I have a confession to make ... I'm starting to enjoy meetings 🙊
The essay says:
- Programmers need to think hard with lots of focus
- Long periods of focus are best
- Anything you do to disturb that focus is a total catastrophe and the worst thing ever
And that's true when your highest impact work is banging out code. Like when building towards a tight deadline, setting up a new system, or on a small team with a clear goal.
You know what to build, you know how, you sit down and you make magic. Bliss. 🤩
But there comes a time in your career when writing code is no longer your highest impact contribution. You can do more. The code is holding you back.
Yes it's fun, but how many times can you build the same old widget? Let others learn, eh.
This is a true story. A 30 minute meeting saved the team 2 days of work and cleared any lingering doubt in my mind. Meetings are useful.
We were in the middle of a tight sprint. Clearing large chunks of work before a looming project that's going to take weeks and determine the future of our company. No pressure 😅
Out of nowhere the head of engineering swoops in and says: "I got this email from Twilio. Says we might start dropping SMS messages, if we don't change our integration by Oct 1st. Looks easy, let's just do it"
Uhh we literally don't have time for this shit. This is like the worst possible project from the Eisenhower matrix. Urgent and not important.
We decided we'll look into it. Team has final say on work we do or don't accept. 💪
Digging through Twilio's documentation proved our worst fears. Email says "no changes necessary just enable X, Y, Z", head of eng says "looks like a quick afternoon", documentation says "You have to change how you talk to our API and we handle the rest"
To make it worse: part of our integration lives in a system none of us have access to. Don't know how it works, didn't even know it existed until we broke it recently by removing a useless function call. Chesterton's fence style.
This wasn't my first rodeo with SaaS providers dear reader. That email, it smelled like a sales pitch.
You add new phone numbers to finally separate dev, staging, and production and 3 days later there's an email saying you have to enable some fancy new integration for large volume 🤔. Even the docs keep talking about "messages per second".
We're at the "messages per minute" stage ...
Okay before we go down this road, let's talk to our Twilio account rep and ask why they think we need this.
The PM goes "Sure Swiz but I have no idea what you're talking about, can you join?"
Heck yes I can join!
Guess what – they saw that we started buying more numbers, figured we're scaling our SMS marketing, and wanted to offer a better service aimed at high volume senders. A-ha!
We explained that no, we bought more numbers to stop sending development messages from production. And we prefer to send every message from the same phone number. We only need 1.
"Well in that case, you don't need any of this"
And that's how a 30min chat saved us 2 days of work. Way better ROI than 30min of coding.
PS: When you code, write down everything. Helps you recover from distraction.
Getting that senior title is easy. Just stick around. Being a true senior takes a new way of thinking. Do you have it?
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it describes my days in a way I have not read before.
This was a very enlightening article about being a senior engineer.
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Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
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