Crowdsourcing CTO/VPE learning circles.

February 11, 2020. Filed under management 128

As part of moving into a CTO role, I wanted to take a stab at putting together learning circles for folks in CTO, VP Engineering and Staff+ Engineering roles. This is the sort of thing I've done interally within a company before, but most companies only have one CTO or function-leading VP Engineering, so this sort of learning circle needed to happen beyond the scope of a single company.

Do you work at a tech company?

February 10, 2020. Filed under hiring 9culture 1

The most unnatural stage of hiring someone is when you’ve extended an offer, know they have other offers, and you are trying to give them advice on which offer to take. The obvious answer is that they should _your_ offer, but you end up in some interesting discussions toeing the line between objectivity and outcome. Typically the offer numbers are already out in the open, so the topics tend to get more abstract. I recently had one of these discussions that hinged on an unexpected question, "What denotes a technology company?"

Share stories, not advice.

February 4, 2020. Filed under management 128

A few years ago I was trying to figure out how to incorporate product management techniques into infrastructure engineering, and I had the very good fortune of having Astrid Atkinson answer a few of my questions. I explained a challenge I was having and asked for her advice, and was surprised when instead of answering Astrid asked, "May I share a story?"

How to partner with an executive assistant.

January 28, 2020. Filed under management 128

One of the magic moments you’ll experience as a senior leader is the first time you get support from an executive assistant. Starting at that moment you’ll slowly uncover more and more possibilities that you had -- in order to preserve your sanity -- intentionally blinded yourself to. It is, you’ll gradually relearn, actually possible to reschedule large meetings, get all those one-off meeting requests scheduled in a timely fashion, and to plan good offsites that bring the team together.

Example Call For Proposals submissions.

January 25, 2020. Filed under speaking 6conferences 1

I was chatting with a couple folks recently about submitting a talk proposal to TheLeadDev, and it reminded me of something that used to prevent me from submitting talks: I had no idea what a good Call For Proposal submission looked like.

Joining Calm.

January 21, 2020. Filed under career 21calm 1

Today is a particularly exciting day because I can finally stop telling folks that I’m joining a new role, and instead say that I’ve started a new role, and in particular that I’ve joined Calm to serve as their CTO. I’ve written a few words here, will update my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, and then it’s time to get to work on my first ninety days.

Some rough notes on running learning circles.

January 18, 2020. Filed under management 128

I’m experimenting with putting together a couple of learning circles, and someone who wants to run a similar program within their company reached out for advice on structuring groups for success. I’ve organized a couple and participated in a couple others, but honestly I don’t think I have a great handle on best practices here, but I’ll jot down what I’ve learned nonetheless as a reusable, referenceable artifact.

How to build your company's engineering brand.

January 16, 2020. Filed under management 128

If you end up working in an engineering team that wants to accelerate hiring, at some point you’ll hear the dreaded statement, “We need to grow our eng brand.” The method to accomplish that aim isn’t always clear, but the goal: what can we do so that candidates enter our process thinking highly of our engineering efforts?

More great memos.

January 14, 2020. Filed under memos 1

I spent some time a few months ago reading @sriramk's list of great memos, and tweeted some of the ones I particularly enjoyed. Someone privately pointed out to me that the authors I'd tweeted were all men. I was disappointed that I hadn't noticed that earlier myself, and decided to spend some time exploring for great memos written by a more diverse cohort of authors.

Your first 90 days as CTO or VP Engineering.

January 13, 2020. Filed under management 128cto 1

Whenever I transition to a new opportunity, I think about how to “start well.” How can I ramp up as effectively as possible? How do I balance the urge to “show value” immediately with making the right decisions?