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

    The No brown M&M's rule

    There once was a band, let's call them Van Halen, who had a very long and complex contract for venues. Partly because they were famous and venues would do anything to get them, partly because people could literally die.

    Van Halen performs their song "Jump"...

    The contract was full of useful things like "The floor should support such and such weight" and "We need power outlets there and there and there "

    In the middle of nowhere was a demand for a bowl of M&M's backstage, without any brown pieces.

    An outlandish request, by flamboyant rockstars stretching their decadence? Not really, just a very good way to make sure the contract was followed to the letter and, you know, they'd survive the show. Find a brown piece - go check over the whole production. You will find something wrong.

    With the current startup climate developers are the modern rockstars. We may not get all the groupies and we may be quite well behaved for the most part - but it's time we started making fun outlandish requests don't you think?

    Designers are usually seen as the extravagant bit of the startup world, getting all the cool toys, working from rooms filled with inspiration and mojo ... developers concern themselves much less with these things - give us a good set of monitors, free reign on our computer, some peace and quiet and we'll be happy.

    But when there are so many opportunities out there, you need a brown M&M so you don't end up wasting even a day at a company that doesn't quite live up to expectations.

    For me, the brown M&M is version control.

    If a company isn't using git or mercurial, I can be pretty certain there will be other problems as well. Everything from a shoddy codebase, to expecting my physical presence before my brain has had a chance to boot in the morning.

    Usually the use of old-ish tools also correlates with a corporate feel to the company, which goes directly against my rule of only working with [small] startups. Plus it usually means I won't be given freedom in choosing the best technology stack for the job, but will have something mandated from above.

    I could probably go on, but you can imagine the rest. Use of SVN or, god forbid, nothing, is a deal breaker for me and it's the symptom I can discover very early in the process ... haven't gone so far as putting it in the contract yet.

    Do you use a brown M&M technique to assess potential clients?

    Published on January 10th, 2012 in Git, Revision control, Tools, Uncategorized, Van Halen

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Continue reading about The No brown M&M's rule

    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 👉 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 👉 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 ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️