Stardate S01E23

Sean K. Gabriel
Oct 11, 2020 · 6 min read

Mood: 🙇‍♂️. A delivery-centric edition this week, with lots of love for the humble crew that keeps our teams and projects ticking along.

Checking out Steve McQueen’s Year 3 photo bonanza at the Tate Britain (thanks Mara for the idea!)

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

But beyond learning from the community, building community was equally rewarding, and I found our team song-humming icebreaker challenge surprisingly effective at getting everyone in the right mood for the rest of the day. Lingering on the call afterwards was probably the closest we’ll get to those pub chat days of yore*, given the current way of the world.

🌵 Where did I get stuck this week?

💡 What stuck with me this week?

  • Remember to introduce your new starters and proactively bring them into conversations with key stakeholders. Sharing a stakeholder map with photos can help prepare them for a dizzying first day.
  • Show, don’t tell. Offer to pair together to get things started.
  • End each week with an AMA** over coffee/lunch/beer.

There was also a point on smiling and nodding 😁 which I took more as a reminder to be encouraging. Consulting can be particularly intimidating when going client-side for the very first time; there’s already enough pressure to go around, so no need to add to the pile!

📚 What did I discover this week?

Enjoyed this article that Aine cited during her excellent lightning talk about being a gratitude-driven leader. Along with her insight that “it’s not about people being problems, it’s about them having problems,” it’s also clear that we can tap into gratitude to help defeat a victim mentality and put our best work forward with optimism and positivity.

Came across an oldie/goodie from Brad this week, in the context of a Slack discussion about social media. I remember him sharing this out a while back and it sticking with me then — the idea of attention monsters always lurking in the background of our lives. One of the beautiful things about paper is it doesn’t demand anything from us.

This 3 tribes model for programmer/engineer culture is quite compelling. I feel like I came out of college in the hardware-loving camp 2, still enamored by FPGAs*** and the thrill of being close to the metal, but over time moved into camp 3 and was drawn to the product world. But I love the observation that camp 1 is where we get our leaps and advancements in languages, algorithms and other foundational tech — and the camps all need each other for the industry as a whole to continue to thrive.

I noticed back in July I thought about sharing the occasional post I disagree with (and seem to have forgotten since then!), but after finishing this 1/10/100 series I may have found another candidate.

The premise sounded interesting enough; an award-winning documentary about what flexing your video budget can do for you. But two hours later, you’re left with the ultimate takeaways being to… invest in a creative person, invest in creative people, and invest in creativity. And have watched 3 ads for their product along the way. Maybe I had the wrong expectations heading into it, but the whole exercise felt self-congratulatory and I’m not feeling much wiser about where to deploy my next video budget (well, certainly not to blow $100,000).

🌱 What am I looking forward to next week?

Lots to get stuck back into next week though. Working sessions abound, a lunch is hopefully in the cards, and we’re hiring again! I’m going to need to brush up on interview questions before my next loop.


View from The Pulteney Bridge Coffee Stop (finished the scones too fast!)

Loving Bath this weekend. Bristol as well. Can’t believe the last time we made it out here was in 2016!

Sometimes you just need to get away for a bit, and the change in scenery is everything. I miss the travels we used to plan and take so casually when the world was different, but I count myself lucky that we still have so much accessible to us with just a bit of effort.

And we got doubly lucky with the weather, despite some rough forecasts — goes to show, you can’t always trust them.

*Once upon a time, our delivery team outing of choice was Dishoom. I dug a bit in the Slack archives and managed to find The Order™️: calamari, chicken ruby, grilled masala prawns, chicken tikka, spicy lamb chops, chicken berry Britannia biryani, veg biryani, black daal, gunpowder potatoes, slaw, mattar paneer, raita, and all the naans (plain, garlic, cheese). YUM.

**I remember Andy telling me he’d rebranded the classic “ask me anything” session as a “stupid questions” session, to great effect, with others he coaches. By leaning in to the idea and framing the session slightly tongue-in-cheek, you can get to the intended outcome faster.

***Field-programmable gate arrays. The CS150 memories are fuzzy now, but they involved some sort of Pong-like game as the class project, the joy of writing your own RCA “display driver” and seeing color on the TV for the first time, debugging by measuring voltage on a wire, a whole lot of Verilog and basically no unit tests (oops). Still my favorite class of my undergraduate program.

Captain’s Log: Supplemental

Reflecting through #weeknotes