mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

You Goofed Google

Google just doesn’t get it sometimes. On October 9th they announced the new Pixel 3 phones. On October 18th people started receiving them.

On December 3rd Google started offering a free Pixel Stand and free Pixel earbuds with the purchase of a Pixel 3 phone. Ouch! You just gave people who waited less than two months after announcement to order their phones $109 in value.

On December 5th Google emailed me a coupon for $200 off the new Pixel 3 phones for being “a valued Google One member.” If this how Google treats valuable people, I am really worried about falling out of Google’s good graces.

Lesson learned: don’t buy anything from Google for at least 2 months after they announce it. And because Google doesn’t get it sometimes: this is not a good lesson for you given you are trying sell things.

Manager Reads - Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

A half year into the manager reads initiative we arrive at the eighth entry in the Manager Reads saga: Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader by Herminia Ibarra.

Who recommended the book? This book was recommended by a teammate, Jarret, and selected as the next book for the Twitch Manager Book Club. While the word manager is in the name of the club, we welcome anyone who wants to improve on leadership and management. The ultimate goal is to leverage learnings from these books to help level up all of Twitch.

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The cover of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader is perfect: beautiful, simple, clean, powerful. The gentle blue tone washing over the cover contrasts well with the golden elements: the word Act, the word Think, and the flag on top of the mountain symbolizing the leadership challenges that need some conquering. The soft tactile feel of the book jacket is frosting on the cake. The inside of the book features bleed-free paper and good decisions on font and spacing.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? The core of this book – the outsight principle – is that the only way to think like a leader is to first act. Ibarra explores three sources of outsight leaders should focus on:

  • Work on new projects and engage in new activities to practice new skills your new role requires.
  • Expand and strengthen your network to provide a more global view of yourself, your company, and the world.
  • Experiment with how you get things done to help break away from your ought self.

In short, you can’t contemplate and think yourself into becoming a better leader. As Ibarra succintly concludes, “insight is an outcome, not an input” so the more opportunities you give yourself the better chance you’ll have of gaining meaningful insight.

Favorite quote from the book? “The fastest way to change yourself is to spend time with people who are already the way you want to be.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader provides a strong guiding lens to view leadership. It’s not about what makes great leaders great but focuses on how to become a great leader. It’s given me some comfort knowing that I’ll fail plenty as I take on new roles and experiment with how to tackle new challenges. Read it!

Notes in Evernote? There’s a lot of great information in this book. Feel free to review all 73.2 KB of my notes on 🐘.

Enjoyed this episode of Manager Reads? Check out more in the Manager Reads corner!

Manager Reads - The Heart of Change

Since I started reading leadership and management books Tina has been recommending I read The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations by John Kotter and Dan Cohen. Yes, that complete title is quite a mouthful!

Who recommended the book? Tina recommeded this book!

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The cover of The Heart of Change is a real winner: clean and endearing. The lone sad penguin on a small piece of iceberg seals [sic] the deal: this cover is awesome. This cover even ties into two other books Kotter has written which also feature penguins on them. Unlike otters which look cute but are actually nefarious, penguins are okay in my book. Inside The Heart of Change we see good decisions from the cover carry through with an eye-pleasing font selection and some thick sheets.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? The Heart of Change posits that the biggest challenge when pushing for change is changing people’s behaviors. To succeed at change we must resist being purely analytical and understand the centrality of emotion in change. The book explores the eight steps to follow to produce change:

  1. Increase Urgency - Raise a feeling of urgency so that people say “let’s go,” making a change effort well positioned for launch.
  2. Build the Guiding Team - Help form a group that has the capability - in membership and method of operating - to guide a very difficult change process.
  3. Get the Vision Right - Create there might vision and strategies to guide action in all of the remaining stages of change.
  4. Communicate for Buy-In - Communicate change visions and strategies effectively so as to create both understanding and a gut-level buy-in.
  5. Empower Action - Deal effectively with obstacles that block action, especially disempowering bosses, lack of information, the wrong performance measurement and reward systems, and lack of self-confidence.
  6. Create Short-Term Wins - Produce sufficient short-term wins, sufficiently fast, to energize the change helpers, enlighten the pessimists, defuse the cynics, and build momentum for the effort.
  7. Don’t Let Up - Continue with wave after wave of change, not stopping until the vision is a reality, despite seemingly intractable problems.
  8. Make Change Stick - Be sure the changes are embedded in the very culture of the enterprise so that the new way of operating will stick.

For each of these steps the book provides real-world anecdotes of the step in action and an assortment of good things to do and things to avoid doing. Ultimately, the key is to show people something that highlights the need for change which spawn feelings that are useful for change and then watch as behaviors adjust and change begins.

Favorite quote from the book? “Urgency sustains change.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? I came into The Heart of Change thinking that throwing facts and truths at people would bring about change. After putting the book down, I realize that this strategy is not a winning one or one that will promote lasting change. Whether you are a leader by definition in an organization or someone who simply wants to be an agent for change, I highly recommend this book.

Notes in Evernote? Feel free to review my notes on 🐘.

Enjoyed this episode of Manager Reads? Check out more in the Manager Reads corner!

Twitch Anniversary Project

I’ve been fortunate to work at great companies during my career but one thing all have missed the mark on was celebrating work anniversaries. Fundamentally, anniversaries are special and worth celebrating. We should acknowledge people who have chosen to spend a year working with us each and every year.

Other companies celebrating work anniversaries provide a nice corpus for inspiration. Around the time I started exploring options for celebrating work anniversaries I stumbled upon this tweet from a Twitter employee. I liked it, but felt there was plenty of room for improvement; a block exists to have its six sides leveraged! I went to the drawing board, hashed out details for a few months, and this week was excited to deliver the first batch of anniversary blocks to the team!

These blocks are fully leveraged. The six sides are:

  1. Team member’s name
  2. Twitch logo
  3. Number of years at Twitch - New team members get the Year 0 block on their first day.
  4. Current year
  5. Twitch emote - Gotta catch em’ all!
  6. Twitch core value - Read more about Twitch’s Core Values.

These were well-received by the team and I’m excited to have seeded a new tradition of celebrating our team’s tenure, the fruits of which will hopefully be more recognized and happy team members.

P.S. I ordered these on Etsy from Alexander who runs the StarBlock shop and would highly recommend him if you are considering doing something similar.

Manager Reads - The Effective Manager

Next up on the managerial reads train is what we all strive to be: The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman.

Who recommended the book? I found this book listed on a Medium post about good books to read for engineering managers. I can’t find the link right now, but will update this post if I find it. Whoever wrote that post, thank you very much!

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The cover of The Effective Manager leaves a lot to be desired. It’s drab: white background with a bunch of grey circles and then three blue circles on one orange circle. The author’s name and the word “The” of the title is in sans serif font but the “Effective Manager” has serifs. There are four critical managerial behaviors discussed in this book but I’m unsure if anyone is worth being orange and the others blue. Inside the book we get some visual respite: clean font, large text, comfortable kerning, and nice thick paper that doesn’t let highlighter ink bleed through.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? The Effective Manager distills the work of a manager down to two things: produce results and retain people. To achieve this the manager needs to engage in four behaviors. Here are the four behaviors with accompanying activities with the interesting tidbit I took away from each section.

  1. Get to Know Your People via One on Ones - Use the 10/10/10 agenda: first 10 minutes for your direct to speak, then 10 minutes for you to speak, and then 10 minutes to talk about the future.
  2. Communicate about Performance via Feedback - Ask if you can give feedback, state the behavior, state the impact of the behavior, and encourage effective future behavior.
  3. Ask for More via Coaching - Collaborate to set a goal, collaborate to brainstorm resources, collaborate to create a plan, and then direct acts and reports back on the plan.
  4. Push Work Down via Delegation - Delegation is you turning over responsibility for one of your regular responsibilities - something you routinely do - to one of your directs.

The Effective Manager offers concrete steps for most of the stuff it covers, but it can be over prescriptive sometimes covering things like being friends with your directs, drinking with your directs, and being Facebook friends with your directs. Common sense and some caution will get you through most of these situations so it was a bit odd to read entire mini-sections in the book dedicated to them.

Favorite quote from the book? “There’s a simple rule about work when there’s more than can be done: before trying to get more of everything done, get the most important things done first.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? While The Effective Manager might be too prescriptive for some, I believe it can offer actionable advice or a new perspective on a tried-and-true tool for even a seasoned manager. I can see it not being for everyone but I found it worth the read.

Notes in Evernote? Feel free to review my notes on 🐘.

Enjoyed this episode of Manager Reads? Check out more in the Manager Reads corner!