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Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

Why you can't find an engineering coach

Wanna learn boxing? Join a gym, find a coach.

Tennis player with a kink in your game? Find a coach. Need stamina? Coach. Strength? Coach. Technique? Coach.

Business owner with a tricky problem? Find a coach. Human with issues? Find a therapist coach. Procrastinator? Productivity coach. Writer? Writing coach.

Software engineer with a missing skill? Google, random blogs, fun newsletters, dubious podcasts, noise on twitter, \$10 courses on Udemy that you'll never open ... wait what? 🤨

Who hires a coach

You hire a coach when you want the result, not the process. Eyes on the prize.

I run marathons. There is no reward. It's a way to read audiobooks, challenge yourself, and get off the computer. I'm not good enough to compete for prizes.

No coach required. Read articles, experiment with training schedules, get technique pointers in the beginning so you don't injure yourself. Oh wait that's a coach.

My sister ran track in high school, she helped 🥰

Business, job, and indie hacking? Now there's a prize!

You can go from 25k/year to 115k in 4 years. Like I did from 2012 to 2016. Up to about 250k these days.

You bet your ass I bought all the courses and advice I could afford! This one time I even hired a coach for one negotiation. Worth it 🤘

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it describes my days in a way I have not read before.

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Where are the engineering coaches?

Who do you think becomes a coach?

An expert who can't do it anymore. Too old, too injured, too tired.

Sports careers have a deadline. Female gymnasts are done by 23. The oldest No. 1 tennis player was 35.

Many retire before their deadline. Lack of [genetic] potential. Not worth the pain.

Business folk grow tired of businessing. Their ideas lack traction, their drive is burnt out, the fresh kids better understand new markets. Or they got rich and bored.

What do you do with all this expertise you can't use? Share. Teach. Coach. Lucrative business when done right.

What happens to old engineers? They keep making bank and having fun at their job.

There is no deadline, there is no limit. Always something new to learn. And compared to finding coaching clients it's so much easier. Pays better too.

But engineering coaches do exist! You don't hire them, someone else does.

Coach as manager

You think of managers as task masters. The folk who tell you what to do.

And that's true in many industries. But it doesn't work for engineering and other creative work.

To manage creatives, you have to coach. Enable, empower, set a north star. Modern management.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

Your manager is your coach.

A good technical manager is a shit umbrella and team coach. They offer advice, explore technical innovations, and listen to their team.

When you need a challenge, they find it. When you want direction, they help. When you want growth, they push.

That's a coach. You benefit, your employer pays.

PS: the good ones are former engineers who got bored of engineering ;)

Coach as mentor

Mentoring is the best type of coaching for engineers.

A senior team member takes you under their wing. The business feeds you and your mentor problems and challenges. Endless supply.

Your mentor knows where you're at and filters challenges to match difficulty. Too easy and you're bored, too hard and you shy away.

You want to be challenged and always making progress. Like a video game with adaptive difficulty.

Stems from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's research on the psychology of flow. Google it, great read.

Your mentor is there to help with questions, research, reading resources, and hands-on code. Always a slack or a nudge away, happy to help.

Plus your mentor signed the same NDA and security clearance as you did. You can share the code. This is where independent coaching struggles.

AND your mentor can get in the code and make it better. Set up frameworks to make your life easier. 😍

Coach as consultant

The last type of coaching, that I've seen work in the wild, are consultants. You don't hire them, your business does.

Got a tricky problem your team can't solve fast enough? Hire an expert, get a workshop, tailored advice, or a detailed roadmap.

Consultant parachutes into the team, gathers all the info, designs a solution, and bails. You get to do the work and it's easier with a map.

Happy Friday ❤️

Cheers,
~Swizec

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Published on January 8th, 2021 in Senior Mindset

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The Senior Mindset series

Get a series of curated essays on the mindset of a senior software engineer. What it takes to get there, what should you do when you're there, how to change the way you think.

it describes my days in a way I have not read before.

This was a very enlightening article about being a senior engineer.

Join over 10,000 engineers just like you already improving their careers with my letters, workshops, courses, and talks. ✌️

Have a burning question that you think I can answer? I don't have all of the answers, but I have some! Hit me up on twitter or book a 30min ama for in-depth help.

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

Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, modern backend for the frontend engineer.

Ready to learn how it all fits together and build a modern webapp from scratch? Learn how to launch a webapp and make your first 💰 on the side with ServerlessReact.Dev

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 ❤️