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Continued Education

A couple of weeks I got done reading “The Hard Thing about Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz.  I received the book as a gift at Box Developer Day (http://www.boxdev2014.com/) and it turned out to be one of the best management books I’ve read in a while. You should definitely spend the $15 to buy the book yourself.  One of the key things that I took away from the book is the emphasis on training:

Almost everyone who builds a technology company knows that people are the most important asset. Properly run startups place a great deal of emphasis on recruiting and the interview process in order to build their talent base. Too often the investment in people stops there.
Horowitz, Ben (2014-03-04). The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Since reading this I started implementing a training program for my engineering team at DocuSign.  We picked out Tuesday mornings at 9AM to have a one-hour class where we can share some of the things that I have learned over the years.  The first class was on the concepts of agile project management.  I took for granted that people knew the concepts and philosophy of Agile and thought that books like “Agile Software Development with Scrum” by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle were read by everyone.  It turned out that the majority of the team has not read them.

That was a light bulb moment for me: there are a bunch of basics that I probably think are too basic to teach, but for some people its net new information or at least a refresher.  I encouraged the team to buy and expense the books that I mentioned, and got working on the second class – the basics of the Internet.   In this class I am going to cover the basics of the internet that I feel people never fully dive deep into such as cookies, error codes, DNS, SSL handshakes, HTTP request and response structures and such.

While attending NY Tech Day and meeting with some partners in New York I had a chance to get lunch with Ben Siscovick (@bsiscovick) and he recommended a blog post from a16z.com that talks about progressions of Jeff Jordan through the management ranks at eBay.  The funny thing is that naturally I am following a very similar path and now that I am managing a team of close to 20 people I am turning more into a coach than a player.  I definitely recommend reading the full post here: http://jeff.a16z.com/2014/04/17/leaving-it-all-on-the-field/

The next class is on Tuesday.  I will let you know how it goes!

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