Software Mercenary or Software Ninja?

I bet this is a question that you ask yourself every day when you get up first thing in the morning. I know I would have been doing it if I had thought of it sooner. Last night I was introducing myself as a software mercenary at the tech Tuesday event and people were getting it right away. I could have said I was a contractor which would have solicited the “oh one of those” response, but  I said “Software Mercenary” and people were excited for me. They wanted to know how they could become a mercenary. High pay, sell weapons to both sides, work for the highest bidder and if a few people die along the way, oh well….

It really is amazing how you can get people to look at something completely differently but simply calling it something else. In several of the start-ups that I have been involved with, there were many times when we were not sure we could make the payroll. In the most successful company that I worked at “Newbridge”, there were similar times. The odd thing is that at all of these companies I felt secure in the knowledge that I was an employee with a full time job. Perception is an incredibly powerful and misleading thing.

So back to the question… do you want to sell your services to the highest bidder or do you want to dress in black, carry awesome swords, scale high walls in total silence and solve the worlds problems making no noise and taking no credit (or blame).

At about this time you’re probably thinking that it was a slow night and Fred has has either lost his mind, had a few too many beers or simply run out of things to talk about. Well you would be wrong on all counts. Really the Ninja and the Mercenary are not that different and when it comes to software, the difference has more to do with the time you spend perfecting your craft. As a software ninja, you would be the best in your field, doing what you want because you can. As a mercenary you would do whatever other people want you to do for money. That doesn’t mean that ninja’s don’t do things for money or that mercenary’s do do good work. It’s a fine line really and the two have more similarities than differences.

Perhaps the real difference is in their attitude. Mercenaries tend to be big on bravado and getting the job done, where Ninja’s are more like artists quietly accomplishing the same thing. Then there are always guru’s …. but I digress …

For the time being, I’m going to be a mercenary who is training to be a ninja. I already dress primarily in black so I know I’m moving in the right direction. My skills with the tools of the trade have improved at a rate that I would not have believed possible a few months ago and the money is good.

If you want to be a Ninja, drop me a line and we can discuss a training program…

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