Great Managers Read Books

Long ago someone asked me what helped me grow the most as a technical leader. My answer was immediate: reading management books. I started reading these books only after I exhausted my network of advice on how to manage effectively. I noticed people borrowing ideas they learned from books, and eventually, I started buying some of these books.1 Reading books on management provides a few advantages: Centers your perspective away from the immediate problem.

The Careful Guide to Quitting

I was a delivery boy until they fired me. The idea of delivering newspapers, riding my bike in the morning air, a basket full of headlines and obituaries, appealed to a kid like me. Also, it was the 80’s, and having a paper route seemed as wholesome and American as one could hope for. Until that is, I realized my job involved dumping coupons & advertisements— junk nobody asked for. My route lasted two weeks.

Three Things

You did it! You’re managing a new team. Maybe it wasn’t your decision but either way I see you’re busy. We don’t have much time. Here’s some advice as you chart a course for your team: Make new problems into old ones Hire generalists, not specialists Own the problem space This may sound self-explanatory but give me a minute to expand on this. After a few years working and leading software teams, let’s just say, I’ve seen a few.

The Minimal Interview

Thought exercise: if you had five minutes to conduct a programming interview, how would you go about it? What would you ask? I would ask two questions..

Streaming Music and Gen X

I grew up approaching music as something you own and collect. Hear it, like it, and (if you can afford it), buy it. Ownership of media conveyed a statement, and, in a way, music purchases were subsumed into self-identity.

They Launched a Car?

SpaceX launch with the Starman There might be better pictures, but it’s the screen grab on my phone a short while after watching the launch. Amazing to watch.

On Mac Gaming

I will never forget the late 90’s / early 00’s as a period where I still had some free time, a bit of disposable income, and a Mac. To the extent that games could be played on those Macs, turn-based and retro/arcade-style games were the ones I gravitated toward. Deimos rising. Piew Piew. I remember Deimos Rising very well. I finished the demo levels and wondered about spending money on the full version for a long time when I did play that thing all the time.

Handling a Crisis

You will never be as level-headed and capable of handling a crisis as when you aren’t in the middle of one. “What will I do if my car breaks down?" That’s an excellent question to ask yourself before your car breaks down. I’m lazy when planning many things, but cars can break down, so this seems like the right question to ask before a long trip or a critical errand. Not during.