December 3, 2021

Show Your Proof of Work

Happy December!

This is a favourite time of mine as I get to enjoy snow and the colder weather (not sick of it yet), spend more time with friends and family, and look back on the year and everything I've learned.

A lesson from this year has been understanding the importance of keeping and showcasing my Proof of Work. It has opened up so many doors to awesome opportunities and interesting connections.

What Is Proof of Work (PoW)?

Alright, so those of you who are into crypto / web3 should already be familiar with the concept of Proof of Work. While the type of Proof of Work I'm talking about is slightly different, I did find this definition from Bitcoin Wiki relevant:

A proof of work is a piece of data which is difficult (costly, time-consuming) to produce but easy for others to verify and which satisfies certain requirements.

So Proof of Work, as I define it, is a document trail or an artifact of the hard work that you do in operations that can be seen and verified by others outside of your company.

You probably do a lot of documentation of your own work - whether it be presentations, project trackers, or SOP documentation. But most likely, you aren't sharing this information outside of your company because a lot of it is sensitive.

So you aren't creating any Proof of Work that is verifiable by others.

How is PoW different from Building in Public?

In this sense, the concept of Proof of Work is similar to Building in Public which I wrote about a couple weeks ago. They are both about bringing a sense of transparency to what you're doing or have already accomplished.

The main difference between the two as I see it:

  • Building in public is about sharing the journey
  • Proof of Work is the final product or outcome of your work

So Why Should I Show Proof of Work?

As part of my work for Ops Hacks, I've been talking to lots of folks in operations. I always ask what they actually do on a day-to-day basis, because I realized that what ops works on at Company A can be very different from that at Company B. So until they tell me what they do everyday and what their main responsibilities are, I have little idea of what they actually do.

I think this is the case for ops, because we tend to play the role of a safety net on a team. We extend and shape our role & responsibilities around existing capabilities on the team. We operate behind the scene and make sure no balls are dropped.

Me: Ops makes sure no balls are dropped.
Also me: Drops balls

So the first reason for needing to show Proof of Work is that I don't actually have a great idea of what you do. Showing me a Proof of Work instead is a much better way of making others understand what you do.

Designers have portfolios. Engineers have Githubs.

Not all designers and engineers have the same strengths and interests. Their portfolio and Github repo's are a way of showing this.

Us ops folks should do the same. Having a PoW that is verifiable by others is a great way to prove that you can do a certain type of ops work. I can tell people all about how I've built a full-stack no code service, or I can just show the proof of this work.

Having a strong Proof of Work puts you 1) way ahead of other candidates if you are looking for a new job and 2) actually brings inbound opportunities to you because you'll be seen as an expert based on your PoW.

How Do I Show Proof of Work?

I appreciate that it's not easy to share your work in ops because it's almost always non-public. With design work or open source programming, there's usually a launch after which it's okay to share publicly what you worked on. With ops, work tends to be internal-facing or even when it is a public-facing launch, the specific components of it you worked on tend to be private.

So here are some ways to circumvent that.

  1. Write about it. Abstract away the sensitive / confidential specifics and focus instead on the problem and your solution. It's actually better to not go into specifics, as it makes it easier for your audience to understand and relate. Choose a medium that will help organically spread your content and bring more exposure to you and your work.
  2. Work on side projects. Build things in your free time that still showcases your professional skill set. With side projects, you aren't constrained by an NDA so tweet about it, talk about it to anyone who'll listen.
  3. Similar to side projects - consult on a part-time basis and get testimonials (get someone else to provide you a proof of work!). Volunteer for a not-for-profit org. Join a DAO.

Do you already keep and showcase proof of your work? If so, I'd love to see it! Reply to this email to let me know.

Take care and see you next week.


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