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Ignite the Fire - How Managers Can Spark New Leaders



Nick Caldwell discusses the three ingredients for inspiring non-manager leaders to emerge and provides simple techniques any team member can apply. He uses stories to help illustrate how to inspire leadership at many levels in the organization. He shares real-world advice for managers, individual contributors, and architects in inspiring leadership and igniting the fire.


Nick Caldwell is the Chief Product Officer at Looker (recently acquired by Google), creating a powerful platform for building modern data experiences. Prior to joining Looker he spent 2 years at Reddit as VP of Engineering, helping quintuple the engineering team while working on a bottoms-up revamp of every part of the world's 4th most popular website.

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Caldwell: One thing Wes [Reisz] mentioned and I think is really important about this conference, it's highly technical and I love geeking out with all your folks but I also love the fact that there's a track dedicated to management, leadership, scaling as well. That's super important and that's what my talk is going to be about. We'll get into it soon.

The talk is igniting the fire. How can we systematically develop leaders as we scale an organization? Because we're engineers, I want to think about this as an engineering problem. Before I get into that, who am I? Nick Caldwell, Chief Product Officer at Looker, now acquired by Google. I'm really excited about that. I'm going to buy a whole bunch of new Jordan’s once that deal closes. Formerly a VP of engineering at Reddit, we always get a good turnout when there are geeks. For those of you who don't know what Reddit is, it's one of the world's largest websites, about 300 million MAU. While I was there, I helped scale that team from about 35 engineers all the way up to about 170 when I left. We did that over the course of a year and a half.

Before that, 15 years at Microsoft, General Manager of a product team called Power BI, an entrepreneurial team where I scaled up the team from really two people, then when I left it was around 300 folks. I went to some decent educational institutions, then the other thing I'm really proud about is I'm a board member of an organization called /dev/color and I'll talk to you more about that later.

Early Challenges

Most of this talk is going to be about scaling teams. I think the best experience I had in that so far, the fastest growth I had was really at Reddit, so I want to talk about some of the challenges we faced there. When I joined Reddit, the CEO kind of took me aside. He said, "Nick, I got a challenge for you. We're at hyperscale, we need you to figure out a way to triple the team size as fast as possible." We ended up quintupling it in about a year and a half, but the fundamental goal there was to grow as quickly as possible.

The number one challenge that I had when I joined was there were no managers. Anyone who's had to rapidly scale an organization or build an organization of any type, you've got to think through your management structure, who's going to be in charge of taking care of people, doing the organization, etc.? We had a bunch of people calling themselves tech leads. Tech leads is one of the most nebulous job titles I think that I've encountered in this industry. If you talk to five companies you'll get seven different answers for what a tech lead is.

One of the first things I had to do in order to scale this organization up was to separate out tech leads into two groups, managers and architects. You guys saw the movie "Blade Runner?" If you haven't seen it, the gist of it is there's a guy, a detective. He's got to hunt down these robots called replicants. The catch is, these replicants look like human beings.

He has to use this test. It's called the Voight-Kampff test and what he does is he finds someone, he's not sure if it's a human or a robot. He hooks them up to this machine, starts asking them a few questions to determine, human or robot. If they're human, great, no problem. If they're a robot, well, he takes them out back and shoots them. We decided to do the same thing with our tech leads.

This is an example of the tests that we use, one, we didn't literally shoot them. Then two, we didn't literally ask them questions. This happened over the course of several weeks in one-on-ones and just trying to figure out what people are really passionate about. We asked these sorts of questions, a tech lead comes in, "What do you care more about, people or architecture?" If you're an architect, this is a pretty straight forward question. If you're a manager, one of your primary responsibilities has to be caring about people. I fundamentally believe that.

"What are your thoughts on shipping toward a deadline?" Managers, one of their primary responsibilities, you've got to figure out how to have consistent, predictable output. That is a fundamental responsibility for managers. There are architects who I've talked to who will design, redesign, and design again, and they get really passionate about that. "Your PM tells you reports and immediately start working on a feature. What do you do?" Well, managers have to think through like how do we get predictable output? They have to manage the engineering team. If a PM comes and tries to interrupt, you have to take care of that.

Then finally, "You spend one day a week working on recruiting, plowing through LinkedIn profiles only to be rejected by every single candidate, how do you feel?" Managers have to do that regularly to try and be involved in building up the team. We ran this test and at the end of it, we had some pretty good results. We came out with 20 managers and directors, 10 architects. 50% of those came from within. After about a year we had, I would say, a 90% success rate. This really set the foundation for scaling the team, but it introduced another challenge.

After a year, a CEO took me aside and he's like, "Hey Nick, you've done a great job." I think at that point we were up to like a hundred people. He said, "You've done a great job but I'm noticing an interesting problem. It seems like we're hiring all or solving all of our corporate problems by hiring more people. It used to be the case that when we were small, people would step up and lead. If there was a new challenge, they didn't see boundaries. They would just jump in and try and offer their support but as we get bigger, it seems like we're just throwing more and more people at the problem," and the CEO's not wrong.

As your company gets bigger, one fundamental thing you have to do is provide specialization and focus. You start to see racy charts, roles and responsibilities. You start dividing the company up into areas of expertise and that makes it harder for any one person to switch and jump into an area and help out. A negative way to look at this is it can create politics and boundaries. I think it also, as you scale up, makes it feel like any one individual doesn't necessarily have a full sense of ownership across the entire company. This is a dangerous thing.

It means that people don't feel that they're empowered to step up into new areas or to take on leadership roles, so this is not good. It means that we're missing an opportunity to develop leaders, or at least there's something in the system that prevents people from feeling like they can continue to be leaders. Impact of missing leadership is obviously bad, lower productivity, lower retention, lower development, poor delegation if you don't have other people to push a task to.

There's a survey done by this application called Blind I thought was really interesting. It says, what is the main source of employee burnout in your current workplace? If you check this chart out, lack of leadership is actually a bigger source of burnout than giving people lots of work which is interesting to me, it was pretty surprising. The question that I have is, and the challenge that I proposed myself, is, "How do we scale leadership? How do we make it so that, if you're a 10 person startup, everyone feels like a leader? How do we make it so if you're a 100-person startup, everyone feels like a leader?" That was the challenge that I wanted to face.

In this talk, I think I've come up with at least three different mechanisms that you can use. I want this to be a really practical talk that gives you guys, who are managers, tools to take back with you to your teams. If you're individuals, I'm going to make sure that we give you some tools as well.

Leadership Isn’t Management

There are three things that I think we have to explain in order to solve this problem. The first one, and this might be the most important, is the fundamental idea that leadership isn't management, these are not the same thing. A reason I think this is so important, about three months ago, I had one of my mentees come to me and he said, "Hey Nick, I want your advice. I was talking to my manager. He said you're not ready yet to step into a leadership role."

I don't know if any of you have ever heard those words uttered? It implies something that's really fundamentally incorrect. One, it implies that your manager has the permission to tell you when you can lead, which I fundamentally disagree with. It also implies that in order to be a leader, you have to have a management position. I want to divest you of this notion as quickly as possible.

Leadership versus management. All Management, if you think about it, managers are responsible, I would say for a few things. One, people, for sure if you're going to be a good manager, you've got to care about people. There's also a lot of operational process that you're responsible for. You've got to think about predictability, stability. Really, your job as a manager is to take a bunch of people and figure out a way to get them, to inspire them to produce predictable output. You're trying to get high quality, predictable work out the door. Nothing glamorous about that.

If you think about what the role of a leader is, I'm going to claim it's quite different. Leaders of anything are trying to pull you off a predictable course. They're trying to spot the missing opportunity that everyone overlooked. They're trying to use inspiration, they're trying to use empathy. They're trying to use different techniques to change the behavior of an organization. Leaders, if anything is fundamentally destabilizing. Hopefully, that's in a positive way.

Let's start with that. Leaders and management are going to act in an organization in fundamentally different ways. I tried to find a quote, a pithy quote, which would encapsulate this. Leadership is working with goals and vision, management is working with objectives. I think that captures it but it doesn't stick. One of the ways I like to make an idea stick is to tell a story about it, so let's switch and tell a story.

Manhattan Project

How many of you folks have heard of the Manhattan Project? Hopefully, you've heard of this. The Manhattan Project, one of the most closely guarded secrets of World War II, development of the first atomic weapon. If you go and do research on this, it's really fascinating to look at how big of a logistical problem this was. Most people think, "Hey, this is a bunch of propeller head scientists locked in a room just tinkering with stuff and eventually an atomic weapon came out." No, it turns out more than 100,000 distinct companies worked together to build the supply chain, find the tooling, build all of the warehousing. A hundred thousand companies worked together on this project.

Most people, when they think about the leader of the Manhattan Project, one name comes up. That name is Robert Oppenheimer, he was the chief scientist and most people think of him as the leader of the Manhattan Project. I want to talk about someone who worked for Robert Oppenheimer. Let's see what they said about him, "He knew how to organize, cajole, humor, soothe feelings, how to lead powerfully without seeming to do so. He was an exemplar of dedication, a hero who never lost his humanness."

This is my favorite part of this, "Disappointing him somehow carried with it a sense of wrongdoing. Los Alamos's amazing success grew out of the brilliance, enthusiasm, and charisma with which Oppenheimer led it." Do you guys get that sense? That sounds like a really inspiring, motivating dude, this was not the guy organizing 100,000 companies and bringing all the supply chain together and figure out how all this stuff was going to get built. That was a different person, let's talk about him.

His name was Leslie Groves and this is a really fascinating guy. I also found a quote about Leslie Groves from one of his advocates. Let's see what they say about Leslie Groves, the manager of the Manhattan project, "The biggest son of a bitch I've ever met in my life," and this goes on. This goes on. "He had absolute confidence in his decisions. He was absolutely ruthless in how he approached a problem to get it done. I've often thought that if I were to have to do my part all over again I would select Groves as a boss."

Do you guys get that? Hopefully, the distinction is coming across. This is a truly fascinating person and just as an aside, Leslie Groves was also one of the very first proponents of agile methodologies. They were using agile methods to develop nuclear weapons. Definitely read about this dude if you want to learn some organizational and agile history.

Positional Leadership Doesn’t Scale

If that story didn't convince you, let's just hit you with a little bit more math. Positional leadership, the idea that everyone in your org has to be a manager in order to lead, it also just doesn't mathematically scale. Anyone who has built an organization, I guarantee you, will tell you the following, all the smart people are on the bottom of the org chart. If you are trying to get the best out of your team, you have to figure out a way to pull leaders from that pool.

Finally, this is actually what people want. If you're trying to build a happy high retention organization, trying to find ways for people to get leadership opportunities actually outperforms monetary incentives as a way to retain them. This is a survey from 2009 McKinsey Global Survey about employee retention. To scale, we want to get our employees to look for opportunities instead of positions.

Manager Tool: Leadership Breadcrumbs

I want to give you some tools for this, I want to end every section with a tool. If you're a manager or someone who's coordinating architects or that kind of position, I want to leave this tool with you. It's called Management Breadcrumbs. The idea here is that your next stand up or your next team sync, or what have you, you start to find ways to provide visibility into problems that are extending outside of your core group. This can be a little bit uncomfortable for managers because you have to have a little bit of vulnerability. You have to say, "Hey look, outside of this tight-knit group, I'm also dealing with these other challenges," but it's ok, take the leap. Try and provide visibility to things that are happening beyond your core group that you could use help with.

Then invite discussion and discussion doesn't mean complaining. Discussion means, try and introduce like, "Hey, how would you solve this if you were in my position?" Wait and repeat. This doesn't work on the first try remotely because your team has to get used to the idea of thinking more broadly. I guarantee you if you do this for long enough, do it for a few weeks, you'll start to see someone on your team raise their hand and say, "Oh, I've got an idea." Then maybe they'll say, "Oh, not only do I have an idea, maybe I'll spend a little bit of time writing my thoughts down." Then if you get really, really lucky they'll say, "I've got an idea, wrote my thoughts down. I got someone else to come help me with it." Then if you start to see this behavior, the final thing that you want to do is sponsor it. Sponsoring doesn't mean necessarily that you fund every idea that comes your way. That can be dangerous, but you do want to reward the positive behavior. Sometimes it's enough to just say in front of a group, "Good idea, I'm glad you consider that. I'll read your paper, I'll distribute it more broadly." Occasionally, you'll have an idea that you actually do want to execute on. Leadership Breadcrumbs, a tool for managers.

The Golden Question

For individuals who are looking for opportunities to lead, I've one tool as well. This is called the golden question. A lot of people ask me, "Hey Nick, you seem to have had a relatively decent career. How did you find opportunities?" This is the tool that I use. It's actually one of the simplest tools and the most effective, it's the golden question.

It is simply asking your manager or your peers or other folks in the organization, "What would you do if you had another pair of hands?" You will be stunned at the amount of opportunities that are just lying around for you to pick up if you ask the right person this question. Ask it to yourself at this moment. If someone were to come to you today, right after this conference, and asked you this question, "What are all the things that you'd want to do if you had another pair of hands?" Each of those is an opportunity for you to enable someone on your team with a leadership position.

Anyone Can Be a Leader

Second idea, I want to move on. Second important notion, if we're going to fix this problem, is the idea that anyone can be a leader. Do traits define a leader? I believe an entire industry is trying to convince us that this is the case and I've got evidence to back it up. I'm going to talk through why I don't think this is correct. Do traits define a leader? $24 billion a year is spent on leadership training. I guarantee you that everyone in this room is guilty of contributing to this $24 billion in some way. Let's look at some examples.

Books, "Good to Great," "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." Spend 20 bucks on that. Conferences, also somewhat expensive, welcome to QCon. Classes, $2,000. Take a little clay training class on the weekend but this is entry-level stuff. Let's move on to like the more heavy-hitting things. Leadership seminars. For $10,000 you can go to a leadership seminar with Earvin Magic Johnson, Suze Orman, Tony Robbins, Sylvester Stallone, and Pitbull. If you look at this, this is not a Pitbull conference, this is not a Pitbull concert. This is Pitbull dancing leadership into the souls of a thousand people for $10,000. Pitbull.

,p> If you really want to go heavy, this is the granddaddy of all leadership trait training. If you look closely at these screenshots, you'll see someone who's made this mistake. For $100,000, you can be a certified leader through one of these fine institutions.

Project Oxygen

Google a couple of years back actually did a study, it was called Project Oxygen. Among other things, they tried to determine what the top leadership traits were, it was a really fascinating study. These are the top five, vision, empathy, empowerment, charisma, and expertise. These are the five things that if you want to be a leader, you've got to have those traits.

I thought to myself, as a somewhat skeptical engineer, is this actually true. If I was to take these five traits and like apply them to actual tech leaders, would it stand up? Would the experiment be validated?

Let's go through a couple top leaders and see if they fit the bill here, let's start with an easy one, Steve Jobs. Definitely a visionary, definitely charismatic, empowering. This is a chart floating around the Internet of the Apple Org chart, where all the lines go to Steve Jobs. Not an empowering individual.

Let's try another one, this is a military commando - sorry, this is not a military commando, he's mildly terrifying. This is actually Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos, if you've studied his management philosophy at all, he's very empowering. He's got this whole notion of two pizza teams. He really tries to find ways to empower at the lowest levels of his organization. It's a really good read if you want to study management approaches, but let's see, empathy? Amazon warehouse workers skipped bathroom breaks to keep their jobs, says report. Not very empathetic. This is one of the nicer articles I could find recently. Let's move on.

This is one of my favorites. This is a guy that I really enjoy, brilliant person, massive expert. This guy's running more companies than I could fit on the slide. Tesla, SpaceX, he's drilling underneath LA, he's landing rockets on the moon. One of the smartest people out there by far, but maybe burning out a little bit. Maybe this is a person who should delegate a little bit more.

Then finally, I think this is one of my favorites as well, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, definitely a visionary. Brilliant individual, but look, there are entire Internet communities devoted to trying to figure out whether this man is actually a robot.

The question is, how are you supposed to know? How are you supposed to know that this nerd lawyer or this stoner with the unfortunate hat, are actually going to end up both being Nobel Prize winners? My claim is that, it's not about traits. It's got to be about something else.

Quiet Tony

I'll tell you a quick story, a personal story because I've made this mistake as well. I hate to show up to conferences just to be like, I know everything. I've made this mistake as well. When I was a young manager, I was trying to hire an architect for one of my machine learning teams and a guy came in, his name was Tony. He was incredibly quiet though, a really quiet guy. You ever do one of those interviews where you can't even get the person to tell you their name comfortably?

It's one of those things where you're really trying to drag something out to someone, but when we got to the coding questions, Tony just blew them away. It's one of those people, like you got 5 questions, he finishes them all in 20 minutes and then you have to invent new ones or stare at each other awkwardly. When we got round to the hiring panel, it's five people on the panel, we go around the room, it gets to me, and I'm the hiring manager for this position, and I go, "We're not going to hire Tony because he's too quiet. I believe that an architect has to have a presence. They've got to be loud. They've got to be someone who can get in front of a room and own it, architects and leaders have to have that property."

My manager took me out of the room and he said an important phrase, which I learned, which was, "Nick, I'm disappointed." Disappointed if you guys have done it. " That's like a millennial for "you suck". Anyway, we ended up hiring Tony and Tony ended up being one of the best hires I've ever made, just a brilliant guy. He not only brought machine learning techniques to the team, he quickly became a mentor for others, brought TensorFlow in the organization, just a brilliant individual.

I end up working with them for five years, many years later I asked him, "Hey, during the interview, it really didn't come across that you were going to be this amazing of a leader, what was it about?" Tony told me, "Hey Nick, my previous job - which you were asking me about in the interview - my previous job was making control software for washing machines at GE. The first time I got to work on something I was really passionate about was in your team, and that is what enabled me to become the leader you see today." That's always stuck with me.

The thing I want you guys to take away from that story is I think what you really got to look for is not traits, but you got to figure out how to connect people with what they're passionate about. I'm not the only person who thinks this. There's a 1992 study by Kriegel and Patler, it was longitudinal. Over the course of 20 years, they started with 1500 people. They said, "Would you choose your career for passion or money?" Then 20 years later there were 101 millionaires, 100 of those millionaires chose passion and only one set out on their career with the goal of making money. Read about that survey, it's really interesting.

Instead of Traits, Look For Passion

Instead of traits, look for passion. I want to give you guys a tool to try and uncover a passion with people who work for you or within your organization. First one, the idea is blue flame, you guys haven't heard this concept. The blue flame is the idea that you intersect what individuals are passionate about with what your organization needs. If you can get the overlap of those two things, you get the blue flame, the hottest part of the fire, the highest possible output. The tool for managers I want to give you is the blue flame chart.

The idea is that you use this chart during one-on-ones or discussions with your team. Don't print this out, it would be really awkward, just keep it in your head. You want to figure out intrinsic motivators, you can ask questions like, “What would you do if no one was telling you what to do? What team problems would you try and fix if you were in charge? What do you want to learn?” These are intrinsic motivators.

Extrinsic motivators. What are the major problems faced by our organizational team? What does your manager talk about when he's leaving breadcrumbs and are there new industry trends that we should be thinking about? These are just some examples. If you can intersect those two things, you get the blue flame.

For individuals, I want to add one other suggestion, which is you're going to add one other circle of this. That's feedback, 360-degree feedback, because I will claim that most people cannot see themselves clearly. The best way to get that input is to just ask people who you trust, what do you think I'm good at? Ask someone else what they think you're good at, I think you'll get the real answer. If you can intersect those three things, you get the hottest part of the flame and you figure out what you're passionate about and hopefully, you can apply it to your job.

Create Leadership Moments

Final thing, homestretch. The final thing is, even if you've got opportunity, and even if that opportunity is something that you're passionate about, you still don't see people popping into leadership mentality all the time, you still need something that sparks leadership. There's got to be like a trigger, I call that the leadership moment.

Why potential leaders don't spark? There's a pretty good survey from American Management Association and it gives you the answer pretty directly. The first rule of leadership is everything is your fault. Fear of being held responsible for failure is the number one reason that people don't take on leadership opportunities, which is great to know because this is a solvable problem.

The leadership staff function. What gets someone from just being a contributor into this leader mentality? Is it training? Is it Pitbull coming to dance that leadership into you? Is it putting pressure? Putting pressure on someone will turn them into a leader but I don't think that's sustainable. Is it mentoring? Everyone's got some moment though, like some moment where they switched mentality from contributor to leader. For folks in the room who feel like leaders, I suspect if you think about it for a second you'll recognize that moment in yourselves.

Mine was about three or four years into my career. I was a new manager and I was complaining about the PM team as the engineers are supposed to do. I was complaining to the PM team about, "The schedule sucks. The features aren't great. We're not being more forward-looking as we should be. We have to do more machine learning projects." My mentor at the time said, "Nick, I want to give you some advice." He said, "Nick, you're awesome as a manager, but you suck as a leader," which was terrible coming from my mentor. It was like a slap in the face. I wish he had just said he's disappointed in me.

What he said was, “Nick, all these problems that you're describing, who do you think is going to step up and solve them?” He said, "Leaders take responsibility for what happens next." That was the moment everything changed for me. I walked out of his room and went to the office of my general manager and was, "Look, I'm not really happy with the schedule. I've got some ideas. If you will give me authority, I would like to start a small team and go do a few prototypes, etc."

Somehow the general manager said, "Yes." He gave me a team of about 10 people and we ended up coming up with projects that lasted the team another two years. This is not a normal thing, I often think about why that GM allowed me to have a 10 person team when I only had 3 years of experience. I think it has to do one, with trust, I build up credibility, but also he was trying to build a culture that sponsored people who wanted to step up. I want to talk about culture, and I think that's the last thing we've got to do here.

Create Leadership Culture

I'm going to pick on Mark again. Mark, I think directionally was headed the right way. He had the Facebook motto is move fast and break things. That did set the stage for a culture of empowering individuals. I'm not sure if it's weathered the storm, I don't know how well this holds up over time. Let's not talk about Facebook, I want to give you guys an even better example. This is really one of my favorites and I use this literally for every new team I start, I share some version of this.

If you haven't seen it, this is the Nordstrom employee handbook. Up until about 20 years ago, Nordstrom printed out on a single card, a handbook for every employee that came into their organization. Here's what it says. "Welcome to Nordstrom. We're glad to have you with our company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service, set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. Nordstrom rules. Rule number one, use your good judgment in all situations, there will be no additional rules."

This is the most badass thing you can give to any new employee in your organization. Nordstrom, I don't think they took this literally, but the point is it sets the tone, it sets the culture for your organization.

There are other things that you can do in order to set that culture. If you're a manager or an individual, I want to give you one tool that you can use, a lot of people haven't heard about this. It's the difference between sponsoring and mentoring. A lot of people when I talk about building culture, they say, "Oh, we have a mentoring program. Mentoring programs are great, I like free coffee,” but I want to tell you guys about sponsoring.

The difference between sponsoring and mentoring is that with mentoring, someone comes to you for advice and you give them tips and feedback and so forth. Sponsoring is different. Sponsoring is if you're a person in a position of power, someone maybe high in the organization with the ability to grant authority, you can actually say, yes, that's a good idea. I'm not only supportive of it and want to give you advice on it, but why don't we fund that idea?

There are lots of small ways that you can sponsor projects, that many of the people in the room will be able to do. You can tell someone who works for you or if you're an architect, someone you're mentoring, take my credibility, use it as a justification to work on this project in your spare time. I think that's the minimum you can do. You can also set aside hack days for projects that people are passionate about. You can dedicate time in the schedule, if you're someone like me who's managing the entire roadmap, I love to dedicate time in the schedule to make sure that people can work on passion projects. If those projects are successful, I think your responsibility as a sponsor is to make sure that you give credit to whoever came up with the idea, so mentoring versus sponsorship, take that back.


Let's wrap it up, what happens when you put all of these techniques together to make a fire? You need oxygen, fuel, and a spark. To be a leader I believe you need opportunity, passion, and permission at culture.

Let's talk about some results. At Reddit and Looker where we've been applying, where I've been applying these techniques for a couple of years now. On the technical side, what you see here is, if you institute this, is a lot of great new tech bubbles up from the bottom of your organization. At Reddit, CI/CD performance testing started as a project that someone did in their spare time. We brought Kubernetes microservices to the organization through this methodology. One of the bigger projects at Reddit was porting the entire API over to GraphQL, again, started from the bottoms up.

The other really great thing about this is people contributions, lends itself to a more positive culture. We didn't have an employee mentoring program at Reddit or Looker, those were started from the bottoms up. Deep learning and training guilds if you'd like to have technology guilds around specific areas of technology. Those are great opportunities for people to step up and lead.

Then the final thing that we see, whenever I've done this is people using their time for nonprofit. Reddit for good as well as many Looker initiatives to benefit nonprofits that come up, using these techniques.

Leadership Tips

I want to close out my keynote with a few modern leadership tips. The first one is leaders have to embrace change, modern leaders have to embrace change. This is a chart of all of the different web frameworks that have come out since 1999 through 2016. I believe three new web frameworks have been released while I've been giving this talk. You need to go learn them. The important thing here is technology is changing all the time. If you're a leader, you have to be really open to new tech and change.

If your code is changing all the time, then what matters in the long run, I believe it's your network, in the long run, your network is your net worth. The most valuable coding language you can learn is English or whatever language, Spanish, whatever your team is using. Communication is what matters over time. People and relationships, the value of that will outweigh the value of your code. Your code is a depreciating asset.

The final thing I want to end on is really the purpose of this talk, the reason I like to get up and try and tell you guys about these techniques. I think that anyone who finds himself in a leadership position has a responsibility to create new leaders. It is my sincere hope that you'll take something from this talk, one of these tools back with you and figure out a way how to deploy them in your own organizations. The thing you must remember, the purpose of this talk is that leaders make new leaders.


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Recorded at:

Jul 18, 2019