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Lead Time Chats

Author: Range

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Listen in on unscripted conversations between engineering leaders and other influential folks in tech.
19 Episodes
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In Season 2, Episode 8 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Beau Lebens, Head of Engineering of WooCommerce at Automattic, about meetups for distributed teams. Beau has been at Automattic for over 12 years, a company which has been fully distributed and pre-pandemic, had regular in-person team meetups for team bonding and alignment.Beau and Jean discuss:The purpose and structure of a standard Automattic in-person team meetupDifferent ways Automattic teams have connected socially this past year, including a zoom cocktail class, escape roomsBBC Dad and now normalized it is now to see a more personal glimpse into people’s family livesHow distributed teams can find a mix of NIRL (not in real life) events and physical meetups to build culture and belonging
In Season 2, Episode 7 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Lynne Tye, about how the engineering hiring landscape has changed over the past year and predictions for the months to come.Lynne is the founder of Key Values, a company that helps engineers find new roles on teams that are aligned with their own values.Lynne and Jean discuss: The different phases of engineering hiring over the past year, from sheer survival to the Great ResignationHow the pandemic has helped people clarify what’s truly important to them, both in work and their personal livesThe current confusion around remote work - where are teams actually hiring, and will what hiring managers are saying now still be true in a few months?Just how hot the hiring market is right now for engineers!
In Season 2, Episode 6 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Chris Bee, CTO at Lessen, about the common behaviors of effective engineering leaders.Chris and Jean discuss:The difficulty in delegating and letting go of control - and why it's so importantDialing in your judgement in making decisions that keep the business needs front and centerCommon mistakes, such as over-doing it with structure and processes when you become a managerCoaching and career development conversations as ways to amplify your impact
In Season 2, Episode 5 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Rachael Stedman, engineering manager at Asana, about IC manager work, or work that engineering managers do outside of directly supporting their team.Rachael and Jean chat about:When to focus on supporting your team as a manager, versus investing in longer-term, more strategic initiativesFinding initiatives that you’re personally excited about and that give you energyBenefits of organizing a task force around initiatives versus doing it aloneThe importance of sharing updates on initiatives, same as you would for other projects.Taking on projects to create a role for yourself that is energizing and enjoyable
In Season 2, Episode 4 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, talks to Sumeet Arora, Chief Development Officer at ThoughtSpot, about the challenges of moving on after a long stint at a large tech company.Sumeet joined Cisco almost straight out of school and spent over two decades there, growing his career and the company. More recently, he made the decision and leap to leave for a different professional adventure.Sumeet and Jean discuss:The fear and difficulty of leaving the comfortable bubble of a large tech companyThe importance of learning and adapting, and finding comfort and growth in being slightly uncomfortableHow his relationships with former coworkers has evolved after his departure from CiscoAnchoring on the knowledge that as a leader, your skills are transferable across domainsSurrounding yourself with people who have growth mindsetsHow to leverage your experience, and look at your new role and company with fresh eyes - and not just copy everything that was in place at the larger company
In Season 2, Episode 3 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, talks to Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor and Just Work, about privilege and the importance of building for systemic justice.Kim and Jean discuss:The three revelations that led Kim down the path of working on Just WorkThe importance of intentionally building for systemic justiceRecognition of the role of privilege in how Radical Candor is practiced and received.Using “You” statements such as “You can’t talk to me like that” in response to bullying (and also how to respond to prejudice and bias)Using Hollaback’s 5 D’s of Bystander Intervention: Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and DirectAdditional Resources:Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & FairJust Work
In Season 2, Episode 2 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, talks to Tess Rinearson, VP of Engineering at Interchain, about advice for early career engineering managers. Tess became an engineering manager at 24 and noted that she's been solicited for advice for even younger engineering managers - some as young as 21.Tess and Jean discuss:The recent trend of earlier career engineers moving into management (sometimes as young as 21 or 22 years old)Working with mentors and coaches as ways to surround yourself with context, experience, and wisdomHow to manage and support engineers far more senior than yourselfThe manager-engineer pendulum, and the challenge of leveling up both skill sets simultaneously
In Season 2, Episode 1 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, talks to Camille Fournier, Managing Director of Two Sigma and author of The Manager’s Path, about boring stuff — specifically building boring tech and making boring plans. Camille and Jean discuss: Limited innovation tokens and how to decide where to spend them (hint: it’s not on cool tech)! What boring plans actually look like, especially when you do need to upgrade to more interesting tech so your team doesn’t fall behind. Rolling out company-wide platform updates as rigorously as you would plan for an external launch How to manage up and build credibility that you’re delivery value when undertaking long-running technical projectsAdditional Resources: The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change  Make Boring Plans by Camille FournierChoose Boring Technology by Dan McKinley
Wrapping up Series 1 of Lead Time Chats,  Jean Hsu, VPE at Range, chats with Marc Hedlund about the topic of sponsorship, and how to do it in a way that actually makes a difference.Marc has been an engineering leader at companies such as Mailchimp, Skyliner, and Stripe. He also is a Director for Code2040, a non-profit that works to bring under-represented minorities into engineering and entrepreneurial roles in tech.Jean and Marc discuss: Ways to actually learn from and support under-indexed folks in tech that isn’t just performative.Not falling in the trap of basking in the attention of getting credit for diversity-related work, as a white man.As a member of a majority group, how and why to give away opportunities that come your way.Measuring your success by your outcomes, whether the actions are small (making an intro, writing a testimonial) or large (revamping a hiring process).
In Episode 11 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Harper Reed about how meetings can give everyone a voice in team meetings. Harper is currently CEO of Galactic. Formerly he was CEO of Modest, which was acquired by Paypal, and CTO of Obama for America.Host note: Harper and I originally met at FooCamp in 2013, when he attended a FooCamp unconference session I led called How to Run Efficient Meetings. When we re-connected a few months ago, I discovered that after that one hour session 8 years ago, he revamped meetings at his company, and at every company he’s worked at since. We re-united to record a Lead Time Chat nerding out on meetings and to encourage more teams to implement these high-density, high-efficiency team meetings.Jean and Harper discuss:How a 3 hour rambling meeting turned into a 30 minute high density meeting, with a bit of structure and facilitationThe impact that highly efficient meetings have had on Harper's teams over the last 8 yearsHow to create a meeting culture that's not dominated by the loudest people in the roomTips on how to get started with this type of structured check-in meetingFor more on the evolution of check-in meetings, check out this post:Nine years of meeting efficiency: Lessons learned from Range's VP of EngineeringYou can also find some highlights in this blog post:Harper Reed on giving everyone a voice in team meetings 
In Episode 10 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Akhil Gupta — formerly VP of Engineering and GM at Dropbox — about how to navigate uncertainty when transitioning to higher impact roles. How do you know when you’re ready for that next role? How do you fill in gaps, and when do you take the leap?Akhil started his career at Google, and was a Principal Engineer by the time he left for Dropbox. At Dropbox, he grew the infra org from just 10 engineers, and stepped into the Head of Infrastructure role, then VP of Engineering, and then GM and VP of Enterprise.Jean and Akhil discuss:Akhil’s transition to management at Google — going from 0 to 40 direct reports!How to surround yourself with people who are rooting for your success, as you transition to greater impact rolesThe biggest challenges of transitioning from a functional leader to a cross-functional leader (i.e. VP of Engineering to GM of Enterprise at Dropbox)What relationship-building looks like when your org has thousands of people, and 1:1s won't scale!
In Episode 9 of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Katie Wilde, VP of Engineering at Buffer and co-author of "The Holloway Guide to Remote Work," about supporting your team's mental health — and your own — in what feels like this final pandemic stretch.Jean and Katie discuss: The difficulty of sitting with a sense of hope, and how this last stretch can actually seem more intolerable than the last year in a pandemicDebugging when you’re feeling out of whack at work with the BICEPS frameworkZoom fatigue and why Kate suggests you might consider lying down on a couch for your next 1:1!Work-appropriate ways to start conversations about mental health, including stoplight (red/yellow/green) check-insHow managers can ensure they have emotional support through external or internal peer or professional support.Unconventional ways to find social connection in a pandemic — i.e. internet friends!
Uma Chingunde (VP of Engineering at Render) and Jean Hsu (VP of Engineering at Range) chat candidly about onboarding into their first-time VP of Engineering roles — during the pandemic, with kids distance learning at home!Jean and Uma discuss: Directly reporting to the CEO as a VP of Engineering and how the role compares to other engineering leadership roles.Figuring out what we needed to know to ramp up and what to let go ofThe wide range of activities a VP of Engineering role can encompass, and doing many things we've never done before.The challenges of figuring out childcare logistics as we step into exec roles
In this episode, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with  Kaya Thomas, senior software engineer at Calm, about common challenges that early career engineers face.Jean and Kaya chat about:Overcoming some of the stigmas of being an early career engineerHow to negotiate your first full-time job offer, especially if you have more experience than averageWays that engineering managers can support early-and-mid stage engineers on their teamKnowing when to leave your first engineering job!
In this episode, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Lara Hogan, author of Resilient Management, about how engineering managers can lead effectively a year into a global pandemic, even when they may be struggling.Jean and Lara chat about:Leaning into one-way asynchronous communication as much as possible — especially for announcements and status updates that don’t require a back-and-forthUsing Red-Yellow-Green check-ins in 1:1s and other situations to make it as lightweight as humanly possible to check in on your coworkersMaking sure your oxygen mask is on first so that you can help othersDefragging your calendar!You can access Lara's Defrag Your Calendar worksheet here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qOXEOOYvxiA4LDgmEqK0hCYuJ44nf0Z8UM-j48kK4gw/editYou can also try out Range for asynchronous check-ins that include red-yellow-green mood indicators. https://www.range.co​
In this episode, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Gergely Orosz — formerly at Uber, Skyscanner, and Skype — about the decision to go into management.Jean and Gergely chat about:Why Gergely thought management was LAME - and resisted becoming a managerThe huge contrast between becoming an “accidental manager” at a startup and becoming a manager at UberDefining his leadership by having a list he had created of all the managers he wanted to avoid beingHow to support new managers and set them up for successHow a checklist of management activities can create a tighter feedback loop for new managersThe unexpected loneliness of being a managerYou can find the manager checklist Gergely used for new managers here: https://blog.pragmaticengineer.com/checklist-for-first-time-managers
Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Juan Pablo Buriticá, most recently Head of LatAm Engineering at Stripe, about the common pitfalls engineering managers make at high-growth startups.Jean and Juan Pablo discuss:The difference between being a manager at a high-growth startup vs. a larger, more established companyThe importance of understanding business needs in communicating about technical workWhy you shouldn't just copy processes from other companies wholesale (like Spotify's matrix management)What it means to take a product approach to team processes
Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Cate Huston, Engineering Director at DuckDuckGo and raccoon enthusiast 🦝 about working with an external coach. Jean and Cate discuss:The role of a external coach compared to a managerThe benefits of working with an external coach, especially over multiple jobsWhat a good fit feels like when looking for a coachHow important an engineering background is (or isn't) when finding a coachWhen external coaching can actually harm a situation
Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, talks to Duretti Hirpa, a principal engineer at Zipper, about mentoring and coaching junior and mid-level engineers. Jean and Duretti discuss:What junior and mid-level engineers most need.Why women and people of color can't always take the advice they're givenWhat it means to be over-mentored and under-sponsoredThe difference in level-setting when you're coming into a new company vs. going up for promotionHow internal promotions can be highly politicalWhat engineering managers can do to best support people earlier in their career
Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, talks to Will Larson, CTO at Calm, about getting into management early in his career and how it impacted his professional evolution and his books An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management and Staff Engineer: Leadership Beyond the Management Track.Jean and Will discuss: Negotiating their first tech jobs (or not negotiating their first tech jobs)The false expectation that the staff engineering route will be more predictable than the management routeHow getting external support is keyIncreasing difficulty of switching between the paths as you become more seniorHow to approach non-work work (books, talks, blog posts, etc).
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