Tag Archives: michael-lopp

Become Comfortable with Incompleteness: Writing Tips from Rands

“Don’t write a book” is the first piece of advice Michael Lopp offers us in a post chronicling his writing process.

Lopp–an engineering manager at Apple, author of Being Geek and Managing Humans, and more commonly known as Rands–details his tools and methods for writing a book and, as always, his advice is applicable to more than just the topic at hand:

You must become comfortable with incompleteness. At one point during the latest book, I had seven chapters in various state of doneness. When I began Managing Humans, I’d get panicky if I didn’t complete one chapter before starting the next. This is your brain, once again, trying to organize where it shouldn’t.

The reason I have simple, readily available tools is that I can never tell when I’m going to be able to write. I’m on a deadline and my editor is breathing down my neck, which means I do have a weekly writing schedule that carves off mornings three days a week. As I settle into one of these mornings, it’s just as likely that I’ll write as it is that I’ll count the number of folks in the room who’ve chosen to drink from ceramic mugs versus paper cups.

A singular focus on finishing a chapter is just another barrier to writing. By browsing all my chapters in various states of doneness, I’m more likely to pick one that is going to tickle my writing fancy: Oh hey, I have something to say about this today. Those ceramic mugs have to wait.

Kathy Sierra’s comment is one not to miss.

Deconstructing Managers

Today and tomorrow I’ll be posting a few links I’ve saved on managing: on being a manager, dealing with managers, and how to be a better one.

To begin, a six-part series from Rands in Repose—Deconstructing Managers.

There Is Evil, Your Manager’s Job

I trust that, like me, you’re an optimist and you believe that everyone in your company is busily working on whatever they do. I also believe the fact that you don’t understand what they do automatically biases you. You believe that because you understand your job intimately, it is more important than anyone else’s.

In your head, you are king. It’s clear what you do; it’s clear what is expected of you. There is no person who rules you better than yourself because you know exactly what you’re about. Anyone outside of your head is a mystery because they are not you.

Give Him Something to Say, Where Does Your Manager Come From?

Your manager is your face to the rest of the organization. Right this second, someone you don’t know is saying something great about you because you took five minutes to pitch your boss on your work. Your manager did that. You gave him something to say.

Transforming Glaring Deficiencies, How Are They Compensating For Their Blind Spots?

Each manager, good or bad, is going to have a glaring deficiency. […] The question is, does he recognize they have a blind spot? […]

A manager’s job is to take what skills they have, the ones that got them promoted, and figure out how to make them scale. They do this by building a team that accentuates their strengths and, more importantly, reinforces where they are weak.

How Much Action Per Decision?, How Does Your Manager Talk To You?

Yes, you want to figure out how not be a bottleneck in your organization and, yes, you want to figure out how to scale, but you also want to continue to get your hands dirty. […]

Pure delegators are slowly becoming irrelevant to their organization. The folks who work for pure delegators don’t rely on him for their work because they know they can’t depend on him for action.

Incessantly Demonstrating Your Hunger

The organization’s view of your manager is their view of you.

They Might Be Evil, What Happens When They Lose Their Shit?

Your manager is not a manager until they’ve participated in a layoff. […] He hasn’t truly represented the company until he actively participates in the constructive deconstruction of an organization. There is no more pure a panic than a layoff and you want to see who your manager will become because it’s often the first time he sees the organization is bigger than the people.

The above quotes are relevant to many more areas of life than managers and managing a workplace.

The Nerd Handbook and Caring for Your Introvert

Rands In Repose’s Nerd Handbook is an essay on understanding geeks; from our insatiable appetite for knowledge to our hard-to-decipher social interaction ‘skills’. The Handbook is at times painfully precise.

The nerd has based his career, maybe his life, on the computer, and as we’ll see, this intimate relationship has altered his view of the world. He sees the world as a system which, given enough time and effort, is completely knowable. This is a fragile illusion that your nerd has adopted, but it’s a pleasant one that gets your nerd through the day. When the illusion is broken, you are going to discover that…

Your nerd has control issues
Your nerd has built himself a cave
Your nerd loves toys and puzzles
Nerds are fucking funny
Your nerd has an amazing appetite for information
Your nerd has built an annoyingly efficient relevancy engine in his head
Your nerd might come off as not liking people

I see a lot of myself here, and I’ll have to remember to send this to any future prospective Mrs Morgans. In fact, while I’m at it, maybe I should also send them The Atlantic‘s article on caring for your introvert… they share a lot in common with us.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?


If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for him properly.

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice?

First, recognize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s an orientation.
Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don’t say “What’s the matter?” or “Are you all right?”
Third, don’t say anything else, either.