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Managers: Learn To Code

On DROdio

I used to push production code -- back in '99 when I worked at GE, my buddy Jason taught me how to code, and I was fascinated by it. I spent much of the early 2000's building dynamically driven websites with mySQL back-ends for several startups, including an e-commerce website along with its back-end administration and inventory management system (screenshot below). We had to host the e-commercie site at a colo facility. That was way before AWS, or Stripe, or any of the technologies today that make something like that much easier today.

While it's been years since I've pushed any production code, that experience has left me with a deep appreciation for what engineers do. Most business people don't have that, and it hurts them in ways they don't even realize. As Paul Graham wrote in his essay "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule," it's easy for managers to completely torpedo the productivity of the "makers" -- those who are actually building the business and really creating value.

It's for this reason that I really encourage managers to learn to code. It's even in our Socialize manifesto, point #1: "Every new hire has a 'Hello World' in at least one language."

The first thing that a manager will find is that coding is a lot harder than they imagined it would be. Most managers have an attitude like "Yeah I could code if I really wanted to, but I can add much more value by being a manager." That attitude is actually a smokescreen for an insecurity: If it's so easy for you to learn how to code, then let me see you do it. Because it's not easy. It's hard. And it's even harder to do it well.

Seattle Startup map

On Jumping on Entrepreneurship

A few days ago, I was working with Nick Hughes planning out the next Seattle Startup Crawl. One common bit of feedback about the last event was that the four locations were way too spread out (Queen Anne to Pioneer Square to Downtown to Cap Hill...), so we wanted to find four startups who wanted to participate, but were all pretty close to each other.

Seattle2.0 has an awesome list of Seattle based startups, but there's no addresses or location data associated with them.

So last night I wrote a quick google apps script to scrape the Seattle20 Startup Index, run all the companies through Switchboard.com, and then export them to a Google map.

And here is the final product!

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