RE: Questions on the Business End of Things

Subject: RE: Questions on the Business End of Things
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2006 08:55:51 -0700


I have been in the computer business for over 30 years, although I only
recently switched to being a technical writer.

I observe that the business, like most fast-moving businesses, has no
set limits or "ceilings." What you accomplish is mostly a matter of
*what you want to do*. I said "mostly," because like all other social
structures business still has some gotchas. You have to be careful of
them, but they won't stop you cold.

I see no reason why a technical writer could not rise to the top in any
organization. It would be harder to do than for a salesperson, but not
impossible. The key to success is to look at the skills and experience
that most business leaders seem to have:
* focus on *all* customers and experience dealing directly with
important customers to create sales
* keen understanding of the market
* strong political abilities
* innate ability to work with people
* incredibly strong results orientation
* strong social network

None of these are impossible for a tech writer, though they may take
some work. If you want to go that path, you will have to make it happen
yourself. You will have to get strong mentors, get lots of help, and
educate yourself very thoroughly in your business. This will take time,
effort, and commitment.

But, that is true of *any* job. I believe that one can't be "successful"
without time, effort, and commitment. No "magic job" exists. You won't
improve your "earning potential" much more in engineering than you will
in tech writing, unless you can get those three things working.

I have to ask myself: what is my meaning of success? Where can I
*naturally* put time, effort, and commitment? How important is earning
and earnings potential? How important is a feeling of accomplishment?
How important is an inner "belief" in what I'm doing?

Having tried most of the professions within the computer industry, my
current answer is tech writing. I don't particularly like to do product
marketing, though I think it's absolutely necessary for a successful
business. I knew from a very early age that I wasn't suited to being a
salesman, though again it's a vitally important job. I was a SW
engineer, and I could still do that, but at the moment I like tech
writing better.

After all, if you *really* want to increase your earnings potential,
then the computer business is the *wrong place*. I think that financial
markets are still the place for that; as a trader or investment banker
you can earn a salary that's bigger than many computer CEOs get. Of
course, you have to be happy in that environment, which is an incredible
pressure cooker for peoples' psyches.

I sense that many people came into the tech writing profession from
non-technical disciplines, primarily because they had writing
experience. In the computer business, at least, a successful tech writer
will need more than writing skill. That's just a reality of the
business. One can pick up the other skills very readily, but one *has to
pick them up* rather than sitting doing nothing.

Joe Malin
Technical Writer
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.


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