Issue #366, 29th November 2019

This Week's Favorite


Laws of Tech: Commoditize Your Complement
12 minutes read.

Being able to explain why market shifts and products emerged is an essential tool for us to understand the world. This post by Gwern Branwen provides a framing that is easy to consume and understand (e.g. Elastic vs. Amazon "fight" from earlier this year), on how companies strategize, and where they decide to monetize versus give it away from free.

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Culture


This Guy’s Plane Working Situation Is Some Next Level 🤯
1 minutes read.

My humble effort to help you start the weekend with a smile on your face.

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How Stripe Invests in Technical Infrastructure (Video)
43 minutes read.

If you didn't read Will Larson's book ("An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management"), this video would be a great intro to a complicated topic Will is an expert on. I've already shared it internally with my team as we start thinking about next quarter planning, try it out and see if it helps prioritize better.

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The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius
9 minutes read.

Paul Graham is a wonderful thinker and writer: "An obsessive interest will even bring you luck, to the extent anything can. Chance, as Pasteur said, favors the prepared mind, and if there's one thing an obsessed mind is, it's prepared. The disinterestedness of this kind of obsession is its most important feature. Not just because it's a filter for earnestness, but because it helps you discover new ideas." -- I think the biggest takeaway for me is to continue to train my brain to enjoy learning, and focus on, as Paul writes it, "something you're interested in is difficult, especially if it's more difficult for other people than it is for you." as an unfair advantage of mine. Retention is necessary (of what we consume), reading is important, but none is sustainable if we're not enjoying it. Learning has to be a lasting habit for life.

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One, Ten, One Hundred
5 minutes read.

This type of experiment -- hiring a video agency to make 3 versions of the same video introducing their new product Soapbox: with budgets of $1k, $10k, & $100k -- shows a lot about Wistia's culture. Being playful and creative about it is fun to watch (see the section at the bottom of "Watch the Soapbox ads"), and make it easier to fall in love with the Wistia's brand.

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Peopleware


Micro Feedbacks — Management Advice for Technical People Managers
10 minutes read.

Tal Joffe with a fun (and effective) way for providing better feedback, using his background as a Software Engineer. I'd move the "Build on strong infrastructure" section much earlier in the post, as without it, everything else will be extremely difficult to pull off.

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Craftsman, Executive— A Tale of Two Modes
4 minutes read.

"Craftsman mode is the set of skills and patterns of work adapted to immediate experience, instantaneous feedback loops, and deterministic outcomes. Executive mode is the set of skills and patterns of work adapted to operating with abstractions, delayed feedback loops, and mostly probabilistic outcomes." -- Slava Akhmechet covers what I feel both ICs (Craftsman) and Managers (Executive) need to learn to maintain. ICs will practice more complicated Design Reviews and cross-teams (or departments) work alignment, and Managers via side-projects inside the company or outside of it. It's hard to master both modes, but you should try to improve at both overtime to create leverage (impact).

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Inefficient Efficiency
4 minutes read.

Kent Beck wrote a post that represents exactly how I feel about software development: "By emphasizing latency [of process] we get feedback sooner. Learning and adapting to external changes lead to less waste and therefore greater efficiency. Each piece is inefficient (compared to some theoretical maximum), but the whole is efficient. In my world, latency dominates. Mostly. But it depends."

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Inspiring Tweets


@mindweather: Management Is a Lot Like Surfing: 1) It Appears Both Impossible and Deceptively Easy; 2) No Two Waves Are the Same; 3) With Perseverance (And Coaching, if You're Lucky) You Can Learn the Skills to Surf Progressively Bigger Waves; And 4) Wipeouts Are Inevitable.

@DanaSchwartzzz: Here's a Thing I've Learned: the Terrible Thing About [Publishing a Book/Getting Your Dream Job/Starting a New Relationship] Is You Wake Up the Next Morning and You're Still You. If You're Not Happy Where You're At, No External Accomplishment Is Going to Change That.

- Oren

P.S. Can you share this email? I'd love for more people to experiment and improve their company's culture.

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