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The Measure of One's Life in Relation to the Quality of Pancakes

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For the past year, I've really focused on eating healthier - cutting back on treats, eating dense salads at lunch, whole grain, etc. and also getting in exercise at least 5 times per week. Lifestyle changes always result in people talking about how great they feel, how much better they are sleeping... ...but after being sick with a cold for the past 4 days, I decided to treat myself to some French toast with berries and dark chocolate shavings. Still on the "healthier" side, with no whipped cream, syrup or butter - but an indulgence never-the-less. And now I feel unstoppable. Maybe its the cold medicine kicking in - but I think it has much more to do with the French toast. I'm reminded of one of my favorite dialogs from one of my favorite movies:  "I don’t wanna eat nothing but pancakes. I wanna live. Who in their right mind in a choice between pancakes and living chooses pancakes?" "Harold, if you’d pause to think, I believe you’d realize that that ans

4 Mistakes We Make About Culture

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I wrote this a few years back, before the height of the tech-hiring frenzy. For some reason, I never published it - not sure why. After reviewing it against the current backdrop, I think it's somehow more relevant today. Companies & teams want a great culture but I'm seeing trends in what they often get wrong. Here's my list of 4 things along with what leadership can do about it, based on things I'd implemented with my own teams. Policy ≠ Culture Staying late until the problem is solved, constructive disagreements, being accountable to own another, team lunches, unlimited PTO - those aren't culture things. Those are policies. I read blogs or hear people talk about their culture in these terms - and it's misguided.  Take the first one - staying late. Setting aside whether it's good policy or not, it can only work as a policy, not culture. As a policy, it sets an expectation. It avoids a trap of employees having to figure out what the "right thing to

Raiders of the Lost Code

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You know you've been hanging around compilers too long when you can look at someone's code and carbon date it just by looking how they iterate over a dataset: pre-2005: Standard For loops, no shorthand. 2005-2010: Foreach loops 2010-2015: Linq statements 2015-2023: Dynamic variables, shorthand notation 2023+: Well-written Copilot-generated code with sufficient whitespace for coder to process their AI-induced anxiety attack.

Order of Operations

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I've noticed something in my emails: My second sentence is often a much better first sentence, and my first sentence is a better supporting statement. I need to try this when I'm talking... say the first sentence in my head, the second aloud, and then repeat the first sentence.

Grocery Baskets

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I'm a terrible grocery shopper. I walk in to buy one thing, and end up leaving with 12. I briskly walk right past the shopping carts and baskets - with the intention to be in and out. Then, somewhere along the way, I start to meander. I reminisce of long-forgotten meals. I think of things I ate as a child, or something I'd always wanted to try - and before I know it I have more things in my hands than I'd accounted for. Sometimes I'll buy things I've never intended to buy - determined that today's the day I'll find out whether vegemite and marmite are the same thing. I'll romanticize Rye bread. I've never particularly liked it - but maybe because I've never tried the right kind of Rye bread? I hum the American Pie chorus as I grab a loaf as I realize, for the first time, the lyrics have nothing to do with Rye bread.  Drinking whiskey and rye...   why did I always imagine people eating slices of rye bread at a bar?   Maybe I need to find a good ch

Radiate Intent

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As a follow-up to my post about aphorisms , I think I've found my new maxim for 2024 - inspired by Elizabeth Ayer : Don't ask forgiveness, radiate intent. A play on the 'don't ask for permission, ask for forgiveness,' phrase that gets used a lot. I landed across this phrase while watching a video about effective backlog prioritization, and it lead me to Elizabeth's article on Medium which does a great job breaking down why radiating intent is so important. In a nutshell, announce, telegraph, share, inform others of what you are intending to do. This gives others the opportunity to intervene, or at the very least be informed. It builds trust with them while building your own confidence. It also gets away from the troubling phrasing of 'permission.'      Even though I've taken this approach naturally for some time, I think it's valuable to ground myself to this maxim. It makes it all the more  intentional  (don't pardon the pun, but relish it)

Aphorisms

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Aphorisms. I'm not sure what it is about them - but I think I do better with adopting them as resolutions than I do adopting actual resolutions.  Maybe it's that they're often just more approachable than resolutions? SMART goals are intimidating. If you fail at a SMART goal, well... You have no one to blame but yourself. But aphorisms give the room to fail. They're aspirational and ambitious - the kind of thing Mr. Rogers or Bob Ross would encourage us to consider without being too pushy, and without the judgement or disappointment if we misstep.  Over the years, I've collected various aphorisms as a kind of recipe for my professional life (though they often also extend beyond the professional.) Each year I try to add some new ones but with 2024 around the corner, I've not yet come across anything new that has shaken my perspective the way the ones below have. So I'm taking suggestions! If, after reading the list below, you have an aphorism, observation, ma

Entry-Level Job Hunting

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Someone recently reached out asking for tips for their first job hunt. I honestly struggled with the response because I wanted to give the best advice I could give. Frankly, I really wondered if my advice would be good at all. Afterall, my career started almost 20 years ago and while it was tough then, it's not like what it is today. A simple "Just do this..." approach didn't work then and works even less now. So I've really been challenging myself with this idea: If I got started today, in tech, in this economic climate, with large layoffs happenings, an increasingly competitive job market, with no experience, no network, and few resources, what would I do? Where would I get started? How would I find my first job? While I don't know if I have the answer, I have some perspective that may help: Re-think what a "first job" can be. I say this because I see a lot first-time job seekers think the first time job has to be at a name brand. Maybe they've

Lessons

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When you're 11 years younger than your oldest brother, you get to learn a lot through them. You learn how to blow air through blades of grass and make it squeal. You learn the hilariously reckless fun of riding your bike around in circles while he tries to knock you off by throwing a basketball at you. You learn the right way to make a snowball. How to eat cherry tomatoes. You learn how going fishing isn't about the fishing but about the sandwiches you pack. You learn how to code. As you grow into adulthood the 11 year gap narrows. You learn how you can help in ways you couldn't before. You can help him move into his first house, tile his bathroom, grow cherry tomatoes... And yet you're still learning from him. How to get a job, prioritize what's important, how to be a dad. And as the years go on, the gap continues to narrow until one day it's no more. He relies on you as much as you him. But he's still not done teaching you things. One day, he t

Jam on Toast

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6 years ago I went for brunch at a small cafe in Cambridge, MA. I took a picture of the jam & toast I was served. It's hard to get jam & toast wrong but as simple as it can be, it can still be taken to new heights. The right bread, the right fruit. This was a memorable encounter.  People will forget the texture of the toast, they'll forget the sweetness of the jam, but people will never forget how jam & toast makes them feel. I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere - maybe about the work we deliver, the infinite possibility for improvement... or maybe it's just as simple as making sure you always make time to enjoy some jam on toast. Trust me on the last one - you'll thank yourself (and me) in 6 years.

null

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Seeing a null in a very large tech company's app is a nice reminder that small but obvious mistakes can slip past even the best of them.

Emily.

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When my daughter was 2 she began telling us of an imaginary friend "Emily." Emily was imaginary friend who'd show up whenever she was feeling lonely - if she was playing by herself at preschool or, in particular, at naptime when she was trying to get herself to sleep. One day, when she was 3, I was asking her more about Emily and she told me how Emily "lives in her heart." She told me how, at nap time, she'd ask Emily to visit the hearts of the people she was missing - her mom's heart, her baby brother's heart, mine heart, and then hearts of the rest of her family and her friends. When she reached the end of her list of people, she could then fall asleep while hugging Emily's heart, and with Emily hugging hers. About 6 months later, my daughter announced one day that she no longer 'needed' Emily, and that she'd made her up to help her feel less afraid. There's no metaphor here, no deeper meaning, connection back to careers, growth

Pong - A Laptop Bag

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  So my daughter surprised me with a "laptop bag" she decorated for me - which was an opportunity to build Pong for the hundredth time - but, for the first time, to her spec - and with her watching along. I've built so many variations at this point. One of my most favorite variants that I built 20 years ago is one I called ' Pango'. You can tell Pango is old, because it's from an era where lens flares meant good design. Pango let you move in all directions, and required you to first break a hole in the wall protecting your opponent's end-zone. And while Pong is not necessarily complicated to build, it's always a fun exercise to see how much faster & better you can build it. For example - building the collision detection to avoid cases where the ball gets trapped within the paddle, and bounces back and forth rapidly. Or including momentum transference that can alter the ball's angle. My daughter version includes a yellow obstacle that moves back

Last on the Bus

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Some time ago, I decided to go through all my old files (some of them being as much as 25 years old ) to find all the things I'd posted online since the late 90s. Hundreds of journal entries (before it was known as blogging), updates about things I was coding, and then a lot of day-in-the-life type posts from my college days. I took a bunch of them and re-uploaded them within this blog - preserving their original publish date. Walking through them is not only seeing the progression of the internet, but my progression from student to professional. It's interesting to put myself back in the mindset of being a college student - and re-reading post after post after post where I was running on fumes, sleeping in the school library, barely scraping by. With graduation on the horizon, I relived the stress and anxiety of starting my first professional job hunt - and then ultimately the transition to adulthood. I remember the final day of my senior year in high school. The final bell ra

Connecting the Dots

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This past weekend I read a fascinating article by Cognitive Scientist and Marketing researcher Hang-Yee Chan. In this article Dr. Chan, backed by brain-scans, supports the case that storytelling is one of the most effective ways to land your message. More specifically, crafting a linear narrative triggers the consumer to a process   called mentalizing , "which is the ability to decipher the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of others. It's what makes human beings social, allowing them to interact and coordinate based on subtle cues. Mentalizing is also key to story comprehension." I come from a long line of great story-tellers (it's one of the things that pushed me to pivot from writing code to Product Management) but it also had me thinking about a lot of the advice I give around crafting a solid resume. First - I think it's worth reiterating: my own views on resumes have evolved over the years. I don't think resumes carry the same weight in the job-applica

Messages

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Dall-E drew me this picture... 10 points to whoever comes closest to the prompt I gave it. I've finally caught up on a month's worth of messages / resume reviews / advice.  If you haven't received a response, please msg me again - and apologies for missing it.

Penny for your thoughts...

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AI-Generated: "Chalk & Pastel Album Cover of 90s Kids Jumping in a Pile of Pennies" If I want your thoughts, I offer a penny for them. However, when I provide input, I am giving my 2 cents. The moral: People value their own input more than that of others. I'm not sure if others have made this observation before - but this is the kind of youthful cynical observation that my 14 year old self would have thought profound.

Lost in the Maize

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If you're lost in the maize,đŸŒœ feeling fried and roasted, 🍗 get yourself unghosted : đŸ‘» with resume reviews 📃 and mock interviews đŸ‘©‍đŸ’Œ on our live stream, hosted đŸŽ„ by me, and who you guessin? 💭 the one and only Taylor Desseyn  Join the event

Unghosted / Halloween

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  Just 1 week until our #Spooky #Friday13 episode of #Unghosted where Taylor Desseyn and I will be doing #resumereviews and #mockinterviews LIVE ! And with this being October, there's a higher than normal chance we'll even be in costume. (I haven't consulted with Taylor on this...) Hope you'll join us! đŸ‘»đŸŽƒđŸŠč‍♂️

Surf's Up

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I'm behind on messaging a lot of people. If you're waiting on a response from me, I'm sorry - I'll try to get back to you soon. While I could, in all honesty, just say "I'm busy" and leave it at that, the reality is...  well, I'm busy. Thankfully I'm fortunate to say I'm not being disrupted by any large & life changing events. I'm just reaching one of those points I think we all reach at various points... when everything all happens at once, and we're just barely staying above water. Maybe these moments are worth recognizing - when you're able to be the good husband/wife/partner, the good dad/mom/guardian, the good son/daughter/child, the good friend, the good neighbor, the good coach, and you're even good at tending to your own needs... but all of that takes time, takes intention, takes energy. It's the feeling you get perhaps just before you feel overwhelmed... and, (if you do it right) maybe you will avoid

Product Endorsements from ...Before?... the Grave

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Tom Hanks talking about the ad that uses AI&Deep Fake technology to use his likeness in order to promote some dental plan reminds me of 15 years ago when the One Laptop per Child organization used John Lennon's likeness to promote their mission. I wrote about it back then - pointing out the problems of someone's likeness being used without their consent (in Lennon's case, Yoko Ono gave her approval) not thinking there'd come a time when living people would have to contend with the same issue. While I don't think anyone's likeness should be used without the explicit consent of the person (even their estate requiring explicitly approval) maybe (hopefully) the silver lining good news here is celebrity endorsements will become so diluted with fakery that they'll no longer be meaningful.

Nostalgia

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Was going through some old blog posts, and "What's New" updates to a webpage I had in high school. It's an interesting relic - seeing what was important 23 years ago... Nov 6, 2000: The tough thing about Entertainment sites is there's so much competition out there, that it's very hard to get ahead, or even close to the head. There's so much to do. Maybe I should add electronic cards, so that people can send their friends e-cards. That will be a good feature. Well, I'll be getting to work on that, I guess. So, things I will be working on for a while (meaning that I will be updating the site even less) are: 1. I'll be working on getting a greeting card section, to send to your friend by e-mail. 2. I'll be working on a better main page, after you opened up the site window. 3. I have to make a banner, so I can begin trading banners. 4. I'll be adding new games. 5. I'll try to add a download section, where you can download some games onto yo

Unghosted.Live

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Taylor Desseyn and I have a new landing page for Unghosted : Catch up on previous events, attend upcoming events, and register to appear on the livestream! https://www.Unghosted.live

Bad vs Good vs Great Interviewers

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(This image was generated with AI) Interviewing tip for those on the job hunt: Bad interviewers act like gate keepers / bouncers / powerful decision makers. They act with an air of superiority, don't do an adequate job of making you comfortable, welcome, or at ease. Their hire/no-hire decision is subjective, unclear, rooted in opinion and impressions. Good interviewers take time to break the ice, make you feel comfortable and take the pressure off the interview. Their hire/no-hire decision is based on how well you present your experience and knowledege, and works off a more objective framework. Great interviewers are on your side. They cheer you on, help you grow. Their hire/no-hire decision builds on the objective framework the good interviewers use, and they're looking for how well you demonstrate your potential for growth & the diverse value you bring as an invidiual to the team. You may still not get the offer, but the interview will likely continue to be a great resour

Unghosted Episode 2

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If you're #jobhunting but feeling #ghosted, if you're #opentowork but also #opentofeedback, if you're #talking but not #talkingwithhands then you need to join Taylor Desseyn and I next week on our #Unghosted live-stream where we review REAL resumes by REAL people in REAL time. If you want your resume reviewed live, send it over to Taylor (details in the event.) #opentohelping #opentounghosting #opentoexcessivehashtags Update: You can see the recording of the  live event here...

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