Tag: work life

Swamped But Ready To Push Forward

Swamped But Ready To Push Forward (Image by http://www.sxc.hu/)

Mini Update

Just thought I’d get a quick one out there to say I’m still here. To be honest, I haven’t kept up to speed with my weekly updates or even sharing articles on social media like I try to do on a regular basis. But that’s just how life has been the past few weeks, and there’s no sense beating myself up over it. Time to acknowledge it, and time to push forward.

Work has kept me swamped with things to do. I’ve been busier than normal the past few weeks and it’s largely due to things going on at work. But I’m not complaining. I actually prefer times at work when I feel nearly overwhelmed. The added pressure (whether artificially inflated by my own doing or not) really helps me buckle down and become productive. It’s a great feeling to be able to reflect on a week’s worth of work and know that a lot got done. It’s even better to see the culmination of your work after several months and how far it’s come. If work weren’t enjoyable, I’m sure I’d have a completely different take on this one!

I’ve noticed that my post on creating a tabbed Android user interface has still kept up with a ton of traffic. I’m actually getting some private requests for help outside of public forums regarding this post, and I’ve been falling a bit behind on those too. It’s great to see people are actually benefiting from this blog post though!

What I’ve Been Doing

Not blogging. But you already knew that!

Well I mentioned work has been pretty busy. Magnet Forensics has launched another update to Internet Evidence Finder, so we’re now on version 6.3 of the product. Even though our process for launching a new release has come a long way, there’s still a ton of extra work and stress that comes with any release. Any potential bug that shows its face has to be closely considered for whether or not it should block the software from being released. Any odd behaviour with the application needs to be acknowledged and documented if it won’t be fixed for the release–So if customers contact us, our tech support can easily guide them through workarounds. Of course while that’s happening, the development team is already hashing out how to solve it for the next release.

There’s a lot involved for a release. It’s hectic but it’s exciting. Reflecting on everything that went into the latest release of our software, I’m still amazed. Every time we put out a new version we always make the previous release seem like it was a minor update. I’m extremely proud of the development team at Magnet for being able to rally and put together an awesome product, and of everyone at Magnet for being able to have an awesome version launch.

Thanks Team Magnet!

What’s Around The Corner

So I had actually started on a few things–I swear. I just didn’t get around to finishing them:

  • I have a recognition blog post I want to rework and get put out. This one is long overdue, but it’s near completion.
  • Two assorted leadership/startup-esque blog posts are in the works. These ones still need a ton of work.
  • My leadership blueprint blog post! I mentioned a while back now that I wanted to do a post on this, but I haven’t started yet. I’m really looking forward to this one.
  • Actually posting and sharing on social media again. Sorry!
  • Weekly article dumps. Again, once I start sharing, I can get back on track with these!

There’s a whole lot on the way!


Burnout – Weekly Article Dump

Burnout - Image Provided By Stock.XCHNG

Burnout

The trend in the articles this week is all about burnout. Burnout is a serious issue that can affect a wide variety of people. When an individual becomes so dedicated to something and starts devoting all of their time to accomplish a goal, burnout can set in. This is especially noticeable in startup companies where it’s typical to work longer-than normal hours. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with loving the work you do and wanting to put in more time! The problem ends up being when all of your waking time is geared toward one thing and everything else (including sleep!) starts to take the back seat. This is where burnout can set in.

Articles

  • The Six Deadly Sins of Leadership: Leadership isn’t always easy, but there’s definitely a few things you should avoid doing as a leader. Jack Welch and his wife Suzy do an excellent job of describing six things you should not do. Ignoring values for the sake of results and forgetting to have fun along the way are two of my favourite points.
  • 11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader: Having lists makes for having good references, and Dave Kerpen certainly has a great list for leadership tips. Number one on his list is of course listening. It’s that thing that every good leader should be doing more of. Being a team player, being passionate, and being adaptive are also up there on the list.
  • 3 Key Reasons to be Optimistic Like Steve Case: Julia Boorstin touches on an excellent point in her article: by remaining optimistic, you can view all of your challenges as opportunities to get better. Leaders need to learn from their mistakes (and we all make them) but those challenges are really just self-improvement opportunities.
  • Avoiding Burnout: Take it from an entrepreneur, burnout is serious business. Andrew Dumont talks about his experiences as an entrepreneur and how burnout set in. The best part of Andrew’s post is that in the end he gives a great list of tips for how you can help avoid burnout in your own work/life. Highly recommended read!
  • How to Prevent Employee Burnout: KISSmetrics has a huge list of tips for how you can help keep employees from running into burnout problems. They start off by defining what burnout is and how you can detect it among your employees. By knowing what causes burnout, it’s a lot easier to try and address solutions for it.
  • It’s Time to Dream for a Living: Whitney Johnson talks about how being a dreamer lets you achieve a psychological pay-off similar to a well designed game. Be social, go above and beyond by tackling things that aren’t always necessary, and immerse yourself in epic scale.
  • 6 Ways to Put the ‘Good’ in Goodbye: Read this article by Chester Elton that gives an awesome example of how you should treat departures of good employees from your company. When a good employee leaves your company, it’s probably for a good reason. Try to celebrate their work and encourage success for them when they’re leaving. There’s not much worse than trying to spin things around and make a potentially great opportunity for them a poisonous experience.
  • Burnout: The Disease of Our Civilization: Arianna Huffington put’s it elegantly that most of us have  “the misguided belief that overwork is the route to high performance and great results”. It’s exactly why many people fall into the doom that is burnout. It’s a longer read than some of the articles I’ve shared, but I do recommend it!
  • Find Leadership Inspiration in Your Everyday Encounters: You don’t need to look much further than ever-day life to be able to pick up on some great examples of inspiration for leadership. Simply work on rule #1: Listen. John Ryan (and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can’t stop thinking of Wedding Crashers when I read his name) details his experience on a plane and how he was able to draw inspiration from one of the passengers he was sitting with. Always try to learn something from the situations you find yourself in–It’s an excellent way to develop yourself.
  • Want to Save Your Life?: “Rest is not a luxury. It’s part of survival” are some powerful words from Erica Fox. She discusses what the effects of overwork are on our mind and body and in the end offers up lots of great examples for how you can avoid burnout. Another solid read.

Hope you enjoyed! It’s great to be driven to accomplish your goals, but don’t become so narrow sighted that you lose track of the rest of the things that matter. Remember to follow on popular social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
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Leadership Reads – Weekly Article Dump

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Great Leadership Reads

Here’s a collection of articles I’ve shared over the past week on social media outlets. There’s a lot of great leadership reads this time around!

  • If You Don’t Treat Your Interns Right, You are Mean…and Stupid: This is a great post by Nancy Lublin that talks about something many full-time people share a common (and usually lousy) perspective on: interns. In my opinion, if you aren’t going to treat your interns well, you shouldn’t be hiring them. One key take away point from the article is ensuring that you treat your internship programs as something real and meaningful. Now, as a computer engineering graduate from the University of Waterloo and from being part of the leadership staff at Magnet Forensics, I’ve seen both sides of the story. Companies should treat their interns well, but interns should also realize companies are giving them the opportunity to be part of something great. It can be a win-win situation if both sides put in the time, effort, and dedication… but it can also be a lose-lose if approached poorly.
  • Does your company culture resemble jungle warfare?: Barry Salzberg talks about office politics in this article. Key take away points? Be aware of the politics but don’t participate. Work together as a company toward your mission and embrace your company values. There’s no room for politics if you want your company to achieve greatness. Politics only interfere and hinder the business.
  • At Home This Weekend? Try This!: Presenting… The Weekend CEO Challenge from Steve Tappin! I thought this article was a pretty cool perspective on how some top CEOs are spending their weeekends. Interested in doing any of these things over the weekend? Do you already do some of these things?
  • Resist the “Us vs. Them” Mindset: Daniel Goleman shares a quote about embracing an “us” vs “them” mindset. Look for the common goals you share with others and embrace them together. Work together and stop viewing others as enemies. It’s hard to be successful if you’re always worrying about thwarting your enemies, so why not rally your friends and work as a team?
  • It’s Time to Change Your Outlook on Change: Change isn’t a problem, according to Daniel Burrus. The problem is the fact that we sometimes fear change despite the fact that we’re built for it. In order to handle change well and be able to embrace it, we need to practice anticipating it. Stop leading blindly and acting surprised when things don’t go as planned… Start being proactive and paying attention to warning signs.
  • The Great Office Space Debate Rages On: Jennifer Merritt talks about a topic that’s been going back and forth for some time now: office layouts. It used to be the norm for companies to have cubicles and offices on the peripherals of a floor. Now the open concept offices have gained tons of traction and companies are even going to extremes and not having fixed work placements. What’s your opinion on office layout?
  • Four Things to Ask Yourself Before Arguing: Rita King addresses four really good things to ask yourself before you consider getting heated over what someone’s said or done. We’ve all been in a situation where someone’s done something to get us fired up, but is it really worth it? If you can manage it, try asking yourself the questions Rita discusses (are you listening? are you repeating patterns? do you understand the other person’s perspective? is there anything to be gained?) and perhaps you can cool yourself off before ruining your own day/week/month.
  • Change Your Habits with a Good Checklist: Habits aren’t easy to change. John Ryan writes about how you can use checklists to start enforcing good habits! Worth a shot at least, right? 🙂
  • Culture Quartet: 4 Steps to Unify Your Company: In this article, Dan Khabie talks about the merger of two companies and how culture played a large role in the success of the merger. Your workplace culture is essential for creating the right atmosphere for people to be productive and work well together. Teams thrive when the culture in the workplace is positive and places value on the employees.
  • The Truth About Best Practices: Liz Ryan discusses the how best practices can be like falling into a trap. Just because there is a best practice or certain metrics are a some sort of golden standard, it doesn’t mean you should blindly follow along. Does the process make sense for your company? Your team? Do the metrics make sense for your industry? Your market? At this current time? Focus on what matters and don’t get distracted.
  • Did You Make The Most of Your Mid-Year Review?: What makes a mid-year review useful? Linda Descano discusses four major points that include having an engaged conversation between both leader/manager and employee, constructive feedback for the employee to work on, and what goals are and how they can be accomplished. If you find reviews to be a time waster, is it because they’re not being conducted well? Are they a waste because nobody is engaged? Or are there other reasons that mid-year reviews feel like they aren’t useful?
  • Do You Find It Difficult to Claim Your Authority?: Judith Sherven, PhD addresses some common reasons why people often don’t consider themselves authorities. It’s a shame too, because it can hold people back from their full potential. If you have great experiences, skills, or you’re knowledgeable in a particular area, why wouldn’t you consider yourself an authority?
  • Where Are You on the Leadership Continuum?: When people consider good leaders, they often describe common traits. Joel Peterson points out that these traits often have varying meanings depending on the person using them. I’d recommend going through his list because it’s pretty interesting to see two very opposing descriptions for the same trait. You might even notice that a trait you would use to describe a leader is actually commonly described by others in a very different way. Definitely interesting!
  • Making Stone Soup: How to Really Make Collaborative Innovation Work Where You Work: Jeff DeGraff discusses some key points for having effective collaborative innovation. Setting high impact targets, recruiting domain experts, making multiple attempts, and learning from your experiences are all major points that DeGraff discusses. There’s also a playlist of videos discussing innovation, so there’s lots of content to absorb 🙂

Hope you enjoyed! Remember to follow on popular social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
Nick Cosentino – Twitter
Dev Leader – Facebook
Dev Leader – Google+


Weekly Article Dump

Weekend Leadership Reading!

Here’s the collection of articles I’ve shared on social media outlets over the past week. There’s a whole bunch on leadership topics, so I hope you enjoy!

  • How Not to Mint More Engineers: Another spin on the whole engineering-tuition-should-cost more debate.
  • 12 Ways to Spot a High Achiever: High achievers are often very passionate about what they do and make great employees. Here are some tips for spotting them!
  • 7 Qualities Of A Truly Loyal Employee: It’s difficult to disagree with any of these. They’re all spot on! Being a loyal employee is not about satisfying only one person or satisfying only yourself… It’s about voicing your opinion and trying to ensure the company is heading in the right direction.
  • The Best Career Advice You Won’t Want To Hear: Some interesting perspectives on what can help create a successful career.
  • What The Success Of Breaking Bad Teaches Us About Leadership: This article makes one point that I really like: empower others to play their strengths–NOT yours. You can play your own strengths, but empower others so that they can excel at all the places you don’t.
  • When to Accept (or Reject) Critical Feedback: This article provides you with an approach for something that can be hard to handle… being provided with critical feedback. Getting solid critical feedback is rare, but it’s important you know how to deal with it when you do receive it!
  • Unleashing Your Inner Thought Leader: I guess this kind of thing is why I started my own blog 🙂
  • Unlocking the 10X Professional: I’ve never heard of “chunking” before, but this article claims it’s important for unlocking super-star employees. I might have some additional reading to do!
  • Don’t Bother to Apply Here: This is certainly one place I wouldn’t bother to apply to. I mean, if you can’t deal with sarcastic ranting, you and I would never get a long anyway. Too bad for you, because this is The Internet that we all share. You might just have to put up with it. And if you don’t think an opinionated rant can’t be filled with insight, it just might be your first time on The Internet. In that case, my apologies… Welcome, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
  • One Way to Improve Innovation and Creativity: So I teased this one on Twitter and LinkedIn a bit (if you can read while you’re working out, it’s because you’re not working out), but I think there’s some great points. Veer out of your comfort zone. Work with people who aren’t your closest and best friend. Mix your expertise!
  • Eating and Dreaming: Jack Welch puts it pretty elegantly: Management is balancing the paradox that is long and short term leadership.
  • A Menu of Very Small Changes to Boost Your Happiness at Work: While I liked a lot of these tips, a couple I didn’t. Specifically, taking 10 minutes every hour as a break for developers can be a problem, in my opinion. It breaks flow, which is sometimes nearly impossible to achieve and even to maintain once you have it. Additionally, being ignorant to things that don’t concern you can make your life less stressful (and I guess that’s the goal of the article) but… Knowing more is what helps me sleep at night.
  • The Art of the Stop: Do you know when to stop? Do you know when to pause a project? What about shifting gears on a team member that may not be suitable for their current team? Knowing when to stop going down a particular path is an art.
  • The Wisdom Principle: Maybe not groundbreaking for some, but a great reminder of what being wise truly means.

Hope you enjoyed! Remember to follow on popular social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
Nick Cosentino – Twitter
Dev Leader – Facebook
Dev Leader – Google+


  • Nick Cosentino

    Nick Cosentino

    I work as a team lead of software engineering at Magnet Forensics (http://www.magnetforensics.com). I'm into powerlifting, bodybuilding, and blogging about leadership/development topics over at http://www.devleader.ca.

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