5 Business Memoirs to Read

From all of my reading, here are the top 5 business memoirs to read.  I agree with the saying that you are the average of your five closest friends – and if you do enough reading, the characters in the books you read begin to feel like friends.  When you’re a business geek, that means you might end up feeling like you are friends with Warren Buffett or Bill Gates.  A little anecdote for you: a few months ago, I had a dream that Buffett and Gates were teaching me how to play bridge, the card game.  This was when I knew that I had passed the point of no return.

Here is a look at my favorite 5 business memoirs to read.  May these people become friends of yours, as well.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

Apart from this book being first, none of the books on this list are in any order.  At age 18, this almost 1,000-page book on securities investing held my full attention.  The Snowball tells the story of Warren Buffett, from early childhood, with a unique amount of detail, as Schroeder was approached by Buffett to author his biography.  Buffett’s story demonstrates the importance of doing the reading, the research, and asking the right questions. This book functions as a strong introduction to value investing from none other than the man who has exemplified the power of compound interest.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

If you think you know Elon Musk from following his popular tweets, there is a lot to him you are missing.  Vance’s book details Musk’s early life in South Africa and the process of Musk’s founding of PayPal, followed by SpaceX and Tesla.  The lesson to be learned from Musk is that if ambition is accompanied by hard work, then there is no ceiling on what a person can achieve.

Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business by Barbara Corcoran

Many know Barbara Corcoran as the beloved Shark Tank investor, but her book sheds light on the success that placed her in the ranks to join the show.  Shark Tales is a memoir of Corcoran’s journey to build a real estate empire in New York City.  Written by herself, the book displays Corcoran’s battle with self-confidence, constantly striving to show the men she worked alongside that she was capable – and show that, she did.  (Quick tip: listen to the audiobook version of this.  Barbara, herself, reads it!)

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog records the history of NIKE, a story of vision and determination.  NIKE’s founder, Phil Knight, experienced obstacle after obstacle during the birth of his business, from lengthy lawsuits to manufacturing complications, always pushing through.  Knight’s example as a successful entrepreneur illustrates the value of tenacity and problem-solving when launching and maintaining a growing business.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

A short read on the life and thoughts of Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography positions this Founding Father as a surprisingly approachable inventor, intellectual, and entrepreneur.  Franklin’s list of thirteen virtues of which he sought to improve upon in himself show a man with extreme self-awareness and an affinity for self-growth.

That wraps up my list of 5 business memoirs to read.  So tell me, what should I read next?

Author Details
Managing Editor
Saphira has a combined social following of 150,000+ followers; experience in digital marketing, brand development, and business consulting. She is all about learning: reading 50 books a year, independently learning languages and computer programming. Completing her degree at Loyola Marymount University’s Hilton School of Business.
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Managing Editor
Saphira has a combined social following of 150,000+ followers; experience in digital marketing, brand development, and business consulting. She is all about learning: reading 50 books a year, independently learning languages and computer programming. Completing her degree at Loyola Marymount University’s Hilton School of Business.
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Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

The cost of software development kills innovation by limiting resources available to solve problems

THE PRODUCTIVITY DILEMMA

Let’s face it – software development is expensive.  Really expensive.  It’s not hard to understand why – software development is a complicated and still-maturing industry, and as the sector grows, it actually gets more complicated, not less, because of the acceleration of changes in technologies, programming languages, and toolsets.

As a technology consultant, one who is paid to help build expensive, complex systems, I should be happier than a fanboy on a Fortnite bender about this trend, right?  Wrong – it frustrates me a great deal.  My job is to solve problems and build things that people need, and that gets harder when funding becomes a challenge for our clients.

So here’s the question I’ve been grappling with – how can we make software development more productive to reduce costs?

There are lots of things our industry has done over the preceding decades to tackle this problem:

  • Developed working methodologies to build repeatable practices – Waterfall, Unified Process, Agile, XP, etc.
  • Created design patterns to solve common problems – MVC, SOLID, GoF, and many others
  • Leveraged lower cost resources through offshoring

None of these have been a panacea.  Look at any enterprise and you’ll find competing for SDLC methodologies, loose adherence to design practices, and the common efficiency roadblocks due to offshoring.  While these efforts have been helpful in managing cost, it is very difficult to measure the effect they have really had.

MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY

What to do, then?  More than anything, the focus of productivity has to start with the most human element of all – the individual developer herself.  The focus has to be on how to increase the speed that a developer can turn a designed solution into working code with as few errors as possible.

Anyone who has been in the software industry knows there are broad ranges in developers’ productivity.   It depends on the individual’s ability to understand programming theory, their educational background, years of experience, a personal situation at the time, how much Fortnite they play, etc.

Why is this important?  Quite simply, time is money.  The longer it takes a developer to code a solution, the more it costs.  In today’s environment of nearly full employment, demand for software developers has never been higher, which brings a lot of varied talent into the picture to meet the demand.  Anyone who has hired a developer knows the productivity gap I’m talking about – hiring is an expensive proposition and no matter how much interviewing you do, and you’re never sure what sort of productivity you’ll get until that person gets to work.

Why is measuring productivity so hard?  Because a good measurement involves an apples-to-apples comparison between developers, yet they will almost never complete the same task to produce the same set of code.  Since every development task is different, we cannot establish a baseline for how long it SHOULD take to perform a task versus how long it WILL take a specific developer.  Throw in each person’s differing levels of experience, education, and general abilities with the discipline, and…you get the picture.

Does that mean we’re stuck with technical interviews, coding tests, and answered prayers to create a team of highly productive software engineers?  Not quite.  Agile practices give us an opportunity to solve the biggest challenge in measuring developer productivity – creating a baseline to measure the variance between the estimated and actual time to perform a coding task.

HOW IT WORKS

Every ALM tool – Jira, or otherwise – allows a Scrum team to create story sub-tasks during their planning sessions.  Usually, a developer assigned to a sub-task has an opportunity to estimate the time it should take to complete that task, measured in hours.  During the sprint, developers can then track the actual hours spent so the team can evaluate the variance between estimated and actual hours.

This variance isn’t particularly helpful as a productivity metric because the individual developer may be much faster or slower than the average, and their estimations likely reflect this bias.

The solution to this problem is to have all the developers on the Scrum team estimate each subtask duration, creating a proxy baseline and a more reasonable expectation of the task’s duration.  Then, once a task is assigned to the individual developer, the variance calculations can start to have some meaning.

What meaning are we to glean from this variance? When looking at large sets of variances (hundreds or thousands of tasks over multiple projects), we can observe patterns in individual developers’ productivity.  If they consistently take longer to complete a task than the established baseline, we can look more deeply at the data to find root causes and potential remediations.  Is there a skills mismatch, allocation mismatch, or something else?  Does the developer need more pair programming or training in specific areas?

If a developer consistently performs tasks in less time than the estimations, we have hard metrics to reward that individual and encourage continued productivity.  We can also look at the data to see how we might have other developers emulate good behaviors from these high performers.

IMPLICATIONS

I know I know – I can hear the complaints now.  A small group of 2-4 developers on a Scrum team estimating a task cannot be used as a valid baseline, you say.  It’s a fair point, but any leftover estimation bias from a small sample size of developers would be offset by the volume of variance data we would collect.  As a manager, I care more about the variance trends and less about the exactness of anyone variance calculation.

But wait, you say.  All of this supposes a developer will be truthful in reporting their actual duration on a task.  People lie to themselves and others all the time (just read “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz) – if a developer knows they’ll be measured on variance, they’ll manipulate their actuals to improve their perceived productivity.

Again, fair point, but there is a self-policing solution to this problem.  An employee is generally expected to work 8 hours a day.  If a developer consistently under-reports their actual durations on a task, it would appear they were consistently working less than they should be.

Say a developer is assigned two 4-hour tasks, and he takes 1 day to complete both but only reports 2 hours of actual duration for each task.  We would see a report that shows him only working 4 hours that day.  With enough data points, we could easily spot a trend of under-reporting and take corrective action.

CONCLUSION

Why is all of this important?  As individuals, not just employees, we should all strive to improve ourselves every day.  That’s how society is supposed to work – we do things, we make mistakes, we learn from them and we grow in the process.  But we can’t improve what we can’t measure.  The method I describe is very easy to implement, as long as your team is following the Scrum ceremonies.  With simple metrics and trend analysis, maybe we can finally solve a difficult problem and leave ourselves more time to knock a few more things of that ever-growing to-do list.

Chad Hahn
Author Details
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.

GOAT is Seeking 11 Full-Time Engineers in its LA Office

GOAT is Seeking 11 Full-Time Engineers in LA

Founded in 2015 and based in Los Angeles, GOAT is the largest marketplace for buying and selling authentic sneakers. Whether you’re looking to buy rare sneakers, discover new ones, or earn money by listing sneakers you already own, GOAT is your destination.

GOAT is backed by some of the leading names in venture capital including Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary, Matrix Partners, NEA, SV Angel, Upfront Ventures and Y Combinator.

Located in the heart of Culver City, California; shared by multiple sources, GOAT is one of the best (and coolest) places to work in LA right now.

Awesome Perks:

  • Medical, dental and vision coverage
  • Daily catered lunches from LA’s best restaurants
  • Unlimited vacation and sick days
  • Competitive salary and generous equity grants

GOAT is currently seeking 11 full-time engineering talent in its LA office.

  1. Android Engineer – Seeking a product-driven Android Engineer with a strong appreciation for great design not only in products and visual presentation but also in code and technical architecture.
  2. Engineering Manager – Seeking an experienced Engineering Manager to lead a team of exceptional software engineers. You will play a key role in inspiring and driving the efforts of the engineering team to deliver the highest priority features in the quickest way possible while managing technical risk and quality.
  3. iOS Engineer – Seeking a proven experience engineer building and launching high-quality iOS apps and is excited about researching new methods or technologies that improve the architecture, user experience or engineering process.
  4. Lead Software Engineer (Golang/Microservices) – Seeking a lead engineer to coordinate and communicate across teams that span several areas of the business, including mobile, web, retail, and fulfillment Tackle large projects related to deconstructing a Rails using composable microservices and serverless components.
  5. Senior Android Engineer – Seeking a product-driven Senior Android Engineer with a strong appreciation for great design not only in products and visual presentation but also in code and technical architecture. As an early member of the engineering team, you’ll collaborate cross-functionally with product design, marketplace ops, analytics and more to ensure a solid end-to-end strategy and execution.
  6. Senior Backend Engineer – Seeking an experienced Senior Engineer to help design and implement new features across multiple backend applications. As a senior presence and a core individual contributor on a small team, you will play a key role in both enhancing a Ruby on Rails backend at the heart of the business and building out a new, more scalable service-driven architecture.
  7. Senior Frontend Engineer – Seeking a Senior Frontend Engineer to build unique websites that support both our power users and our everyday customers. Develop single page applications in React and other best in class JavaScript libraries.
  8. Senior Golang Engineer – Seeking an experienced Senior Engineer to help design and implement new features across multiple backend applications. As a senior presence and a core individual contributor on a small team, you will play a key role in mapping the expanding needs of the business into innovative technical solutions within a highly scalable and event-driven architecture.
  9. Senior iOS Engineer – Seeking a Senior Engineer who has proven experience building and launching high-quality iOS apps and is excited about researching new methods and technologies that improve the architecture, user experience or engineering process. Work with team to troubleshoot, debug, and fix issues in production and non-production environments.
  10. Senior Ruby on Rails Engineer – Seeking an experienced Senior Engineer to help design and implement new features across multiple backend applications. As a senior presence and a core individual contributor on a small team, you will play a key role in both enhancing a Ruby on Rails backend at the heart of the business and building out a new, more scalable service-driven architecture. Make technical decisions that improve the codebase while minimizing riskIdentify and fix (or, ideally, avoid) bugs and performance bottlenecks.
  11. Senior Software Architect (Golang/Microservices) – Seeking a Senior Software Architect to coordinate and communicate across teams that span several areas of the business, including mobile, web, retail, and fulfillment. Tackle large projects related to deconstructing a Rails using composable microservices and serverless components. Enhance the existing backend systems to improve overall aspects related to high-traffic mobile and web applications. Identify current and future performance bottlenecks and bugs through simulated load-testing and chaos engineering concepts

Congrats with the success Eddy!

More about GOAT

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

Top Content Marketing Trends for 2019

Top Content Marketing Trends for 2019

Every year, different trends come and go in marketing. But classic methods don’t go away, and that includes content marketing. In fact, content marketing is growing at such a pace that experts estimate its worth will exceed $400 billion by 2021.

If you’re finally joining the content marketing bandwagon, here are some trends that you should anticipate for the coming year:

Content Marketing is Now Mainstream

It wasn’t that long ago when content marketing was considered a side project. It was something marketing pros tried out after first dealing with the more important marketing tasks.

Today, content marketing is considered one of those crucial tasks that you have to deal with. It’s now part of mainstream marketing because ignoring this facet of your marketing strategy will doom your enterprise. It’s that integral to your success.

Documented Strategies

Since content marketing has now been recognized as crucial to a marketing strategy, it will no longer suffice for marketing officials to launch content marketing strategies on the fly. This can’t be a “fly by the seat of your pants” project. It has to be carefully thought out and planned.

This is why 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. Such a carefully planned campaign can identify a key marketing goal and set up a plan to achieve that goal.

Greater Focus on Customer Success

In the old days, companies focused on making the sale and then moving onto the next sale. They dealt with complaints as they arose afterward. But today, services are much more personalized. Marketers have realized that if they wanted to forge deeper relationships with their customers and encourage them to spread news of their brand, they have to make sure that customers get full value from their money.

That’s the essence of customer success. This means that with your content, you can help customers take care of their bought products. The content can also suggest new ways of using the products.

Brands Change from Vendors to Partners

Traditional marketing has always been at the core a way to sell stuff. Modern marketing, especially content marketing, is instead about forging a partnership with customers. That’s what the content you offer should focus on. It’s not about convincing people to buy stuff from you. Instead, it’s about engaging with customers and forging a lasting and trusting relationship.

Again, this means more focus on content that covers post-sale topics. What do your customers need after buying what you’re selling? Your content should provide info that can help them with those needs so that these customers will buy from you again. They’ll also be much more likely to recommend your brand to their social circles. After all, you don’t just view them as sources of profit—you act like they’re you’re partners.

Content Distribution is Key

The best content doesn’t help your cause if no one gets to see it. That means you need to find efficient ways of spreading the word and your content. These methods include social networks, email marketing, and other distribution channels that can best reach your audience.

Also, check out 2018 Internet Trends Report From Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
×
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.