Posts

Retros

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I love a good retrospective. If you've ever replayed an argument in your head during your morning shower, you probably love retros too. Something I learned over the years is retros aren't just for wrapping up a sprint. They're great for evaluating the effectiveness of 1:1s, incident responses, training sessions. Perhaps most importantly, it's the BEST opportunity for any good manager to build trust with the team. While all retros get to the heart of the matter: what worked, what didn't, what should change, varying the questions just slightly can really draw people in (or turn them away.) And as a manager, you really have to push your team to give you good feedback. In my case it was asking: "What do you think can't change, and have given up on trying to change?" Not only did it give me insights on festering frustrations, it also gave me a very simple task list of what I needed to resolve (and, in doing so, build further trust with my team by showing I&

Polymorphic Coders

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After years of providing career advice to recent grads, I've seen a growing trend - particularly with bootcamp grads. I'll often see them struggle to make traction on their job hunt with only 2 or 3 languages under their belt. Months later, they're still struggling. In rare cases 2 or 3 languages may be enough - but you should see it as putting all your eggs in just a few baskets. The pace at which languages come in and out of style is getting faster, and it's easy to fall behind if you've not invested your time and effort in growing your language-agnostic skills. If I could summarize my advice to once sentence it would be this: Get better at applying language-agnostic skills to new languages. If you've (hopefully) learned about object-oriented principles, it's the difference of being an Implementation Coder vs. a Polymorphic Coder. Be a polymorphic coder. Languages are like Jelly-Beans. It's better when you have more flavors.

How do you Monitor?

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You don't know someone, until you know how they arrange their monitor(s). I'm a D1-type myself. (I spent way too long making this in PowerPoint)

1 Year of #OpenToHelping

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  One year ago today, motivated by all the #OpenToWork badges I saw across LinkedIn, I created a badge for those who wanted to help. An eye-catching, optimistic, and friendly yellow that would welcome anyone feeling beaten up and bruised. The #OpenToHelping badge gained momentum beyond what I'd anticipated. Many adopted the badge, many connected around this simple idea. I don't have detailed analytics because that's never been the point. What I do have are a mountain of messages that's built over the past year. 1 year on, I still see the yellow badges. I see the connections that formed, and the posts thanking someone with a yellow badge. 2022 was a roller-coaster year, and while a new year brings new hopes, new excitement, new energy, and new budgets, we're also still reading about large layoffs, unprecedented job markets, and uncertainty. There's no way to "celebrate" 1 year of being #OpenToHelping. People are still in need of a helping hand. The cele

Let's Talk Networking!

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A couple of weeks ago I polled LinkedIn, asking how people who were recently hired landed their job. I was honestly surprised by the results. I've always known networking works  but I didn't think the disparity would be that large. When I was getting started in my career I was pretty dismissive of networking - thinking it was some relic of the past like a Rolodex, or pagers. People who talked about "networking" were just as likely to call computers "word processors." Then, over time, 3 of my own 7 jobs were landed through networking. Many more opportunities had come my way through my network. Finding a job without  a network is HARD . Your. Network. Matters. And let's not get Networking confused with Social Networking - Sure, LinkedIn is a Social Network, but it's first and foremost a tool for building professional contacts that may immediately, or at some point in the future, provide some career benefits. I've hired people after networking on L

Hidden Factories of Helpfulness

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How do you balance your behind-the-scenes work from your foreground work? As a manager, I've encouraged my team members to avoid becoming "hidden factories of helpfulness." While I don't want to discourage anyone from ever being helpful - I also want to make sure it's not being hidden. It isn't simply about giving credit where credit is due. There's also the reality that being a hidden factory of helpfulness can mask deficiencies. It can hide a broken process, impede someone's growth, and it's also a breeding ground for resentment. Despite my own advice, there is one specific area where I'll happily hide behind the curtain: Whenever there's an opportunity to build connection, cohesion, trust, or strengthen the team or our output.

Sink your teeth into this one...

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When I was 18, I still had my wisdom teeth. I asked my dentist when it would be time to remove mine, and he told me there was no need. I asked why so many have theirs removed and my dentist informed me that some people just don't have enough room in their mouths, and it causes discomfort or a change in their bite. In other cases, they have too difficult a time reaching their wisdom teeth with their tooth brush and so wisdom teeth decay quickly. 20 years later, I still have my wisdom teeth. I consider it a molar victory. 🦷😬

23 for 2023

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At some point in the last decade, I changed how I approach New Years resolutions: Instead of creating abritrary goals that I'd inevitably not keep, I started to build rules for myself around the things I value. These rules help me change for the better by prioritizing what's important to me, and by being rooted in who I am, I am much better at sticking with them.  I started adopting these rules years ago - and, based on whatever was going on in my life, some years brought more rules than others. With 2023 around the corner, here are my 23 rules for 2023: [2012] Listen with the same energy as when I talk [2013] Laugh Out Loud. (For real.)  [2014] Embrace failures with enthusiasm. [2015] Feed my wonder, exercise my curiosity. [2016] Strangers are future friends in disguise. [2016] Be better about giving praise. [2017] Magic is not just for kids. [2017] It's ok to say "I don't know" but finish it with "I can find out..." [2017] Creativity is a muscle th

I have no idea what I'm doing...

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Do you ever deal with self-doubt? I do. Even with things I'd done before - and even if it went well. In the "To thine own self be true" spectrum ranging from People-who-over-inflate-their-egos to People-who-self-doubt , you'll find me hanging with the anxious latter. Some talk about their Impostor Syndrome strategies and meanwhile I'm still wondering if I've properly understood it. The weird thing though, is I'm still pretty confident. I'll commit to things, knowing I know nothing about them, and I'll follow through. Looking at a different spectrum, Decision Making, I rarely suffer from Analysis Paralysis. Instead, I'm at a different end: Analysis Catalysis - the more I analyze, the more I want to do. (I just Googled "Analysis Catalysis" and this term shockingly does not exist so I'm going to credit myself for coining it. 😁 ) I may as well define it better. If it's not obvious, Analysis Catalysis is when analysis drives ac

The Other Side of The Milk Fridge

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I'd always been told grocers stock the freshest milk at the back of the refrigerator. Without a second thought, I will lean low, reach far, and extend my arm deep into the back of the fridge and take hold of whatever container of milk rests on that back row. Comparing the date with those in the front, I've never been disappointed. This truth is eternal. On occasion, as I reach deep into the seemingly endless void, my eyes will blur and strain to focus on the darkened shadows of the refrigerated stock room. Mysterious figures move with quiet determination. And on the rarest of these occasions, when my hand feels the vast nothingness that comes with having extended my reach beyond that last row, a shadow will near. A gloved hand will meet my splayed fingers with the handle of a jug of milk colder than the air in which it is surrounded. Pulling it back, I see an expiration date stretching beyond comprehension of what is commonly thought to be an acceptable expiration for milk. My

Ideas for Building Experience to Land My First Job

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This morning I was asking myself: If I was getting started in my career, today, knowing all the challenges that exist for those trying to get their foot in the door - what would I do? How would I set myself apart from other candidates? Having my own website, having an amazing looking resume, having an active GitHub and polished LinkedIn - those are great and all, but none of them can compete with having experience. And there's the trouble - to get experience you need experience. And so - if I were getting started today, how would I start building experience? First: Quick builds. Starting from scratch, the last thing I'd want to do is sink myself deep into a huge project that never gets seen. Instead, I'd want to build some credibility quickly - and, if I could afford it, I'd focus less on making money. If I can cover costs - great, but if I couldn't... well, more on this in a second. So what would I build? 0) First, I'd make sure I have my own website. This is

The ROIs Method

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I'd like to introduce a new framework for communicating. Its one that will help you prioritize the right points, and deliver your message in the most efficient way possible.  Engineers, in particular, are bad at writing very narrative-driven chronologies. There's almost a bit of a joke that you can pinpoint where someone is in their career based on how they write their emails. Junior-Seniors are all chronological. Let's call it the "This" method for communicating: "I was doing this ... when this happened, and so it made me think this ...so I looked into it, and found out this . I then took a deeper look, and found this has happened for this many months...Can I ask that you do this ?" It takes as a long time. The important bits end up getting lost in the paragraphs - it's cognitively overwhelming, and it makes the recipient's attention wander. The first time you get a direct report, your communication style shifts. You see the errors in your way

Techless Teaching and Tears

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I've always loved doing classroom tech/coding lessons. Getting to my own kid's class makes it extra special because as a dad it gives me an opportunity to embarrass them in front of their friends. I always like to take a tech-less approach, so I can focus on the thinking. I like to give analogs to the typical types of problems Software Engineers deal with. Today's lesson I was the classroom's robot and they had a few different exercises including "writing" procedural commands to have me drink a glass of water. It was fun, but arguably a little too realistic as it brought one child to tears when they got frustrated with a "bug" in the "code." Thankfully, everyone bounced back when they realized the power they had over me - and intentionally programmed me to spill the water on myself. And did it again. And again.

From Stranger to Family

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When strangers become friends, and friends become family - that's where you'll find love. We're now coming up on 4 years since I lost my oldest brother. Although he was my brother, I happily shared him with so many others because he was always quick to turn strangers into friends, and friends into family. If you knew him, you knew how quick he was to help: give you a ride, give you advice, help you pack, move you into your new house, pick you up from the airport at 2am. If you didn't know him, you still somehow knew him: he was the one to offer you a ride if he saw that you'd just missed the bus and had to stand in the rain waiting for the next one. He was the one who would help you with a flat. He was the one who helped you when you fell off your bike and injured your wrist so you couldn't get yourself back up. He was the one who stopped everything and sprinted across a parking lot because he saw that your hands were full, and you'd dropped something. Or he

Embarassed @ Work

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If you struggle to bounce back after getting embarassed at work, here's a story from early in my career that will hopefully make it a bit easier. In 2007, I had been interviewing for a few weeks, and was so excited to finally receive an offer. Wanting to get my dad's advice, I forwarded the offer letter to him. And then, I waited... and waited... Eventually HR forwarded me the email my dad had intended to send to me , but had sent to them instead. 🙃 I still laugh at the juxtoposition of my dad's prose and his use of Comic Sans.

Am I being ghosted?

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"Am I being ghosted?" You may be, and the reason may be entirely due to your resume. As wrong as that sounds, the sad reality is a lot of really smart people have really bad resumes. Common mistakes are: Saying too much (your resume is not your autobiography!) Saying too little (a list of responsibilities does not show your value!) Poor formatting (you're awesome, make it obvious!) If you feel like your resume is solid but you're still getting ghosted then join Taylor Desseyn and I as we review resumes in a livestream this Friday !  If you're willing to have your resume reviewed live, DM it to either of us with the hashtag #CallMaybeNo

What was your impact?

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Too many people list generic statements about their role and responsibilities on their resumes Your responsibilities don't tell a hiring manager a whole lot... they can only guess you were successful at it. But take the guesswork out of it! instead of generic statements, make it about YOU. Make it about your IMPACT.

On Salads

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Salad is boring. Even when it's good, salad is never as exciting as pizza, or lasagna, or a sandwich.  I love pizza, lasagna, sandwiches, bagels, and don't get me started on chocolate chip cookies. But...right now I'm eating a salad. Eating salad is not about the adventure. Or rather - eating saladas is about anticipating and preparing for adventures to come. A bowl of lettuce is, I'm told, much better at preparing you for adventure than a bowl of cookies could. (Yes, bowl of cookies. Don't judge.)  If you've been following me, you know I've related resumes to pizza . I've related bagels to motivation , pancakes with growth , and pasta sauce with team building .  Now, as I stare down at this bowl of salad, slowly getting tired of so much chewing (seriously, how do rabbits do this?) I can't help but wonder: how do salads relate back to our careers? What are the things we do to keep our careers "healthy"? What are the things we do to lose car

Outputs & Outcomes

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In Product Management, it's important to focus on the outcome , not the output . An output could be all the work a team has done in service of a product, but it may have no immediate value for the customer. Output isn't bad, but if you don't focus on the outcome, you can end up with the wrong one. Outcomes are focused on the customer's problem. Having just come off a string of reviewing more than 60 resumes, I came to the realization that this concept applies just as much to resumes as is does to products. What is a resume, if not a Product, after all - with your primary customer being a hiring manager? With that, I say: When you're building your resume don't focus on Output - focus on Outcome. Once you have that, quantify it.

Call, Maybe, No

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If you missed us last month, me and my good pal Taylor Desseyn are reviewing your resumes live and on-air! How's this different than just DM'ing your resume for review? First off - you get 2 opinions for the price of 1! (And don't tell Taylor this...but his feedback is pretty good. I even learned a thing or two from him last time.) Second: Taylor and I intentionally don't look at resumes in advance - instead we approach it just like a hiring manager does when they have a stack of resumes. Managers quickly sort into buckets: definitely call, maybe call, and don't-call so they can prioritize their top candidates. It's something I've discussed before - and while it's not necessarily the best system, it helps scale when you have 200 resumes and very little time. That's why we're rebranding this event from 'Resume Triage' to simply calling this event: Call, Maybe, No. We'll open up a resume, give our immediate Call/Maybe/No reaction, and

Let's Get Bold: A Conclusion

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After putting it out there that I was offering to review as many #resumes as I could, my final count for last week was 52 resumes. But that's not anywhere near the difficulty felt by those applying to 100s of places every week. Job hunting is frustrating. It's anxiety inducing. It can make you doubt your self worth. We've all been through it, yet we're quick to forget how challenging the experience is. So, this is your Monday reminder: If you see someone #opentowork don't just be empathetic. Be helpful. Be, for them, the resource you wish you'd had. Be #opentohelping .

Let's Get Bold: An Update

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Since a few have asked how it's been going with the resume reviews, here's a quick update: 32 (so far) across 3 different continents... A little overwhelming at times, but still manageable. I made sure to find a good pace because I obviously wanted the feedback to be useful and actionable. Finger's crossed, in a few weeks I'll see 32 "Just hired!" posts! 🤞 💛

Let's Get Bold

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I want to do something bold. Last week, an average week, I reviewed 9 different resumes for people (and not as a paid service or anything like that...) I feel like I can do a lot better than that - but I just need help getting the word out. I want to get so inundated with resumes that I regret this post. That's the level of  bold  that I'm going for. I'm not looking to turn this into a business, I won't be harvesting your data... I just want to help. And if you're the type who is likely to not consult with an unknown or is proud about your resume and doesn't feel it needs changes... well... let's be  bold  together. Connect with me on LinkedIn and send your resume!

A story about tables

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This is a story about Tables. Not database tables or HTML tables - but the kind of table that you sit at on a crisp autumn morning on a Sunday and enjoy the aromas of your freshly brewed coffee. Years ago, my wife and I bought a dining table we absolutely loved. The style, the unique design and character - we were really excited to find a table that we thought would become our family table. Then, our young family sat for dinner at the table. Each whack of a metal spoon that our 1-year-old daughter would make against the fine grain of the table caused us to wince. Every spill caused us to quickly jump up to and hurriedly wipe up any mess for fears of stains. Our little girl, who loved to draw and paint, and play with clay - well... she couldn't at that table. Suddenly, we felt a lot more constrained by this table. The table, beautiful as it was, didn't match the life we were living. Fortunately, the house we'd moved into at the time had a formal dining and a kitc

Resume Triage - Livestream

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 In case you missed it, here's the hour-long resume workshop that I ran with my friend Taylor. We had a lot of resume submissions - and the approach was the same for each: First sorting the resume into a "Definitely Call", "May Call" and "Wouldn't Call" bucket before diving deeper into our constructive feedback. We had so many submissions that we couldn't get through them all - so we're talking about making Resume Triage a monthly thing. Stay tuned! 

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