Transcript from Thursday December 17th, 2020
# Q: What is keypoint and main important thing in Project management? – WARR!0R
A: Most important thing is tracking your work and staying organized. You're juggling 100 things at once at different stages in the production lifecycle. You need to be aware of what's going on
# Q: How do you cope up with not divulging into ongoing politics at workplace and maintain a personal blog as while being honest to write about how inefficiently workplaces are being run and manages? – butterscotch
A: I try my best to keep it generalized. You have to be mindful because everything you do, someone in your workplace may find out about it. Extract the learnings: are there specific characteristics, scenarios, etc? How do you address those? And try not to include ANY specific information about your workplace situation or scenario.
# Q: Are you using any software for tracking, or multiple tools? – Roboto
A: At work I use Azure DevOps Boards, which is like Jira. I use Jira for my side business as well as Airtable. I use email HEAVILY also.
# Q: How to market myself as a developer? – PythonDiscorder
A: Whew, there are lots of ways. Here's a video I recommend you watch where I give LOTS of tips about personal branding and marketing yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frWlMUv59kY
# Q: What should be the preferred way to blog? Using sites like dev.to or hashnode or on portfolio site? Or in both and link the site? – Spark
A: Great question — the most important thing is getting started ASAP; worry about blog platform later. Don't spend all your time spinning up a Gatsby site if that's going to take you away from actually blogging. After you start blogging, then look into a platform. I prefer owning my content and having it hosted on a platform I control, but I do cross-post to places like DEV Community. Here's an article I wrote on how to cross-post without messing up your SEO: https://www.stephaniemorillo.co/post/how-blog-post-syndication-works
If you're using your real name online, you have a personal brand. The difference is:do you want other people to define it for you or do YOU want to define it for you? People find full time jobs as a result of blogging, speaking, etc. It's how people describe you to others.
# Q: If the project’s progress is not going well. Then What will you do? – WARR!0R
A: I will immediately involve the stakeholder. First, I'll talk to my developers and analysts to understand what the issue is. If we can't hit our milestone I'll set up time to talk with the stakeholder, let them know what's going on, and we'll either revise the scope or the timeline. I communicate with my stakeholders constantly; not just when something bad happens. So they are usually amenable to changes.
# Q: Does Product manager require knowledge of programming like Project Manager? – zBarriz
A: Not quite, but if your company is building products like developer tools then yes: many product managers will likely need to have some engineering experience.
# Q: How to find blog topics to write? – ganesh
A: There are 4 ways to find new topics; 1. write about things you know 2. write about things you want to learn 3. write about things OTHER people want to know and 4. repurpose existing content. Here's an article about this; https://changelog.com/posts/4-sources-of-endless-content-ideas
# Q: Any recommendations for a legal, sustainable, balance when working for closed-source/enterprise shops, but wanting to maintain a publicly-visible presence? – hitjim
A: Great question. Try to keep things high level, maybe about the industry or the scope, but never related to technologies that are proprietary. I keep a pretty strict boundary between work and my side stuff, even the topics: I don't do content marketing in my day job, which is how I avoid any conflict of interest.
# Q: Should every developer blog? If so, why? – Level
A: I think every developer should blog if they want to. If you hate writing, blogging will feel like a chore and you won't keep it up. I think every developer should become a better writer. This means writing better emails, better docs, better tech specs, better PR review comments. Any capacity to write is an opportunity all developers should invite. It's crucial for moving up in your career. If you can't communicate effectively, it'll hurt your growth.
# Q: Marketing/branding for developers
I've worked on a large project for a non-profit that involved GPS data, tracking and heatmapping. I know of other opportunities that could use a similar setup and I want to sell this to them, but I don't know where to begin.
Any thoughts on marketing something like this? – Roboto
A: Start writing about it. Use it as an opportunity to teach people about the field. What are best practices? What do they need to know? People buy from people they trust, and if you haven't given them a reason to trust you yet, you need to focus on that. Or maybe do videos —whatever format works.
# Q: What's the best platform for a developer to get noticed by recruiters? – Monis
A: LinkedIn is still a place where lots of recruiters go in search of potential hires. Consider getting your LinkedIn profile and resume written by a professional resume writer who can help your profile stand out.
# Q: Any advice for a developer that wants to transition to a developer relations role? What to do, what to focus on... Thanks! – thislucas
A: Yes! Developer advocates do a ton of jobs: they are marketing, customer support, community management, product, and engineering all in one. You have to be comfortable with context switching and comfortable figuring out a path forward when it's not always clear. You'll be expected to write, deliver talks, and promote your work among other things. Sam Julien wrote a great bookon the topic called "Getting Started in Developer Relations": https://learn.samjulien.com/getting-started-in-developer-relations
# Q: I'm expected to become a manager (Product or Project) in the future with my developer background, Can you tell me the opportunities as well as the salary of both positions? – zBarriz
A: For salaries, please refer to sites like Levels.fyi. It varies by company, years of experience, and country. If you want to be a PM, make sure you're known for your writing skills. Practice managing meetings effectively, providing status updates, offer to help your team manage its backlog, etc. Also talk to people on the business side of the house. PMs are intermediaries between eng, product, UX, marketing, and more. Talk to PMs at your company for opportunities to shadow them and ask them what helped them. I'm a Technical Program Manager, actually; here's an article that explains what I do: https://medium.com/insiden26/what-does-a-technical-program-manager-do-with-meysam-sarabadani-9f9e6005e9ed
# Q: I know where to find developers. I know where to find creatives. Where do I find the intersection? I do both, and I make tools dedicated to creative power users (video editors, game devs, meme junkies) but I don't have a sense of community, meaning I lack peers and users. Are there particular forums, publications, chat groups, etc. that you'd recommend? I know how to reach out, but I don't know where. – paarth
A: Interesting question; as someone who exists at the intersection, too, I don't quite know. 🙂 Actually, one place to check out is Indie Hackers: www.indiehackers.com
# Q: Knowing that you can never be satisfied with a perfect UI and since there are endless choices of frameworks before to create a personal blog site, how can one get rid of these confusions and procrastinations and just start with a minimal setup? What counts as a minimal setup/MVP according to you? – mihirs15
A: My blog used to be a static site, but I decided to move it to a dynamic site builder (Wix) years ago because I grew tired of having to take a lot of steps to make an update. It helps to recognize what your own needs are and to select based on your needs than based on nice-to-haves. EVERY platform has its drawbacks, so learn more about them and find ways to circumvent them or address them. And you can always optimize your site over time; no site is ever 100% complete 🙂
# Q: Is it a good idea to have a tech blog for an early stage startup? If so, what kind of content is good to have? – woohoou
A: Yes, absolutely. Your company should be blogging from the very beginning. As for topics, that depends a lot on your field, your audience, and what the goals of your content marketing strategy are. But you need to have a place where you share interesting content with your audience frequently.
# Q: What are your thoughts on the rise of substack and paid content gating? It seems like a great way to grow as I'm seeing a lot of new blogs spread a lot on the platform. Personally I love that it doesn't force you into make all posts accessible to paying readers. – Sonicrida
A: I think it's great that platforms want to help creators get paid. Content is sadly very underappreciated and undervalued. If you want to start a Substack to attract a readership, it's a good place to start. It helps to manage expectations, though; everyone on Substack isn't making a living from their writing, so you need to be VERY clear on your goals. I started my email list on Substack and left because (1) Substack actually takes out a huge chunk of $$ on fees (2) their analytics isn't great (3) you can't segment your audience. I moved my email list to Mailchimp which is way better for me. It also incentivizes ppl to join my list cos only subscribers can see my content.
# Q: What do you think about developers streaming programming, such as on Twitch? Is this a good way to grow your audience, or are there other benefits other than just putting yourself out there? – statico
A: I love the idea of developers streaming on Twitch! Again, as with blogging, only stream if you like it and can sustain it over the long haul, not cos it's a fad. Watch as many streams as you can. An awesome book on building an audience on Twitch is Build Your Dream Stream by Ashnichrist: https://streamcoachbook.com/
# Q: Do you think that including your blog to your portfolio is relevant? I mean is it helpful during an interview ? – WonDErV
A: It sure is! The recruiter may pass it onto the hiring manager. They are already Googling you anyway; why not point them to your blog and showcase your writing skills, your interests, and your projects? 🙂
# Q: What’s the difference between Product manager vs Project manager vs Program manager? – WARR!0R
A: This article explains it the best: https://medium.com/insiden26/what-does-a-technical-program-manager-do-with-meysam-sarabadani-9f9e6005e9ed Note that every company defines these differently also.
# Q: What are your thoughts on navigating tech Twitter? To me, it feels like there is a lot of drama on it which can be off-putting to newer content creators that want to break in since it can be a good tool for spreading your content. I think it's necessary to use it but so you have advice on how to make the experience more pleasant to those that are getting started with it? – Sonicrida
A: Yes — start by being intentional about who you follow. Follow the accounts that create content you like and will engage with. Mute words and phrases, and mute people as necessary especially if you're being harassed or seeing people just be mean to each other. And treat people on social media the way you want to be treated; whenever you engage with a new account you've never interacted with, be frieendly and polite. Recognize that some Twitter users have different threat models than you do; accounts with lots of followers, women, people of color etc. tend to get harassed a lot more than others. Try not to get involved in any arguments, etc if you can avoid it.
# Q: I've just realized that I have more technical posts than projects for my portfolio, would that be an issue in face to find a job? What's better? – WonDErV
A: There is no better; it just depends on your goals and what the expectations are from jobs you want. Look at job descriptions and see if they specify anything about your portfolio and talk to other developers to understand the right balance.
# Q: From your experience as a PM, how do you set the roadmap for devs when they need to manage many different conflicting priorities at once (for example: feature requests, support tickets, refactors, usability fixes etc)? – mihirs15
A: Oh great question! Our team does quarterly roadmapping sessions and our backlog is split into: 60% epics (projects), 20% bug requests, and another 20% on small feature requests. We're very collaborative; our sprint planning sessions are weekly and we have daily standups. So we are always in sync and we make changes at a moment's notice.
# Q: Any advice for a project manager turning dev next year? I wanted to up my tech skills and fell in love with building so I’m making a switch! – ericbible
A: I haven't made that jump, so I can't offer much help there — sorry!
Follow-up: Would you recommend writing about the transition? Lessons learned as a pm?
A: Yes, I recommend writing about it. 🙂 I wrote a similar article earlier this year when I made the transition from content strategist to technical program manager: https://www.stephaniemorillo.co/post/11-lessons-ive-learned-as-an-engineering-pm
# Q: In the beginning I am focusing on just writing good articles on sites like medium to get good at content creation. I have found marketing articles is a challenge. I am not able to reach many people. Please provide advice for this. – gsobti
A: I have two articles that address this in more detail. Would recommend you bookmark them: https://www.stephaniemorillo.co/post/how-believing-in-magic-can-help-you-promote-your-content and https://www.stephaniemorillo.co/post/how-to-increase-your-reach-on-social-media
# Q: Has there been times when the expected estimates have gone wrong? How do you correct your estimates later on (as a team, both dev and PM side)?
How do you ensure that neither the devs are overloaded and yet you're able to achieve things when these estimates totally go wrong? – mihirs15
A: Yes, this happens frequently. It's hard to give exact estimates. When we do quarterly planning, we give a rough estimate based on the scope of work as we understand it. Then, when work begins, we update our estimates on a weekly basis. It's hard to provide exact estimates for the work we do since it's dependent on many factors. But we came up with a matrix for estimating effort, and we communicate that to the stakeholder. We let them know when we are working on things in the upcoming quarter, but we never give exact dates; there are only a few instances when we do, and those projects almost always tend to be worked on first. The framework/matrix has helped us communicate effort without time in a way that is flexible but still informative
# Q: What advice do you have for someone with no experience and minimal education trying to land their first job? I've followed all advice regarding my resume and have been working on personal projects but I'm still finding it difficult to get word back, maybe I need to release more content? – Zenthos
A: This would be a great question to ask in dev.to under #discuss or #codenewbie. Lots of early career programmers can give you advice!
# Q: Has there been times where you found it hard to stay productive or have you felt burnt-out? If so, how did you overcome that situation and how do you maintain the productivity level? – mihirs15
A: Yup! I wrote about this on my blog: https://www.stephaniemorillo.co/post/but-what-if-they-forget-me-here-s-how-to-write-when-real-life-gets-in-the-way
And here's a blog post on prioritizing when things get overwhelming: https://www.stephaniemorillo.co/post/how-ruthless-prioritization-is-helping-me-stay-focused
# Q: Cool. While I'm coming up with a question out of my ass. You seem like a social person. Are you also so tired of people expressing mock-surprise at finding a developer who can speak to people and gasp enjoys it? What can we do to change the cultural attitude of seeing developers as isolated tinkerers. – paarth
A: LOL yes! I think we need to VALUE COMMUNICATION. My entire career I was told everyone can write and communicate well; that's not true. Communication is how we extend knowledge, show respect to our colleagues, and show that we are dependable. It's a skill many aren't taught to exercise. So start by being that developer; the one who makes communication a priority. People will start to pick up on your habits and do what you do as a result of your communication style. Entire teams have adopted my processes and my workflows because of how I communicate. Take writing seriously; learn as much as you can, always seek to improve. I have a blog post coming out tomorrow about this topic and encourage you all to read it. It will be published at 8AM ET tomorrow. 🙂