The Engineer/Manager Pendulum with Charity Majors

charity majors

Charity is a cofounder and engineer at, a startup that blends the speed of time series with the raw power of rich events to give you interactive, iterative debugging of complex systems. She has worked at companies like Facebook, Parse, and Linden Lab, as a systems engineer and engineering manager, but always seems to end up responsible for the databases too. She loves free speech, free software and a nice peaty single malt.


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Show notes:

This show was inspired by Charity’s blog post: THE ENGINEER/MANAGER PENDULUM

The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Technically Speaking – site that posts tech calls for speakers


(transcription provided by Google Api)

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Christian Mccarrick:
[0:04] Charity good afternoon next week being on the show.

Charity Majors:
[0:06] Hi Christian thank you so much for having me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:08] I’ll always a pleasure definitely glad to have you here I’ve been a fan of some of the writings that you’ve had both on medium in the long format and of course some of your interesting CertiFit twittersphere things as well.

Charity Majors:
[0:20] Yes or as I call it therapy.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:23] Excellent to give off the some of the Raiders some people I’m sure you are known in the space as we were talking about before the show it is a sort of a small community but give me a little bit of background a kind of how you got to where you are today.

Charity Majors:
[0:35] Yeah totally well I’m a music Major Dropout natural path.
Who just really like to tinkering with computers it was super fun and I also didn’t want be broke so I’ve been in Silicon Valley since I was 17,
I’ll spend engineer engineer manager at Linden lab.
A couple of startups over terrible and various ways purse which I loved Facebook which was,
an interesting experience and for the last year-and-a-half I have had my own company honeycomb which does the kind of next Generations trivet is systems observability.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:13] Perfect and we’ll talk about it after because I definitely have some needs for that,
Sensational level of the things and you got into nitia Lee into kind of the operations side right.
Barring any even uniformal computer science training would not do you think there’s any programs out there today that train anyone you know appropriately to go right into operation.

Charity Majors:
[1:37] You know I know of people who have come into the engineering field with our software operations vs some.
Hacker schools and what not I.
Just kind of categorically personally don’t learn from people teaching me things I have to learn through stubbornness and experimentation and curiosity so I don’t really know which I would recommend,
and I’m a little concerned about the ways that the industry is becoming less hospitable to people from non-traditional backgrounds.
When I started with the Wild Wild West and they were just desperate for anyone who knew their way around a command line and in some ways that was you knows best of times and Source times.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:14] I agree I think there’s there’s some back and forth about non-traditional routes whether it’s the hack reactors or half price in those types of things and you know how to conversation with Nick Caldwell to and when he was a Microsoft more frowned upon.

Charity Majors:
[2:28] Oh yeah the big company is very much.

Christian Mccarrick:
[2:30] Yeah and one of the things you know he realize there too is it not only was it excluding this this type of potential good person it could be but it was also not really a friendly too kind of dressing conclusions well.

Charity Majors:
[2:43] Yeah there’s a lot of crossovers there that I kind of understood later and in my crib one of the best network engineers,
ever known was our receptionist at Linden lab and we were just like or short-handed racking server is come along with us you know and they were just amazing I believe so firmly and human potential and,
computers are not that hard you know honestly I mean come on we can all learn an algorithm we can all learn to be very effective.
And yeah yeah that does trickle down into diversity if we don’t actually approach it from that if we provoke in the credentials point of view.
Not good for technology.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:25] We’ll get back to a little bit you know that.

Charity Majors:
[3:26] Straight would you have a topic.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:28] Yahtzee one of the things know how did you get into management you came from a nachos from out and then.

Charity Majors:
[3:34] Yeah well I’ve always been attracted to early-stage so I tend to be one of the first people and I’m very loud I have lots of opinions but honestly I got into management for not the best reasons I got sick of being excluded,
I hated not having the information I wanted to be in the room where it happens Hamilton puts it.
Aaron Burr whatever I know that but like I did not actually give a shit about people’s careers or development I had never even had a manager asked me what.
My felt like I just wanted to be involved in making this decision that I thought that was the only route.

Christian Mccarrick:
[4:12] And you just kind of got into it and then when did you start realizing that there was more to management than just being the one making decisions.

Charity Majors:
[4:20] It was while I was a parse really.
I was a little bit older you know I had recruited some of my dearest friends in the world.
And when we got acquired by Facebook I suddenly felt a real responsibility for being a mother hen you know,
making the landing as easy as possible and as gentle as possible and honestly Facebook like,
a thing that I will say about them as I did learn a lot about the craft of management while I was there through fire a lot of the times I had,
never really had an experience that hard for people respect and they do focus a lot on training so I was at least forced to think about the decisions that I was making.
Who was just a couple I was 4 years ago I guess that we were acquired feels like forever but it was it was good for me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:17] At Facebook does have from what I’ve read and people have talked to do have a pretty good now they’re focusing on internal trainings for new managers.

Charity Majors:
[5:25] Dave very much do they had many sloths of people leave the company and they traced it back they depart it back to the fact that the managers were terrible and didn’t support them and that’s would be unique culture where the managers are kind of.
The nervous system,
you know they do a lot of communication and just buy like they walk around and talk to people all day and it’s an interesting and specific culture is interesting to watch certain other companies like slack that have the same stock and a lot of the same history,
making a lot of the same decisions and I’m wondering how much of that is.
Peter Pan by the stack and Conway’s law and how much of it is just you know if you people bring bringing the cultural is very different from Google.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:06] Yeah and what we’ve all made them I try to humanize ever on the show that we’re not all perfect what will it what is it you know in the state that stands out for you that you’re like oh my God is a manager I can’t play with happen now.

Charity Majors:
[6:18] Oh man.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:20] It’s usually like choosing one of them right.

Charity Majors:
[6:22] No I think that during the acquisition by Facebook I really struggled with it it was not sold to us in a way that.
I could accept and I hated it and I think that in many ways I made it harder for the people who were looking to me you know cuz I was struggling with it personally and.
I kind of broadcast my feelings they leak a lot whether I want them to or not and I just very clearly did not want to be,
like I have some regrets about that even though I think it was doomed for like much larger strategic reasons I think it was,
Harder Than People pure infectious you know the hard day that you’re having everyone else is going to have to and I think that was also hard for me to accept because I tend to.
Not being affected by my managers bad moods and it’s it’s it’s a growing process is like parenting right I’m not a parent but I hear this from a lot of my friends who are parents you never like you don’t really understand.
No I get it cuz I’m exactly the same thing.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:28] You know that’s a very good point because I think a lot of times employees look to the subtle cues of their manager with it I should approach them or not and I should do it and for me sometimes I might just be a little tired.
And it might take that as they did something wrong and it so you do have to be cautious.

Charity Majors:
[7:45] We’re such hierarchical social animals you know we’re not intending to do this we totally do it.
And I think it’s all you can do is own it and try to be conscious of where you’re at and any moment and like explaining with your mouth and trying to be honest and consistent.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:04] And I even to that point I’ll even come out I know if I did it all nighter or something crazy I be like listen yeah I’ll be honest it’s not you here it’s really me like.

Charity Majors:
[8:13] Same same I just I’ve been home for 2 months like after traveling for a while and so there a lot of pent-up,
conflicts in small things that need to get done and after a couple weeks about I start telling my people my,
I just honestly don’t want to see any of your faces right now so I’m going to cancel my what I went for the week and just try and charge the tank a little and they just laugh because they would rather me be honest about where I’m at.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:39] And I think that’s an important thing to to realize that as a manager your person.

Charity Majors:
[8:43] Yeah yes.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:43] And you need that recharge time and a lot of them tend to be especially coming to the software engineering World more introverted.

Charity Majors:
[8:50] I am credibly introverted I just don’t show it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:52] I had it will but you do need that self-serve that reseal your batteries.

Charity Majors:
[8:58] It starts with self-care you know what what is it they say apply your own mask until you apply it to the person next to you like you literally just a few and I’m really bad at this you know,
South Korea’s really hard for me cuz I have this whole she wrote sacrificial you know many Engineers do you know,
and it’s a tool set that very effective for you as an engineer and it’s just not as a manager.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:20] It doesn’t transition which yeah I think we should get into then I think one of the things that we talked about before is your blog post ad written right.
Engineering manager pendulum.
Right which is I think of you wrote something that’s not talked about her life in order to talk about no Stones right and you know so one of the things you talk about that too is that management itself is not a promotion right so you describe that.

Charity Majors:
[9:46] Yeah I think that that is something that.
The company cannot repeat enough and can I drill into their DNA enough because okay let’s be completely honest.
Is an increase in power.
You do have power and power dynamics cannot be innocent of or ignorant of or you will screw your people over but it’s very important that we see the,
the you know that,
pyramid of Aveeno the or whatever as being inverted you know you’re actually supporting people it is it is a support role and,
anybody who gets away from that is is kind of in trouble people who go into this role wanting a promotion or wanting more power or like those are,
those are the wrong the wrong reasons it’s not that you can’t be successful because a lot of people go into it with those intentions and that and that assumption and then they learn,
you have a hardly any me like oh wow I am literally the emotional janitor and you know that the center and is my job to like just like have all these one-on-ones and like.
Do these things that have no dopamine hits you get no dopamine tight reward from it it’s it’s has to be a longer-term me word cycle but yeah management is not a promotion it is a.
Career change is a change of role and this always I think surprises people especially because so many company you sort of conflate Engineering Management and Technical leadership.

[11:17] Bench manager for people and Tech lead can be the same person but it’s a very unstable combination.
I can’t really helpfully persist for the long term.
You know because if you’re a people manager and you’re doing your job your technical skills and up-to-date Nuss is going to Decay over time,
at a certain point you’re not going to be the most effective person to make these really hard title decisions and if you are that means that you’re starving your best people of growth.
You know if you’re always taking that hot some design work for yourself Jesus why you know what do they get to grow into when do they get to spread their wings and fly.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:57] You’re not giving the nobility in autonomy to to to grow.

Charity Majors:
[12:00] And so you’re either doing the job at one or the other you’re doing a great job is to clean your probably and the reason for this is very simple it’s because I’m to be a great engineer you have to focus and concentrate.
And be a great people person you have to be available to be interrupted at any point.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:19] To the dividend trim and I think of a lot of first-time engine reminder does who get annoyed at that writes like what happened to the meet time know that me time.

Charity Majors:
[12:23] That mean time is is yours in 30 minute increments when you when you can get it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:31] I actually schedule it on my calendar you know just to make sure I have that time right.

Charity Majors:
[12:33] Yeah but you get it in chunks of hours not days.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:38] It’s right that’s her days on end of working through a thing and then hitting that button did you mention that Oprah meme Russian 10 production you’re like yes it’s that longer-term right maybe watching some and grow into a manager or watching someone go to her problem and it’s a month’s potential long thing.

Charity Majors:
[12:52] To be a successful manager you have to learn how to connect.
The jumper cables to your emotional satisfaction fulfillment and I’ll be honest this is not a thing that I have really mastered yet I still like you know just like.
Plowing ahead with the expectation hope that someday it will work or maybe a phone I don’t know and I think so a lot of us never managed to make that connection we miss that dopamine connection so much in this is why we go back to engineering.

Christian Mccarrick:
[13:19] Sure I knew the interesting thing I’ve talked to or interview now three people on the show who have all I see.
Does manager and backed icy and in one case then back to Dev manager rights that pendulum that you were talking about.
It had various degrees of support and discussion about that in some it’s gray and I’m I go about two very enlightened company and another is it had to go to a new company in order to go back into that I see rap.

Charity Majors:
[13:48] I am so going to bat for this being of valid lifestyle Choice going back and forth I mean why would you ever want to have a people manager who doesn’t want to be doing that job.
Parable of the people who reported I’ve been that personally doing this and steering enviously at the end of your writing code you know in just like openly,
wishing I had you know our roles reversed you don’t want that person managing your people and and on the flip side like,
if you ask any internet measure who are the easiest people to manage,
it’s the people who have died from selves they they have the credibility to step into an engineer who doesn’t respect you and be like look they have a real job you know wasn’t of this shit is hard you know they have the credibility they have the scars,
understanding possible position they are often.
And any bring us this level of emotional maturity to any engineering team you know that the ability to connect engineering decisions to business me.
Which is not that you can’t get that other ways but like most X managers have that ability.

Christian Mccarrick:
[14:57] And one of the things you point out in your post is you know you’ve you that person that has gone back and forth from Tech lead to manager and back to Tech or I see as probably one of the most valuable people in the come.

Charity Majors:
[15:09] Not there just pinch hitters are all has their amazing at everything you know they can.
You know I feel like work is it you have various hats you know that you can put on just effortlessly,
and if you have your end manager wings and your Tech lieblings like you’re such a power hitter like your all-around best I don’t know Sports metaphors whatever,
good stuff right and I feel like.
On the flip side you know it’s it’s good for us to have Engineers who have been managers is good for us to be have managers were recently Engineers you know I mean it’s hard to be that manager,
engineers and the Frontline doesn’t have any technical credibility you know and to three years into managing.
You’ve lost it you know you have to go back and do a stint of at least 6 months to get really up on things and.
I think that these are two incredibly valid choices you can either decide to be a manager and climb the ranks.
I mean you get Presley farther and farther away from the code and that’s fine cuz you for different skill-set or you can choose to go back and forth but you can’t really choose to just be a manager of an engineering team.
Indefinitely you know it’s a hard it’s a hard place to be in and I’m not sure if ever seen anyone do that well.

Christian Mccarrick:
[16:29] I need to go one way or the other right and I think one of the important things that companies in lighting companies I think do is have that formal duel in a career ladder.

Charity Majors:
[16:42] Yeah you don’t want to lose these people because they need something different you know you want to look for ways to retain was incredibly valuable talented MVP that’s the term end.
Got it you want to retain them because honestly you want people who who who chase an itch when they’re not being challenged you don’t want people who are just like cool.
Got it you know I can kick back down this is why I want to be for the next 10 years.

Christian Mccarrick:
[17:09] And one of the things you and I was looking through all the comments I think one of things I really like about somebody cuz you’re right,
is enough to see articles but you used to live spur this is commentary right back and forth both on Twitter and in some of your posts you know.

Charity Majors:
[17:24] That’s what’s about validating insoluable for me is hearing it’s it’s a starting point of the conversation you know that putting it out there you always kind of like taking gold for the deep breath like people go to sew tear me apart for this you know but but usually it’s like 90%.
Oh my God I never thought of that wow thank you that really enhances my understanding of the situation.

Christian Mccarrick:
[17:43] And one of the ones was you talk about even mentioning you should injury managers or help that let out or take a salary cut you know so that.
We can help with the in an image of contributors right and in one of the things we’ve done here and it wasn’t necessarily you know my you know my vision for this right I actually borrowed it which is what we do a lot from.
Camila from you know she’s teaching over at the wrong way and you know she had that resurface use that here’s a template for her engineering ladders and the career paths we had.
It was the things that we took upon that was actually we created salary bands here in the organization that match if you’re a director and you are a whatever it happens to be whether it’s a principal architect.
Architect then we try to match those bands so that you don’t go into management because while I want to buy house.

Charity Majors:
[18:34] It’s a terrible reason to go into management money like inevitably we live in a capitalist Society.
And what we pay for our signals what we value and you know you can nap all day about how you value operations Engineers as much as offering if you don’t pay them the same everybody knows you’re lying you know.
Theme for engineers and managers slack actually pays their managers slightly less than all of their engineers at the same level.
And I like that makes it clear that it’s a support role it’s not something to eat you just go out you’re actually sacrifices it’s a token amount.
But but but it’s a signal that you’re going into it for the right.

Christian Mccarrick:
[19:11] No it definitely it sends that message.
And you know what it what else how do you set up a company or support and what are your advice to a come in and set up a support the concept of someone becoming an image of a contributor manager in then going back report thanks.

Charity Majors:
[19:26] That as a company grows there are all these things that we assume everyone knows and.
Even if that’s true as time goes on they Decay you know it doesn’t become and in green part of your culture and less people repeat it autonomously in meetings you know every month of their own accord,
and reinforce it if you don’t reinforce it it it decays and so I think that like.
Regularly just repeating it in your all hands you know it and people roll their eyes and that’s fine.
There’s no other way to like synchronize on a value and if you start to hear people really rolling arise or really just be like yeah we say that,
well that’s a really good signal that something isn’t adding up when you need to investigator you need to see if the ball,
stop somewhere or if there’s a way that your unintentionally privileges a manager is all decisions are being made in rooms aren’t accessible to Engineers well then people will get really cynical about you saying it,
you know and that’s that’s a great error message for you to try and track down.

Christian Mccarrick:
[20:39] I forget where I read it and what company was but they actually try to empower that switch so much that when someone went back into being an icy Road actually everyone stood up and cheered and was a celebration.
I wish I could remember I’ll try to dig through my notes and I put in the show notes but it was it was such a cool concept cuz you’re not.
You’re being rewarded for trying something and there’s lots of reasons why people might go back into being and I see right they just might realize what they hate being a manager right and that’s fine.

Charity Majors:
[21:08] What’s the break.
Play to Euro to just kind of like recharge not have the weight of the world on their shoulders you know and it’s nice to have that that Embrace I love that idea.
I think that there are a lot of ways that we have to kind of being against the default by us you know and if the default biases you got promoted to manager well then we have to do the opposite we have to celebrate the people who go back to be.

Christian Mccarrick:
[21:32] And it’s interesting too cuz I manage teams in other cultures as well and some of them really are even more than we are here that is it’s a status right it’s your title.
Is that matters and how many people you manage right which is again is.

Charity Majors:
[21:46] Yes that’s real it’s really hard to internal ebook that you know as a manager you constantly you know another thing we really have to lean against the idea that your power corresponds to the size of your boredom.

Christian Mccarrick:
[22:01] Teams it’s crazy even myself in going and looking for other jobs and something they my flossophy is I really want to do.
I want to have the smallest possible team I can to have the most affectionate strike because of all the overhead in a cost but then you’re like what have you done your team of 300.

Charity Majors:
[22:16] I know these are all sheer istics that other and it’s hard it’s really hard to win against this because you know that the minute you step.
But outside your bubble you know how the rest of the world is going to judge you you know I got turned out when I left Facebook,
wanted to do something was challenging for me you know and I was talking to various companies near like not willing to hire me as a director because I hadn’t managed no XY teams of blah blah blah they were like you know,
well will hire you as a as a manager and and not not make you like the as an engineer for six months to prove your credibility first and I’m just like.
Don’t want to work there I don’t want to be hired for jobs that I mastered 10 years ago you know I want I want to be hired for something I’m not sure if I can do or not.
That’s exciting.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:03] Can I get to give a motivated.

Charity Majors:
[23:04] Tell me cuz I’m pushing my boundaries for them you know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:10] And because I think those are the people that work hardest for the job because they want to prove them.

Charity Majors:
[23:12] We have something to prove for sure.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:16] If you’ve done it there been there done that you going to go enroll me like all right when we go home.

Charity Majors:
[23:19] Here’s how it works you know everybody show up and nobody loves it when those people drawing you know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:24] Absolutely not so what are the questions that you know if you’re too kind of talk to the listeners out there that are listen to this and then maybe they have some doubts Wrightwood in your head what it what are the things that are.

Charity Majors:
[23:35] One thing I’ll mention that this comes up repeatedly is the fact that you mentioned salary bands for.
People will bring up the fact that it is rare to get to that level of icy as it is to get to that level of like if you’re in management long enough you’re doing a good job you’ll be a director and you can keep moving up the principal Engineers architects,
and I thought about this a lot and.
It’s true and I think it’s for good reasons it’s because as a manager your influence your your impact.
Is measured by how many people you are effectively supporting and.
You don’t want the principal in your title to be something everyone inevitably gets cuz that robs it of its meaning.

Christian Mccarrick:
[24:23] Title inflation.

Charity Majors:
[24:24] And it is just harder for that many senior Engineers to exist most people don’t get to that.
Proficiency can’t have someone having that much technical impact on.
Morgan imagine company of you know 500 Engineers with 100 principal engineers never get anything done you know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[24:47] Next Game of Thrones.

Charity Majors:
[24:48] Yeah you know most of them have to be willing and able to go down put their head down and do you know really pound out stuff from the smaller level because this is just how numerically work.
So that is a disparity and I don’t see any way around that and I think that it doesn’t do us any good to lie about it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:07] No true true and what are the what are the signs that you see when it’s may be time to have that conversation with a manager that maybe they belong back is in ICU now forever right but maybe is it break.

Charity Majors:
[25:19] Yeah do they still love what they do you know you can see when people are tired and burned out and kind of lashing out and kind of not taking care of themselves or openly.
Vocalizing their discontent you know and you have to be so much more self-aware as a manager and you have to remove yourself from that position or else.
You’re just demoralizing an entire team I don’t think it’s hard to spot it all,
it’s just hard to know if it’s temporary or longer-term and whether that person needs a two-week vacation.
What is probably the first step to the small leave of absence go to France you know take care of yourself come back and see if you can find any love in the game I feel like we work so hard to recruit new people and we don’t work nearly as hard.
To keep our amazing people that we already know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:12] Know that that’s a that’s a whole another conversation we to your point how much money we spend the time the energy meet the interview process and then they need like a month off for whatever reason.

Charity Majors:
[26:25] Emmylou now you’re out of PTO day.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:27] It’s right you know you find somebody else in logos I myself have a month off new jobs and get a raise.

Charity Majors:
[26:32] Yeah yeah I completely agree.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:36] What do you recommend as a manager who might be going back what kind of conversation should they have with their boss.

Charity Majors:
[26:45] Yeah hopefully the boss is aware enough to support this.
Will just assume that they are you can force-feed them this podcast or something that I do you want me to leave or do you want to make.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:58] Give me hint.

Charity Majors:
[26:59] Yeah hi this is in the boss’s supportive I think that you have a responsibility to make a smooth transition and make sure that everyone on your team knows this is your choice this is what you want,
this is what you need and it’s not their fault.
You know it’s about you it’s another it’s like any other divorce or breakup you know it’s like this is about me not you kids you know but they’re going to feel.
It’s it’s always a little bit disorienting when there’s a change in leadership is if you have a good relationship you need to let them know if you’re still there for them,
should the new person you’ll be there until your replacement is found often I feel like there’s someone on your team who’s pitching for the chance to give it a try.
And I also think that like we’re off and not quick enough to.
How does conversation is an ongoing thing where do you at your critical what changes you know people have different ideas I also feel like the first step into becoming a manager is to give it a try you know somebody may want to try it for a month or two.

Christian Mccarrick:
[28:01] Daddy recommend that what’s a good trial.

Charity Majors:
[28:03] I mean if it manager needs a vacation that’s great for everyone doing interns is a really great manager trial.
Managing some sort of little intern program doing,
like Mike O’Connor Christine had become Christine duckling she had these high school girls who she was teaching the right IOS app to know at Facebook and his father I like that you know anything that involves managing people and are feeling real conversations for the span of a couple of months,
is a pretty good trial If your manager wants to go on vacation for a couple of months and there’s somebody who wants to give it a try we should celebrate that and sometimes there are too many people who want to be managers,
relative to the number of Engineers RR that’s a great problem to have not not usual.

Christian Mccarrick:
[28:48] Yeah and how do you sanitize kinda goes the other way right how do you support and this is a little off topic but it’s still important how do you support managing the individual who you can see the potential you know they going to rock it and you don’t have a place in the organization.

Charity Majors:
[29:03] You know what I really believe in.
And doing what’s best for the individual not the company I think that that in the long-term it is for the company but like really want.
People to be their best self and you want to make sure that you’ve done everything you can that there are sure that you’ve you know tried but like.
If they need to move like God bless immuno help them find a place you know make it very clear that you want what’s best for them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[29:33] Karma that’s going to come back to.

Charity Majors:
[29:34] The small small Valley I’ve worked with so many people repeatedly and having people who will follow you from place to place is like a fucking superpower.
You know nothing is all about you but like it does it does all come back to you if you do what’s best for the people and the other thing is people are very very receptive to being asked to make sacrifices for a shared goal like.
I feel like the Ops teams that I’ve been on have been incredibly tight you know just bonded relative to the developer teams are next to me and I think there’s a large element,
I got two comes from suffering Heather you know being up at 3 a.m. when the world’s on fire and you guys don’t even know if a cup is going to survive it because you know and you’re all like.
Gallows humor a crack and there’s real bonding that comes in that time and people love being asked.
To step up and any hard way that is not permanent.

Christian Mccarrick:
[30:31] And if they see the reason for it.

Charity Majors:
[30:33] Yes if you can connect it to the bigger picture for them to you know these periods of intense stress like I said the key is not to make them permanent and to make them worth it.

Christian Mccarrick:
[30:45] Yeah you know one thing that I had talked to one of the other guests on was.
He’d become a manager and then he was actually went to another company to go back into the icy and he said what was actually challenging was the coding exam.
Whole going back into that you know that white board frenzy and that craziness of going up going back to your CS roots.
How do you how do you recommend people to do that how do you I mean obviously staying current as much as you can but.

Charity Majors:
[31:18] But you can’t you can’t you can’t do both.

Christian Mccarrick:
[31:19] You’re not doing her to most of our jobs were not doing half of these algorithms and that you know that I run the test anyway so.

Charity Majors:
[31:28] So there’s a whole nother interview that we can talk about the state of inertia like technical test in particular it’s it’s all kind of so on the one hand people really need to.
Yeah interview that’s a whole different people need to not give a shit you no need to hire for the bigger picture and you know some is capable of not them.
Bored but was the same you’re hiring your interviewing some place that is doing that and you don’t have any control over it honestly you need a couple of months at least to really get back in the swing of things.
It’s not a bad idea to take a couple months off to pick up a side project anything that that requires you to deliver to just get those gears moving again.
Context switching is so expensive which is why ultimately be a technique manager also doesn’t work you know you’re if you’re causing the context what can you can’t do either well.
So you really need to allow yourself time and space to get back into the mental rhythm.
Of developing shipping code and if you can do that before I go in the interviews great you’ll have more confidence you’ll perform more up to par cuz it does come back it does but it takes more than a couple of weeks.
You know it takes actual time.

Christian Mccarrick:
[32:52] Trying to read to learn math right you can’t you have to.

Charity Majors:
[32:54] Yeah yeah you have to do it so much what is muscle memory.

Christian Mccarrick:
[32:58] Or have your employees give you the coding exam in the wall and watch your Crash and Burn.

Charity Majors:
[33:02] Yeah exactly exactly if you could teach for the test always he’s for the test is fine.

Christian Mccarrick:
[33:09] And going back to your article you you do refer that when you are and I see right you should always attain to try to get better being and I see you when your manager you should have tained to be as best as mad as you can.
What would it what is out there that you see that can help a manager get become a.

Charity Majors:
[33:27] Oh that’s such a great question there are all kinds of snake oil providers would love to sell you something.
Everyone has a different learning style I personally don’t learn for a well.
Before I’ve done it you know I don’t even usually go to conference talk because unless I’m already familiar with the material I’m not going to learn anything,
I have to do it and then then I can learn something more about it there are few good books out there precious feel you mention Camille.
I think her book is really good I think that the the book by Ben Horowitz about yes a hard thing about hard things,
amazing a couple of the honestly it’s Piers you know I think of management very much like you have a toolbox,
every person,
is someone who you’re going to have to try a few different tools on you don’t actually know what’s going to click for them and that magic moment and the more tools you have the come or you can stay,
and the more things you can try to see if something clicks for them and in the main mainly that I’ve ever been able to build up that tool set besides.
Trying and failing a lot is having people who you can trust to ask these questions of and you know they’re not going to.
Spread it around you know the I cannot emphasize enough to eat the Primacy of confidentiality you know as a manager you have access to privileged information which is part of what gives you this power and.

[35:01] You have to hold a lot of space for a lot of people’s various realities to all be simultaneously kind of true and.
And you have to learn to do this for other people to without gossiping and that can be really hard but having people.
After Christine and I started the company I started setting up these monthly.
Dates court dates with people who I love for experience,
PVH and Eric Summers of once it once a month and now they know me and my situation well enough that they can really accurately identify when I’m actually in crisis,
or give good advice is not generic good advice but like.
When I was in this situation and knowing what I know of you and your responses maybe you know and that’s some Next Level it’s like having an extended brain like 20 other amazing people you know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[35:57] And how do you recommend for people that are getting into because I think it’s very isolating right to be a man,
how do you recommend forming goes to the citizenship.

Charity Majors:
[36:07] That Brute Force joke about it but like I started interviewing and I left management and.
And I also started dating I didn’t OkCupid it all at the same time cuz you’re all crossover skills and more I got used to having to explain myself in 30 seconds and,
understand what I wanted out of life and be able to like rattle it off the better it I got it all three and it was.
Ratchet it was one of the hardest times of my life but I leveled up a lot and I feel like the other thing you could always do is always be helpful to people any chance that you.
You know it creates a reservoir of Goodwill for you out there in the world people who are just looking for a chance to like do you a solid back you know and.
This is where it’s nice to have a job at the senior I see his kind of coasting kind of looking for the next thing cuz they’re always people around you who need help with something or another and you don’t have to be a dick I’m kind of force yourself on anyone ordered just be aware of who you can help.
And that’s a really good way to start a relationship.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:13] It’s interesting because sometimes you go to one of these conferences are you going to meet up with Vance and kind of your your might go by yourself and you feel like you’re lonely and Elsa together. Look over me like the world looking at their shoes.
Everyone just and it sometimes you score me say hi in like their face lights up.

Charity Majors:
[37:31] Turn the quote on quote cool kids are pretty much just like huddled together because they’re terrified of you know being there yeah yeah.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:37] And you know I’ve noticed that too just to factor going to say hi and they welcome the fact that you actually did that.

Charity Majors:
[37:44] Almost everyone is receptive in a fat person that you tried isn’t to the next one you know is that that fresh holder that I don’t know.
The I feel like a lot of being successful in relationships is making the steak slow.
You know reduce the stakes make it make it not a big deal just you know casual don’t that’s all your hopes and dreams and anyone connection.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:08] Detroit get over the fear rejection you just saying hi.

Charity Majors:
[38:11] Can and if they’re not about you the probably bad day you know just like you know not your fault just like Rolanda the next one easier said than done I know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:19] Yeah exactly know that is right what what other advice do you have for people trying to making that that pension see if you say hey it’s not you don’t have to choose right away I think that’s what I think you said to.

Charity Majors:
[38:33] What is everyone you know gets above the age of 30 they start actually taking stock of where they’re at and what they’ve learned and where they want to go and I feel like everyone.
Everyone needs to be thinking about how I love that leadership you know it is it is an absolute fact that you can have.
You know I have 15 people and I company now every single one of them is a leader,
and that does not it’s not stifling it’s not suffocating because there’s always shit that someone doesn’t want to do you know there’s always stays for someone to step it up you know and I think that we get so focused on,
manager sometimes I think we get to focus on the few people who are clearly at the top of whatever diagram but like it’s your,
responsibility and it is your joy to level into a position of leadership and learn what really works for you and you’re just not going to get it right the first time you try you have to experiment you know and,
and what’s right for you is going to change too and so it’s as constant like the second half of your career.
Have to be back new lowering steaks and experimenting and and not think too attached to any outcome.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:39] Yeah that’s a good point it’s one of the things I try to tell my engineers and my managers as well as just constantly reevaluate and my doing the best that I can now.

Charity Majors:
[39:50] Counting to me eventually the answer I hope will be no then it’s what you want to do next.

Christian Mccarrick:
[39:56] We have two such I think people have such this inertia where it’s so hard for them to choose.

Charity Majors:
[40:01] Car changing jobs to is so hard I don’t know what anyone ever does it is freaking miserable you know you have to win all these people.

Christian Mccarrick:
[40:10] Which is why you changing Quantico jobs Ennis in the company right is much easier.

Charity Majors:
[40:15] Peter should acknowledge that since supported like there is so many things to that I feel like CEOs and leaders they assume it is understood.
This is what we started out talking about right it’s like the assume that but it’s not it’s not explicit.
Understood the other day somebody asked me about vacation policy.
How was she to know that you know she would been here from what I thought it was obvious it’s not obvious it’s never obvious.

Christian Mccarrick:
[40:48] Type in your head.

Charity Majors:
[40:49] Yeah it might be your head of Mickey and everyone’s had who’s been there you know that everyone has to learn it for the first time and it’s better for you better for them better for everyone if you can just make a habit of saying them.
Repeatedly you’re going to bore yourself to tear as everyone else but it’s actually better than any of the Alternatives which is like my life’s motto everything is terrible what’s the least worst alternate.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:12] And again I have I read like like I speed read but I and I remember the content but I know his remember who right which is which I’m sorry so I’m going to credit us to someone that you know it’s not me.
You’re one of the things that they they kind of talked about was I completely forgot how about that I’ll get back.

Charity Majors:
[41:31] Camel.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:34] Damn I was so excited what it was and I forgot I’ll put it up later and I’ll cut this part out of it I got to keep it in because we’re all info.

Charity Majors:
[41:36] Failure demonstrate.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:44] But you don’t have to things going to talk about you is you are very active on you know what would you call a set of social media Twitter in blogging.
How do you one how do you find time for that in a busy schedule we we I think we were talking before the show.
There’s a lot of people and I’d like to come on the show because they don’t have to have these piles of drafts blog post but how do you actually you know.

Charity Majors:
[42:09] It’s very easy so I have an hour long walk to work and home from work and that’s where I write all my articles and I do all of my Twitter and everything I like it because,
like I was just saying it’s like a punctuation to my day I get myself into work mode and then spend down out of the work mode and I tend to use that time as candies a lot kind of strip cuz I’m not looking where I’m going but,
it works for me I get my exercise if you know and and I just think better about some things while I’m walking while I’m out and around so it really works for me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:41] And you know you definitely we talked a little before that it’s not just you posting right but I think your your post generate a lot of response.

Charity Majors:
[42:51] Yeah there a lot of really amazing smart people out there that like as an introvert as an intense introvert I don’t have enough.
Emotional bad with to meet that many people or talk to them I get really exhausted at conferences but I love the little bits that come from interacting with them at from the safe distance over Twitter it up,
and I’ve learned a lot just from being.
Brave enough to like start a conversation by saying something that I know is going to be 20% wrong and someone’s going to get super pissy at me that’s fine,
Define I learn a lot from people trying in with their experience or or letting me know about something that I hadn’t really considered.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:34] It how do you recommend for people who want to maybe get more involved but or not.

Charity Majors:
[43:40] Sorry about that.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:47] So the start that over how do you recommend for people who might want to get more involved in this in the kind of twittersphere or conferences or writing like what are some of the steps you would.

Charity Majors:
[43:57] What’s a great question because this is this is also part of I think being a senior engineer senior person and Tech is,
it’s time to start talking about it you know every person has a really unique perspective and it doesn’t do any good if it’s locked up in your brain you know and we don’t all have to be,
you know doing 20 or 30 conference a year whatever about I think it’s really important once in awhile it’s also alearn about the thing that you know,
best in an entirely new and different way when you start trying to teach people like it gets embedded in you and I,
and in a way that makes it impossible to dislodge ask me about mongodb and for some people that’s talking conferences honestly it’s not that hard because.
Cats are always looking for new voices they don’t want to just be the same 20 people over and over just write an abstract get some feedback from somebody who’s an experienced reviewer or conference speaker and and do it for the soul,

Christian Mccarrick:
[44:58] And I’m not know there’s a there’s a great conference mailing list thing called technically speaking,
braids and I think I’ll put it in my show notes but it’s they have to do a real good job every month of kind of showing with some of the plumbing, Nazar and helps with talking stuff I think it’s a fabless resource I try to look and send it to some of my teams as well so.

Charity Majors:
[45:17] A lot of people need to be asked or wait to be asked this is something that I I.
Try to remember and feel a lot is just like,
ask people about doing you in different things you know nothing they say no but you planted the seed and they come around and I actually I would be interested in doing that you know most of us I never talked to the conference until somebody reached out and asked me,
Anna gave me the safety to go they want to hear from me.
Maybe I do have something to talk about you know okay fine where I don’t know that I ever would have just like submitted a conference proposal cuz it seem like something that other people.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:54] Wasn’t yeah.

Charity Majors:
[45:55] Yeah asking people as I think important fresh remember.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:00] And proactive I think doing something maybe that’s not the same old like maybe not too many paper Maybe.

Charity Majors:
[46:06] You should always be terrified I mean I think that if there’s anything that I’ve consistently done in my career as I take them more terrifying option.
You know I always do the thing that I’m not sure I can do because otherwise I’m bored and I don’t necessarily recommend this kind of masochism but I think that it’s worth factoring in when you have a choice.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:23] What’s going to help you to grow.

Charity Majors:
[46:25] Yeah what’s hard cuz that’s going to buzz going to make your nerve just light up and I’ll prevent Alzheimer’s I’m pretty sure.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:31] That’s good haven’t had an employee today when you can do some the details.
It going through some difficult conversations and obviously as a manager of it and it’s a comp in running the company I would have loved for it to work out.
But the fact that you know then have to go through a difficult conversation Was I Thinkin you know very informative than empowering for the individual had to go through it and it’s a great learning thing.

Charity Majors:
[46:55] I was brought up to be very repressed you know Evangelical Idaho you know we did not talk about things and if there’s two things that have been.
Incredibly good for my overall life satisfaction is dating women who credibly good at processing and making you talk about your feelings whether you meant to or not and being a manager like cuz you have to actually know you.
Conflict now cuz it’s so much it’s it’s the least worst option.
Better for it to be out in the open talking about it and resolving it then for it to just fester and for people to not be sure if it’s okay or if it’s over or what you’re thinking or what you’re feeling I think one of the most effective management techniques I have is.
Emotional broadcasting because if I’m not happy with something and I cough and I’m not happy I don’t have to know what the answer is you know it’s their job to do the engineering to make it better you know all I have to do is be like think we can do better than this.
And that means they’ll make it better and I don’t have to be pretty digesting their food for them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[47:56] And you’re sitting expectation which is important.

Charity Majors:
[47:59] Everybody I’m constantly surprised how even the people who are doing the best.
Don’t know that the way I feel like they should know that you know people need to consistently hear it and in order for people to trust your praise you have to give negative.
Or they don’t or they they’re not sure if it’s true or not.

Christian Mccarrick:
[48:18] Is it just fluff fluff fluff.

Charity Majors:
[48:20] Are they doing nothing but telling me what I want to hear am I going to in my going to get fired not ever have a chance to turn it around you know this is real anxiety that everyone has.

Christian Mccarrick:
[48:29] You know how to good you know I’m one of my managers assertive his quote he said was the only thing worse than you know giving bad feedback was waiting to give back to back or have that hard conversation.

Charity Majors:
[48:37] Yes for sure for sure.

Christian Mccarrick:
[48:40] Is it you up as manager aren’t so get it out.

Charity Majors:
[48:41] It does yep get it out.

Christian Mccarrick:
[48:43] Edwin appreciate.

Charity Majors:
[48:44] Yep even if you fuck it up even if you were wrong still get it up.

Christian Mccarrick:
[48:48] So what is the best way for those who haven’t heard of you from before A few between a people listen as podcast but what’s the best way to get ahold of you online.

Charity Majors:
[48:58] Twitter is at meeteetse it was my EverQuest enchanter name.
Yeah but before that it was from College from the operating systems like nips are 3000 language or something like that on Twitter my blogs of Charity. WTF.
And all the company is Honeycomb that I owe.

Christian Mccarrick:
[49:18] Accent chair thank you very much.

Charity Majors:
[49:19] For having me this is this is a delay.

Christian Mccarrick:
[49:21] Great your hopefully maybe have you in the back on the show sometime okay have a great day.