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I earned my rope!

Dear Reader,

A picture of a short length of nylon rope

That is MY rope. I EARNED my rope.  As part of my PADI Dive Master Certification (yes, the same training that almost kicked my butt) I had to learn to tie several knots and to successfully tie them underwater. My instructor handed each of us a piece of rope as he cut it off of a much longer piece. When asked, he replied that he gives every student a piece of HIS rope so they can learn.

In tech, we don’t celebrate individual’s wins as much as we should. When I was running a team, at every quarterly team lunch, I would hand out custom made badges that were modeled after the old Texas Ranger badges. Texas Rangers motto is (or used to be) “One problem, one Ranger”, so when one of my developers tackled a problem and completed it, they earned their badge. This wasn’t a participation award, you had to earn it.

Managers, take time to celebrate an individual’s wins. Even if they give it the “Aw shucks, it was a team effort” they need to see that you recognized their efforts and appreciate it.

Let your developers earn THEIR rope.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Creating a Brown Bag Lunch Program

Dear Reader,

brown_bag_coverLast month – Feburary 2016 – I launched my new book “Creating a Brown Bag Lunch Program”. In a little over a month, it has gained close to 400 readers.

The What and Why

The premise of the book is simple, I walk managers of developers teams through all the steps necessary to create an environment of continuous learning for their teams.

Creating a Brown Bag Lunch program is not difficult, but managers are busy. This book lays out everything you need to know in a simple step-by-step process. From how to select topics to the details like room and food, I lay it all out for you in this book.

For $10, and about 30 minutes of your time, you can learn everything you need to know to start a program that is going to help build your team, grow your team, and bring your team together.

Get the book for free

Here’s the kicker, I don’t really want your $10. I’ll trade you my book for your email address. You can either use the link above and buy it from Amazon, or you can click the button below and get it for free, the choice is up to you. It is the EXACT SAME BOOK in both cases.

Whether you pay with cash or pay with your email address, get this book today and start your team down the road of continuous learning.

Until Next time,
I <3 |<

Can you afford this meeting?

Dear Reader,

In 1995 I joined the Christian Broadcasting Network as a developer. During orientation they handed us a small form about the size of a postcard. The instructions went something like this.

  1. Write your salary on the line provided.
  2. Divide by 2080 and write this number on the line provided. 2080 is the number of work hours in a work year. This will give you your effective hourly rate.
  3. Divide your hourly rate by $5. $5 is the average monthly donation by a partner to CBN.
  4. The resulting number is the number of partners that have donated to allow you to work each hour. Remember this number each time you call a meeting. Multiply this number by the number of meetings attendees and you can get an idea of what the meeting is costing our partners. Make sure it is worth it.

This lesson has never left me. To this day, if I am in a meeting and a “discussion” begins – discussion being a euphemism for argument – I sit back and start calculating what this discussion is costing the company per minute. When you realize that your bikeshedding the color of a button on the website is costing the company $20/minute, you start to put things in perspective.

Not all meetings are necessary. For the ones that are, keep it focused, keep it short and sweet.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

I have released my latest book, “Culture of Respect”

Book Cover: Culture of RespectDear Reader,

I have released my latest book, Culture of Respect. This book is for Team Leads, Managers, Directors of IT, and anyone charged with building and managing a team of developers. It is specifically not for developers. If you are a developer and not looking to move into management any time soon, please don’t buy this book.

The largest part of the book focuses on how to find developers to hire. It also covers how to hire developers. (hint, it doesn’t really require a coding test) Finally it talks about building a team.

This book is built from 3 sources.

  • My personal experience managing developers
  • Discussions I’ve had over the years with other managers
  • Discussions I’ve had with developers about their managers

In my career I’ve been a developer, a managers, and a director. This book was written primarily for my younger self. It is the advice I wish I had had when I was starting down the management road.

If you are a manager, I urge you to take a look at it.  If you are a developer, it is not an insulting book, it is safe to give as a gift to your favorite manager.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Step 0 when hiring PHP developers online. Get this right!

Scrabble - Hiring by: Flazingo PhotosDear Reader,

When building an online strategy for finding developers to hire, start with your web site. It is amazing that so many companies miss this totally or mess this step up. Make sure you have a top level menu item that is easy to identify as “this is where we post jobs”. Call it “Jobs”, “Careers”, “Work with us” whatever, just make sure it’s in the top level of your menu and not something that people have to dig down into your site to get to.

Get your jobs page right

The page that this link points to – your overall “Jobs” page that contains the listings – is a very important page on your site. You use this space to sell potential candidates on your company. List the benefits, list the perks, explain why they want to work with you instead of moving on to the next company on their list. Treat this page like any other important landing page on your site. The point is to convert visitors into “resume submitters”. If it’s not converting for you, start digging to find out why.

An important thing to remember on this page is to keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm visitors with facts, figures, and details. Be concise and put your best foot forward. Give the casual browser the info they need to decide to dig deeper. Give the truly interested links to dig down and get more info. The job listings may be the focus of the page but the other information you present on this page will help developers make the decision whether to dig into the jobs or not.

Good examples

A good example of how to do a jobs page right is Twilio gives you all the information you need to make the decision to work with them or not. They spend a lot of time selling you on the company, then they give you links to the jobs. It is very well done.

An even better example is Engineyard is brief and to the point. They give you the basics but don’t spend a lot of time selling you on the company. Then they give you the links to the jobs. I know that this is contrary to the advice that I gave a scant few paragraphs ago. However in this case, it’s fine. See both twilio and Enginyard get Step 0 right.

Step 0

A common thread between these two companies is that they have both invested heavily in their developer culture. They have built a culture of respect that is well known in developer communities. When considering whether to apply for a job at one of these two companies, the question is rarely “Do I want to work there?”. Because they have invested in a culture of respect, because they have a good reputation in the community, the questions is invariably “Do they have a job for me?”.

So step 0 in the process of finding developers to work on your team is to build a culture of respect. If you get this right, attracting developers – attracting the best developers – will be easy. Get this wrong though, nothing else will matter. Remember, developer talk to each other within their community. They will know if you are not a good place to work.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

Photo credit: Scrabble – Hiring by
Used under CC