have not seen it, here is the video.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle has become an overnight sensation, this video becoming the most popular on YouTube this week and this month, with over 11 Million views as I write this. What made this remarkable was not the quality of the singing, which was excellent, but probably no better than many top performers on this and other similar shows like American Idol. What made it remarkable was the level of performance as compared to the expectations that EVEYBODY had before she sang. We were set up … by her appearance and by her age and by past auditions by no-name wannabees who delivered horrid performances in order to be ridiculed by the judges. We knew what was going to happen before it happened … and we were dead wrong.

As I thought more about this, I noticed the parallels between Miss Boyle and many displaced engineers affected by the continuing economic woes. Many of you, like me and Miss Boyle, are in your forties. You may be a little overweight and the hair that you still have is turning gray. And you find yourself having to audition for a job amid snickers from the interviewers who don’t expect very much. In fact, I find myself in a similar circumstance, the contract with my current client coming to a close, and me starting to beat the bushes for the next project to work on.

So I am going to take away from Miss Boyle 3 points of inspiration that will hopefully help me and maybe help you too:

1 - Be out there

Even though she has amazing talent, Susan Boyle had every reason to think that she could not compete with the younger and prettier contestants. And even if she did go out there, she risked being ridiculed in front of a national audience. After all, this is a society that judges appearance over substance in so many ways. What was the point?  Instead, she decided that she owed it to herself and her mother (now deceased) to give it a go.

You may think that your age is a liability, especially compared to younger engineers, armed with up-to-date education, who work for less and put in crazy hours. And you may be right. So you have to make a decision. You can feel sorry for yourself and convince yourself that nobody wants you. Or you can give it a go like Miss Boyle and at least you have a chance.

2 - Be Yourself

It’s truly amazing what professional makeup artists and clothing consultants can do to improve your appearance. Miss Boyle could have hired someone like that to make her appear younger, slimmer, and more attractive. But she didn’t. In fact, it looked like she dragged an old dress out of her closet to wear to the show. That probably did not help her, but she would have been much more the fool had she come out with tons of makeup and jewelry in tight fitting Spandex pants. I may be naive, but I believe that people inherently value honesty and authenticity … two of Miss Boyle’s most attractive qualities.

Now, I’m not saying you should dress sloppily when you go to an interview. But you should not go out of your way to make yourself appear, physically or otherwise, like someone you are not. Everybody get’s older, so you have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you can use your “experience” as an advantage in most situations. At least your future employer will walk away with the peace of mind that there are no surprises and that he knows what he gets with you.

3 - Be Prepared

Susan Boyle could have been on the show and been herself, but if she sang poorly she would have been ridiculed like so many other contestants. In the end, she had to be better than mediocre, to have real talent to impress the judges. She not only had talent, but she chose a song to sing that highlighted her strengths.

If you follow the 2 recommendations above, at least you’ll get yourself in front of people and they’ll know you are authentic. That should get you close to a level playing field. To get the job, you need to have skills. If you are lacking in the skills you need, you may need to acquire new skills to impress the judges. As I have mentioned several times before, Mentor Graphics’ Displaced Worker Program provides free access to training for displaced engineers and can be a great resource. (Hopefully Synopsys and Cadence will do the same). If you can, take advantage of this and so many of the other free resources available today. There are blogs, Webinars, forums, and social networks that can help you get the skills you desire.

Once you have the skills, make sure you highlight those skills and strengths. Just as Susan Boyle no doubt chose a song that emphasized her singing strengths and de-emphasized her weaknesses (I’m sure she has some), make sure you can speak during an interview to those parts of your experience and expertise that are your strengths. Be prepared for any and all questions.


In summary, I don’t expect that finding a new job/project at this time will be easy for you or for me. But at least we can be out there, be ourselves, and be prepared like Susan Boyle.

Good luck!!!

harry the ASIC guy

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised!!!

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

My friend Ron has a knack for recognizing revolutionary technologies before most of us. He was one of the first to appreciate the power of the browser and how it would transform the internet, previously used only by engineers and scientists. He was one of the first and best podcasters. And now he’s become a self-proclaimed New Media Evangelist, preaching the good news of Web 2.0 and making it accessible to “the rest of us”.

Most of us are familiar with mainstream Web 2.0 applications, whether we use them or our friends use them or our kids use them. Social and professional networks such as My Space, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Podcasts in iTunes. Blogging sites on every topic. Virtual worlds such as Second Life. Collaboration tools such as Wikipedia. File sharing sites such as Youtube and Flickr. Social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Technorati. Open source publishing tools such as Wordpress and Joomla. Using these technologies we’re having conversations, collaborating, and getting smarter in ways that were unimaginable just 5 years ago. Imagine, a rock climber in Oregon can share climbing techniques with a fellow climber in Alice Springs. And mostly for free, save for the cost of the internet connection.

When we think of Web 2.0, we tend to think of teenagers and young adults. But this technology was invented by us geeks and so it’s no surprise that the ASIC design world is also getting on-board. Here are some examples from the ASIC Design industry:

Social media is networking ASIC designer to ASIC designer enabling us to be smarter faster. But that’s not all. Many forward looking companies have recognized the opportunity to talk to their customers directly. About 6 months ago, Synopsys launched several blogs on its microsite. Xilinx also has a User Community and a blog. It’s great that this is happening, but does it really make much of a difference? Consider what I believe could be a watershed event:

A few months ago, JL Grey published a post on his Cool Verification blog entitled The Brewing Standards War - Verification Methodology. As expected, verification engineers chimed in and expressed their ardent opinions and viewpoints. What came next was not expected … stakeholders from Synopsys and Mentor joined the conversation. The chief VMM developer from Synopsys, Janick Bergeron, put forth information to refute certain statements that he felt were erroneous. A marketing manager from Mentor, Dennis Brophy, offered his views on why OVM was open and VMM was not. And Karen Bartleson, who participates in several standards committees for Synopsys, disclosed Synopsys’ plan to encourage a single standard by donating VMM to Accellera.

From what I’ve heard, this was one of the most viewed ASIC related blog postings ever (JL: Do you have any stats you can share?). But did it make a difference in changing the behavior of any of the protagonists? I think it did and here is why:

  • This week at the Synopsys Users Group meeting in San Jose, the VMM / OVM issues were the main topic of questioning for CEO Aart DeGeus after his keynote address. And the questions picked up where they left off in the blog post…Will VMM ever be open and not just licensed? Is Synopsys trying to talk to Mentor and Cadence directly? If we have access to VMM, can we run it on other simulators besides VCS?
  • Speaking to several Synopsoids afterwards, I discovered that the verification marketing manager referenced this particular Cool Verification blog posting in an email to an internal Synopsys verification mailing list. It seems he approved of some of the comments and wanted to make others in Synopsys aware of these customer views. Evidently he sees these opinions as valuable and valid. Good for him.
  • Speaking to some at Synopsys who have a say in the future of VMM, I believe that Synopsys’ decision to donate VMM to Accellera has been influenced and pressured, at least in part, by the opinions expressed in the blog posting and the subsequent comments. Good for us.

I’d like to believe that the EDA companies and other suppliers are coming to recognize what mainstream companies have recognized … that the battle for customers is decreasingly being fought with advertisements, press releases, glossy brochures, and animated Power Point product pitches. Instead, as my friend Ron has pointed out, I am able to talk to “passionate content creators who know more about designing chips than any reporter could ever learn”, and find out what they think. Consider these paraphrased excerpts of the cluetrain manifesto : the end of business as usual:

  • The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized.
  • People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors.
  • There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
  • Companies that don’t realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.
  • Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

In short, this ASIC revolution will not be televised!!!

harry the ASIC guy