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A one-second experiment about words

Today let’s run a one-second experiment about words: First, read this quote from a study: “Research shows that taking two deep breaths helps to clear the mind, reduce stress, and improve problem-solving abilities. Often participants aren’t aware of their shallow breathing until prompted.” Did you notice any change to your own breathing as you read…

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Where did the motivation go?

Smart people, like programmers, are motivated by solving problems. The challenge is what motivates them. The popularity of video games, role playing games, and escape rooms testify to this. Lucky for us, building software well is a difficult challenge. Why, then, do so many programmers feel bored with their jobs? There is still software to…

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The Only Leadership Theory That Matters

There are lots of leadership theories running around. Servant Leadership, Adaptive Leadership, Great Man Theory… the list goes on and on. But in the end, only one leadership theory matters: the theory that your team has about you. My first Leadership Theory My first job was at Taco Bell, where I held the esteemed title…

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My clients were jerks

Tell me if this story sounds familiar… It’s 11:45 pm and my wife went to bed an hour ago.  I’m sitting on the couch, hunched over my laptop, working to deliver a client’s project for a demo tomorrow.  Five hours ago when I started, I reassured my wife “We’re really close.  Just a few tweaks from…

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Fred Brooks was right

“There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity.” Fred Brooks, 1986. (Emphasis is my own.) In an industry that moves as fast as ours does, that’s a startling statement.  We are bombarded by processes,…

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The #1 pricing mistake you must avoid

Robbie writes in, “Marcus, my client’s budget is too small for us to do what’s needed for them.  Just this week I took on a client with a $2,500/mo marketing budget, but I already know that I’ll be giving away time to get the results they want.  In the end, I don’t really make money, but…

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Might as well own it

There’s no way to sugar coat it: I’m a poor marketer. If you’re like most coders, you probably are too. See, I want to believe in the philosophy, “Build it, and they will come.” I want to believe the best ideas always win.  That if you built a great product or service, it would “sell itself.” Yeah……

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Obstacles -> Assets

You must help your team turn obstacles into assets. That means helping them to see their problems, impediments, blockers, and hurdles as learning opportunities. Sound crazy?  Here are a few examples… 1. Are new requirements derailing a project deadline?  Maybe there’s a learning opportunity around incremental releases.  Or about estimating with ranges.  Or about change orders.…

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How could that possibly be fun?

Last week in our Tech Leader Mentoring Group we discussed our team’s underperforming activities.  All teams have them (because no individual or team is perfect), yet we don’t often stop and look for them.  This week we did, and we came up with some great ones, including estimation points, team retrospectives, and one-on-one meetings. Now let me clarify: these…

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