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Calibrate SF 2018 Notes and Takeaways

September 06, 2018

Calibrate SF 2018 Notes and Takeaways


September 06, 2018

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  1. Highlights • Single track, very focused. • Really great speakers.

    • High quality talks. • Very useful topics for new managers. • Good lunch with lots of vegetarian options! • Great chance to network with other managers in other companies.
  2. Lowlights • Venue was Golden Gate club, about 30 mins

    Uber ride from Caltrain station. • Not a lot of opportunity to network with speakers. • I was the only person who attended from Coursera, would love to attend next year with other managers to share insights and takeaways.
  3. How to follow this presentation? • The topics are presented

    as they were organized in the conference. • Slides to the talks are linked in the title slide. • Videos of all the talks will be available shortly. I will link them in the slide once available. • For most of the talks, I have shared my notes and thoughts. • Only for few talks, I have captured ideas that stood out to me through slides from those talks. • If you like any particular topic, do explore the slides, and then the video later when it becomes available. • I have rated each of the talks based on the content of the talk, speaker and takeaways for me.
  4. My Thoughts • This was my BEST talk to the

    day. • Nick has been a manager and leader in the industry for almost 20 years. • The talk was very high quality, Nick spoke very well and held the audience spellbound throughout the talk. • The main focus of the talk was to show that management is very different from leadership. • In the latter half of the talk, Nick tried to prove why it is important to have leaders in an organizations. • He tried to share a playbook to the audience for creating leaders in their teams and company. It will be a great learning experience to use his playbook and adapt it in the context of Coursera.
  5. My Thoughts • The talk was structured for listeners to

    understand their leadership/management style and share as README. • If you did not know, Manager README is the modern way to share management philosophy with peers and direct reports. • After reading through the slides, it will be clear how Michael thinks of his leadership style. • Exercise: Copy the slides and fill them in with your leadership style under each category. Can you compile this into a README which you can share with you peers?
  6. My Thoughts • This was again a very good talk

    and very well delivered. • Even though it was a 45 min talk, I was able to follow it very closely, Kathryn did a great job delivering the talk and keeping the audience entertained. • I started reading the book Kathryn recommended, a good read for both parenting and managing, agree with her a 100%. • Keywords for me - Empathy, feedback, delegation, problem-solving. • Takeaways ◦ Give feelings a name ◦ Give their wishes in fantasy ◦ Feedback should be sincere, timely, accurate, description with appreciation ◦ With all things, assume good intent. Hanlon’s Razor.
  7. My Thoughts • Again a great talk, and very well

    delivered. • In terms of content, most of the things are pretty well known to new managers. • Things that I found insightful ◦ Hiring a new person in the engineering team is like fitting pieces in a puzzle. ◦ Think about stakeholders, what do they value? ◦ If you end up hiring the candidate, your interview was actually your first 1:1 ◦ Bias towards reference checks from previous managers, when possible. ◦ Hiring is hard until it’s easy, and then it’s hard all over again! • I did ask a question about Chris’ view on performance based hiring. He mentioned he finds it confusing atm, he thinks it might be effective if it starts with a job description and goes all the way to performance management.
  8. My Thoughts • Well laid out and entertaining talk. •

    Key takeaways ◦ When a peer/direct report makes an inadvertent discriminatory comment, don’t be scathing, be kind. ◦ Incorporate diversity in the top of the funnel, give equal opportunity to everyone progressing through each stage of the hiring/career progression funnel. ◦ Watch out for unconscious bias in you and against you. Look for ways to correct gently and kindly, but persistently. ◦ Try to fix problems affecting critical mass proportionately, this may end up affecting diversity/inclusion disproportionately. • I really appreciated the fact that Mekka went out of his way to stay around and chat with other attendees during all the breaks and answering questions.
  9. My Thoughts • This seemed like Katie’s first time giving

    a talk, for a first timer on stage, she did quite well. • The key point of the talk was how to act more like a human, your authentic self, rather than trying to fit the description of a Manager and acting robotic. • Katie emphasized the idea of writing a Manager README, to share your working style with direct reports. Maybe I will give it a shot too, if anyone else is onboard, I can collaborate to review.
  10. How to scale yourself as a first time leader Poornima

    Vijayashankar, Founder, Femgineer Link to the slides here
  11. My thoughts • The talk delivery and style could have

    been better and more engaging. • Poornima talked about some of the challenges most new managers face, with real life examples ◦ Whether to code or not to code? ◦ How to lead by influence rather than authority? ◦ How to delegate? ◦ How to create a culture of retrospection and improvement? ◦ How to facilitate conflict resolution in the team rather than mediate? • I liked her examples a lot and could relate to some of them. Some of the examples dragged out for too long though.
  12. My Thoughts • This was my second best talk of

    the day and found it very enlightening. • All the slides in this talk are really informative, rather than pasting them all here, I highly recommend going through them. • If I am ever faced with these questions, I now know how to find answers to them ◦ Why is my CEO asking for more and faster revenue and users? ◦ Why is my CEO asking me to ignore tech debt and hack together features? ◦ Why is my CEO asking me to cut costs while building more features? ◦ Why is my CEO asking me to “make it social”? (Why is my CEO asking me to “make it AI/ML”?) ◦ Why am I spending cycles on integration with this partner? ◦ How do I explain all this to MY team? • Sometimes the survival of a startup depends on being on one side of this question rather than the other!
  13. Final Thoughts • I would love to return next year

    to attend again. • It’s a great conference for startups with limited time and resources to train new managers. Most of the managers I met transitioned into their roles in the last 6 months to an year. Some are still in the transition period. • The organizers put a lot of effort into the conference and things ran smoothly. • Videos from past years are online, and this year’s videos will be all online soon, I love to go to conferences which let me review the past talks easily. • I learned a lot and came back with a few strategies to try and learn from. • If others end up watching the talks, I would love to discuss their thoughts in 1:1s or as a group.