What we learned in 2020, and the innovations ahead for 2021

I want to try an experiment with you. Think about one thing that you are most proud of accomplishing this year. Then share that one thing as a comment to a post I started on LinkedIn (click the link or the button below).

If we do not cherish the good things, we can easily fall into depression. The global pandemic hurt many of us whether through job losses, decreased business, more work, delayed plans, or even the passing of loved ones. …

What 25 years since the dot com rise shows us about the future

Earlier this year marked the 25th anniversary of Netscape going public. Few noticed given how 2020 has gone. Nonetheless, it was an important date in the technology timeline. On August 9th, Netscape placed 5 million shares on NASDAQ at $28 per share. It opened at $71 and closed at $58.25 per share. The age of the Internet had arrived.

The success of Netscape created a frenzy in Silicon Valley. The following spring saw IPO’s for Yahoo and Excite. New companies were being funded daily. VC’s were throwing money at any and all ideas. I jumped into the frenzy in 1997 to find my own Internet dreams. …

What is moving the needle for startups at AWS?

It seems like eons ago when I attended a huge conference. In fact, it was over a year ago in Singapore attending the Singapore FinTech Festival and SWITCH when over 60,000 attendees came together to learn all about the latest in FinTech innovation and meet with rising startups. I thought it was too big at the time, but now I would give anything to be among a huge throng of random people pushing their way through the crowds to attend sessions.

I have never been to AWS re:Invent, but I have heard it is the same vibe. The biggest difference is that it is all about cloud, even more people attend, and it’s in Las Vegas. As opposed to most vendor oriented events, re:Invent is a learning conference for the global cloud computing community. …

Tony Hsieh, re:Invent, Nicolas Cage and building great companies

If you need to take your mind off of 2020, watch the movie Leaving Las Vegas. This movie from 1995 features Nicolas Cage in his last (and perhaps only) outstanding performance. After watching his character progressively drink himself to death, I can assure you 2020 will not seem so depressing.

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Las Vegas has been on my mind for another reason of late. Tony Hsieh, founder of LinkExchange and Zappos and all-around good human, passed away over the weekend from injures sustained in a house fire. He was 46 years old.

Over a decade ago, a friend of mine suggested a book called Delivering Happiness authored by Tony. I do not remember the context as to why. This was after my failed startup, so I was not inclined to read about someone else’s startup story. I did read it though and it led me to think deeply about what I really wanted in life and what I wanted to achieve professionally. …

Or how not to Stack Overflow your way through your career

When is a developer considered a senior developer? I asked this of a friend a few weeks ago when a related topic bubbled up on Twitter.

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His answer was surprising:

“You become a senior developer when you use Stack Overflow and stop caring about it.”

I remember when I was first picking up Ruby on Rails, I was regularly on Stack Overflow. A year later and I was still using Stack Overflow every day. I was looking up some of the same dumb syntax stuff I could not remember, but I was also looking up more complex questions. …

When familiarity leads to rituals, obsession & bad tech decisions

During the Pacific campaign of World War II, Japanese and American forces occupied a wide swath of islands. In an area as vast as the Pacific Ocean, these islands were often the only way to reliably deliver supplies and material to the front lines. Thus these islands were of vital strategic importance to both sides.

Little known to these newcomers was the fact that many of these islands were populated. Often the occupants were primitive tribes that had little to no exposure to such technologically advanced peoples. …

Before you build a community ask yourself these questions

The textbook definition of community is “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.”[1] Another useful explanation for defining a community that I often relied upon is:

A group of people with a common interest and shared values.

Given these definitions, what makes your community distinct? What is that common thread that brings people together? Once you bring people together, how do you ensure the community remains healthy and grows? To figure out your community, you need to answer four simple questions: what, who, why, and how?

Normally, you would think to start with “why.” After all, that is what well-known speakers like Simon Sinek talk about.[2] In general, this is true, which I will share the importance of why later on. In my experience though, most communities start with a mini-”why” seeking a “what.” …

Developers don’t like writing docs, what’s the alternative?

I don’t often spend time on Reddit, mostly because doing so sends you down the Internet wormhole. You click one link and all of a sudden, you realize you lost half the day shouting at people being wrong on the Internet. My one indulgence however is to read r/ProgrammingHumor and it was then that I saw this earlier in the week.

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That is a proper cup of tea, instructions not included.

No matter how much you try, it can be hard to guide users down the right path. I plead guilty here as I often skip over all the introduction videos, guided tours, and setup wizards. Once I managed to delete my entire website just because I was too anxious to try out a new tool. …

How to spark a movement in an organization

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or SPCA is a bit of a misnomer. Though they have done great work as a non-profit to improve the general welfare for animals, there has been a darker story behind their public brand. The problem is that they also kill animals.

There are many reasons given for killing animals from population control to illness. Then in 1994, Rich Avanzino and Nathan Winograd led San Francisco in becoming the first no-kill animal shelter. …

How long do you stay the course when results are slow to come

The legendary and infamous professional boxer Mike Tyson once said something to the effect of:

“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face.”

That is not exactly what he said, but the point was clear. When adversity hits, your best laid plans might not mean too much.

You have two choices. You can scrap your plans altogether and come up with an entirely new plan of action. The other choice is to see where the plan went wrong and tweak it.

Trusting the process versus starting on a new path, how do you decide?
Trusting the process versus starting on a new path, how do you decide?
Trusting the process versus starting on a new path, how do you decide?

When chaos ensues, it sometimes feels as if the best path is to choose the first option. We are experiencing our flight or fight response which senses danger and tells our mind to scrap logic and plans and critical thinking. …



Thoughts on developers, digital transformation, enterprise agility, community building & software engineering culture. Author 👉 https://twitter.com/marksbirch

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