December 2023 journal, another tough month with little room for many stuff.
I wrote down too many 2023 goals and most of them vanished in a couple of months. By 2023W10 I stopped tracking, with family and work as the main and almost only focus. I didn’t met my reading goals (first time since 2016), I didn’t cook enough, I didn’t play enough (I didn’t finish the Tomb of Annihilation campaign nor started a Vampire one, and barely played any videogame), I stopped meditation, I stopped a novel that was too challenging and barely started another one, Pocket just keeps growing, almost made no post beyond the journal… Not a great year. But I’m happy about my family, with Lara and Mia growing like crazy (Mia started walking before her 11th month, that’s demanding, and Lara is a funny, happy girl that loves drawing, playing…). And it’s been a year of learning a lot about large companies and being an Engineering Manager. I like being an EM.
But there’s also been some personal achievements. I won a writing contest, I got a decent result in another one, attended many concerts and even a festival, LechazoConf 2024 was announced and started, played a little some board games (mostly with my daughter). Looking forward to a great 2024 :)
I sometimes quote Santana about decisions that go beyond just software, and his 2023 favorites won’t let you down: Recortes del 2023 - Javi Santana.
One of the best engineers at my team, a junior one, said in a Friday feedback form that he was going through an impostor syndrome time. Beyond going through his achievements and suggesting a brag document, How to Help Someone with Imposter Syndrome helped me with some new advice, one of them being a new question in my 1:1 agenda: tell me something you did and liked or felt proud of since the last one.
Being an EM is tough, sometimes a rollercoaster of emotions and energy. This article (I don’t want the clickbaitish title to mislead you) really resonates. I don’t buy some of the suggestions, though. If there’s no energy, the Mr. Wonderfulish advice of “Going all-in (…) daily-meeting-code-lunch-meeting-1:1-meeting-meeting-debug-meeting and BOOM, it’s the end of the day” seems a recipe for disaster. I would suggest instead taking a step back, reprioritizing, and focusing on the important. From individual contributor to engineering manager: why engineering management is a hard job is also relevant on this topic of the downsides of management. Annd Transitioning to manager: The blast radius of bad management, too. An interesting topic 😅. After going through the dark side, you might need to understand why some of us still like it: So you want to be a manager - Part 5: Why it’s worth every step.
Regular entry about a topic that can’t be stressed enough: Burnout in Tech - understand the symptoms, the costs and fight against burnout.
Bricks of Love: create purpose and engagement with weekly updates shares some ideas that I’ve recently implemented in my team, a weekly form for feedback and engagement that is then part of the next retrospective as well.
The 2023 SaaS Fundraising Napkin - by CJ Gustafson gives some perspective on what VC investors think about the path for a SaaS. Many of us still find it hard to understand that you could consider 5-30 customers to be a good enough goal for Series A.
My scrobbles this month are led by VVV, mostly because I attended a concert (it was a mental reset for me just before my vacation time), followed by most of my personal favourites (Planetas, Punsetes, TAB).
I read Beltenebros, a great noir novel by Muñoz Molina, and Lord of the Flies, a classic.