Wednesday, January 18, 2012

commence ass-kicking

Well, sort of. I'm starting to acquire competence at my job, though, and that's always a nice feeling. I'm at my strongest either when dealing with people relationships, or working on broad systems-design questions. As the head of the video encoding team at an online video streaming company, though, we're highly visible and there are always salesguys and customers and partners who would all like to talk to me. It's a little awkward because I don't know much about video encoding, and I haven't spent these past months up to my elbows in the lower-level code.

We're actually getting started on our re-architecture! We did the first tiny chunk last week, and next week, while we'll be a bit slower from ramping up a new team member, we'll start on the heavy lifting. We hired an encoding expert, too, and we're all really excited to have someone on board who really knows video deep-down: it's only been a couple weeks without Abhik, but we're feeling the absence of that expertise.

I think I'm doing well, considering my first management job is for a team:
  • with 5 (very smart, very kind) people.
  • incredibly visible to customers and the rest of the company.
  • completely and conspicuously critical to the company's success.
  • specializing in something I know very little about.
  • a complete mess in technical and process terms.
All told that actually seems like sort of a silly job to take. I do like doing difficult things, though, and beyond that, it feels like a Right Livelihood thing to do. I feel like I can bring my training and practice to this position where people are actually paying quite a lot of attention to what I say and do. I feel like I can be patient, compassionate, firm, and mostly calm--I've been getting Pretty Excited lately on a few different issues--and that I can meet people where they are and respond directly to their needs. It's the way I try to teach, but that's because that's the way I try to be: I had to adjust to my students in Chile the same way I adjust to very strange people talking to me on the street. We all want to feel heard, and I'm good at listening.

I'll be happy when I've stopped going to meetings and I spend time coding again, but so far, it's been a good choice.

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