his is the accompanying column for the Steve Nash video series The Finish Line. If you want to watch the video before reading the piece, click here.
Steve Nash wears no. 10 for the Lakers, but it’s really 9.3. Next season, that turns into 9.7. Those are the numbers Lakers fans see. They see a walking cap figure.
You can’t blame them for feeling that way. The Internet changed the way we consume professional basketball. Whenever Blake Griffin unleashes a hellacious dunk, you can locate it on YouTube within eight minutes. If you’re dreaming about your favorite team stealing Kyrie Irving from the foundering Cavs, you can create fake Kyrie trades on the Trade Machine for hours. If you want to find every NBA salary from LeBron James to James Johnson, Sham Sports has them shaded in multiple colors.
Everyone talks about how difficult it is to hire great software engineers in the Valley. And it is. But nobody’s talking about how hard — really hard — it is to find good engineering managers. While good engineers might be famously tough to hire, at least they’re easy to find. Good engineering managers, on the other hand, are practically impossible to find.
This is a problem I’ve had to grapple with a lot lately, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the cause. Why is it so difficult to find these people? If there’s a lot of demand for them by so many companies, shouldn’t the supply gradually be going up — lots of talented people wanting the job? For the longest time, I just assumed I was looking in the wrong places. But recently I’ve come to a different conclusion: They don’t exist.
Why? Well, the implicit aim of most functions in a company is to get further up the hierarchy. To have more influence. To become the “boss”. To lead people. But engineers are… different. Unlike virtually every other function in a software company, engineers — particularly the good ones – don’t want to move up. This means that the people who want the engineering manager role are unlikely to be very good at it; and those who could be good at it don’t want anything to do with it at all.
Let’s dig into this. When you think about where engineering managers can come from, you divide the pool into two.
Pool one is made up of those engineers that want to become engineering managers because they want to “move up.” The irony is, these are the people that you don’t want. They fail to understand that going from engineer to engineering manager isn’t a decision to move up — it’s a decision to move down. Becoming an engineering manager means that you now work for your engineers — not the other way around. The engineers in this pool are the ones that have never been heard. That were never the leaders inside their teams. They think management is their opportunity to make decisions. Now, they can “call the shots.”
All the wrong reasons
There are a lot of managers like this out there. How did they become managers in the first place? Well, particularly in big organizations, they did so by being organized, by keeping track of what everyone was working on, by focusing on deadlines. I interview a lot of these individuals. They tend to be weaker technically, and have a condescending way of referring to the engineers they “manage.” They wear the number of engineers in their organizations with pride: “At one point, almost 100 engineers reported up to me!”
In pool two, you have the rest of the engineers. If you’re lucky, you have good ones. Within this group hides a breed of engineers that has the potential to be great engineering managers. They tend to be very technically competent. They exert their leadership almost unconsciously through code, through conversations, and by helping others in the team and across the organization. They have a sense of ownership that is broader than their daily tasks. They cannot stand others not caring in the same way. They get pissed when they see people not trying hard — or going through the motions without understanding why they’re doing what they’re doing.
More than managers, they’re leaders.
Even though they don’t have much formal authority, engineers like this have a lot of influence. That dynamic means they have very little motivation to want to move up in an organization. Taking on the role of a manager means giving up time doing what they love — solving challenging technical problems — in exchange for what they see as taking out the trash every night. Meetings, performance reviews, managing other people’s deadlines.
So why would they want to do this? Or better yet, how do you help them realize that management can be fulfilling, and not just busywork? Good question. And I’d love your thoughts.
They Limit Their Caffeine Intake
Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyperaroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. The stress that caffeine creates is far from intermittent, as its long half-life ensures that it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body.
I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Stressful projects often make you feel as if you have no time to sleep, but taking the time to get a decent night’s sleep is often the one thing keeping you from getting things under control.
Check out the final list of books in alphabetical order below.
“1984″ by George Orwell
“A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking
“A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers
“A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah
“A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition” by Lemony Snicket
“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
“Alice Munro: Selected Stories” by Alice Munro
“Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
“All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
“Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir” by Frank McCourt
“Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret” by Judy Blume
“Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison
“Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall
“Breath, Eyes, Memory” by Edwidge Danticat
“Catch-22″ by Joseph Heller
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
“Cutting For Stone” by Abraham Verghese
“Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brene Brown
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1″ by Jeff Kinney
“Dune” by Frank Herbert
“Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream” by Hunter S. Thompson
“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
“Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
“Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared M. Diamond
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
“In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote
“Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri
“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
“Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth” by Chris Ware
“Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain
“Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson
“Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder
“Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
“Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris
“Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides
“Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie
“Moneyball” by Michael Lewis
“Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham
“On the Road” by Jack Kerouac
“Out of Africa” by Isak Dinesen
“Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi
“Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson
“Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
“Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
“The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton
“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
“The Color of Water” by James McBride
“The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen
“The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America” by Erik Larson
“The Diary of Anne Frank” by Anne Frank
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry
“The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
“The House At Pooh Corner” by A. A. Milne
“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
“The Liars’ Club: A Memoir” by Mary Karr
“The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)” by Rick Riordan
“The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler
“The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11″ by Lawrence Wright
“The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien
“The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales” by Oliver Sacks
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” by Michael Pollan
“The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster
“The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel” by Barbara Kingsolver
“The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York” by Robert A. Caro
“The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe
“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
“The Shining” by Stephen King
“The Stranger” by Albert Camus
“The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
“The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame
“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel” by Haruki Murakami
“The World According to Garp” by John Irving
“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion
“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
“Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand
“Valley of the Dolls” by Jacqueline Susann
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
Dear Working Mum
I know you sometimes get judged by others for leaving your children in the care of others to work. Some people imply that you don’t love your children as much as us SAHMs do, and that it’s best for children to be at home with their mothers.
How can they say this about you? I know you love your children just as much as any other mother. I know that going back to work was no easy decision. You weighed up the pros and cons, long before you conceived a baby. It has always been one of the most important decisions of your life. You thought about this even while you were in high school and were choosing subjects for Grade 11.
I see you everywhere. You are the doctor I take my children to when they are sick. You’re my child’s allergist, the one who diagnosed her peanut allergy. You’re the physiotherapist who treated my husband’s back. You’re the accountant who does our tax returns. My son’s primary school teacher. The director of our childcare centre. My daughter’s gymnastics teacher. The real estate agent who sold our house. What sort of world would it be if you hadn’t been there for us? If you had succumbed to the pressures of those who insisted a mother’s place had to be in the home?
I know you weigh up every job to see if it will suit your family. I know you wake up an hour before everyone else does, just so you can get some exercise done or some quiet time. I know that you have attended meetings after being up all night with your toddler. I know that when you come home in the evening, your “second shift” begins. The nay-sayers don’t understand that you run a household AND hold a job. You come home, cook dinner, bath your children and read them stories. You tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. You pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, the laundry, the dishes, just like every other mother does.
I know that you often feel guilty about having any more time away from your children so you sacrifice your leisure time. I know you can’t bring yourself to take a “day off” for yourself when your children are at daycare. I know you accept that work is your “time off” for now. I know that when you are at work you don’t waste a single minute. I know you eat your lunch at your desk, you don’t go out for coffee, and you show complete dedication and concentration to your job. You chose to be there after all. You want to be there.
I know how discerning you are about who is looking after your children, and that many long daycare centres offer excellent care. I know you only leave your children in a place where you confident they are loved and well looked after. I know that you spend many days caring for your children at home when they are sick, and sacrifice your pay. I know that you secretly enjoy these days, and revel in being able to be with your children.
I know that sometimes you feel guilty about not being there all the time. But WM, I know this. You are setting a wonderful example to your children. You are showing them that a woman can have a career, contribute in some way outside the home, and still be a loving mother. You are showing your daughters that they can do anything they want to do in life. You are displaying strength, endurance, dedication, tenacity, and you do it with so much joy and love.
I just wanted you to know I understand. Because we’re both mothers.
Love from the trenches
I am happy to note, first, that the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino has found its place in the national narrative of heroism. The survey includes some surprising findings. In class ABC, for instance, the same proportion of respondents, 23 percent, included Bonifacio and Aquino in their lists. And in Mindanao, Cory Aquino outpolled Ninoy, 19 to 15 percent.Second, the preeminence of Rizal is overwhelming and, to those of us who went to college under the steady influence of Renato Constantino’s selective and misleading reading of Rizal, somewhat surprising. But there is truly something we can all learn from Rizal and the so-called Generation of ’72: the youthful cohort who were traumatized and politicized by the gratuitous execution of the priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora. The true beginnings of the Filipino nation can be traced here.In eight years, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the imposition of martial law. Your constituents will fully expect you to mark this national tragedy with the appropriate initiatives, perhaps even lead the nation in vowing, “Never Again.” But the same year will also mark the 150th anniversary of the Gomburza execution. You might want to take part in the commemorative rites too.But enough of the past.You must go forward, and take full part in the defining struggle of our time: the fight against inequality.Corruption is the familiar dragon that we seek to slay, but there is a bigger monster lurking in the background. We often define this behemoth in economic terms, in terms of the widening gap between the richest and the poorest. But in truth, inequality rears its ugly head in education, in business, in culture, in religion, in politics.Difficult times lie ahead. In part, the difficulty lies in the terrain that you’ve chosen to put your stake in, towards the political center. That is, I suspect, where most Filipinos would place themselves, if asked. But standing out, cutting a profile, is easier when you’re standing on one edge, leveraging the extreme. But governing—governing is hard work indeed.
Driving in traffic is harrowing for both brain and body. The blood of people who drive in cities is a stew of stress hormones. The worse the traffic, the more your system is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, the fight-or-flight juices that, in the short-term, get your heart pumping faster, dilate your air passages and help sharpen your alertness, but in the long-term can make you ill. Researchers for Hewlett-Packard convinced volunteers in England to wear electrode caps during their commutes and found that whether they were driving or taking the train, peak-hour travellers suffered worse stress than fighter pilots or riot police facing mobs of angry protesters.
And guess what? That’s OK. The multi-faith crowd don’t want you to know this, but we were never meant to “respect” each others’ religions. We’re simply meant to tolerate them. Two starkly different approaches.
English philosopher John Locke’s 1689 Letter Concerning Toleration was about those who “persecute, torment, destroy, and kill other men upon pretence of religion.”
It was about not assaulting people for their beliefs. (The West has finally figured this out. The Rest? Not so much).
The group hug of mutual respect never entered the equation. Nor should it. It confuses the public square with the private sphere.
There’s something deeply immature about the whole multi-faith scene. It’s like that needy kid in junior high who just can’t fathom why he’s not absolutely loved by everyone.
To paraphrase Walt Whitman, does humanity conflict with itself? Very well. It’s large. It contains multitudes.
8. Those Who Stay Within Their Comfort Zones
If we wish to live a life of adventure, then those who aren’t adventurous need be avoided. All those you meet and come across in your life are partners on your journey, if only for a few seconds. Those we keep around more regularly end up steering our direction more than we realize. If you hope to leave your comfort zone regularly, then don’t hang out with those who aren’t willing to leave theirs. Their chain simply isn’t long enough to go for the ride.
9. The Non-Dreamers
Those who can’t dream don’t live. Life is about believing that things can be better — not just for you, but for everyone. What makes people human is dreaming and hoping that the change to come will be for the better. Those that don’t dream won’t allow you to dream, either, and will do their best to prove to you that your dreams are just that: dreams.
10. The Non-Believers
Worse than those who don’t dream are those who dream, but don’t believe that they can turn those dreams into reality. Those who don’t believe in themselves don’t amount to anything in life. They are the losers — those that are always there, but don’t influence the world. They live in a gloomy and depressing world where their lives are out of their hands. They go with the flow and never attempt to achieve any sort of success. Don’t rely on them to support you when you need the support, either. If they don’t believe in themselves, then they sure as hell won’t believe in you.
14. Being Misunderstood
Communication is key in any properly functioning system. When it comes to people, things get a bit more complicated. Simply stating information is never enough; if the receiving party misunderstands you, your message is not being properly relayed. The mentally strong do their best to be understood and have the patience to clear up misunderstandings.
15. Feeling Like You’re Owed
You aren’t owed anything in life. You were born; the rest is up to you. Life doesn’t owe you anything. Others don’t owe you anything. If you want something in life, you only owe it to yourself to go out and get it. In life, there are no handouts.