Lessons From A High Growth Startup Dropout

I quit.  After about three years in a high growth tech startup I have decided to move on.  In that timespan I saw the company grow from about 30 employees to almost 200.  While I know this isn’t the fastest growing startup ever, it definitely qualifies as ‘high growth’ in my book.

There are some lessons learned that I would like to impart on other software leaders who are entering this type of environment.  While I had worked in many startups before, I found very different challenges in high growth vs. other operating modes.

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Top 5 Reasons Why ‘Unlimited Vacation Time’ Policy is a Scam

I’m now on my second company that offers a policy of ‘unlimited vacation time’.  As an outsider coming from a company with a rigid time off policy and time card system, this sounds very alluring.  But, does it actually work?

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How to fire a Software Engineer

By far the hardest thing you will do as a manager is fire someone.  But you will need to do it.  There is no way around it.  If you want to be a manager, this is just part of the job.

I’ve discovered there are right and wrong ways to execute this.  I’m hoping some of the tips below help make the best of this difficult situation.

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How to stay technical as a software manager

As a manager, it’s very easy to quickly lose your technical edge.  Most of your day will get filled with meetings, planning sessions, strategy sessions, tactical status updates, 1 on 1’s, etc.  On top of a day filled with meetings you will need to figure out how to execute various initiatives, and spend nights catching up on email.

Given the above time and mindshare constraints, how can anyone expect you to have time to keep up with technical skills?

The simple answer is, “it doesn’t matter”, you need to figure out a way to do it regardless!

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Product Review: Roadmap Planner

As a manager, I’m always on the lookout for better tools to help increase my productivity.  I tend to be a visual person, and like to draw diagrams for everything.  When I came across Roadmap Planner from Keepsolid, it seemed like a simple tool that would allow be to quickly throw plans together.  Here are my first impressions with the tool:

Product Name:  Roadmap Planner

Platforms Available:  macOS and iOS

Cost:  Free for 1 year, then pay options ranging from $0.99/month for personal plans all the way up to $9.99/month per user for professional plans.

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10 Reasons to Stay Away From Management

 

In my previous article, Top 5 Reasons to Choose Managing Over Coding, I laid out my top reasons why I choose to be a manager rather than software engineer.  However, the management role may not be the best option for everyone.  In fact, oftentimes I wonder if I even made the right choice myself!  In this article I’m going to lay out the counter-argument of why you should continue coding and stay away from management altogether.

Here are my top 10 reasons why I think you may want to stay on the technical path: Continue reading “10 Reasons to Stay Away From Management”

How to Advance Your Career By Becoming an ‘Idea Machine’

I love James Altucher.  In case you haven’t heard of him, he’s an investor, writer, and entrepreneur.  He has a popular blog, podcast, and a bunch of books.  You can find all his material here:  www.jamesaltucher.com

[Photo: James Altucher, source: www.jamesaltucher.com]

One of James’ most popular books, and my personal favorite, is called “Choose Yourself:  Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream”.  In this book he talks about how the nature of employment is changing, and how we all need to become entrepreneurs.  There are several principles that he advocates that I’ve started to utilize at work and have noticed a huge change.  All software managers, really anyone in a leadership position, can benefit from the advice in this book and put it to immediate use.  I highly recommend you check the book out for yourself.  I also recommend you check out his podcast where he interviews various celebrities (from rappers to venture capitalists to authors).

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Top 5 Reasons to Choose Managing Over Coding

 

Many senior developers have faced the classic software career dilemma.  Do I go into management or continue down the technical path?   Some companies offer a ‘dual track’ where you get to choose one path, but provide compensation advancement in both.  Other companies (oftentimes startups) offer a blend, where the managers remain ‘hands on’ and continue to code.

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10 Ways to use Confluence for Improved Communication

 

In Part 1 of this series, titled “How I converted my entire company over to Confluence, and lived happily ever after”, I described how I converted my entire company over to using Confluence, and saw huge gains in communication.  This was meant to be more of a general how-to article on migrating your company over to a new tool, rather than provide any info on the tool itself.

In this article, I’d like to go into more depth on how we’re actually using Confluence in my company.  I’ll also list the plugins that we are currently using.

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How I converted my entire company over to Confluence, and lived happily ever after

 

Note:  I am not endorsing or advertising any specific tool in this article.  It’s merely meant to share my tips from rolling out a new tool across a company.

I couldn’t believe it.

On my first day on the job I asked “so, where’s the wiki?”  The answer was this horribly outdated wiki system which shall remain unnamed.  The most recent article in it was a couple months old.

After just coming from a company that was tool happy (see this article for just a small subset of monitoring tools alone), I was shocked that this promising startup was so clueless when it came to their intranet and communication systems.  I was used to using tools from Atlassian like Confluence, Jira, and HipChat.

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