Action, Results, Belief, Potential, REPEAT

Monday’s, huh? Sometimes you own them. Sometimes they own you. Am I right?

Before this Monday’s over, here’s a quick tidbit for you.

Tony Robbins has this great model he calls the “success cycle.” It’s a pretty powerful thing that can work for you or against you.

The idea is that you’re only going to invest your energy into something you actually believe is going to produce a result. The catch is that beliefs come from past experiences and past actions. So the past could be benefitting you or hurting you (and your team in the process)

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 6.54.30 PMA way to improve is to jump into the cycle — anywhere. For instance, if you’re facing a challenging sprint planning session and you suspend your belief that it’s going to end badly (because it always seems to) and take some massive new action toward making it better, you’re going to get some new results. They may not be perfect, but you did something to break and improve the cycle.


The success cycle (in three quick sentences) works as follows: greater actions produce greater results. Results from your actions produce belief in yourself. And when you have belief, you have more potential to take action.

Get it?

Just a quick post tonight (Mondays). Hit me up on the comments and we can talk more about it!!

Great conversations at the first Tech Lead Workshops!

On Wednesday night we ran our first Los Angeles Tech Lead Workshop! Here’s what happened.

riot-entranceFirst of all, we were lucky to have an amazing venue at the Riot Games campus. I showed up just after the sun down (damn you Westside traffic!) and the campus felt like I just walked into Myst. What a great setting to go with my own feelings of uncertainty, apprehension, and excitement for how to night would go.  I wish I could show you more pictures, but they’re a secretive company.

This was the first Meetup of its kind as far as I know, and going first is always uncomfortable.

Second, I was super pleased that what I intended worked. That is, the Tech Lead Workshop case studies are supposed to trigger conversations — not be the full conversation. That’s exactly what happened and we had a great back and forth discussion about lots of things, including the differences between Riot’s culture and tech lead roles and those of myself and other members of the community.

The Next Workshop

Wednesday really changed my ideas about what I think will make these workshops work. When I usually think of successful Meetups, I think size — the more people who show up, the more sponsors, the more valuable it must be.

Wednesday’s experience made me to refocus on impact and value. I never thought a Tech Lead Workshop would ever be as big as a Node meetup. Wednesday’s experience suggests it shouldn’t be. Keeping these events small and intimate is key to having valuable and impactful conversations.

I started the Tech Lead Workshop Meetup to raise awareness about the importance of tech leadership in industry, so size was something I was certainly thinking about when I set it up. Now I think keeping the events intimate encourages tech leads to feel safe and to share.

Second, I’m not really sure an evening event is the right time to host these, even though that’s basically the Meetup default setting. For example, I remember once going to a DevOps conversation for breakfast at Elabrew in Santa Monica and it was far more impactful to me than, say, a huge Angular meetup.

Finally, I think the workshops are such a new format aimed at such a small audience that I for the next few months I’m going to focus on hosting conference calls to share the purpose of the workshops. That way people can dial in, get mentally engaged, and then run an in person workshop. Stay tuned for an update on that!

Free Tech Lead Coaching

I want to offer you free one on one tech lead coaching. When I say free, I mean free as in free beer — totally free with absolutely no strings attached. I’ll explain why further down, but first let’s talk about the offer.

Why Should You Consider Coaching?

As far I know, tech lead coaching is completely new. I don’t think anyone who offers coaching for tech leads (free or paid) — at least outside company walls. I’ll bet it’s especially new to you because tech leads are usually in their first leadership position, so they don’t get the full suite of leadership coaching and training that senior sometimes leaders get.

So let me make a case for tech lead coaching.

What do you get from a coaching relationship? First, you get something that’s hard to find anywhere else and in any other form. A professional coach is 100% invested in your success, serving you with no agenda and no strings attached. A tech lead coach invests a substantial amount of time helping you discover and articulate your personal career goals as a tech lead — not your company’s goals, not your spouse’s goals, not your colleague’s agenda, not your friend’s goals, not your mom’s – your goals alone – and then stays focused on helping you accomplish those goals.

Using a coaching doesn’t mean you’re weak. It’s actually the opposite; the strong always seek improvement. People who engage coaches are very serious about constant improvement and fast feedback cycles.

Surprisingly, the most successful are often the most common coaching clients even though they’re already really great at what they do. The mediocre aren’t looking for ways to improve like you are.

How Does It Work?

With me, coaching is simply a series of conversations (or, coaching sessions) lasting about an hour each. If we’re both in the same geography, we can meet up in person. Being that I’m usually in California we’ll more commonly just talk on the phone, via Skype, or something similar — whatever works for you. Different coaches work different ways, but for me it’s just a conversation.

During our first session, we’ll probably spend the whole time talking about your current role, how you got there, what your organization’s culture and environment is like, and (most importantly) what your goals are and what challenges currently stand between you and those goals. I have absolutely no agenda or perspective on what any of these things should be — this is your career, not mine!

In the next sessions, we’ll probably start with a review of the goals we’re focused on to make sure we articulated corrently. If not, we’ll revise. Then we’ll talk about any actions you took since our last call toward your goal, what worked and didn’t, and what’s currently a roadblock. We’ll probably close with some ideas to work on until the next call.

Important to note on this: as a coach who’s been in this business for a while, I have lots of ideas about what could work for you and what might not work, but these coaching conversations aren’t about me or my goals. It’s mostly going to be me asking you questions and exploring ideas.

You already know how to be successful, my only goal is to help you unlock your own potential as a tech lead!

What Will We Talk About

Mostly, we’re going to talk about your goals.

In the course of our conversations about your goals, however, some of the topics that will surely come up are things that I might be able to specifically help you with:

  1. working with a team to define a vision for your team,
  2. how to connect your individual team members to the vision, and
  3. executing the day to day work.

Let’s talk!

What Do You Have to Do?

Not much! I’m not sure I could make it any easier for you.

Just put in an application and I’ll reach out to you to figure out a time that works for us.

Importantly, since this is totally new and you don’t really know who I am or whether you can really trust me, we can even keep it totally anonymous. I just need a name I can refer to by (pick the name you wish your parents named you) and we need to work out a way to communicate — that’s it.

Why Is It Free?

I already have an awesome job, make plenty of money, and generally have a blessed life. I’m aboslutely not looking to build a relationship with you that I’ll later try to monetize.

I’m volunteering to do this for more personal satisfaction but also more stories, more experiences, and frankly, more practice. I’m totally new to the tech lead coaching thing (and you are too!), so let’s learn together. I have lots of ideas about tech leadership but working with you, one one one, is going to make a huge impact on my point of view and my own trajectory (and I hope you too)!

Put differently, the conversations you and I are going to have are going help me build a base of knoweldge and experiences I can use for this blog, a book I’m working on, speaking engagements, webinars, and lots of other stuff. I’m not planning on a career as a tech lead coach!

At the same time, I hope and believe that you’ll benefit tremendously. Not everyone who reads this is going to get along perfectly with me or benefit the way I hope they will, but let’s give it a try!!

Sign up here.

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

Welcome to Leadership Level One. You’ve Got a Long Way to Go.

Your manager takes you around to meetings and introduces you as the tech lead, so you’re a leader now, right?

After all, the word “lead” appears right there. In. The. Job. Title.

And you’re actually right, especially if your role is clearly defined and your team has to implement your architecture, follow your design decisions, and/or work on the tasks you tell them to work on.

In other words, if your team has to do what you say to get a paycheck, then you have followers and leaders have followers.

But what you’ll (hopefully) discover pretty quickly* is that this is the lowest, least effective form of leadership — especially in a hybrid professional, technical, and creative business like ours.

Conscientious and effective tech leads instinctively know there are higher and better levels of leadership than a mere job title. That’s why you’re here.

So welcome!

*Of course, we all know all too many “leaders” who settle for level one. But that’s not going to happen to you because you’re reading Tech Lead Daily!

Also, knowledgeable readers will notice these concepts come from John Maxwell.

You. YOU are the tech lead. Not me. (Letter No. 14)

Hey Tech Leads—

It’s Friday night!!! As if you needed a reminder. I’m writing a different kind of note today. It’s meta, self-indulgent even. Stick with me anyway………

I’ve been increasing the amount of time and energy I invest in Tech Lead Daily and the upcoming Tech Lead Workshops. But something’s missing. I think I’m not reaffirming with you why leadership in tech could mean TO YOU.

I work with so many clients in so many environments and, maybe because I seek it, I see such a void of leadership, especially deep in the tranches where I really need tech leads. Consulting firms exist for many reasons, but an important one is a lack of local leadership deep in organizational trenches.

Thus, I’ve been approaching the tech lead topic from the wrong place. From my point of view as a manager of many consulting teams, I’m trying to fill a void I see in the industry. Hard tech skills may be a rare commodity, but I’m a writer trying to give you even rarer, even more valuable soft skills to go with them because, as a manager, I know it’s a gap I badly need to fill. It’s a daily problem.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that does anything to inspire you to be a better tech lead, which is ironic because my goal in putting this together is to lead you there. Crap. FAIL.

Starting today, I want to flip it around. We should be talking about you. Enough emphasizing what I need, your company needs, or your industry needs. We need to talk about YOU.

What would it mean for you if you started looking for success beyond your raw tech skills? What kind of impact could you make? How could you grow professionally and personally? What would it mean for your income, your career, your future, your family’s future? And by the way, would it help if I mentioned that the industry is begging for this capability?

Years from now, at the end of your career, what kind of difference would it make if you did the hard work today and stretched and grew beyond what you think you can currently do?

Actually, it’s Friday…. Give it some thought this weekend, but don’t sweat it right now. Have a nice weekend. Let’s get rolling on it starting on Monday!!

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

A thought for Thursday

Everything you will ever do as a leader is based on one audacious assumption. It’s the assumption that you matter. Before you can lead others, you have to lead yourself and believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe that your words can inspire and your actions can move others. You have to believe that what you do counts for something. If you don’t, you won’t even try. Leadership begins with you.

From James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner in The Truth About Leadership.

Tech Lead blogging – “Head First” vs. “The Treatise”

Today was super busy, but in the background I was playing around with the Swift Playground files on Xcode. I don’t know why, really. Then later tonight, I was cruising around O’Reilly’s Safari for Swift books. Again, don’t know why.

In browsing the titles in Safari, however, I had a thought. It seems like one can roughly divide the universe of programming books into two: those that start with a problem and solve it with a language (e.g., the “Head First” approach) and those that cover the language with an exhaustive, detailed survey of the language (the “treatise” approach) starting with mundane topics like data types.

You could almost say that one’s more practical and the other’s more academic.

So it further crossed my mind that with both this blog (Tech Lead Daily) and the Tech Lead Workshops (BTW, don’t forget to RSVP for next week if you’re in Los Angeles!!) that I’ve vascillating by attacking the tech lead profession from both ends. No wonder I find it exhausting!

Maybe in the future, I should divide this blog into two rough universes: survey level stuff (think treatise) and practice stuff (think, “head first”)…….

Any thoughts or guidance on this are VERY WELCOME!!!