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My Blog

My Blog2022-06-06T03:32:01+00:00

Turn It Up

Articles & Musings

I write about leading engineering teams and departments, figuring out how to have fun at work, finding my sanity, and more. I occasionally talk about it, too.

Turn It Up

Articles & Musings

I write about leading engineering teams and departments, figuring out how to have fun at work, finding my sanity, and more. I occasionally talk about it, too.

A Year Since Taking a Turn

06 Jun 2024|

A year after I made some big moves, deciding to turn away from my dream job and zip code, I've got the additional time and mental energy I was after, and I've learned and processed so much as a result. Catch up on what I discovered about management and individual contributing as a result, and what tropical beauty and growth really are.

I Want to Be the Stunt Double

21 May 2024|

I recently watched David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived, a movie about the stunt double for Daniel Radcliffe while filming the Harry Potter movies. He was in an accident on set while filming the next to the last movie, which left him paralyzed. And with hall the challenges, and there are so many for him, in the end of the film he's shown still loving the film industry and speaking to young gymnasts like [...]

Big Island Hawaii – Five Years Kama’aina

21 Apr 2024|

I lived on the big island of Hawaii for five years, and am often asked what I miss and what I recommend, so here is that quick list. And see the slide show at the end for a quick overview of Hawaii in general. Kona and Kohala My favorite beaches: Makalawena is hands down my favorite beach on the island, because it is almost always nearly empty and untouched by developers, and it's pristine [...]

Toxic Positivity Isn’t The Problem, It’s Toxic Progressivity

03 Apr 2024|

I was once blamed for toxic positivity, where one doesn't acknowledge the very real feelings associated with thoughts about certain events, or worse, where one pressures people to suppress those thoughts and feelings or attempts to convince them that they are wrong. Mind you, it is okay to share your own different opinions, especially when you aren't trying to sell your own agenda and when you're respecting others' different opinions, and meeting folks where [...]

Three Takeaways From Three Folks Taken Away in ’23

03 Mar 2024|

I met and lost three incredible people in 2023. I wasn’t extremely close with them, and still they impacted me greatly in the brief time I knew each of them. And even after they died, I continued to see how much they inspired others, and be more inspired by them myself. When it came to others, each of them acted to amplify and support and encourage everyone around them. I saw each of them [...]

Losing Your Mind? Then You Need An Orange Pen, Too. It Has All the Answers.

10 Dec 2023|

I'm about to tell you about what has become an unexpected game-changer in my life: an orange pen. To say I was resistant to the suggestion is quite an understatement. It wasn't the color of the pen that put me off, it was its part in an exercise I was asked to do. I was asked to get some paper and use two different-color pens on it - one color was to jot down [...]

Taking a Turn

10 Jul 2023|

Because of my own personal reaction (usually shock and worry) every time I see a female engineering leader go through a reduction in scope, a non-promotion-releated role change, or an outright departure, and because of my own desire to make it easier to support each other with changes and growth, I shared this information with my organization recently when I made the decision to move from a Director of Engineering to a Staff individual [...]

Living Your Ultimate Dev Life

09 Nov 2022|

The real story here is spending time with the revered and adored Ms. Avery - my youngest son's third-grade teacher several years ago, who made a career change into software engineering a few years ago. She and Chris contacted me about speaking about my experiences in the industry and currently at GitHub, and I jumped at the chance! We had a great time discussing how I got started in tech, how I switched from [...]

Grace in the Workplace

08 Nov 2022|

I remember my first office job. I don't remember my boss's name anymore, but I remember his face distinctly. I remember his loud, booming voice, especially when he was upset about something, which wasn't infrequent. I remember him slamming his office door which was across and diagonal from my cubicle, and then immediately opening it to storm outside, then coming back many minutes later smelling like smoke. I was a young girl, fresh out [...]

Hacking the Org Podcast

13 Sep 2022|

I love when I get to talk about my work, and recording this episode was such a great time. Check out Pausing Feature Development to Focus on Tech Debt and DX, and hear more about how GitHub made time to focus on engineering fundamentals.

LeadDev Together Module Session

13 Sep 2022|

Check out this LeadDev module, 5 investments for a sustainable, high-performing team, going live next week, 20 Sep 2022. Meet short term hiring goals or invest in building a sustainable, high-performing team? These are the questions that plague every hiring manager’s mind. Learn how to build a healthy, self-sustaining ecosystem within your team that produces high-performing results with these five guidelines. Come learn my well-worn strategies around how to focus on team performance, build relationships [...]

Essential Roles for Planning a Technical Project

01 Aug 2022|

Before coding anything, make sure you've involved a decision maker, the person doing the work, someone with context, someone with fresh perspective, and whoever is going to be maintaining it. These are the five essential roles for planning a technical project. One person can cover all of these things with one exception: you can't have context and fresh perspective at the same time, so at a minimum you need two people involved. I've been [...]

Yes, I Can Negotiate

15 Jul 2022|

When it comes to negotiating, there's an easy and instant way, where you just go for it and see what happens. In another sense, really, the easiest thing to do is nothing, and rely solely on outside forces and chance.   Or, you can take additional steps that will increase the likelihood of your desired outcome. With enough practice, these steps can also seem easy and instant. These four steps can help you negotiate [...]

A Framework for Understanding Impact

11 Jul 2022|

I'm often working with executives to come up with timelines and priorities, and I'm often working with older children to help them understand what I need to know in order to help them make a decision or complete something, and--I promise I'm not making a correlation between executives and children here--through this I've learned how valuable it is to understand and communicate the impact something will have. Often it is challenging enough for [...]

Three, No, Four Great Responses

20 Jun 2022|

I have a canned response I have used for years when someone talks to me about a challenge they're having, and I'm in some sort of "position of power" relative to them in terms of some role I have (boss at work, director, organization president, mother, etc). "Are you venting, looking for advice, or hoping for some intervention?" This framing helps me understand if they have any specific but as of yet unstated expectations [...]

Focus or Reach

15 Jun 2022|

It's promotion and review season where I work, and going through this cycle I was reminded of a theme I frequently see come up: Focused effort vs broad involvement Sometimes we create situations for ourselves and our own growth when we are doing many things at once. Sometimes we feel like we have to, or things will fall apart and reflect badly on us. At the same time, those who focus and drive delivery on [...]

A Judgement-Free Sea

13 Jun 2022|

Once upon a time, there was a book. I didn’t realize I’d had it, or had taken a look. I’m not sure who wrote it, some was surely by me. And more parts I’d copied from others’ beliefs. Its pages were full of rules and expectations. I’d come to rely on it in many situations. Until I started to notice a worrying bit, that my own joy and happiness were affected by it. See [...]

A Story About DX Team Transformation

13 Apr 2022|

I was a guest on the Engineering Enablement podcast's inaugural episode, talking about how we have been transforming GitHub's Developer Experience (DX). Have a listen or catch the transcript there.

Getting the Answers You Need

08 Apr 2022|

Sometimes we want answers and solutions RIGHT NOW. The rewards are high, the learning is quick, the resolution is fast. And sometimes, the best thing for us is to figure those out by ourselves.

Power to Fly Networking Event

30 Mar 2022|

I had a chance to be a panelist for a networking event hosted by Power to Fly for GitHub, and it was such a fantastic time! Hear my thoughts on how we work and how to balance it well here (starting at 35:28 and again at 49:47 if you want to skip right to me). It requires registration, which is worth it to participate in or support underrepresented talent in technology.

How Can I Shake the Guilt and Take Some Time Off?

12 Mar 2022|

Here are some common reasons that fuel guilt and prevent taking time off … and some related questions I consider to help me loosen up those fear-inducing beliefs: People are relying on me, and if I don't deliver, my customers or users or co-workers will be disappointed or worse, leave. Q: Could I find a creative ways to make it easy to step away? Could I adjust expectations or propose a compromise? Do I [...]

Getting Promoted in Tech

17 Jan 2022|

We're heading into another promotion cycle, and I've gathered my thoughts about getting promoted in tech, and added a love letter to my early-in-role engineer and new-mom self at the end.

Feasible Calendaring

30 Dec 2021|

I've been continuing on this journey to figure out a better way to calendar. That previous post is full of insights and learnings. Here's my current, more streamlined system.

Debunking a Common Myth about Life in Tech as a Working Mom*

22 Dec 2021|

At certain times or in particular areas, companies will prioritize growth and profits above many other things. They’ll invest in launching a new product, or work people and factories for long hours to meet a sudden increase in demand, for example. A related pattern can be seen in taking on financial debt, where we borrow against our potential future earnings to acquire things now, and we will pay that back with interest. In my [...]

Handling Challenging People

09 Dec 2021|

What I outline here isn't a quick win or a hack, and it isn't going to help me sort out how to get someone to do what I want or think like me, which would be the ultimate hack! It would also rob this world and myself of the full human experience we are meant to have, so instead, what I have here is what I strive to do when I feel someone is [...]

Trifecta Basics

29 Nov 2021|

I long ago committed to nailing work-life balance, until I realized that work is a massive part of life, and there are so many other big parts of life to balance as well. So really what I aim for is how to achieve a balanced life overall. But in an effort not to overwhelm myself with all the various aspects to focus on, I have honed into three parts that are most important to [...]

Taking Care of the Team Helps Take Care of the Work

14 Oct 2021|

When employees trust that they are valued, less management intervention is required for them to achieve significant results. The team will be more likely to stay focused, self-direct, and work together to overcome challenges. While methods of how to take care of a team will vary, here are a few factors: clear expectations, frequent feedback, sustainable work, empowerment through alignment, and accountability. Clear expectations and frequent feedbackWhen an employee can easily reference the results [...]

Calendaring Experimenting

06 Sep 2021|

Calendars suck. Oh my goodness it is much easier to let the meetings come in as they may and do just-in-time shuffling than to try to wrestle and wrangle them. But that doesn't get me what I want to achieve anytime soon, so I have been doing experiments to get more intentional with how I spend my time. It's hard, but worth it. While I do have separate calendars for work and home, I [...]

My Emergency Toolkit – Part II

05 Sep 2021|

There are days ... and then there are weeks ...... I previously shared my emergency toolkit which I use to get through troubling situations without spiraling out of control into despair. Sometimes, I still spiral out of control into despair. And when that happens, I've made myself a runbook. When one of these alerts fire on repeat, for days or weeks on end... scream at someone because you're upset about something elsefind somebody to complain to and [...]

Say It in Three Sentences

20 Jul 2021|

I use this communication tip a lot myself, and am so glad I came to learn it in the last few years! I also share it often since it has helped me so much, and continue to hone it all the time. When you really need to get a point across and make sure it lands, give yourself a three-sentence cap. And here's a formula to go with it that is often useful for [...]

What is a Good Decision?

27 Jun 2021|

Do you know what a good decision is? Is it something you decide after you see the results of the choice you made? "Oh look at that, everything worked out fabulously. Great decision." Is it determined based upon some amount of information to factor into it? "The research shows me this is the right thing to do. Such a good choice." Maybe it is based on what everyone else thinks about it? "Survey says [...]


13 May 2021|

Am I the only one who makes to do lists that are really lists of things I am putting off doing? Clean up my work calendarFigure out summer school/recreation for kidsWrite that paperSchedule my annual checkupWorkout And what do I often do when I see this list? Slack. Email. Browse on my phone or tidying things or anything relatively easy or routine. I also like distracting myself, like with that snack I really didn’t need just [...]

My Emergency Toolkit

13 Apr 2021|

There are days … Mine look like extreme frustration. I’m hiding in my office from the world. My brain is busy finding all sorts of evidence why I’m not good at anything. I’m trying to figure out how to make myself feel better in a hurry. Find someone to vent to? Work until I feel satisfied? Play Two Dots or Wordscapes or binge watch something? I’ve learned that when I am notification hunting more [...]

My Keys to Work-Life-Fitness Balance

21 Feb 2021|

The Keys The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the last few years is one I’m still and always will be working to get good at: being aware of what I am thinking and feeling, and not beating myself up about what I am thinking and feeling. Interrupting myself before those thoughts and feels manifest as actions has been incredibly empowering. Being intentional and being ok with myself have been the keys to getting some regular [...]

Twenty and Twenty-one

30 Dec 2020|

20 things I do better thanks to 2020 … for all sorts of reasons, and in no particular order Stay in touch with friends and family. I long ago stopped being active on social media, but I have started reaching out more directly over text, WhatsApp, Marco Polo, FaceTime, and even phone calls and email.Get help when I need it. I’ve dropped the stigma around hiring people to clean my airbnb units, keep up my landscaping, [...]

Get to Kona, Hawaii with a quarantine exemption

19 Dec 2020|

NOTE: My experience is no indicator or predictor of success for anyone else At the time of writing (19 Dec 2020), there is a mandatory quarantine for all travellers arriving in Hawaii. Big Island is one of the islands offering an exemption if you provide proof of an approved negative COVID test result prior to departure. This Hawaii Tourism board post provides full details, but what I outline below may also help you if… it is still current [...]

Paying Down Technical Debt

10 Dec 2020|

I had the opportunity to talk about how we shaped the workstreams we took on to pay down technical debt - it's a great 20 minute session that you can watch here.

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