🙅 Screw The Taboos Meetup #1

Swapnil Agarwal
Dec 28, 2019 · 5 min read

A safe space for talking about taboos in tech!

😨 I don’t know how to ask for a promotion / raise!
😭 I could really use some help in dealing with jerks at my workplace!
🚫 My manager is asking me to work on the weekend. How do I say “no”?

If you are working (irrespective of the industry you’re in), there’s a good chance that you have had these questions (and a lot more!) at one point or the other.

Facing these alone can be a bit difficult.
Okay, who are we kidding? It IS difficult. Nobody taught us how to handle these real-world issues!
If you want to talk about these, you’ll probably think twice before bringing them up with your peers. What will (s)he think of me?
There’s no dedicated space which encourages discussion of such “taboo” topics - where you can talk freely without any fear of judgment. So I floated out a form to gauge people’s interest in attending such a meetup.
A couple of submissions were enough to turn this idea into reality. The folks at Hasura were kind enough to host the first-ever (experimental) edition.

The aim was to create a safe space, where we talk openly about things like the discrepancy between job descriptions and day-to-day work, coping with burnout, imposter syndrome, mental health, growth, etc.

I set up some ground rules:

  1. Attendees are expected to actively participate in the round-table discussion.
  2. It’s open to everyone regardless of the technology you’re using.
  3. What is said in the room stays in the room; Chatham House Rules apply. (Thanks HasGeek!)
  4. The discussion is moderated to ensure it does not go off-track.

The 1st meetup took place on December 15, 2019 at The Terrace @ Hasura. The aim was to bring a small group together (max. 10 people) and we ended up with 8 (plus me and Dash!).

Since I love curation, we started with noting down our favorite songs. Here’s the list, in case you’re looking for new music to listen to:

After a quick round of introductions, it was clear that we had managed to get a diverse group and that everyone’s perspective w.r.t. work was quite different!

I had a couple of topics / questions prepared, using which we navigated through a variety of topics. Here’s the summary (names used with permission):

  • Kamlesh Chandnani encouraged everyone to maintain a “brag document” where you keep a list of what you have done. It takes just a few minutes everyday but is immensely helpful when you’re asked to talk about your work.
  • Sudhanshu Yadav shared tips on building culture in your team. You shouldn’t expect to bring a sudden change. This takes time. Plant an idea. Talk about it with your manager and peers. Do not try to impose anything; involve the team and get their views. This makes people feel important and they’ll start supporting you gradually.
  • Rahul Kadyan recommended having frequent 1:1’s with your manager. Asking for a clear growth path and checking-in regularly helps avoid surprises at the end of the year / review cycle.
  • How to negotiate?
    Never disclose your salary upfront; even asking for a range isn’t effective. (Asking for X to Y range is the same as asking for X.)
    Never give a number. Ask the range from the recruiter!
    Tip: If you have an offer in hand, contact one of the current employees. (S)he might be hesitant to tell their compensation but instead, you can tell your offer and ask if it’s fair or not?
    Tip: Get hard (real) compensation numbers from 10 of your close friends (preferably outside of your company). It’ll help you get a better picture of the current market!
  • Underpromise, Overdeliver
    If you’re the person who leaves early everyday and stay back someday, you’ll subconsciously be regarded higher than someone who stays back everyday.
    While estimating a task, keep this in mind. Always add a buffer!
  • Artificial Deadlines
    Ask for scope to be cut-off else make it clear that the output might turn out to be of less fidelity.
    If you’re working late-night / on weekends, take the next weekday off!
  • Comparing with Others
    You don’t know what the other person is going through! Always compare only with yourself and track your trajectory of growth.

🤩 The highlight of the meetup was what questions you should ask your interviewers?

Asking these questions for the first time can be hard but it’ll get easier with time. Here are some of the top ones:

  1. Do you sponsor conference tickets ($100+), say twice a year?
  2. How is knowledge-sharing done across teams?
  3. Why did your last developer leave?

You can find more of these questions here. Feel free to add yours by sending a PR or DM me if you want to contribute anonymously.

The 2nd meetup is scheduled for Jan 12, 2020; same time; same place. Registrations are open at dxclub.io/taboo
See you there! 👋

Special Thanks to Siddharth Kshetrapal for organizing TinyConf, the panel discussions of which served as an inspiration to start this meetup, to Kamlesh Chandnani for his awesome talk at React Meetup which inspired the panel discussions at TinyConf, and to Rahul Kadyan for his strong support in helping me bring all the pieces together.

P.S. If you’d like to volunteer for jotting down notes during the upcoming meetup(s), DM me on Telegram.
P.P.S. There’s a lot of stuff planned for 2020. For updates, follow The DX Club on Twitter!

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