Management


Speaking Tips: Don't Be Funny

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years.

This time, it’s about humor. Or the lack thereof.


Speaking Tips: Managing T&E

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years.


Speaking Tips: Tell A Story

tl;dr When doing a presentation, there should always be some kind of “story” to the presentation. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown Shakespearean “Things get worse, things get a little better, then things get way worse, and either they eventually get better (a comedy) or they just end worse (a tragedy)” plot arc, but your audience needs to have a narrative arc to the talk that they can sort of hang on to while you’re doing your thing. And, as it turns out, you need it as much as they do.


Developer Supply Chain Management

At first, it was called “DLL Hell”. Then “JAR Hell”. “Assembly Hell”. Now, it’s fallen under the label of “NPM-Gate”, but it always comes back to the same basic thing: software developers need to think about their software build and runtime dependencies as a form of Supply Chain Management. Failure to do so—on both the part of the supplier and the consumer—leads to the breakdown of civilization and everything we hold dear.


Speaking Tips: Mentor and Be Mentored

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. As I slow down my own speaking career, I’ve decided to put some of that mentoring advice into Internet form. And one of the key things I advise new speakers to do is to sit on both sides of the mentoring fence.


Speaking Tips: No Speaker Notes

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. As I slow down my own speaking career, I’ve decided to put some of that mentoring advice into Internet form. I’ve seen numerous speakers bring notes to themselves up to the podium, and reference them during the presentation.


Speaking Tips: Never Memorize

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. As I slow down my own speaking career, I’ve decided to put some of that mentoring advice into Internet form. One of the most important things, although it seems like a good idea at first, is to never, never, EVER memorize your talk. And that includes having a script for it.


Speaking Tips: Slow Down and Drink

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. As I slow down my own speaking career, I’ve decided to put some of that mentoring advice into Internet form. In this installment, we talk about speaking—and by that, I mean pacing.


Speaking Tips: Critique Others

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years. This time, it’s to critique (not criticize!) others speaking. And ask for their critique in return.


Speaking Tips: Record Yourself

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years. One such tip: Record yourself when speaking. Then, actually watch the video.


Speaking Tips: There is a Conference That Wants You

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years.



Speaking Tips: How to Write Good Proposals

For many years, I’ve quietly mentored a few speakers in the industry. Nothing big, nothing formal, just periodically I’d find somebody that wanted to get in front of audiences and speak, and either they’d ask me some questions or I’d get the feeling that they were open to some suggestions, and things would sort of go from there. Now, as I start to wind down my speaking career (some), I thought I’d post some ideas and suggestions I’ve had over the years.


The Myth of the Unearthly CEO

I’ve been reading a few articles that cross my LinkedIn feed, and this one, on Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and her presentation today on the future of the company and who-knows-what-else, struck me as a huge wrong to the industry, startups, and just about everything that the business community is supposed to stand for.


Intellectual Honesty

tl;dr At last night’s Seattle Languages meeting, I was reminded of what intellectually-honest debate does and does not look like; then, as part of the discussions and argument around the tragic deaths of several black men at the hands of police, I was presented with a link to a page entitled “Ten Signs of Intellectual Honesty”. This is good material.


It is too possible

tl;dr Once again I find myself in the position of needing to call BS on a blog post and deconstruct it: Yes, it is possible to be a good .NET developer, and here’s why.


The Value of Failure

tl;dr Celebrating success is always a welcome thing. But in a lot of ways, the people we should be celebrating are the ones who failed, and then learned from it. As a matter of fact, there’s a reasonable correlation to be drawn here—that those who are truly successful are the ones who failed first.


Microsoft meets Open Source

tl;dr Hadi Hariri has made a few observations regarding the churn we’re seeing in the Microsoft open-source space (around .NET Core and ASP.NET Core, among other things). But I don’t think this is a permanent state of affairs; what I think is going on is that Microsoft is finding that managing an open-source project is more than just owning the GitHub repo and just reviewing pull requests.


Startup bubbles bursting

tl;dr A recent article caused a bit of a stir among the startup community here in Seattle. I wrote up a response, with my thoughts basically suggesting that the startup bubble may be on the cusp of bursting (which is both good and bad); this is (more or less) the text of that response, which I thought might be of interest to others.


Logging Hours

tl;dr A recent DZone post lamented how logging hours makes the author “die a little inside each time”. I used to feel the same way. Then I grew up and got over it.


Practice, practice, practice

tl;dr Recently the Harvard Business Review ran an article on how readers could prepare for difficult business situations, using the analogy of coaches preparing their teams for different eventualities by simulating those eventualities on the practice field. There’s lessons to be learned here for both programming and speaking.


When Interviews Fail

tl;dr Peter Verhas asks a seemingly innocent question during a technical interview, and gets an answer that is not wrong, but doesn’t really fit. He then claims that “Sometimes I also meet candidates who not only simply do not know the answer but give the wrong answer. To know something wrong is worse than not knowing. Out of these very few even insists and tries to explain how I should have interpreted their answer. That is already a personality problem and definitely a no-go in an interview.” I claim that Peter is not only wrong, but that in addition to doing his company a complete disservice with this kind of interview, I personally would never want to work for a company that takes this attitude.



Why should they care?

tl;dr I’m frequently asked for my opinion around books (doing two reviews now, in fact, both of which look really good and worth reading—more on that later), presentations, marketing efforts, and sometimes, startups themselves. In almost all of these cases, I find myself frequently asking the same question as a bit of Quibb clickbait I ran across recently. (It also helps to answer why I’ve taken up the habit of doing the “tl;dr” thing at the front of each of my blog posts recently.)




'Climbing Higher' no more

tl;dr In November of 2013, through a chance conversation with a casual acquaintance, I happened across what would turn out to be a pretty significant shift in my career path. After two years as the CTO of iTrellis, it’s time to move on.


'Maybe' is Selfish

tl;dr Don’t hedge your answers when somebody is asking you for a commitment; “Do, or do not. There is no try.” (Yoda) Saying “maybe” is, at best, your way of preserving your ego, and at worst, your way of trying to avoid a commitment.


Speaking: 2016 (so far...)

The confirmations are starting to flow in, and I’m getting quite the nice lineup of shows to speak at for the new calendar year; the complete list is a bit long to list here (and it’ll change as the year progresses, to be sure), but so far I’ve got a nice mix of different kinds of shows: Voxxed Days: These are smaller, newer events in cities that are new to the Devoxx conference circuit.

Google's 8 Manager Skills

I’ll admit, my first reaction was, “Hey, some of those 8 things aren’t really skills, per se, as much as they are the effects you want to see come out of your manager”. For example, “Empowers team and does not micromanage” isn’t really a skill, as it were, but more of an abstract guiding principle that would encompass things like, “Gives an employee a goal and a deadline, then steps out of the way to see them accomplish it, unless asked to step in and assist”.