Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

Senior Mindset Book

Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companies

Senior Engineer Mindset cover
Learn more

    Meetings โ€“ a senior engineer's secret weapon

    I have a confession to make ...ย I'm starting to enjoy meetings ๐Ÿ™Š

    10 years ago I published an essay that went viral, even became the most shared article on Business Insider for a time โ€“ Why Programmers Work at Night. Later that essay turned into my first book.

    The essay says:

    1. Programmers need to think hard with lots of focus
    2. Long periods of focus are best
    3. 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. ๐Ÿคฉ

    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.

    A 30min meeting saves 2 days of work

    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 ๐Ÿ˜…

    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.

    Eisenhower matrix
    Eisenhower matrix

    We decided we'll look into it. Team has final say on work we do or don't accept. ๐Ÿ’ช

    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.


    Do we even need to do this?

    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 ๐Ÿค”. 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 โ€“ 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.

    Published on October 1st, 2021 in Mindset, Learning, SeniorMindset

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Continue reading about Meetings โ€“ a senior engineer's secret weapon

    Semantically similar articles hand-picked by GPT-4

    Senior Mindset Book

    Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companies

    Learn more

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    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.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help ๐Ÿ‘‰ swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers ๐Ÿ‘‰ ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are โค๏ธ

    Created by Swizec with โค๏ธ