recent blog posts related to software careers, and career advice
“Strive for beauty and elegance in every aspect of your work.”
It’s important to remember that even when successful people say things, they’re often just opinions, not facts. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz once told Jeff Bezos of Amazon, “You have no physical presence. That is going to hold you back.” The reality was that not having a physical presence at that time is what propelled Amazon forward.
Back in the 1990s I was fortunate enough to work for a very smart, energetic man. In a way, working for him — or at least in the position he gave me — helped change the trajectory of my career into what I wanted it to be.
Skipping 99% of that story ... one thing he did exceptionally well was troubleshoot problems, and troubleshoot them very fast. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was using something called The Scientific Method. After observing him for a while, I saw him repeat these steps so precisely that I thought he must have them on a tattoo on the inside of his eyelids:
- Observe some feature, in our case, a bug
- Hypothesize a model consistent with the observations
- Predict future events the hypotheses should yield
- Verify the predictions by making further observations
- Validate by repeating
I’m reminded of the time right before an interview for a contracting position that a tech recruiter called and told me, “Don’t appear to be too smart. Pretend that you can’t answer some of his questions if you have to. He won’t hire people he thinks are smarter than he is.” I answered every question he asked because if that’s the way he was, I didn’t want to work there.
As a manager or business owner — any kind of leader — always hire people that are smarter than you in one or more ways.
I just read this quote by J.K. Rowling, and it’s quite good: “Believe me, neither @RGalbraith nor I walk around thinking we’re fab. We just shoot for ‘writing better than yesterday’”.
(Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym she used for some of her other novels.)
Here are two good quotes about coaching from this Jon Gruden article:
“He had a good demeanor about him, the way he got his point across. He always told me it was always about your demeanor and how you get your point across. He said, ‘You have to be a car salesman.’ If you want to sell plays, you can’t be short on energy. People want to be associated with people that have a lot of energy and love what they do and show enthusiasm, not someone who just walks in there and kind of goes through the motions.”
“I always tell people,‘You’ve gotta have a why.’ If you have a reason why, you’re most likely going to succeed. ... And those are the types of things as a coach, when you know those things, those are the buttons you can push. When you’re not hustling, when you’re not doing those things, it’s like, ‘Is that the type of example you’re trying to set for your little brothers?’ When you don’t know those things, you can’t use those things.”
Two good quotes about work this morning:
“The harder you work the less competition you’ll find.”
~ Shane Parrish
“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”
~ Roger Staubach.
“And that’s one reason we like to believe in genius. It gives us an excuse for being lazy.”
~ Paul Graham, What You Wish You’d Known
Several years ago I stepped away from a consulting gig. I had an opportunity to continue the gig, but I didn’t enjoy it, and didn’t like the direction the project was headed in. This quote from this article about the Denver Post expresses how I feel very well:
“I have total disagreement with how they're managing the place, but I'm not going to stand up and be overly critical of them. They've got the keys to the car and they can drive it any way they want to. But they're not driving it in a way that I want to be a passenger of the car.”
(That reminds me of the old Alaska sled dog saying: “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.”)
A lesson learned from writing the Scala Cookbook: It’s fun and interesting to work with some professional writers in the editing process, and it’s great to get their feedback. But you also have to be willing to duke it out to keep what’s important. It’s your baby, it’s your name on the front cover.