Tagged: manager Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:03 pm on May 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alternative education, , cabinetmaker, , Dan Tepper, , Internships, Jack Donaghy, , Lothar Krause, manager, Mentorship,   

    Mentorship 

    The opportunities to be a mentor or, as Jack Donaghy would say, a mentee, are few and far between in the world of web development. On one hand, few potential mentors want to sacrifice the precious, precious time on junior developers who will likely be gone in less than a year. And then there are the developers who scowl at any attempt to share knowledge believing that to be a mark of showing off.

    Besides spending your own time and being a showoff, there’s another mentorship prevention layer: the direct management of junior developers and tight deadlines. A developer once asked me to show him how to do something, but as I was explaining, I could see my other co-worker in a neighboring pod getting more an more frustrated. After 5 minutes, as I was getting into a little more detail, he piped up – well, let’s not confuse […] there — just tell him what he needs right now, Michael.

    Some mentorship styles are harsher than others. Here’s an excerpt from most excellent “Coders at Work” about the schooling that young JWZ received from some dude named Skef:

    “Like the guy who was sort of our manager—the one keeping an eye on us—Skef Wholey, was this giant blond-haired, barbarian- looking guy. Very intimidating-looking. And he didn’t talk much. I remember a lot of times I’d be sitting there—it was kind of an open- plan cubicle kind of thing—working, doing something, writing some Lisp program. And he’d come shuffling in with his ceramic mug of beer, bare feet, and he’d just stand behind me. I’d say hi. And he’d grunt or say nothing. He’d just stand there watching me type. At some point I’d do something and he’d go, “Ptthh, wrong!” and he’d walk away. So that was kind of getting thrown in the deep end. It was like the Zen approach—the master hit me with a stick, now I must meditate.”

    Or here’s a passage about the concept of “nusumi-geiko” that is still alive in Japanese culture:

    “The cabinetmaker’s training usually began in his early teens. In the ensuing ten years of apprenticeship, he endured a great deal of sweeping and menial tasks, but was also exposed to the work of the master craftsmen around him. The term nusumi-geiko refers to what actually took place in cabinetmaker’s training and many other trades. It means “stolen lessons,” alluding to the fact that the apprentices were not instructed so much as they learned the requisite skills by sheer determination through observation.”

    I am very thankful to the people who took their time to show me the ropes: Lothar Krause, Bill Cunningham, Dan Tepper. They spent a lot of their time explaining things to me.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 8:28 pm on July 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a 28-year-old manager, , Crystal Thompson, , , , health insurance, How Starbucks Saved My Life, , manager, Memoirs, Michael Gates Gill, , Privilege Learns, , Starbucks bar   

    How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else 

    In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a big house in the suburbs, a loving family, and a top job at an ad agency with a six-figure salary. By the time he turned sixty, he had lost everything except his Ivy League education and his sense of entitlement. First, he was downsized at work. Next, an affair ended his twenty-year marriage. Then, he was diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumor, prognosis undetermined. Around the same time, his girlfriend gave birth to a son. Gill had no money, no health insurance, and no prospects.

    One day as Gill sat in a Manhattan Starbucks with his last affordable luxury—a latté—brooding about his misfortune and quickly dwindling list of options, a 28-year-old Starbucks manager named Crystal Thompson approached him, half joking, to offer him a job. With nothing to lose, he took it, and went from drinking coffee in a Brooks Brothers suit to serving it in a green uniform. For the first time in his life, Gill was a minority–the only older white guy working with a team of young African-Americans. He was forced to acknowledge his ingrained prejudices and admit to himself that, far from being beneath him, his new job was hard. And his younger coworkers, despite having half the education and twice the personal difficulties he’d ever faced, were running circles around him.

    The other baristas treated Gill with respect and kindness despite his differences, and he began to feel a new emotion: gratitude. Crossing over the Starbucks bar was the beginning of a dramatic transformation that cracked his world wide open. When all of his defenses and the armor of entitlement had been stripped away, a humbler, happier and gentler man remained. One that everyone, especially Michael’s kids, liked a lot better.

    The backdrop to Gill’s story is a nearly universal cultural phenomenon: the Starbucks experience. In How Starbucks Saved My Life, we step behind the counter of one of the world’s best-known companies and discover how it all really works, who the baristas are and what they love (and hate) about their jobs. Inside Starbucks, as Crystal and Mike’s friendship grows, we see what wonders can happen when we reach out across race, class, and age divisions to help a fellow human being.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 2:23 am on March 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , car builders, , Cook, , , , , , food runners, Julia Child, Linus Torvalds, manager, , , , ,   

    Developer Life, Yo 

    These days there are a lot of documentary shows on TV about various professions. I am somewhat addicted to them – I watched whole seasons of shows about hairdressers, crab fishermen, lobster fishermen, tattoo artists in Florida, tattoo artists in Nevada (but not the one about tattoo artists in LA), restaurateurs ice road truck drivers, custom motorcycle builders, custom car builderscorrectional officers and inmates, and the Philadelphia meter maids.

    My own profession is mostly untelevisable. Mostly. Well, maybe some TV network might make a show out of Aardvark’d: 12 Weeks With Geeks. I also think that there could be a tiny market for a heavily edited “looking over the shoulder” video on the code writing habits of colorful  alpha geeks like Linus Torvalds, Donald Knuth, Brad Fitzpatrick, Dries Buytaert, and maybe even  JWZ. I’d buy that for a dollar.

    I found that there are two occupations that are unexpectedly similar to that of a software developer: prison inmate and line cook. Both of these are heavily male dominated, involve a disproportionate amount of minorities and are very stressful.

    I recognized offices in which I worked all my life in prison layouts.  The common criminals usually live in a common area in the center of the prison. This is exactly like a common area of an office, except with bunk beds instead of desks. Some actually have semi-private cubicles. Inmates organize into gangs, just like departments. Gang leaders are usually placed into single or double cells that line the perimeter of the common area to cut down on the communication between them and their reports.  Even there you have to be a manager to score an office.

    Restaurants are a lot like developer shops. You have your front of the house: waiters (sales people),  hosts and managers, food runners (analysts). And then you have your back of the house: chefs (architects and lead developers), line cooks (developers) and  prep cooks (producers). There’s no good equivalent for dishwashers in a typical developer shop.

    People often assume that a chef primarily cooks and a lead developer primarily codes. Do you know the title of Julia Child’s awesome show? Well, she was neither French nor a chef. Chefs do surprisingly little cooking, they are more like conductors in  orchestras. They create menus,  divvy up the tasks, check quality, train and supervise cooks.  Best chefs, just like the best lead developers do find time to cook, but still spend more time organizing, tasting and researching.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel