Saturday, October 25, 2008

Good Intentions

"In fact, no decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific steps has become someone’s work assignment and responsibility. Until then there are only good intentions."
Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive.

First two weeks

I've been at the Rubicon Project for two weeks now.

Jumping back into the Start Up World is quite a trip. There are the pluses -- excited peers, interesting projects, free food & beer, freedom to improve process. And the minuses -- what process? code that has all been written in a hurry and extended in unexpected ways, and all the other problems that creep in when hurrying becomes rushing.

The first few weeks at a new job are a unique opportunity. As "the new guy" everything is new and strange. We get a lot of leeway to ask questions -- so ask lots of questions! Of course, we need to do some digging beforehand so we can understand the responses. Keep track of which processes or interfaces are confusing. Everyone else is used to them, warts and all, and will need your insight to smooth out the rough edges.

Meet as many people as you can. Ask them what they do and how it interacts with what you'll be doing. You'll be asking these people for favors soon enough! Use this relatively unstructured time to integrate professionally and socially into the new culture. Now is the time to build a solid base -- from here we will expand our area of competency and influence.

"Hi, I'm [your name], I'm new in [your department]" this is where you'd offer to shake hands If they didn't introduce themselves, follow with "What is your name?" If you've been introduced, but can't remember their name, be honest about it and apologize. "I know we've been introduced, but I can't recall your name. I apologize. What is your name?"

Follow with "Nice to meet you [their name]. [their name], What do you do and how does your department interact with mine?"

I'm glad I got the chance to start on a smallish project with a buddy. This gave me one person to pester instead of annoying the whole team. I was able to jump into the code and make my first SVN commit about a week in. The parts that were too large conceptually for me to figure out I was able to push back to my buddy. It's great to have a project that directly affects the product. I've seen plenty of new hires toiling away on an initial project that will be stand-alone -- this doesn't tie them into the main product and they're essentially still just the new guy when they're done.

Hey, don't kill yourself in the first weeks. Realize that you'll need extra down-time for all these new experiences to sink in. Let the new grooves form.

I'm really excited to be back around excited people. I've spent much of today (Saturday) reading through our code base and browsing software books for related patterns.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Good Bye to ValueClick

From: Andrew Grangaard
Sent: Thursday, October 02, 2008 11:24 PM
Subject: Good-bye dear coworkers!

To my ValueClick family,

Friday is my last day at ValueClick. I've had a great two years working here in the Westlake Village office (with visits to SF). I will miss seeing my many friends across the ValueClick departments. You are an excellent crew of hard working, dedicated people. Running the MOJO Publisher Development team was a wonderful opportunity and a fun ride. Sean, Rodney and Joe, thanks for your guidance and leadership with the Publisher product.

The MOJO Publisher layoffs in August were emotionally draining: suddenly separated from a crew and product I'd worked hard building and defending. My thanks go out to Peter Wolfert for working hard to find positions for myself and my team. Kelly Harrel and Mike Mikowski really went to bat to find the funds to bring Noel and I into Search123. Thank you. I'm happy to see Kevin Tam and Mike Heckman continuing with new roles at Mediaplex. I was truly blessed to have such a wonderful hardworking development team.

With my team safely transitioned, it is now time for me to take on a new opportunity. I'll be starting at The Rubicon Project next week. I can only hope that I'll find the same standards of excellence in my new teammates. I'm looking forward to the change of joining a young, small company -- and shortening my commute from a 35 mile drive (each way) to a 3 mile bicycle ride is too hard of a prospect to pass up. I'll miss you all. Stay Classy!

Thank you,


To Mark and Mike at Manager Tools,

Thank you for all you've done for the management community. I've learned so many skills from you guys but more importantly your attitude is infectious. Improve! Improve your directs, what better way for you to be acknowledged as a manager than to have your directs promoted? Be true to yourself and your ideals! Help others to help the world! The Manager Tools website and podcast are incredible resources for both the new manager and the seasoned professional.

Mark and Mike are flying to NYC this weekend (Oct 18) for a free career-crisis skills conference. First-come-first-served. I've forwarded this directly to some friends in the NY job market. This is an amazing gift from them. If you're able to get there, I'd recommend it. Find out more about this Free Career Crisis Skills Conference - Oct 18,2008

The Effective Managers conference in San Antonio (September 2007) was amazing. It was overwhelmingly frightening to introduce myself to the group as a whole. Going through the feedback drills was almost as hard! This first hand experience is just what I needed to get over the twin fears of failure and success. I don't have it all down, but I'm moving forward.

I liked the conference so much I became a full-premium member of the website, which included the "How to Interview" series. This series is incredibly useful on both sides of the interviewing process. I definitely leaned on it while doing interviews for new hires at ValueClick and used it for preparation for the interviews that lead to my current job at The Rubicon Project. Quick take-away: be upstanding, be polite, be prepared, be yourself. Perhaps the most important tip: There are two parts to the job search: getting offers and taking offers. These are separate phases!

Mark and Mike, thanks again for all your hard work and inspiration.


So it begins

Hello World.

Welcome to Low Level Manager.

I'm your Host, Andrew Grangaard. I'm a software developer and first time manager. I've learned a lot so far (starting at zero will do that) and I'd like to share. And here we go!