How To Lead Engineers Without Knowing Code

No, this article is not written from personal experience, however I found it to be very insightful. I’m definitely going to incorporate this advice in my work. Read Aaron Schildkrout’s article here on Medium.

Software is built through logic and is therefore eminently comprehensible. In almost all cases it works basically how you think it should and will work. To be an effective leader of engineers you must come to understand the peculiarities of the system: names, core principles, and workflows. I call this, “knowing the stack.”

Without knowing the stack, you will be basically useless. Worse—much worse—you will be an annoying drag.

But a fluent agility with this baseline framework (even if you can’t write a single line of code) will allow you — as a non-technical leader of engineers or simply as someone who works closely with engineers — to be relatively unimpeded in your efforts to bring deep value to the product development process through product vision, ideation, facilitation, planning, process management, recruitment and so on.

‘Learning to code’ is a noble pursuit that I support wholeheartedly, but I don’t think it’s necessarily more important for company- and product-leaders than learning to think and talk fluently about the code with people who can REALLY code.

To “learn the stack” I suggest three things:

1. Learn the Words — This means becoming fluent in the basic language and conceptual frameworks your engineers will be using in every technical conversation. You don’t have to understand the specifics of how complex algorithms are coded; but you do need to understand broadly how the software functions. (This way you won’t have to shame yourself by googling LAMP STACK and confusedly sorting through eBay results for vintage industrial floor lighting as I may once have done.)

2. Learn your way around GitHub

3. Learn basic SQL

For the non-technical founder (and adjacently for anyone else non-technical who works closely with engineers) it’s essential that you become fluent in the language and tools of the technical world. Learn voraciously. People love sharing what they know; so, just ask the right people the right questions, listen like an unabashed beginner, and don’t make the same mistake twice.

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The Joys of SoundCloud

Love this little cloud.

Love this little cloud.

Being a music and dance enthusiast, I have an insatiable appetite for new music. Dance music to be specific. How else to feed to hunger than via the glorious streaming music site and mobile app that is known as SoundCloud? Considering it ranks 157 on Alexa’s Global Web Traffic chart, I’m sure most of you know about it. However, despite the popularity, there are still some left in the dark. Regardless of your level of awareness, I would like to emphasize the reasons as to why I love SoundCloud:

1. Continuous and constant updates

A majority of electronic music artists are on SoundCloud. It’s the portal to the public in which they can release new music, remixes, and EPs without the restraints of a label. When you follow all your favorite artists, your newsfeed becomes a hotbed of music discovery. Because not only do they publish their own new music, they repost other great artists’ new music.

2. Embeddable posts

Oh, look! There’s a new 30 minute mix from Jack Beats. Let me copy and paste that embed code and post it on my blog. BOOM! The music blog community thrives off this simple copy and paste feature. And the electronic music world would not be as big as it is now, where it not for the bloggers. Sharing is caring.

3. The comments

Unlike Facebook, when you leave a comment on SoundCloud, the entire world isn’t notified. It’s actually pretty anonymous, almost like a tree falling in the woods and no one being around… except for the artist whose track you’re commenting on and those that follow said artist. And the comments here aren’t usually all snarky and rude like the YouTube comments. They’re short, sweet, and to the point. “WOW!” “Amazinggggg” and “OMG eargasm” and “Love this”. Sometimes there are the “I’ve heard better” and the “This is absolute shit”, but you can’t win everyone.