To lead, you have to follow.

May 25, 2020. Filed under management 114

Years ago, the company I was working with hired a new Director of Engineering, and the CTO was talking about why the new Director was an amazing hire. The new Director’s clinching accomplishment? The best ever explanation of the distinction between leadership and management. This turned out not to be a particularly effective way to evaluate hires, but it is an interesting topic.

The rush to "show value."

May 5, 2020. Filed under management 114

Some years back I had the strangest meeting in my career. Andrew (not real name) was my new manager, it was his first day on the job, and we were having the standard “get to know you” one-on-one meeting. My outgoing manager and I had been heavily involved in assessing and hiring Andrew, his interview performance was excellent, and I was legitimately excited to work together. So I was surprised when Andrew sat down, cradled his head in his hands, and lamented how much he regretted taking the job, how inept _his_ new manager was, and how terrible our engineering team was relative to his previous experience. What?!

April updates for StaffEng.

April 23, 2020. Filed under staff-eng 4

On March 19th, I posted "How do folks reach Staff Engineer?", and began posting stories of folks reaching and operating at the Staff Engineer level every Tuesday and Thursday.

Picking problems for programming interviews.

April 19, 2020. Filed under python 59staff-plus 18interviewing 4

Someone recently send me a note asking about whether their internal process for interviewing Staff engineers was a good one. They were particularly concerned that they were encountering a number of Staff-plus engineers who were struggling to write code for finding palindromes or reversing an array.

Minding our stories.

April 16, 2020. Filed under stories 9tech 1

If you took a minute to think back and pick your favorite conference talk, I have no idea what it was about, but I bet the talk was designed to tell a story. Likewise, I bet your favorite book, even if it’s non-fiction, is lanced through by a crisp, continuous narrative. If you wanted to explain your best or worst job, I bet you’d start by telling a story that captures the experience.