At the start of 2017 I, feeling a little unproductive, defined a set of goals which I’d try to achieve by the end of the year. It was around this time that I, feeling a little unhappy in my job, started looking at other places to work. While I was investigating the culture and history of Stripe (which I ultimately joined) one very common theme was how voracious of a reader its CEO Patrick was.
Reflecting on the meager list of books I’d completed in 2016, I realized that my own reading pace had dwindled over the years. Back when I commuted to Mountain View from SF, I generally had multiple hours per day to read. That became maybe 40 minutes each day when I started taking Muni to work downtown. When Twitter moved its office to within walking distance I basically stopped entirely, not making up in reading the time I was gaining from a shorter commute. I missed the depth I felt that I got from reading books and figured the best way to bring that back was to construct a goal of reading a specific quantity this year.
In May 2016, I was offered the chance to manage the Twitter Dashboard team. This was my first opportunity to manage engineers and I was very conflicted about switching over from a SWE to an EM. As a software engineer, you are generally only responsible for the trajectory of your own career. As an engineering manager, you have a large potential impact on the careers and even lives of all the people you manage. Ultimately I decided to take the opportunity but that I was obligated to do the work to improve my skills to be the best manager I could be.