Issue 38 – Who Have You Said ‘Thank You’ To This Week?

Posted on March 4th, by katestull in issues. Comments Off

Welcome to another issue of the TLN!We will likely be moving back to weekly editions in the next few weeks, but you can probably expect the next one in two more weeks.  That being said, work on the startup is going well. If you are interested, you can sign up for my launch email list too it has more personal and detailed updates – although isn’t very educational per se :)This week my favorite articles had to be the awesome post on what kind of a software engineer do you want to be known as? – another great reminder how important it is to work well with those around you and don’t wait until review time to think about your reputation.  And I also really enjoyed the story of homeless hero returns woman’s engagement ring; it just makes you smile when good things like this happen. – KateM
A couple of my favorite article this week were How Stripe Built One Of Silicon Valley’s Best Engineering Teams and this reminder of How To Give A Meaningful “Thank You”. The Runner is another smile-inducing story that makes that half marathon I ran last year seem a little less impressive.. :) – KateSLet us know what your favorite stories were! Just reply to this note and say hello.

News to know


Leadership – Trust Matters, A Lot

You Ain’t Going To Learn What You Don’t Want To Know
I really enjoyed this post. It is always interesting to reflect on trust and the people we meet. I have been told I am too trusting, but I like to do deals with handshakes and trust people until they give me a reason not to do so. While I don’t plan to change my views, it is nice to know that I am not alone in my surprises….

Ten Traits Of The Best Managers
What makes a good manager? This article has ten ideas to get you thinking.

  • They forgive… and they forget. Great bosses are able to step back, set aside a mistake, and think about the whole employee.
  • They don’t see control as a reward. Many people desperately want to be the boss so they can finally call the shots. Remarkable bosses don’t care about control.
  • They let employees have the ideas. Remarkable bosses see the potential in their employees and find ways to let them have the ideas.
  • Remarkable bosses care like they mean it. Remarkable bosses know people are a company’s most valuable asset, and while that expression is cliché, they really mean it. Not only do they talk the talk, they walk the walk.

Break Your Addiction To Being Right
It turns out the reason we get so worked up about being right is chemicals released in our brains when we feel stress, fear, and distrust. But there’s plenty we can do to prevent and overcome the flood of emotion that sometimes comes with arguing your point.

  • Set rules of engagement. If you know a meeting’s going to be tense, acknowledge it in advance and set ground rules for how everyone’s turn to speak will be managed.
  • Listen with empathy. When you know you’re right, it can be tempting to keep talking until everyone agrees with you. By biting your tongue and listening more than talking, you’ll gain more perspective and show more respect to others.
  • Plan who speaks. If meetings often turn into debates, creating a plan for who will speak on which topics can keep things on track.

I’d add to this that, as a leader, one of the best things you can do is let someone else be right, even when you’re sure your idea is the right one. Giving people a chance to validate their idea (even if it turns out to be wrong) builds trust and shows you take their contributions seriously. In the long run, you’ll gain more wins.

Leadership Caffeine – 5 Priceless Lessons from Amundsen and Scott
Leadership lessons for the North Pole! And not from Santa :)

Teams & Process – Thank You, Yahoo

How To Give A Meaningful “Thank You”
None of us hear “thank you” enough at work. There are plenty of studies that demonstrate the huge impact simple and regular “thank you’s” can have on employee morale and productivity, so why not try incorporating some thankfulness into your communication this week?“Give…what I call a Power Thank You. This has three parts:

  1. Thank them for something they specifically did that was above the call of duty.
  2. Acknowledge to them the effort (or personal sacrifice) that they made in doing the above.
  3. Tell them what it personally meant to you.

If the person you’re thanking looks shocked or even a little misty-eyed, don’t be surprised. It just means that your gratitude has been a tad overdue.”

[Remote Work At Yahoo]

One of the biggest stories this week was the memo sent around at Yahoo informing remote workers that they would no longer be able to work from home. The initial reaction to the announcement seemed to be that this was a really terrible idea, though over the next few days a few rebuttals surfaced. For your reading pleasure, here’s one of each.No More Remote Work at Yahoo (via 37signals)
“In their blindness they’re reaching for the lowest form of control a manager can assert: Ensuring butts in seats for eight hours between 9-5+. Though while they can make people come to the office under the threat of termination, they most certainly cannot make those same people motivated to do great work.”Marissa Mayer Is No Fool (via HBR)
“Critics…are not wrong when they assert the cultural issues here are arguably as much a matter of trust than facilitating collaboration. But trust cuts both ways. If a CEO authentically concludes that too many “work@homes” have not lived up to their side of the productivity relationship, then the call to return to the workplace could be interpreted as an invitation to rebuild trust

Tech – We Are Functional Artists

Fluid Simulation for Video
Computer simulation and  simulation have been hot topics for many years. And now that hardware is faster, and software is more sophisticated, writing beautiful games is more attainable to the rest of us.This is a great set of articles on fluid dynamics and how they apply to games and rendering. I only read the first one, and it was pretty dense, but I imagine this would be a great resource to anyone in games or just interested in the intersection of these two worlds.Learn how to find, process, analyze and visualize data with the School Of Data Handbook.Why HN Was Down
Have to love the transparency in this post, and how it was received. This is a great example of how to treat your customers when mistakes are made.Compress data more densely with Zopfli
New open source compression algorithm from Google.  The key advantages of this algorithm is that is compressions data smaller, but it doesn’t come at the cost of CPU and more time on the client.  It is slower to compress but fast to decompress – which is certainly great for mobile clients.Programming is an Art – Elegant code adopts aesthetics to achieve high maintainability.
Having been writing a whole lot of code recently I can tell you that there is a ton of ugly source code out there.  And I can also say that the plugins and libraries you want to use are the ones where you crack them open and the code is easy to read and understand.  Even if your code isn’t perfect – if it works well and makes sense when you read it a year later then you know you have done a good job.

“Programming is an art and therefore, we are artists. However, we’re not the kind of artists that create purely for beauty. We are functional artists. We have a functional task as well as the duty to write beautiful code, because it is effective and thus lasts.”

Latency Mitigation Strategies (Virtual Reality Games) &
Latency – the sine qua non of AR and VR (from Valve)
Two technical articles that pose a very interesting read on getting low latency out of games – I didn’t know much about time warping and view bypassing until now.

In addition to getting into the detail and hardware specifics the content also a does a good job painting the picture of latency in systems at a high level.

Secrets of Awesome JavaScript API Design
I can’t speak much to having a lot of experience in JavaScript APIs, but this post was well written and thoughtful and it is great to see more best practices posts like these.

Gaddag Algorithm/Data Structure – Quickly Find Scrabble Words If Memory Isn’t Important
Playing words with friends?  How GADDAG data structures can you help you search for the answers even faster.

The value of an external perspective (a.k.a. How to Make a Quick Buck)
Things go wrong – next time you are stuck maybe you should enlist some external help.
“When you’re looking for a bug it’s terribly hard to not get bogged down in details at the expense of seeing the bigger picture. An outsider doesn’t have those details so that helps tremendously. The lesson I took away from that day is that when I’m stuck I ask an outsider.”


Product – Little Things That Go A Long Way


Lessons We Learned from Our Biggest UX and Design Mistakes
The Buffer team shares their company history by way of UX design, showcasing the successes and failures that ultimately led them to their acquisition of over 500,000 users.

The biggest takeaways? A/B testing matters, and so does validating ideas with users before building.

  • Lesson 1: User Flows Should Focus on Retention, Not Revenue. A key user experience (UX) lesson that we discovered early on was that we needed to concentrate on keeping our customers rather than generating revenue.
  • Lesson 2: Social Sign-in is Better Than Email Sign-in. Our change from the email sign-in to social sign-in is one of our biggest growth hacks, allowing us to eventually increase sign-ups by 50%.
  • Lesson 3: Test All of Your Assumptions Early. Getting into the habit of testing every single assumption you have as early as possible is something we now have seared deeply into our brains since [an early] failure.
  • Lesson 4: Be Clear with User Interface Labels. We learned that picking the clear solution over the clever solution — even though the former might not be as pretty or as unique or as cool — is always what’s better for the user.

Small Nudges
Little things that make a big difference.

31 Marketing Threads on Quora That’ll Steal Your Lunch Break
Have a few free minutes and want to learn something new? This list is a great place to start exploring some of Quora’s most interesting marketing-related threads.

Interactive Guide to Blog Typography
Excellent tutorial on typography and layout.  I loved the interaction and the information wasn’t bad either :)



Recruiting – Take The Sunday Test

How Stripe Built One Of Silicon Valley’s Best Engineering Teams
This article is of particular interest to us as we get ready to launch the Recruiting Hacks site soon. There were so many good points in this post for anyone hiring engineers to consider. Some of the biggest ideas included transparency, hiring people (not roles), and something called The Sunday Test…


Quick Bytes

[ Links we liked ]

What kind of a software engineer do you want to be known as?
This is another great post from Nicholas Zakas.  With review time going around it is key to make sure that you are thinking all around about how you conduct yourself, the work you do, and the way you make an impact.

“Annual reviews are a reminder that your reputation matters. For most of the year, software engineers don’t care at all what anybody else thinks as long as they’re getting the job done. Then annual reviews come along and we realize we might have rubbed some people the wrong way.”

What do you want your next year’s review to be like?

Negotiating Your Startup Job Offer
This awesome post is a must-read for anyone negotiating a job offer. It has easy-to-understand explanations of salary, equity, and benefits with tons of comprehensive information and examples. Definitely check it out.

Homeless hero returns woman’s engagement ring
Short and sweet, and might restore a little of your faith in humanity. :)

How to start working on a side project
Sometimes it is nice to have something outside of your day job.  And you never know – it could turn into your own startup one day.  Perhaps it is time to start that blog, app, or newsletter (I would subscribe) ;)

[ Inward Focus ]

Why You Should Practice Being Comfortable in Uncomfortable Situations?
The more time you spend pushing your limits, the more comfortable you are handling new situations and experiences.

[ Geeking Out ]

8 Videos That Prove Math Is Awesome
If you aren’t convinced after at a least a couple of these videos, it may be a lost cause…

Largest Prime Number Discovered
“The largest prime number yet has been discovered — and it’s 17,425,170 digits long. ‘It’s analogous to climbing Mt. Everest,’ said George Woltman. ‘People enjoy it for the challenge of the discovery of finding something that’s never been known before.’”

3Doodler: The World’s First 3D Printing Pen
Pretty amazing!

[ Wordly Reading ]

The Runner
The pretty incredible story of the man on his way to becoming world’s oldest marathon runner – and who only started running 12 years ago when he was 89. Definitely worth a read if you have time this week.

[ Just for fun ]

Paper Made From Stone
Paper made from calcium carbonate and resin saves water and trees. And is a pretty neat idea!

How to Smile Naturally without Looking Creepy
Five simple steps for looking less weird in photos – plus a pretty funny video. :)

[ Useful & Productive ]

Recent Research on Well-Being, Giving, Getting, and Gratitude
“New research shows that people all around the world – from Canada to Uganda, from South Africa to India – derive more happiness from spending money on others than they do on themselves.”

Food for thought – this week, why not try lifting your spirits by helping someone else?



“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”  — T.S. Eliot

That’s all for this week, TLN readers! We’ll see you back here next time.

Auf wiedersehen,
Kate + Kate


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