One of my favorite one-on-one topics is “learning”. I get lots of questions in one-on-ones that lead to this topic: How did you learn when you were an engineer? What blogs or books do you recommend? And a lot of my answers really go back to the core question of “how do you learn?” Regardless of the engineers’ favorite media for learning, there’s an approach I’ve found that always helps me both see more information and retain it for when I need it. I call the approach Scatter and Sweep. Before we go into how it works, let’s start with some first principles.
At the start of each year, I try and reflect on the areas of my life in which I’m trying to improve. After establishing a list of areas, I take each area and come up with an objective I’m trying to achieve. I then dive a level deeper to come up with measurements and goal measurements for how I’ll know I have hit these objectives. With this, I end up setting Objectives and Key Results for the year.
Over the past few years, reading has evolved from a dedicated goal to a true hobby of mine. I still use “number of books” as a metric to ensure I’m actively reading because there’s so much I’ve built up in my backlog. In 2019, I set a goal of reading 36 books which works itself out to three books a month. Below are my ten favorite things I read, listed in chronological order, last year.
I recently ran into an issue with Postgres after upgrading to Big Sur. This is pretty typical for me after OS updates; the feedback loop between updates is too long for my memory. After flailing and staring at countless Stack Overflow threads, I found my way out of the woods. Here’s my particular breadcrumb trail.
At the start of the summer, a longtime friend reached out to get my thoughts on The Last Dance, the sports docuseries on the Chicago Bulls last championship run over 1997 and 1998. We ended up exchanging emails over a course of a few weeks as we broke down the the leadership, management, and organizational lessons - yes, our takeaways - from the ten-hour program. If you haven’t yet, check out parts one and two of that discussion here and here. The third and final part of that discussion follows this introduction.