I've never heard any of DHH's RailsConf keynote speeches before, so I guess I kind of expected it to be more about the state of Rails and where things are going.
In a way, I suppose this is that. But really, it's a personal manifesto about the intrinsic value of software, human worth, and capitalism.
This was mind bending and well worth the watch.
The bittersweet consequence of YouTube’s incredible growth is that so many stories will be lost underneath all of the layers of new paint. This is why I wanted to tell the story of how, ten years ago, a small team of web developers conspired to kill IE6 from inside YouTube and got away with it.
As someone who got started developing websites on IE2, IE6 continues to haunt my nightmares to this day. This story made me feel some semblance of vengeance. Kudos to these unsung heroes of the internet.
“Everyone does it.”
These were the words from my college-aged daughter when I caught her lounging on our couch, streaming Friends with 24-point closed captioning on. She has no hearing impairment, and I wanted to know what she was up to.
Does “everyone” do it? My wife and I turned to Facebook and a private, nationwide group for parents with near-adult children. “Anyone else’s college student (without a hearing disability) watch TV with the closed captioning on and insist that everyone does it?” my wife posted. Seven hundred responses (and counting) later, we had our answer.
I remember when I got my first TV in my bedroom. I was in fifth grade, and for my birthday, I received a 19” tube TV.
After opening the box and plugging it in, I spent an hour reading the instruction manual, learning everything I possibly could about this amazing machine.
One thing that stood out to me was “closed captioning.” I had never heard of this before, so of course, I enabled it, then closed the menu to see what it did.
I was absolutely blown away. How was this TV able to understand the words that were spoken on the screen and type them out to read?
As I got older, I started to understand why this technology existed and how it actually worked. At the same time, I never turned off that setting on my tube TV.
My friends thought I was weird for having it on, but there was something about seeing the words along with hearing them that helped me process the information a little bit easier.
My wife and I now permanently have closed captions on our TVs. It really comes in handy as we watch Game of Thrones late at night, but even as we are binging The Office for the eightieth time, the captions only enhance the situation.
One thing I appreciate about captions are how different content providers approach them. Some caption the words verbatim, while some (especially, but not exclusively, live events) take liberties with the words they caption.
It’s interesting to see how they are able to take someone’s stream of consciousness from their head and summarize the essence of it for someone to read on one or two lines.
Anyway, I’m a huge fan of captions, and I appreciate the hard work that goes into generating them.
Curry’s popcorn devotion has grown so deep that over the past year he has proclaimed in multiple interviews that he maintained his own “power rankings” of the offerings at all 29 N.B.A. arenas. Asked by The New York Times earlier this season if he was prepared to officially compile a 1-to-29 ladder for publication, Curry not only agreed but also suggested scoring five factors on a scale of 1 to 5 to support the rankings: freshness, saltiness, crunchiness, butter and presentation.
Steph Curry is my kind of nerd.
I swear, this blog isn't just going to become a link to every single Tim Ferriss episode. The problem is that most of his recent interviews are too good not to share.
This particular interview with Shopify's Tobi Lütke is great for a few reasons, but here were my big takeaways:
- Life should be about going on a journey, surrounded by friends, doing hard things.
- It's critical to have a growth mindset. You should be able to be thrown into a job that you have no qualifications for, accept that it will be challenging, and ultimately figure out how to succeed.
- Failing at a project is very difficult if you optimize for two things: first, find the human relationship(s) in the project and aim to make them the best they can possibly be. Second, aim for proficiency in the underlying skill it takes to complete the task. If you make a solid relationship with someone and sharpen a dull skill, then the project isn't a failure in the grand scheme.
I came across this episode of The Knowledge Project the other day, and I instantly downloaded this episode with Jason Fried.
The more I read and listen to interviews with Jason and his co-founder, David Heinemeier Hansson, the more I want to model JMG after them.
Some takeaways from this episode:
- The businesses Jason admires are not big name ones that everyone has heard of (except for Stripe). He admires businesses who have been around for 5+ years, such as his local grocer.
- The expectation of himself is to do the right thing day after day. That’s an admirable goal, and one that makes more sense to me than straight up making billions of dollars.
- He said he tries to understand what “enough” is. That really is what owning a business should be about, right? If we have enough, then anything beyond that is greed, no?
- He spoke about how, at one point, Basecamp set numbers and metrics and then aimed to hit them. Ultimately, that led them to doing things that “weren’t them”, such as giving money to Facebook for ads. If your company is profitable and making you and your customers happy (again, returning to the “enough” point made above), why do we set pointless goals for ourselves? Can’t we find satisfaction in something more tangible (like how something feels) as opposed to hitting a made up number?
I would love JMG to be as “successful” of a company as Basecamp in every sense of the word. As our company grows and continues to find success, I am proud of our ability to stay true to our roots and build a business that does things the right way.
I read Good to Great a few years ago, but I admittedly never finished it. After hearing this interview though, you'd better believe I'm gonna go back and pour over it.
This interview with Jim Collins was absolutely awe-inspiring. Among the nuggets I took away from this episode:
You should strive to be a "Level 5 Leader", which means you are simultaneously headstrong and humble. You have to put your organization before any personal gain.
Jim organizes his time according to the 50/30/20 rule, which means he spends 50% of his time in a given 365 day period on creative activities, 30% of his time teaching, and 20% of his time on everything else.
On that same vein, Jim has a spreadsheet where he tracks how many hours a day he gets creative pursuits, and in any given 365 day period, he has to have over 1000 total hours. He also tracks what he did on a given day, as well as a rating from +2 to -2 for how he felt on that day. I've been trying to do something similar with tracking the big three things I need to get done each day, and I think I should expand that out a little bit to include these variables.
You should not do what you’re good at, but do what you’re coded for. This really struck a chord with me, because I think I'm pretty good at developing, but I'm pretty sure I'm coded to be a leader.
There was a lot mentioned around the flywheel principle, and I think this is something we're just starting to see happen with our own business pursuits.
There's a ton in this episode, so I'm going to stop writing in order to let you start listening.
We had just gotten back from a weekend in Wisconsin celebrating Shannon's grandpa's 83rd birthday. Charlee was quite a whiner... just like she had been all week long.
Well, the last several weeks, actually. She requires a lot of attention, and she is very bossy in the way she requires it. You have to play with the toy she wants you to play with (usually Goofy but sometimes Mickey or Pete), and you have to act the same way you acted the first time you did this game months ago, and god forbid you try to talk to anyone else (such as your wife) while you do it.
It was 5pm, and the Super Bowl was about to kick off in a half hour, and thanks to the day spent in the car, I still needed around 7,000 steps for the day to continue my 153 day streak of getting 10,000 steps.
I thought I should get a quick walk in while it was still bright out (and so I could enjoy the 70 degree swing in temperature from earlier in the week, when it went from -30 to 40 degrees).
Charlee, who I was playing with while I had that thought, wanted nothing to do with that idea. She insisted I stay and pretend I was Pete and that I needed to help Little Minnie get tucked in for bed.
Since my throat was a little sore, I grew weary of the Pete voice and said, "Charlee, you can either stay here with mom and play, or you can go on a walk with me."
Charlee sobbed and said she wanted to stay home, so I put my jacket on, loaded up a podcast, and started out the door.
I didn't even get 3 houses down the street when I get a call from my wife. Charlee changed her mind and wanted to go on a walk with me.
Annoyed, I turned around and came back home. By the time I got in, mom already helped Charlee into her boots. I helped her into her coat and hat and we set out the door.
Before we got out of the garage, I noticed she had two stuffed animals with her. One, her beloved Bumba. Two, a stuffed lion holding a heart that says "Love" that her mother won from an arcade game earlier that day.
I figured she might drop one of them, and due to the sloshy roads, I didn't want her to risk dropping Bumba, which would've required giving him a "bath." I told my daughter she could only bring one stuffed animal on the walk. She sobbed when I took her best friend out of her hands, but after a few steps down the road, she was just fine.
We started out painfully slowly. Again, I was slightly irritated that my brisk walk devolved into a turtle's pace, but these are the cards you are dealt sometimes as a parent.
We made our way out of our subdivision and towards the fire station.
Now, a few months ago, I took Charlee to an open house at the other fire station in town. She, as with most new experiences, wanted nothing to do with it. I showed her every possible thing you can see in that station, but she just wanted to go home.
In a last ditch effort, I forced her to go up into an empty fire truck. After she wiped the tears from her eyes, she looked around and was mesmerized. She immediately started pretending she was driving to a fire to help someone out. About 10 minutes later, the tears reemerged, but this time, they were caused by not wanting to leave this new experience.
As we strolled by the fire station on our walk, she asked me (as she has every day since the open house) if we could go inside. I told her not until they have an open house.
She then said, "Daddy, I want to be a fighter fighter."
"Do you mean 'fire fighter?' I asked.
"No, a fighter fighter,” she insisted.
Right then and there, my whole mood shifted. I looked down at her with the biggest smile I've ever smiled in my life. The rest of the walk, we had an amazing conversation. We talked about her new stuffed animal (who developed quite a personality). We talked about senses and which body parts help gather those senses. We held hands for the entire walk. We both laughed incredibly hard. She kept insisting that when she grows up, she's going to be a fighter (fire) fighter.
As we rounded the corner to complete the loop around our neighborhood, Charlee said "I want to do another one!"
I looked down at my watch. It was now 5:30, and the game was starting. But instead of fighting with a screaming toddler, I thought I should give in and let her keep walking. Besides, we both were stuck in a car for 6 hours, we might as well both burn off some energy.
The conversation continued to be lively and stimulating. Seriously. She might only be 2.5, but she has a lot of interesting thoughts rolling around that head of hers. Our pace began to quicken, even though we were both scared of slipping. We had held hands almost the entire 1.8 miles.
About three quarters of the way through the second loop, my watch buzzed. It was a notification from my buddies making fun of something that happened at the game.
I again thought about myself, missing out on this game. I was quickly brought back to reality when my little girl pulled on my hand and asked to do a third lap.
At that moment, my mind fast forwarded to the future. A future where my daughter was 16 and wanted nothing to do with me or the Super Bowl. A future where she was 28 and she stopped by in the morning to say hello, but ultimately went to go watch the game with her friends. A future where I was 83 and too weak to walk for a mile.
I stopped, pulled out my phone, and took a picture of my little girl. I asked her to look up at me and smile.
As you can see, this is a blurry, ill-composed photograph.
But in that future I imagined, I'm gonna look back at this picture and remember that for one brief, fleeting moment in my life, my little girl just wanted to spend another half hour walking through the sloppy, dark twilight with her daddy and her $1 vending machine lion.
Instead of another lap, we ultimately decided to go inside and take a bath.
But you can bet that in the morning, I know I'll have a walking buddy all set to hit the pavement with me.
I had to laugh out loud when Ryan said, "Oh shoot, I'm giving away my entire playbook here," to which Kurt replied, "Don't worry, nobody listens to this show."
This episode of The Schmidt List (which you aught to subscribe to, by the way) was particularly timely as we are working to hire our first full-time employee at The Jed Mahonis Group that wasn't already a good friend of ours.
Some of the key interview questions I will (shamelessly) borrow and use in our upcoming interviews include:
What gets you excited to go to work every day?
You're looking for something other than "co-workers". Something related to the job itself is ideal.
What do you think of automated testing?
As Kurt put it, this is essentially an updated "tabs vs. spaces" question. The aim is to get the developer to walk you through their reasoning for one thing or the other, and regardless of their answer, the big takeaway is whether they can justify their position.
What are you excited about in tech?
This is in lieu of the classic "what is your current side project" question, which I've never really been a fan of for the reasons they mention in the episode. Instead, this question allows you to see if they are keeping up with the industry and have thoughts on its direction.
In addition to these hiring nuggets of wisdom, the rest of the episode is a fantastic resource for anyone who is going to be moving into a role of managing developers. Two thoughts I took away:
1) Empathy, above all else, is what makes a team flow. A manager needs to be empathetic to the struggles that an employee may be going through (including changing requirements, stresses outside of work, etc.). Equally important is ensuring team members are empathetic to the struggles that their manager may be going through (including changing requirements, stresses outside of work, etc.).
2) Giving negative feedback to reports is important, and it's time to stop being Minnesota Nice about it. Not giving negative feedback is simply narcissistic and selfish.
Jason Fried is always a fascinating and insightful person to listen to, and this interview is no exception. He has a lot to say about how awful work can be (but doesn't have to). I'm definitely going to read his new book as a result of listening to this podcast.
However, what really got me thinking after hearing this podcast was the way that Jason uses his strong, personal convictions to run his software company, willfully eschewing the conventional wisdom that comes out of Silicon Valley.
I've long held the opinion that raising large amounts of money confuses me. I've always thought it was because I didn't truly understand how investing and finance works, or maybe it was because I bootstrapped all of my businesses and wasn't aware of a different way.
But after listening to the way Jason justifies the decisions he makes with his company (not having a bunch of benefits that keep people at work, paying for people to go on vacation, etc.), it made me smile and think about some of the decisions we've made at the JMG, and how the vision of the company I want to run does not need to fit the mold of the typical software company.
When running a company, it's crucial that you listen to your own gut and to skate to where you think the puck will be.
After all, isn't that what entrepreneurship is all about?