Work Week: Sprints without the Jargon

Our team of 3 at big tech was constantly bombarded with the next big fire to put out on a weekly basis, requiring us to shift focus as soon as something came up. In the last 2 months, I've used the following strategy on  how we work , and we've found this very effective. No fancy tools, no agile sprint jargon, just the barebones of what made sense to us. Once you've figured out what the team needs to roughly do in the next year, then it's all about execution. Here's what our week looks like. Monday Morning = Plan We meet on Monday morning at a time most convenient to all and decide the agenda for the week. Each team member takes about 5-10 minutes. A minute on the past week Is there something that came up because of which you couldn't complete the planned work? Agenda for the next week Was there something that came up during the past week that you noted important enough to work on immediately? What's your focus for this week? Aim Plan only as much as you ca

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To plan better, try this .

Business for Business' Sake

"Now think of the person that runs the portable restrooms business. At construction sites or concert halls, you have these portable toilets everywhere - I'm certain the person never set out with a deep passion for toilets when building this business. No, it's business, for business' sake, and that business has an overall positive influence on society. The means of building a business, that is, the product you build or the service you provide is merely the vehicle. And depending on where you want to go, there is no shame in the choice of vehicle taken. As long as you're doing business ". It was happenstance how I met Maylon, but his analogy stuck with me. I was driving back home from the office while working in Seattle, when I stopped at a gas station. Now I was struggling to refuel this rental car, and up comes this massive Ford F-150 on the opposite side. The man inside, dressed in classic business attire - a fitting shirt with creaseless pants, hair sleek li

Finding My Parter

Finding my partner feels more like finding  my kind . I’m this mix of an Indian boy with Indian familial ties, but European hobbies and a European way of leading life. I've lived in both worlds for 15 years each. There aren't many that have seen and lived in both worlds, and experienced completely different ways of life. Maybe I am asking for too much, but I don’t understand why one wouldn’t. If I have high standards for most things that I do in life, why wouldn’t I hope or want my partner to think from the same lens? Here's my value system. Be generally optimistic. A positive, happy person whose baseline state is to lean towards an optimistic outlook towards everything in life. Be fit. If one is not physically fit, there's low chance they're mentally fit. Plus, being fit shows discipline and consistency. Be hard working. Everything in life is a project. From raising children, to picking up groceries weekly, to building a home. And no one wants to work with a lazy

Two Worlds, Two Lives

I’ve been in India for the past two months now, and for the first time in my life, I can imagine myself live here again. Nothing drastic has changed in my day to day life, nor in either of the nations per se, but maybe I’ve had enough time to experience the flip-side to know what India’s strengths are. I’ve always acknowledged how I get the chance to live in two different worlds. But this is the very first time I’ve realized I also lead two different lives each time I switch countries. For me, Germany is a nation where you put the self first - you learn about yourself as an individual. It’s also a country where you learn to live life in the way they show us in movies - walks in parks, play sports any time of the day, vacations in every season the climate has to offer, meetups at little cafes with chairs out on the street. Work is secondary, rarely one’s primary driver in life. Therefore, it is also rarely one’s identity. The country and the mindset is averse to change. The philosophy h

Keeping Fit in India

I have a bold claim to make: As compared to Europe, it's much easier to get and keep fit in India. But it's far less likely. Easier because: Relatability In India, you can relate to the others' bodies. Everyone around you has the same body style, our carb heavy diet that causes so many of us to be skinny fat. And so when you go to a calisthenics gym, it really helps to be able to look around and see that a person who looks like you is fit . That shines hope, telling you that it is possible in the first place. In Europe, the same is counterproductive. Looking at the European's low body fat, tall yet muscular physique makes me think they're just born with it. (Which is not true. I suppose they really do have great genes, but their meat heavy diet and walkable/cycleable cities help with keeping fit). Food is easier in India. You know your food here. You know the spices we use and how it tastes. It's that familiar feeling of eating something you know, as opposed to

Systems not Rules

Systems work. Rules don't. There's a juice counter at work with two machines placed on either side of a central slab with fruits and vegetables. The one on the right has a sign in red that reads "No Ginger". One of the machines stopped working one day, and so after calling a lady from the kitchen staff, I started chatting with her. After a few exchanges, she told me "You know what, you're all smart folks working at the top software company in the world. And yet, I'm always dumbfounded here. No one reads this sign and I find ginger every other day in this machine on the right!" There's a simple fix. Move the ginger out of the center and to the side that allows juicing ginger. Keep the sign for sure, but now that you have an additional barrier, it would really take conscious effort for a person to mistakenly not read the sign. Humans tend to take the path of least resistence. So, setup systems that cause barriers or hindrances, making the easier so

Hey AI, Predict the Future Please

This isn't hype. This is happening, and it's happening faster than our brains can imagine.  Technology doesn't remove jobs, it reduces cost. And this time, with powerful AI, the reduction in cost is every field that isn't  directly  involved with the physical world. Animals, as far as we know, can't think in time. The zebra enjoys itself when eating, and knows it must run when being eaten. But poor man, man thinks in time. He fears an unlikely tomorrow like it is currently taking place. He is able to construct a world inside his head, one that will never occur in reality. ( Cue Alan Watts, the Ocean ). The animal can foresee a single step into the future - if I run, I'm not eaten. If I eat, I'm not hungry now. The human brain can see a few more steps into the future - if I buy groceries today, and if I go to the party on Saturday, I won't have to go buy them on Saturday, so it makes sense for me to go today. If my airplane gets delayed and if it's pa

You're an LLM and so am I

The more I use LLMs, the more I think they're just like us. We try to differentiate them from us, but I find far more similarities than differences.  "AI is merely fancy autocomplete" Oh yeah? As a human, are you any different? When you start a sentence, before you can complete the sentence, can you tell me what the last word would be? Nope! Do try though, it's a fun experiment. "AI is terrible at Math" Yeah. And so are most humans. Just in the same way I can't ask you what 56 x 97 is and expect an answer once you've learnt how to speak a language. As a human, what do you do to learn Math? You first learn the fundamentals. You learn through repetition the same concepts over and over because they're hard. You don't talk  math, you try to feed into your brain  how math works. For mental arithmetic, you practice over and over. You memorize the tables by heart. You have a separate training to get that autocomplete right. "AI is confidently w

Big Tech needs Leaders

Consensus building takes a lot of time. Decisions take exponentially longer to arrive at with each additional person involved. And because big tech works in a fashion where everyone has a say and each say matters , decisions take ridiculously long. And this is where I've concluded: Big Tech needs leaders. You need a leader sitting at the helm of each product who dictates  the direction of the product. The whole org working under them just worries about how to make it happen , rather than aligning themselves on what decision to make . I highly respect leaders who: Listen to all arguments. Think from first principles, so that their decisions hold value when tested. Make decisions that are self consistent and based in logic. Make opinion based decisions unwaveringly. Decisions often come down to making a tradeoff. Have the magic sauce. That is, they generally have a good sense of intuition. Are transparent about their values. Say: We're doing xyz . Get it done. Naturally, the le