Having been an engineering manager myself for a few years now, I’m fascinated with the topic and becoming the best EM I can possibly be. So, following a tip from my previous guest, I jumped at the opportunity to chat with James Stanier. After all, he’s not only the driving force behind theengineeringmanager.com, he also recently wrote what will certainly become a classic book on engineering management, Become an Effective Software Engineering Manager. …

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

Growth is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is obvious, the curse less so.

What was very clear early on with just a handful of folks in the company becomes increasingly less so as the headcount grows. At the same time, growing a business successfully depends on making as many good decisions as possible, as quickly as possible.

As the company grows, if we don’t give up control at the top, we sacrifice our ability to make decisions in two crucial ways:

  • In quality, because decisions are made further and further away from where the actual work happens.

If you have ever come across The Pragmatic Engineer, you probably know the man behind it, Gergely Orosz. More than a simple blog, or newsletter, it is a treasure trove of knowledge on the ins and outs of Engineering, Engineering Management and, in general, all things leadership in tech. As the website name implies, Gergely is all about pragmatism and helping engineering leaders develop themselves, while delivering massive value to their companies and those around them.

Exploring the interface between Product and Engineering, and building world-class Engineering teams are two interrelated topics that we both share as interests. …

In a 2017 essay, Morgan Housel makes the point that great, timeless businesses are built on top of assumptions that never change. He gives Amazon as a prime example, and quotes Jeff Bezos saying that customers will always care about vast selection and fast delivery. The opposite, after all, is absurd: no one wants little choice and slow delivery. This is not to say that Amazon is not an innovative company — rather, that its raison d’être is rooted on things that don’t change.

If you work in the technology space, and particularly in a tech startup, you know how…

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It’s been a minute since I was last searching for a new job. Since leaving my previous role a few months ago and having taken some time off, I have now been actively involved in multiple interview streams. And, unsurprisingly, the interactions have been all over the map.

Nonetheless, this process has been a tremendous learning experience yet again, helping me become a better professional. The interviews themselves are an invaluable feedback loop. …

The startup and venture capital game hinges on one simple idea: growth. Investors invest in order to get a sizeable return. For that to happen, companies need to grow. But grow what exactly? Revenue? Number of employees? The cloud provider bill?

And by the way, is that the same as scaling?

Growth means adding resources at the same rate that you’re adding revenue. Scale is about adding revenue at a rapid rate while adding resources at an incremental rate. (source)

The promise of tech businesses is leveraging the technology to achieve a lot more with a lot less. But how…

When having difficult conversations about something that needs improving, there is a line I often get and hate every single time.

“Come on… it’s like this in every company.”

I always thought it was such a cop-out, a cheap way to justify whatever garden-variety mediocrity it happened to be referring to. It’s never used to explain something we nailed. What we suck at, it’s OK because it’s like this everywhere, anyway. “That’s how startups are”. What we’re good at: that’s because we’re unique and pretty awesome at what we do.

It’s like the poker player who attributes winning to skill…

A couple of weeks ago, Zillow’s Founder and CEO Rich Barton tweeted:

Today we let our team know they have flexibility to work from home (or anywhere) through the end of 2020. My personal opinions about WFH have been turned upside down over the past 2 months. I expect this will have a lasting influence on the future of work … and home. Stay safe.

- Rich Barton (@Rich_Barton) April 25, 2020

Makes you wonder how many other business leaders also got their personal opinions about remote work “turned upside down over the past 2 months”. It certainly adds credence…

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I don’t have many regrets in my professional career. In fact, I have none. Regretting is useless and a waste of time.


As I’m currently on a bit of a sabbatical, I can’t help reflecting. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice before taking my last VP Engineering role, this would be some of it:

1. Set and manage expectations

About 80% of issues at work stem from lack of explicit expectations. At first, I didn’t do a great job of getting and setting clear expectations with the CEO, resulting in some unnecessary dissonance. Later on, I took an…

About a year ago, I was walking down the street with a good friend of mine. At the time, he was consulting for a couple of months as a half agile coach and half product manager at the company where I worked. That spring morning, as we walked to the office after an early breakfast together, I was venting. Something going on in the engineering team was not meeting my expectations. He listened while I explained the situation, and then calmly asked me a question I have not forgotten since:

Do they know what good looks like?


Tech startups…

The Evolutionary Coach

On a mission to help fix the way work. Leadership/Executive Coach. Previously VP Engineering, Engineer | hagakure.substack.com

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