Managing Humans: Everyone Cries

The most valuable lesson I learned as a manager is rarely mentioned in traditional books and online articles about effective management.  It's in the neighborhood of Emotional Intelligence, but very specific. In short, a good manager is ready for someone to cry. Two wonderful managers taught me this lesson. I wasn't the one crying when I learned the lesson, but I have cried at work before and I’ll write an article about that someday.

But let's back up. This is slightly different than my normal advice for new managers or those considering the switch. They often think about larger responsibilities in project management, more meetings, and writing performance reviews as the challenging aspects of being a manager. While all that is true, they're not radically different than what a typical tech lead is already doing.  The specific thing that's a new challenge is having difficult conversations when managing a poor performer. ICs can avoid difficult conversations; manage…

How I Prepared to Interview at Google

tl;dr - I read Steve Yegge’s blog post, rented the The Algorithm Design Manual, and coded questions from Career Cup without an IDE.

Two years ago I interviewed with Google, Zillow, and Facebook for a software manager role.  I went to Google and have since been singing its praises to friends and former co-workers (largely comprised of the poor souls who still remember working at pre-NYT-article Amazon).  Lots of them asked me what the interview was like and many sought out my advice as they were preparing for their own interviews.  So this is the article where I share with everyone what I did and hope it helps out a few folks.

Step one: read Steve Yegge’s blog post Steve worked at Amazon many years ago when I started there.  He wrote guides on reviewing resumes, conducting phone screens, and interviewing.  I enjoyed every one.  I immediately read this post after hearing about it in 2008 even though I had no intentions of interviewing at Google, or any where else for that matter.

When I did…

Interviewing as an Introvert

This is the follow up to my last post about education and interviewing advice.  If you haven’t read that, the short story is that I was asked for tips on interviewing for an introvert who doesn’t have a typical education.  This is the interviewing half of my response:

About interviewing: being an introvert is hard.  I'm a mild introvert and have managed many.  It requires extra energy to be outgoing and can leave you drained, but sometimes, like in job interviews, you have to just pump yourself up and throw everything at it.  One of my managers told me that my quietness was becoming an issue in meetings with executives.  I started to prep for those meetings by drinking an energy drink a few hours before and doing jumping jacks before going into the conference room.  I don't like the idea of using stimulants like that often, but I will use them strategically when I need a mood boost before a life altering event.

The other part about interviewing is to make sure you have a story t…