Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Missive from the Management

Managing people is hard.

I'm lucky. I hired everyone that now reports to me, and I know, with certainty, that they are awesome and that it is a privilege to work with such great people. And I know, too, from people that have managed me, that this shit is hard. They don't want to do things the way I would do them. They take up more time than I thought. They regularly remind me that I'm just plain wrong about stuff sometimes, and seriously, does that get easy for anyone to deal with?

I like to think that I have the attitude needed to deal with lots of this: I'm not perfect, I can and should be more open to others' opinions and learning from them and trusting them to do the best they can, and to learn from their mistakes if decisions they make don't work out. And to not lose my shit if I TOTALLY KNEW BETTER and TOLD THEM but they DIDN'T LISTEN or DIDN'T UNDERSTAND and TIME WAS FUCKING WASTED because ADRA CALM THE FUCK DOWN IT WAS NOT A WASTE... LIKE, AT LEAST NOT ENTIRELY. PROBABLY. I'M SURE THIS LESSON WILL IMMEDIATELY BE TAKEN TO HEART. IT WILL BE BETTER NEXT TIME. DEEP BREATH.

Ok, so there's THAT part, the "teaching a man to fish" part, which by the way completely overlooks the fact that maybe that shit's hard and it IS easier to fucking give someone a fish now and again, and OK CALM DOWN WE KNOW THIS IS UPSETTING.

...Like I said, this is hard. BUT.

That's still not the hardest part, I don't think. You can train yourself to let go, over time. You can recognize traits that will be successful and trust your intuition to find people that have them. And I'm sure you learn this last part too, but it's the one I have the hardest time with: I think I understand what's needed from me as a manager, but where does the individual contributor part of my role end and that part begin?

The thing is, I love what I do. And I'm really good at what I do. And so delegating to others is hard twice, first because I have to watch them do it how they want to do it, and maybe fail, and have to provide feedback in a nice way (I have not mastered this specific part of my job), and second because I wanted to do it, and learn from it, and be recognized for it.

Thinking about this now, though, maybe that second part is a myth. It happens/would happen sometimes, sure, but to just assume that I'd get that every time, that I'm always sacrificing that, well, that's probably pretty foolish. That's where the trusting my team comes in: I know they're trying as hard as they can, and sometimes that matches as hard as I can, and sometimes it doesn't, but who am I to think that trying my hardest is any kind of guarantee of success? How did I get here but by doing the same as they did and having a manager that encouraged me?

Managing people is hard, you guys.

Monday, February 08, 2016


(I was just going to call this 'Changes' and then realized I couldn't do it without all the ch-'s.)

I genuinely don't know what a "normal" amount of change is. It's highly dependent on one's personal situation, of course: everything from age to family situation to financial situation to locale (and said locale's political situation or natural disaster situation) is going to impact how much change you normally experience and, more importantly, how much change you expect to experience. If you always assumed that everything was going to change, and you thought you knew how it might, maybe you wouldn't be as surprised when things turned out that way, as opposed to expecting only small changes and then being floored by one really big one. (Or maybe your perspective on the size of a given change is partly related to how much you were expecting it: something that changes a substantial portion of your experience that also blindsided you is arguably bigger, because the mental effort to deal with it and solve it comes all at once, rather than the case where you expect it so you have some time to prepare.)

ANYWAY, all this is to say that I think that the magnitude of change that I've been dealing with of late is a bit outside the norm. I haven't changed jobs. I have a great apartment and living situation, and I've known that I'm getting married in June for well over a year. (And indeed, that last one is so the easiest of all these things to deal with, which is not what most expect to hear.) But maybe perception of change has something to do with how much control you have over it, as well. (In fact I'm sure the field of psychology has a great deal of very detailed thoughts and opinions on exactly that and absolutely nothing that I'm saying about change is groundbreaking, but like... this is a blog, bear with me guys.)

Every month since September has brought something new and unforeseen. I'm kind of tired of it and ready for things to settle the fuck down already, but I'll walk you through it:

September: Burning Man (not for me). Very unhappy at work and this close to starting the departure process (i.e. mentally getting my head around it, responding to recruiters, etc.). Unexpected death of a close friend. Surgery that is followed by several days of near-incapacitation and four weeks of recovery time.

October: work nemesis gives notice, magically fixing unhappiness at work. Awesome new hire starts and reports to me. Another awesome candidate (with whom I'd worked previously) accepts our offer. COO (main person for whom candidate was brought in) goes on maternity leave.

November: on-boarding two new hires, and work nemesis has departed, so I work nights and weekends (including most of Thanksgiving weekend) trying to maintain forward momentum while training new people. And my manager gives notice: I now report to the CTO. And given the new direct reports and his departure, I get a promotion and a raise.

December: On-boarding continues. I am added to the senior leadership team in the absence of my former manager, which means being part of weekly meetings that include the CEO, CTO, and heads of marketing, product, and finance. Director of data engineering (my colleague, who had also reported to my former manager) gives notice. SVP of marketing who I finally thought I had a good relationship with gives notice and leaves.

January: Director of data engineering leaves. Director of product gives notice and leaves. COO who had been on maternity leave returns. New VP of growth announced. On-boarding continues. (My team is ever more awesome, btw.) Outside of work, we are contacted by our former landlady who evicted us a year prior for owner occupancy about moving back to our old apartment.

February: VP of growth starts. I get another raise. CTO gives notice. I am told that I now report to the new VP of growth. And we sign our new lease for our old apartment and hire movers to move us on Presidents' Day weekend. As of this writing we are ONE WEEK IN. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

Ok, I guess that's it. I didn't even mention the travel: October had a trip to SF for an engagement party and a trip to Las Vegas for a convention. November had a trip to Hawaii for a wedding and a trip to New Mexico for Thanksgiving. December had a trip to Santa Ynez for our five year anniversary. January had a trip to San Diego for a weekend with friends and a trip to Mammoth for another (and a cautionary tale in not buying chains ahead of a weather forecast that indicated that we should probably buy chains). Moving is travel enough for February; things start up again in March with a wedding in the desert and girls weekend in wine country. Bridal shower in April. Wedding planning trip to Colorado in May, followed by a weekend in wine country for my bachelorette party. Wedding in June (and a minimoon after). A friend's bachelorette party in July. In August, I guess I'll just breathe, because god knows what else is coming beyond the honeymoon we're taking in September.

Maybe it's just me, but... I feel like this is a lot. Almost everything I've outlined has come as a surprise: there was no time to mentally adjust, and it had a big impact on my day-to-day.

In January, or probably even prior to that, I recognized that it was time to just expect the unexpected. But like, I hadn't expected THIS unexpected. And when it comes to absorbing this latest round of change... I'm at a loss. I'm numb. It's too much. I feel like my sense of control has been completely undermined by all this, so why even put in the effort of pretending, at this stage? Why put effort into any of it, if it's just going to end?

This attitude may be for the best anyway. I have been working too much. I do have a wedding coming up, and since I intend to do that just the once, I should probably devote a bit more energy to it. And I should take better care of myself, knowing that that's what I'll be spending the most time with over the next fifty years. But it's hard for me because I believe all these competing things will pay dividends, and I don't know how to value them relative to each other. And if I did, I don't know if I would believe them. And... fuck, man, these things are hard.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The About Me section: the end of an era

Original Most recent copy here more for time capsule and nostalgia purposes than anything else:

Main character is a 24 year-old LA native who started a blog for the hell of it, and it shows. Finished grad school at the end of 2004 and has been doing the whole "real world" thing for about two years now, and thinks it's overrated. (Except for maybe the regular paycheck thing. That part's kind of nice.) Exploring options, but no luck thus far. Her likes include lemon drop martinis, her Netflix queue, traveling just about anywhere, reading, languages, and Cadbury Dairy milk. (Not necessarily in that order.) Her influences are Mark Twain, Helen Fielding, Bill Watterson, stand-up comics, and sarcastic people in general, and she has a dramatic love-hate relationship with chai tea lattes.

Oh, Adra of ten years ago. *sniff* You didn't even know about wine.


Hi there. It's been awhile! Close to five years, it looks like. It's been a big fuckin' five years, as it happens. (I'll bet they all are, though.)

Exhibit A: STILL on the biking to work thing. After five years. Still alive and stuff, AND now I have a dog that I bring to work and she rides in my bike basket. It's super cute.

Exhibit B: You guys, I got a dog! And like, I know everyone says this, but seriously, MY dog is the best dog. To wit:

  • She loves playing fetch
  • She loves playing tug of war (including with other dogs, which is totes adorbs)
  • She's a total lap dog: cuddling is her jam
  • She's smart
  • She's housebroken
  • She doesn't (usually) lose her shit: doorbells, door knocks, skateboards, and the office dog walker trying to take her out for a walk are notable exceptions
  • Did I mention that she rides to work in my bike basket? Even asshole dogs would get some credit for that. Over the year and a half we've been doing that, she's only tried to jump out twice.
Exhibit C: Still dating the 'you should bike to work' guy. In fact, we're getting married in June. True love, motherfuckers.

Exhibit D: Moved in with said 'you should bike to work' guy. In Venice. Have been biking to work along the beach for like three years. You guys, I gotta say, it's a good commute. I recommend it.

Exhibit E: Job sitch: so, it looks like I've never talked about work much here. On Twitter, sure, especially in the early days, when I was younger and Twitter more anonymous, but working in the tech industry, as I do, I suppose I was aware even then of the potential issues that might crop up as a result of sharing too much in a public and easily google-able space. 

But the work thing has been big. (To me.) And as others in this industry have been able to talk about their professional lives sans anonymity without... well, without publicly-visible repercussions, for the most part, at least from what I can see... although upon closer examination it's probably a bad idea to conclude that everything is just hunky dory because a complete stranger in Los Angeles doesn't know of all the negative things that have/could have happened as a result of additional public attention...

I can't imagine blogging without editing: perhaps it's who I am, that I want everything to be edited. I have plenty of experience with reactions to things I've said that weren't edited to know and appreciate the value of it: I've had to dig myself out of multiple holes that were the result of speaking before thinking.

I bring this up because I wonder how much self-editing is necessary, and where. What is the line between honest and careful? To what degree is something like this a good outlet, or a bad one?

I'm curious. Let's see if it takes another five years for me to post here.

Whole27: Seven (Eight?) Months Later

Breakfast this morning was cinnamon rolls. In fairness, I'm sick right now with something resembling that monster flu--hopefully it...