Transcribing my hot take from a panel on career advice for new engineers.

My hot take is that moving to San Francisco was one of the best decisions I’ve made in life. The essence of the place is wild, contradictory, optimistic, cynical, and always changing. Nothing about the city wants you to get comfortable for long. Because of that you’ll be challenged every day with new perspectives, opportunities, and change.

But you’re asking about startups not personal growth, right? Without question: this is the place to be for startups! If you wanted to learn from the best painters and could…


If you’re getting into public speaking for the money, you’re definitely doing it for the wrong reasons.

It can be a huge letdown to find out that after overcoming the long odds to get your first speaking opportunity that you aren’t going to be offered a huge check. Yes, there are what I would call minimal acceptable speaking expectations: travel expenses, a complementary conference badge, and promotion on the event website. Beyond that, set your monetary target low. The organizers aren’t trying to stiff you — speaking just isn’t that lucrative of a gig for 99% of the population.


As someone who believes strongly in the potential for business intelligence (BI) to empower people and transform organizations, I have an important concern to share with every like-minded BI pro: We aren’t being disrupted, it’s already happened. Despite increasingly powerful dashboards and data exploration tools, traditional approaches to business intelligence are struggling to meet the expectations of the modern data-driven workforce.

Fortunately the core tenets of BI — that combining data makes it more valuable and that people are more powerful with data — are alive and well. What has changed is both the volume and diversity of data, as…


Today I had coffee with a mentee and he said something which brought an old buried memory back to the surface. He said, “If I want to be a manager then I have to wait until my boss or another manager leaves.” I paused for a moment, recalling all the times I’ve heard an aspiring manager say these exact words. I wanted to just tell him, “There are so many opportunities out there, why wait?” But instead I, shared this story of the worst career advice I’ve ever received.

The year was 2011, I was a line-level engineering manager and…


Resources and advice for a successful partnership

There are so many benefits to having a mentoring program within your company. In my past roles at Reddit and Microsoft, employee mentoring programs helped me rise through the ranks, pick up soft skills, and give back to the next generation of leaders. Nowadays I’m at Looker and we’re in the midst of spinning-up our first mentoring program. Exciting stuff! I thought I’d jot down a few tips for future mentees at Looker and beyond. Without further ado…

Don’t wait for a “mentoring program.”

Yes, it’s great if your company has one but they aren’t common at startups and smaller companies. Mentoring programs take effort to…


I recently got the chance to share a couple predictions about what 2019 will bring to the world of Artificial Intelligence via Forbes. Thought I’d expand on them here.

As someone who has been fascinated with AI and machine learning since the earliest days of my career, the rapid pace of progress in the field has been astounding. Almost overnight we went from an era of struggling to do simple image recognition tasks (think: “hot dog, not hot dog”) to AIs powered by deep neural networks capable of understanding and describing complex scenes with more accuracy and speed than humans.


“You’re working towards a holiday ship date, suddenly your best developer suggests an Erlang rewrite. How do you react?”

When I joined Reddit in late 2016, I was faced with a unique challenge: tripling the size of the engineering organization within a year. At the time there were about 35 engineers on the team and a small number of “tech leads,” but there was little in the way of official management structure in engineering.

In fact, the very first question in the very first meeting with my new team was “what do managers even do?” I’d hear many variations of that over the coming weeks and I’m proud to say that with time and patience the question slowly changed…


Quick article while I wait for Game 2 of Warriors Cavs. Last week I had a fantastic conversation with a top employee on my team. He’s an up and coming Senior Engineer who recently started mentoring newer recruits. He asked me:

“As a mentor, should I be a sounding board or should I take on a more active role and give advice? I’m uncomfortable telling people what to do.”

This is a great question because there are many approaches to mentoring and leadership styles. Sometimes it makes sense to apply what is referred to as a “coaching” style, where you…


Source: Barrett Sales Blog and the 101 course for every MBA in history

Recently, I was interviewed by Business Insider and the reporter centered our discussion around my career arc and the types of projects I’ve worked on over the years. She also asked me about my philosophy on leadership and what experiences it comes from. I got my start as a leader after a moment of deep frustration where a mentor told me that I needed to stop complaining and take charge. I often look back at that moment and think about how it came to be.

One way to view the difficult situation is that I was working on a team…


I’m going to take a risk here and say that one of the biggest mistakes I see career climbers make is spending too much time finding mentors. Of course, mentoring relationships can be incredibly valuable and I wouldn’t want to discourage them. But when I’m asked by new recruits, “What is the fastest way to advance my career?,” finding mentors is simply not at the top of my list.

I’ve only ever had two official mentors in my career. But I have had a TON of sponsors.

So…What’s the Difference?

I find that many people have never even heard of the idea of…

Nick Caldwell

VP of Engineering @ Twitter

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