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Christian Soschner

Christian Soschner

4 months ago

Steve Jobs' Secrets Revealed

More on Leadership

Alison Randel

Alison Randel

2 months ago

Raising the Bar on Your 1:1s

Photo by Anotia Wang @anotia

Managers spend much time in 1:1s. Most team members meet with supervisors regularly. 1:1s can help create relationships and tackle tough topics. Few appreciate the 1:1 format's potential. Most of the time, that potential is spent on small talk, surface-level updates, and ranting (Ugh, the marketing team isn’t stepping up the way I want them to).

What if you used that time to have deeper conversations and important insights? What if change was easy?

This post introduces a new 1:1 format to help you dive deeper, faster, and develop genuine relationships without losing impact.

A 1:1 is a chat, you would assume. Why use structure to talk to a coworker? Go! I know how to talk to people. I can write. I've always written. Also, This article was edited by Zoe.

Before you discard something, ask yourself if there's a good reason not to try anything new. Is the 1:1 only a talk, or do you want extra benefits? Try the steps below to discover more.

I. Reflection (5 minutes)

Context-free, broad comments waste time and are useless. Instead, give team members 5 minutes to write these 3 prompts.

  1. What's effective?

  2. What is decent but could be improved?

  3. What is broken or missing?

Why these? They encourage people to be honest about all their experiences. Answering these questions helps people realize something isn't working. These prompts let people consider what's working.

Why take notes? Because you get more in less time. Will you feel awkward sitting quietly while your coworker writes? Probably. Persevere. Multi-task. Take a break from your afternoon meeting marathon. Any awkwardness will pay off.

What happens? After a few minutes of light conversation, create a template like the one given here and have team members fill in their replies. You can pre-share the template (with the caveat that this isn’t meant to take much prep time). Do this with your coworker: Answer the prompts. Everyone can benefit from pondering and obtaining guidance.

This step's output.

Part II: Talk (10-20 minutes)

Most individuals can explain what they see but not what's behind an answer. You don't like a meeting. Why not? Marketing partnership is difficult. What makes working with them difficult? I don't recommend slandering coworkers. Consider how your meetings, decisions, and priorities make work harder. The excellent stuff too. You want to know what's humming so you can reproduce the magic.

First, recognize some facts.

  • Real power dynamics exist. To encourage individuals to be honest, you must provide a safe environment and extend clear invites. Even then, it may take a few 1:1s for someone to feel secure enough to go there in person. It is part of your responsibility to admit that it is normal.

  • Curiosity and self-disclosure are crucial. Most leaders have received training to present themselves as the authorities. However, you will both benefit more from the dialogue if you can be open and honest about your personal experience, ask questions out of real curiosity, and acknowledge the pertinent sacrifices you're making as a leader.

  • Honesty without bias is difficult and important. Due to concern for the feelings of others, people frequently hold back. Or if they do point anything out, they do so in a critical manner. The key is to be open and unapologetic about what you observe while not presuming that your viewpoint is correct and that of the other person is incorrect.

Let's go into some prompts (based on genuine conversations):

  • “What do you notice across your answers?”

  • “What about the way you/we/they do X, Y, or Z is working well?”

  • “ Will you say more about item X in ‘What’s not working?’”

  • “I’m surprised there isn’t anything about Z. Why is that?”

  • “All of us tend to play some role in maintaining certain patterns. How might you/we be playing a role in this pattern persisting?”

  • “How might the way we meet, make decisions, or collaborate play a role in what’s currently happening?”

Consider the preceding example. What about the Monday meeting isn't working? Why? or What about the way we work with marketing makes collaboration harder? Remember to share your honest observations!

Third section: observe patterns (10-15 minutes)

Leaders desire to empower their people but don't know how. We also have many preconceptions about what empowerment means to us and how it works. The next phase in this 1:1 format will assist you and your team member comprehend team power and empowerment. This understanding can help you support and shift your team member's behavior, especially where you disagree.

How to? After discussing the stated responses, ask each team member what they can control, influence, and not control. Mark their replies. You can do the same, adding colors where you disagree.

This step's output.

Next, consider the color constellation. Discuss these questions:

  • Is one color much more prevalent than the other? Why, if so?

  • Are the colors for the "what's working," "what's fine," and "what's not working" categories clearly distinct? Why, if so?

  • Do you have any disagreements? If yes, specifically where does your viewpoint differ? What activities do you object to? (Remember, there is no right or wrong in this. Give explicit details and ask questions with curiosity.)

Example: Based on the colors, you can ask, Is the marketing meeting's quality beyond your control? Were our marketing partners consulted? Are there any parts of team decisions we can control? We can't control people, but have we explored another decision-making method? How can we collaborate and generate governance-related information to reduce work, even if the requirement for prep can't be eliminated?

Consider the top one or two topics for this conversation. No 1:1 can cover everything, and that's OK. Focus on the present.

Part IV: Determine the next step (5 minutes)

Last, examine what this conversation means for you and your team member. It's easy to think we know the next moves when we don't.

Like what? You and your teammate answer these questions.

  1. What does this signify moving ahead for me? What can I do to change this? Make requests, for instance, and see how people respond before thinking they won't be responsive.

  2. What demands do I have on other people or my partners? What should I do first? E.g. Make a suggestion to marketing that we hold a monthly retrospective so we can address problems and exchange input more frequently. Include it on the meeting's agenda for next Monday.

Close the 1:1 by sharing what you noticed about the chat. Observations? Learn anything?

Yourself, you, and the 1:1

As a leader, you either reinforce or disrupt habits. Try this template if you desire greater ownership, empowerment, or creativity. Consider how you affect surrounding dynamics. How can you expect others to try something new in high-stakes scenarios, like meetings with cross-functional partners or senior stakeholders, if you won't? How can you expect deep thought and relationship if you don't encourage it in 1:1s? What pattern could this new format disrupt or reinforce?

Fight reluctance. First attempts won't be ideal, and that's OK. You'll only learn by trying.

William Anderson

William Anderson

6 months ago

When My Remote Leadership Skills Took Off

4 Ways To Manage Remote Teams & Employees

The wheels hit the ground as I landed in Rochester.

Our six-person satellite office was now part of my team.

Their manager only reported to me the day before, but I had my ticket booked ahead of time.

I had managed remote employees before but this was different. Engineers dialed into headquarters for every meeting.

So when I learned about the org chart change, I knew a strong first impression would set the tone for everything else.

I was either their boss, or their boss's boss, and I needed them to know I was committed.

Managing a fleet of satellite freelancers or multiple offices requires treating others as more than just a face behind a screen.

You must comprehend each remote team member's perspective and daily interactions.

The good news is that you can start using these techniques right now to better understand and elevate virtual team members.

1. Make Visits To Other Offices

If budgeted, visit and work from offices where teams and employees report to you. Only by living alongside them can one truly comprehend their problems with communication and other aspects of modern life.

2. Have Others Come to You

• Having remote, distributed, or satellite employees and teams visit headquarters every quarter or semi-quarterly allows the main office culture to rub off on them.

When remote team members visit, more people get to meet them, which builds empathy.

If you can't afford to fly everyone, at least bring remote managers or leaders. Hopefully they can resurrect some culture.

3. Weekly Work From Home

No home office policy?

Make one.

WFH is a team-building, problem-solving, and office-viewing opportunity.

For dial-in meetings, I started working from home on occasion.

It also taught me which teams “forget” or “skip” calls.

As a remote team member, you experience all the issues first hand.

This isn't as accurate for understanding teams in other offices, but it can be done at any time.

4. Increase Contact Even If It’s Just To Chat

Don't underestimate office banter.

Sometimes it's about bonding and trust, other times it's about business.

If you get all this information in real-time, please forward it.

Even if nothing critical is happening, call remote team members to check in and chat.

I guarantee that building relationships and rapport will increase both their job satisfaction and yours.

Alexander Nguyen

Alexander Nguyen

25 days ago

A Comparison of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google's Compensation

Learn or earn

In 2020, I started software engineering. My base wage has progressed as follows:

Amazon (2020): $112,000

Microsoft (2021): $123,000

Google (2022): $169,000

I didn't major in math, but those jumps appear more than a 7% wage increase. Here's a deeper look at the three.

The Three Categories of Compensation

Most software engineering compensation packages at IT organizations follow this format.

Minimum Salary

Base salary is pre-tax income. Most organizations give a base pay. This is paid biweekly, twice monthly, or monthly.

Recruiting Bonus

Sign-On incentives are one-time rewards to new hires. Companies need an incentive to switch. If you leave early, you must pay back the whole cost or a pro-rated amount.

Equity

Equity is complex and requires its own post. A company will promise to give you a certain amount of company stock but when you get it depends on your offer. 25% per year for 4 years, then it's gone.

If a company gives you $100,000 and distributes 25% every year for 4 years, expect $25,000 worth of company stock in your stock brokerage on your 1 year work anniversary.

Performance Bonus

Tech offers may include yearly performance bonuses. Depends on performance and funding. I've only seen 0-20%.

Engineers' overall compensation usually includes:

Base Salary + Sign-On + (Total Equity)/4 + Average Performance Bonus

Amazon: (TC: 150k)

Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash

Base Pay System

Amazon pays Seattle employees monthly on the first work day. I'd rather have my money sooner than later, even if it saves processing and pay statements.

The company upped its base pay cap from $160,000 to $350,000 to compete with other tech companies.

Performance Bonus

Amazon has no performance bonus, so you can work as little or as much as you like and get paid the same. Amazon is savvy to avoid promising benefits it can't deliver.

Sign-On Bonus

Amazon gives two two-year sign-up bonuses. First-year workers could receive $20,000 and second-year workers $15,000. It's probably to make up for the company's strange equity structure.

If you leave during the first year, you'll owe the entire money and a prorated amount for the second year bonus.

Equity

Most organizations prefer a 25%, 25%, 25%, 25% equity structure. Amazon takes a different approach with end-heavy equity:

  • the first year, 5%

  • 15% after one year.

  • 20% then every six months

We thought it was constructed this way to keep staff longer.

Microsoft (TC: 185k)

Photo by Louis-Philippe Poitras on Unsplash

Base Pay System

Microsoft paid biweekly.

Gainful Performance

My offer letter suggested a 0%-20% performance bonus. Everyone will be satisfied with a 10% raise at year's end.

But misleading press where the budget for the bonus is doubled can upset some employees because they won't earn double their expected bonus. Still barely 10% for 2022 average.

Sign-On Bonus

Microsoft's sign-on bonus is a one-time payout. The contract can require 2-year employment. You must negotiate 1 year. It's pro-rated, so that's fair.

Equity

Microsoft is one of those companies that has standard 25% equity structure. Except if you’re a new graduate.

In that case it’ll be

  • 25% six months later

  • 25% each year following that

New grads will acquire equity in 3.5 years, not 4. I'm guessing it's to keep new grads around longer.

Google (TC: 300k)

Photo by Rubaitul Azad on Unsplash

Base Pay Structure

Google pays biweekly.

Performance Bonus

Google's offer letter specifies a 15% bonus. It's wonderful there's no cap, but I might still get 0%. A little more than Microsoft’s 10% and a lot more than Amazon’s 0%.

Sign-On Bonus

Google gave a 1-year sign-up incentive. If the contract is only 1 year, I can move without any extra obligations.

Not as fantastic as Amazon's sign-up bonuses, but the remainder of the package might compensate.

Equity

We covered Amazon's tail-heavy compensation structure, so Google's front-heavy equity structure may surprise you.

Annual structure breakdown

  • 33% Year 1

  • 33% Year 2

  • 22% Year 3

  • 12% Year 4

The goal is to get them to Google and keep them there.

Final Thoughts

This post hopefully helped you understand the 3 firms' compensation arrangements.

There's always more to discuss, such as refreshers, 401k benefits, and business discounts, but I hope this shows a distinction between these 3 firms.

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Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird

22 days ago

Memes Help This YouTube Channel Earn Over $12k Per Month

Image credit: Jakob Owens via Unsplash

Take a look at a YouTube channel making anything up to over $12k a month from making very simple videos.

And the best part? Its replicable by anyone. Basic videos can be generated for free without design abilities.

Join me as I deconstruct the channel to estimate how much they make, how they do it, and how you can too.

What Do They Do Exactly?

Happy Land posts memes with a simple caption they wrote. So, it's new. The videos are a slideshow of meme photos with stock music.

The site posts 12 times a day.

8-10-minute videos show 10 second images. Thus, each video needs 48-60 memes.

Memes are video titles (e.g. times a boyfriend was hilarious, back to school fails, funny restaurant signs).

Some stats about the channel:

  • Founded on October 30, 2020

  • 873 videos were added.

  • 81.8k subscribers

  • 67,244,196 views of the video

What Value Are They Adding?

Everyone can find free memes online. This channel collects similar memes into a single video so you don't have to scroll or click for more. It’s right there, you just keep watching and more will come.

By theming it, the audience is prepared for the video's content.

If you want hilarious animal memes or restaurant signs, choose the video and you'll get up to 60 memes without having to look for them. Genius!

How much money do they make?

According to www.socialblade.com, the channel earns $800-12.8k (image shown in my home currency of GBP).

Screenshot from SocialBlade.com

That's a crazy estimate, but it highlights the unbelievable potential of a channel that presents memes.

This channel thrives on quantity, thus putting out videos is necessary to keep the flow continuing and capture its audience's attention.

How Are the Videos Made?

Straightforward. Memes are added to a presentation without editing (so you could make this in PowerPoint or Keynote).

Each slide should include a unique image and caption. Set 10 seconds per slide.

Add music and post the video.

Finding enough memes for the material and theming is difficult, but if you enjoy memes, this is a fun job.

This case study should have shown you that you don't need expensive software or design expertise to make entertaining videos. Why not try fresh, easy-to-do ideas and see where they lead?

Aparna Jain

Aparna Jain

15 days ago

Negative Effects of Working for a FAANG Company

Consider yourself lucky if your last FAANG interview was rejected.

Image by Author- Royalty free image enhanced in Canva

FAANG—Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google

(I know its manga now, but watch me not care)

These big companies offer many benefits.

  1. large salaries and benefits

  2. Prestige

  3. high expectations for both you and your coworkers.

However, these jobs may have major drawbacks that only become apparent when you're thrown to the wolves, so it's up to you whether you see them as drawbacks or opportunities.

I know most college graduates start working at big tech companies because of their perceived coolness.

I've worked in these companies for years and can tell you what to expect if you get a job here.

Little fish in a vast ocean

The most obvious. Most billion/trillion-dollar companies employ thousands.

You may work on a small, unnoticed product part.

Directors and higher will sometimes make you redo projects they didn't communicate well without respecting your time, talent, or will to work on trivial stuff that doesn't move company needles.

Peers will only say, "Someone has to take out the trash," even though you know company resources are being wasted.

The power imbalance is frustrating.

What you can do about it

Know your WHY. Consider long-term priorities. Though riskier, I stayed in customer-facing teams because I loved building user-facing products.

This increased my impact. However, if you enjoy helping coworkers build products, you may be better suited for an internal team.

I told the Directors and Vice Presidents that their actions could waste Engineering time, even though it was unpopular. Some were receptive, some not.

I kept having tough conversations because they were good for me and the company.

However, some of my coworkers praised my candor but said they'd rather follow the boss.

An outdated piece of technology can take years to update.

Apple introduced Swift for iOS development in 2014. Most large tech companies adopted the new language after five years.

This is frustrating if you want to learn new skills and increase your market value.

Knowing that my lack of Swift practice could hurt me if I changed jobs made writing verbose Objective C painful.

What you can do about it

  1. Work on the new technology in side projects; one engineer rewrote the Lyft app in Swift over the course of a weekend and promoted its adoption throughout the entire organization.

  2. To integrate new technologies and determine how to combine legacy and modern code, suggest minor changes to the existing codebase.

Most managers spend their entire day in consecutive meetings.

After their last meeting, the last thing they want is another meeting to discuss your career goals.

Sometimes a manager has 15-20 reports, making it hard to communicate your impact.

Misunderstandings and stress can result.

Especially when the manager should focus on selfish parts of the team. Success won't concern them.

What you can do about it

  1. Tell your manager that you are a self-starter and that you will pro-actively update them on your progress, especially if they aren't present at the meetings you regularly attend.

  2. Keep being proactive and look for mentorship elsewhere if you believe your boss doesn't have enough time to work on your career goals.

  3. Alternately, look for a team where the manager has more authority to assist you in making career decisions.

After a certain point, company loyalty can become quite harmful.

Because big tech companies create brand loyalty, too many colleagues stayed in unhealthy environments.

When you work for a well-known company and strangers compliment you, it's fun to tell your friends.

Work defines you. This can make you stay too long even though your career isn't progressing and you're unhappy.

Google may become your surname.

Workplaces are not families.

If you're unhappy, don't stay just because they gave you the paycheck to buy your first home and make you feel like you owe your life to them.

Many employees stayed too long. Though depressed and suicidal.

What you can do about it

  1. Your life is not worth a company.

  2. Do you want your job title and workplace to be listed on your gravestone? If not, leave if conditions deteriorate.

  3. Recognize that change can be challenging. It's difficult to leave a job you've held for a number of years.

  4. Ask those who have experienced this change how they handled it.

You still have a bright future if you were rejected from FAANG interviews.

Rejections only lead to amazing opportunities. If you're young and childless, work for a startup.

Companies may pay more than FAANGs. Do your research.

Ask recruiters and hiring managers tough questions about how the company and teams prioritize respectful working hours and boundaries for workers.

I know many 15-year-olds who have a lifelong dream of working at Google, and it saddens me that they're chasing a name on their resume instead of excellence.

This article is not meant to discourage you from working at these companies, but to share my experience about what HR/managers will never mention in interviews.

Read both sides before signing the big offer letter.

ANTHONY P.

ANTHONY P.

7 days ago

Startups are difficult. Streamlining the procedure for creating the following unicorn.

New ventures are exciting. It's fun to imagine yourself rich, successful, and famous (if that's your thing). How you'll help others and make your family proud. This excitement can pull you forward for years, even when you intuitively realize that the path you're on may not lead to your desired success.

Know when to change course. Switching course can mean pivoting or changing direction.

In this not-so-short blog, I'll describe the journey of building your dream. And how the journey might look when you think you're building your dream, but fall short of that vision. Both can feel similar in the beginning, but there are subtle differences.

Let’s dive in.

How an exciting journey to a dead end looks and feels.

You want to help many people. You're business-minded, creative, and ambitious. You jump into entrepreneurship. You're excited, free, and in control.

I'll use tech as an example because that's what I know best, but this applies to any entrepreneurial endeavor.

So you start learning the basics of your field, say coding/software development. You read books, take courses, and may even join a bootcamp. You start practicing, and the journey begins. Once you reach a certain level of skill (which can take months, usually 12-24), you gain the confidence to speak with others in the field and find common ground. You might attract a co-founder this way with time. You and this person embark on a journey (Tip: the idea you start with is rarely the idea you end with).

Amateur mistake #1: You spend months building a product before speaking to customers.

Building something pulls you forward blindly. You make mistakes, avoid customers, and build with your co-founder or small team in the dark for months, usually 6-12 months.

You're excited when the product launches. We'll be billionaires! The market won't believe it. This excites you and the team. Launch.

….

Nothing happens.

Some people may sign up out of pity, only to never use the product or service again.

You and the team are confused, discouraged and in denial. They don't get what we've built yet. We need to market it better, we need to talk to more investors, someone will understand our vision.

This is a hopeless path, and your denial could last another 6 months. If you're lucky, while talking to consumers and investors (which you should have done from the start), someone who has been there before would pity you and give you an idea to pivot into that can create income.

Suppose you get this idea and pivot your business. Again, you've just pivoted into something limited by what you've already built. It may be a revenue-generating idea, but it's rarely new. Now you're playing catch-up, doing something others are doing but you can do better. (Tip #2: Don't be late.) Your chances of winning are slim, and you'll likely never catch up.

You're finally seeing revenue and feel successful. You can compete, but if you're not a first mover, you won't earn enough over time. You'll get by or work harder than ever to earn what a skilled trade could provide. You didn't go into business to stress out and make $100,000 or $200,000 a year. When you can make the same amount by becoming a great software developer, electrician, etc.

You become stuck. Either your firm continues this way for years until you realize there isn't enough growth to recruit a strong team and remove yourself from day-to-day operations due to competition. Or a catastrophic economic event forces you to admit that what you were building wasn't new and unique and wouldn't get you where you wanted to be.

This realization could take 6-10 years. No kidding.

The good news is, you’ve learned a lot along the way and this information can be used towards your next venture (if you have the energy).

Key Lesson: Don’t build something if you aren’t one of the first in the space building it just for the sake of building something.

-

Let's discuss what it's like to build something that can make your dream come true.

Case 2: Building something the market loves is difficult but rewarding.

It starts with a problem that hasn't been adequately solved for a long time but is now solvable due to technology. Or a new problem due to a change in how things are done.

Let's examine each example.

Example #1: Mass communication. The problem is now solvable due to some technological breakthrough.

Twitter — One of the first web 2 companies that became successful with the rise of smart mobile computing.

People can share their real-time activities via mobile device with friends, family, and strangers. Web 2 and smartphones made it easy and fun.

Example #2: A new problem has emerged due to some change in the way things are conducted.

Zoom- A web-conferencing company that reached massive success due to the movement towards “work from home”, remote/hybrid work forces.

Online web conferencing allows for face-to-face communication.

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These two examples show how to build a unicorn-type company. It's a mix of solving the right problem at the right time, either through a technological breakthrough that opens up new opportunities or by fundamentally changing how people do things.

Let's find these opportunities.

Start by examining problems, such as how the world has changed and how we can help it adapt. It can also be both. Start team brainstorming. Research technologies, current world-trends, use common sense, and make a list. Then, choose the top 3 that you're most excited about and seem most workable based on your skillsets, values, and passion.

Once you have this list, create the simplest MVP you can and test it with customers. The prototype can be as simple as a picture or diagram of user flow and end-user value. No coding required. Market-test. Twitter's version 1 was simple. It was a web form that asked, "What are you doing?" Then publish it from your phone. A global status update, wherever you are. Currently, this company has a $50 billion market cap.

Here's their MVP screenshot.

Small things grow. Tiny. Simplify.

Remember Frequency and Value when brainstorming. Your product is high frequency (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok) or high value (Airbnb for renting travel accommodations), or both (Gmail).

Once you've identified product ideas that meet the above criteria, they're simple, have a high frequency of use, or provide deep value. You then bring it to market in the simplest, most cost-effective way. You can sell a half-working prototype with imagination and sales skills. You need just enough of a prototype to convey your vision to a user or customer.

With this, you can approach real people. This will do one of three things: give you a green light to continue on your vision as is, show you that there is no opportunity and people won't use it, or point you in a direction that is a blend of what you've come up with and what the customer / user really wants, and you update the prototype and go back to the maze. Repeat until you have enough yeses and conviction to build an MVP.