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Start with a plan

planning Sep 30, 2019

One of the most useful ways to kick ass in a job interview (and in a job too) is to have a plan.  Most people, when interviewing, don't even think about having a plan.  This might make some sense - you don't know what you re really getting yourself into and you don't know what the job will entail until you arrive.  But that aside, having a basic plan can bump you to the front of the line compared to your colleagues.

When we talk about a plan, for me, its all about the 30 / 60 / 90.  This is a high level list of tasks you want to accomplish during the first 90 days of your career at your new employer.  Having a plan helps you through the first 90 days, gets you shipping, and makes you more engaged in the workplace.

Setting up a 30/60/90 isn't a 2 minute exercise.  But it doesn't have to be complicated.  You need to think about what you want to accomplish over the next year, how you want to contribute based on the job description. 

From there,...

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Why I started coaching

coaching scaling Sep 28, 2019

It all began when I moved to Canada and joined a startup.
I was quickly promoted to Director of Engineering at Syncapse, one of the first social media management product and consulting firms, which launched in ~2008 and scaled up like crazy, raising $45M, expanding globally until it’s demise in 2013.
During my 2+ years at Syncapse (2009–2011), I had the opportunity to see a lot of crazy startup growth happen. We were all trying to keep up with the “just hire people and we’ll figure it out later” mentality, and rationalize away the multitude of nonsensical directives which rarely made any sense. Trying to apply process and rules to the organization was like trying to catch a chicken while blindfolded — not even Chuck Norris can do that.
While there were many problems , I realized that for me, there were a couple of really big issues: one was a lack of transparency and communication about where we were trying to go — which led to...

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What's in my coaching toolbox?

Uncategorized Sep 01, 2019

Getting people engaged, moving, working together, inproving constantly and enjoying it is hard. It’s really hard. And this is where happiness lies: Making people happy to ship and happy to get better at it. And shipping comes from the team, which is made up of the people. Simple, right?

As a leader of engineers, and sometimes data scientists, the most important aspect of my work isn’t figuring out roadmaps or developing technical architecture. It’s mentoring, coaching and developing people. As an “older software person”, it’s also expected, and I enjoy doing it. We are only as good as our weakest. Think about a navy seal team. They work as a team, they help each other out, they teach each other things for which one is strong and others less so. This gives them the best chance of survival — their weakest link is the difference between life and death. And that’s why they are the best. Ours is shipping, competing, and keeping the company...

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Learning in High-end kitchens

agile learning principes Aug 01, 2019

I’ve worked for some amazing software companies over the years, but I don’t think I really understood having a good daily routine and how to work well with others until I took a break and started cooking. I’ve worked for some very well known chefs in some pretty nice places and what I got out of those experiences is priceless.  Even though it was years ago, it left an impact that helps me every day.

Here are some learnings I’ve gleaned over the 21 years across two seemingly different industries, which I think is a good snack for a young software engineer getting started.

Be Organized. The first thing you do when you get into a kitchen is check your prep list to see what you are making for the day. Once you have a plan for how you are going to make all this food, you get your ingredients and tools set up to start prepping — you only have a few hours before you have to deploy your ingredients onto the plates. Having a plan every day and a list of...

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