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Engineers Survival Guide

Edwin Torres
August 25th, 2022 · 4 min read

Context

This week I’ve recieved the book Engineers Survival Guide by Merih Taze, after reviewing many comments from people who read the book, and, I wanted to take my own insights.

Notes taken from Atomic Habits book

Fist day at Work and Imposter Syndrome

  • “At that moment, I met a new friend who has not left me alone to this day, I’m sure you have met this friend, many people know it as Imposter Syndrome”.
  • “If you are feeling the effects of imposter syndrome, you are not alone! everyone has their masks up trying to look like they know what they are doing. We were taught to be self-promoting and to keep up a good image. What suprised me the most was, that as soon as I shared the way I felt with my friends, most of them said that they feel exactly the same”
  • “Be aware we all feel like imposters sometimes, and do not let it get to you. It has nothing to do with how good you are, youre level, experience or anything else”.

The importance of data to convince others

  • Engineers are data-driven people. No one argues with data. When you have a great idea, that intuition comes from data. Believe it or not, the reason you think it is a good idea vs a poor one, it is because of your eperience and the data insights you have gained from it.
  • This is where the conflict starts with people. They are not againts your idea, they just do not have enough data about it. The more data you can provide, the easier it will be for them to believe in it.

How often should you interview?

  • “If you were not performing at the level of your manager’s expectations. How well do you think you will do when you start spending extra time preparing for and doing interviews while performing your job?”
  • Benefits of having interviews
    • You meet amazing people
    • You learn how much your market value is
    • You get backup options
    • You get an opportunity to find something you love and be excited about
    • You stay sharp. Interviewing means you need to remember all different data structures, algorithms, etc.

Learning to say No and Brutal prioritization

  • “I had to learn to prioritize my tasks, start saying not to people more often and start searching for projects to help with. When I started mostly focusing on high-ipact tasks and spending the remaining time on other projects I started learning a lot”
  • “Always calculate the opportunity cost, prioritize brutally and learn to say no to people with an explanation of why it is a no”

Never say no

  • “You have to learn to say no to people but never use the actual word no while doing so”
  • What if we change our sentence from. “No I do not have the time”, to, “Yes, I would love yo work on this.but to set expectations here are the tasks I need to do for the next month that are higher priority”.

Finding a mentor

  • “They usually share the most important parts of these experiences. It is like reading the summary of a great book, but imagine that book is personalized for you.”
  • “Always look for mentors. The more, the better. But pick them carefully to make sure their goals are aligned with yours”

Prototype fast. First Working Prototype Always wins.

  • “People have short attention spans and cannot remember small details. They only remember important events. Prototyping something and proving it works is one of the best ways to achieve that.”
  • “There are millions if not billions of ideas floating around the world every day. But only a few of them become real and reach real users”.
  • “Always turn your ideas into working prototypes as fast as possible. Everyone has great ideas, but a working prototype is a game-changer”

Visibility is everything

  • “Sharing your pgroess on an internal blog post or team’s file-sharing location ona regular basis helps people track what you are up to. It also is very beneficial when it is time for performance evaluation”
  • “Comment on people’s code reviews. A wise friend once told me there is no better way to lead people than with code review”
  • “Always find ways to increase your visibility. If no one knows you did something, no one will believe you have done anything important”

Let people fail. Help them fall slowly

  • “Trust in yourself and your peers, make sure the direction is set, and let them drive. Let them fail; failure is nothing but a great learning opportunity. Just make sure you have built a safety net around them, so if they fail, neither of your careers are at risk”
  • “Do not be a micromanager. Set a direction and let people do their best while preparing a safety net in case they fall”

The Tiebreaker - Reaching consensus

  • “The problem starts when the discussion is about something non quantifiable, and people’s opinions come from their intuition. We have talked about how engineers are data driven”
  • “Always have an odd number of people in decision-making so you can always have a tiebreaker”

The importance of allies in Design discussions

  • “Do not underestimate the power of allies during the design discussion. The worst outcome in a design discussion is a split group supporting different approaches”
  • “Use Design discussion to utilize as many people’s brains as possible”
  • “Make sure all the decisions and the alternatives are documented so everyone can follow them”
  • “Make the design document an evolving document instead of an end-to-end design”

The power of meeting summary emails

  • “Try writing down notes during the meeting and sending them to the invites afterward. Why? This helps you better to understand what was discussed and what decisions were made”
  • “This helps to create a seearchable documentation library. Our brains are not evolved to remember every detail of every decision made”
  • “Get yourself in the habit of taking notes and sharing them with stakeholders after each meeting”

Align, align and align

  • “The secret of success at any company is to figure out the long term vision, the short-term direction, and if you are headed in the right way to achieve setting the right direction”
  • “Make sure both you and your team are aligned with the management, division, and company. Align, align and align again as directions will change regularly. This should be a regular exercise for you”

The power of giving credit

  • “Even though this is one of the most important feelings we seek on a regular basis and one of the most satisfying ones, we neither do it enough”
  • “Find something useful and start giving credit to the owner either by directly telling them or spreading the love in the meetings you join. The more credit you give, the better”

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