SimpleLeadership Podcast

SimpleLeadership specifically focuses on improving the craft of software engineering leadership. As a VP of Engineering & CTO I am acutely aware of the lack of good resources available for new and existing software engineering managers. SimpleLeadership is designed for both new and experienced software & technology managers who want to build high-performing teams, better motivate & mentor their employees, reduce attrition and advance their career. It is for people who want to go beyond just being a manager and become a true leader. In this interview based show I ask each guest to share their journey from individual contributor to software engineering manager and provide any guidance on the transition. The SimpleLeadership Podcast will present real and actionable stories from people who have navigated their way from being an individual contributor into a software engineering manager. We will also hear from experts on specifics of team dynamics, motivation, feedback, leadership and many more aspects of being a successful engineering manager.
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Jul 29, 2019

Being an effective leader is about more than just managing people efficiently. Krister Ungerböck (unger-bahk) joins us today to talk about why being a leader is about changing the language you use. Krister is a keynote speaker, CEO Coach, and global expert in The Language of Leadership. Prior to retiring at age 42, Krister was the award-winning CEO of one of the largest family-owned software companies in the world. His expertise in the Language of Leadership is based upon his unique experience as a global CEO leading teams in three languages while observing and doing business with executives in over 40 countries, building businesses in six and living in three.

As a corporate keynote speaker, Krister is passionate about sharing the secrets that his team used to win 5 consecutive Top Workplace awards and achieve remarkable employee engagement levels of 99.3%. His upcoming book, The Language of Leadership: Words to Transform How We Lead, Live and Love, will launch on Bosses Day, Oct. 16

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:40] I introduce my guest, Krister Ungerböck
  • [5:00] The Language of Leadership
  • [10:15] Being a leader versus a manager
  • [12:15] Why you don’t want to lead with the language of expertise
  • [16:35] Employee Engagement
  • [20:40] How to “build better bosses”
  • [25:50] Why is empathy and emotional intelligence important
  • [31:05] How to overcome feeling trapped in your role
    [34:30] Book recommendations & resources

The language of an effective leader

Are you in a leadership position, but often find yourself floundering, unsure of your role? Do people find you domineering or hard to work for? Krister sought to write a book to help you develop and embody a leadership style that isn’t only effective in the workplace, but in your personal relationships as well. A crucial element of effective leadership is the language you use.

Krister shares a story on this episode about a woman who stayed loyal to her company—despite the fact they forgot to pay her multiple times. Would your best employee stay if you were unable to pay them? Does your leadership elicit that kind of loyalty? You’ll want to listen as Krister and I discuss the language of requests and why it’s important to be a leader, not a manager.

Why the ‘language of expertise’ doesn’t work

Why do you think most people get promoted? It is usually because they have proven their expertise in whatever field they’re working in. They’re simply good at what they do. But does being an expert qualify you to be a good leader? Obviously, it’s a great quality to have, but Krister talks about why you do not want to lead from a place of expertise.

It puts you in a position where you are constantly required to give people answers. When you find yourself leading anywhere from 10-30 people, this is no longer a feasible option. There is not enough time in your day to constantly answer questions. Instead of giving answers, you want to equip your staff to be able to answer some of the tough questions and come to their own conclusions. Your goal as a leader is to attract and retain great people and build a company full of top-performers. You definitely want to listen to the full episode—Krister and I cover the key to employee engagement—you don’t want to miss it!

The importance of asking better questions

Effective leadership requires the ability to ask better questions to get better responses. One way Krister puts this into practice is asking permission to give someone feedback. He does this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it gives the person the opportunity to be honest and state they’re not in the right headspace. Secondly, you want them to be engaged, interacting with you, and be moving towards a solution. 

One of Krister’s favorite ways to phrase a question is “On a scale of 1-10 how open are you for feedback?” Or, “What do you think are the top 5 things you need to work on?” You need to ask a question to engage your employee that doesn’t elicit a simple yes or no answer. When someone answers with a number, it gives you the opportunity to follow up with “What can we do to make that seven a nine?” It’s a great tool for better engagement and communication.

Emotional Intelligence: Leading from a place of empathy

I think many leaders struggle with the idea of emotional intelligence and leading from a place of vulnerability. But think about it—you are more connected to people when you actually like them. Being an empathetic leader allows you build deeper connections and creates a safe environment for your employees where they are not motivated by fear. 

In this segment, Krister talks about how the phrases “to feel” or “I feel” have different connotations in different languages. Too often, in English, “I feel” is usually followed by “like” or “that” which takes a feeling and turns it into a thought. Doing so creates disconnect—and tends to make others defensive. The fear that ensures shuts down the creative part of the brain and you’ll quickly lose the ability to get them to problem solve.

So what should you do instead? Convey how you’re truly feeling. “This account is very important, and I am afraid we may lose them if we don’t meet this deadline.'' You want to convey that you’re not accusing them or laying blame, but wanting to work with them to reach a solution. This is just a brief part of everything we cover on this episode of Simple Leadership—listen to the whole episode with Krister for more details on effective leadership.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Krister Ungerboeck

Connect With Christian McCarrick and SimpleLeadership

Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Player FM, TuneIn, iHeart Radio

Jun 9, 2019

What does it take to up your game and improve your management skills? Do you need to read better books or get around the right environment? Here to help us dig in and understand some key aspects of an effective manger is, Jocelyn Goldfein.

Jocelyn is a technology executive and investor. She is the managing director and a general partner at venture capital firm Zetta Venture Partners. Previously she was a director of engineering at Facebook and vice president of engineering at VMware. Jocelyn is passionate about scaling products, teams, and companies, and she cares deeply about STEM education.

In our conversation, Jocelyn talks about the lessons she learned as a manager, how to create a positive work culture, advice for leaders, how to encourage diversity, and much more. You’ll want to listen closely to the helpful insights that Jocelyn has to share!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:40] I introduce my guest, Jocelyn Goldfein
  • [1:50] Jocelyn talks about her background in tech.
  • [9:00] What lessons did Jocelyn learn from her early years as a manager?
  • [12:00] Motivation is one of management's underused superpowers.
  • [14:30] How to create a healthy work culture.
  • [22:15] What did Jocelyn do at Facebook to streamline their hiring process?
  • [37:00] Advice for engineering leaders at startups.
  • [39:50] What can leaders do to create a more diverse workplace?
  • [48:00] Resource recommendations from Jocelyn.

Lessons learned

How do you go from zero management or leadership experience and expect to hit the ground running? The truth is - you can’t! Most people thrust into a sudden leadership role will struggle at first; no one is born with solid management skills. It is your responsibility to be flexible and learn as you go.

Unfortunately, in most situations, someone won’t come along and hold your hand, showing you exactly what you need to do. If you can find a mentor or a peer who has also been thrust into a new area of responsibility, then learn from them. Leadership is often lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.

Motivation is a manager’s superpower

Did you know that motivation is a manager’s secret superpower? It’s true! While some managers will try to dangle carrots or get their team members to perform with sticks, good managers will search for a deeper motivation. Remember, people are not systems or machines; they don’t always respond in predictable or logical ways.

If you want to improve your management skills, you need to focus on praise and encouragement. Don’t be so quick to jump to financial incentives - most people just need to feel like they are moving in a positive direction and accomplishing their goals.

How to create a healthy culture

What does a healthy culture in an organization look like? Does it all come down to putting the right words on the wall or the right onboarding video? Culture starts from the top. Jocelyn Goldfein’s definition of culture is the behavior you reward and punish. What behavior does your organization reward and punish?

If your successful leaders embody the vision and values of the organization, then you are headed in the right direction. You can learn more about Jocelyn’s perspective on building a healthy work culture by reading her blog post located in the resources section at the end of this post.

Diversity in the workplace

One of the key aspects of improving your management skills is learning to pay attention to the level of diversity in your workplace. Diversity is a critical component, especially when it comes to the technology sector. If you want to see your team’s potential increase - then pay attention to the level of diversity!

There is a massive opportunity right now for tech companies to tap into underrepresented groups in the workforce. Don’t be afraid or worried about diversity - embrace it. Start with an assessment - where is your organization at, right now? Is there a sufficient level of diversity and inclusion, or is there room to grow?

To learn more about improving your management skills by focusing on diversity and other helpful topics, make sure to catch my full conversation with Jocelyn on this episode of Simple Leadership - you don’t want to miss it!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Jocelyn Goldfein

Connect With Christian McCarrick and SimpleLeadership

Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, SpotifyPlayer FMTuneIniHeart Radio

May 27, 2019

What does it look like to create a work environment where employees can succeed and thrive? Are there steps you can take as a leader to encourage and support your team members in a meaningful way? Here to help us understand what makes Asana a, “Top 5 Best Place to Work” is my guest, Scott Carleton.

Scott is currently the Site Lead of Asana’s NYC office, dedicated to enabling all teams to collaborate effortlessly. Previously, Scott was the VP of Technology at Andela, empowering engineering talent across Africa. Scott co-founded Artsicle as CTO, building a global community of visual artists now featuring over 6000 creators in 100 countries. His work on Artsicle's discovery engine, which was able to create a personalized experience for passive users, earned NYER's "Best Use of Technology" award in 2013. Scott also built the first internal engineering team at Teachers Pay Teachers from 0 to 12, while integrating a high functioning remote team.

In our conversation, Scott talks about his journey to management, lessons he has learned along the way, the value of transparency, why an empowering work environment is so important and much more. You’ll need pen and paper for this one - Scott has a ton of helpful insights to share.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:40] I welcome my guest, Scott Carleton.
  • [2:00] Scott talks about his background.
  • [4:30] How did Scott get started on the management track?
  • [6:25] Scott reflects on early mistakes he made as a manager.
  • [9:00] The value of transparency.
  • [10:40] Tips for new managers.
  • [13:30] What does Scott’s day-to-day role look like as a Site Lead for Asana?
  • [17:30] Navigating company culture in a distributed environment.
  • [22:30] What makes Asana a Top 5 Best Place to Work?
  • [27:00] Empowering employees and providing growth opportunities.
  • [31:00] What does it take to be a top-notch engineering manager?
  • [34:00] Using Slack the most effective way possible.
  • [37:00] How to set your team up for success in your absence.
  • [40:45] Book recommendations from Scott.

The value of transparency

Throughout your career, are there any values or principles that stand out to you as “Must-haves” to create an empowering work environment? Maybe for you, it’s integrity or competency. For Scott Carleton and the folks at Asana, one of the top values is transparency.

Transparency is crucial, especially for a distributed company like Asana. Scott says that the value of transparency is constantly top-of-mind for him as he engages with his team and works to build consistency and collaboration at Asana. Hand-in-hand with transparency is Scott’s goal to make as much of their processes and systems as clear and understandable as possible. While this is no easy task, Scott is proud of the ground they’ve been able to cover thus far.

How to empower your team members

Any good manager worth their salt focuses not only on their team members’ productivity but also looks for ways to encourage and empower them as individuals. Can you think of a manager who has empowered you at critical moments in your career? What did they do that made their efforts stand out?

From his time at Andela, Scott learned the value of providing his team members with applicable growth opportunities - not just any growth opportunity but - applicable ones. The difference here is key - while it might be a good experience for someone on your team to level up on JavaScript - if it doesn’t apply to the work they are currently engaged in it’s not really that helpful. How do you empower your team members? What growth opportunities do you provide them?

Creating a healthy work environment

At some point in their career - just about everyone encounters a dysfunctional and unhealthy work environment. How can leaders like you ensure that the environment you are building is a healthy and empowering one?

One of the primary reasons Scott joined Asana is their relentless commitment to organizational health. They’ve created clear and concise pathways that encourage their managers and team members to reflect on and learn from projects that were successful and unsuccessful. It is of paramount importance to Asana as an organization that everyone understands how their tasks directly contribute to the overall mission of the company. To hear more about how this plays out at Asana - from Scott’s perspective - make sure to listen to this episode of Simple Leadership.

What it takes to be an effective manager

Let’s face it; life as a manager is not for the faint of heart. Yes, you get a lot of great opportunities to influence your team and make great strides for your organization, but there is also a fair share of challenges and obstacles that come with the territory. How do you navigate those challenges and serve as an effective manager?

According to Scott Carleton, if you want to succeed as a manager, you’ve got to be willing to give your people honest feedback that helps them improve. We’ve all been in those one-on-one’s where the feedback you received was not helpful or constructive - don’t make that same mistake! Scott also points to the value of knowing your limitations and a willingness to be vulnerable as key aspects of an effective manager. Ask for help and be open about the challenges you are facing - what do you have to lose?

Remember - this is only a snapshot of my conversation with Scott - make sure to listen to this episode of Simple Leadership to get the FULL conversation.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Scott Carleton

Connect With Christian McCarrick and SimpleLeadership

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May 13, 2019

As the economy and various business sectors continue to evolve, many leaders are looking at how transitioning to a distributed company might be the best option going forward. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Zapier’s Bryan Helmig to discuss all the benefits and some of the challenges involved with running a distributed company.

Bryan co-founded Zapier in late 2011 with his friends Mike and Wade, and they were soon admitted to Y Combinator’s YCS12 batch. Zapier is a web automation application, with Zapier you can build Zaps which can automate parts of your business or life. A Zap is a blueprint for a task you want to do over and over.

In our conversation, Bryan and I discuss the crucial role of hiring, what that process looks like at Zapier, the three ingredients for running a successful distributed company, lessons he has learned along the way, and much more. I can’t wait for you to dive in and learn from Bryan’s fascinating perspective!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:45] Guest Bryan Helmig shares his background and why he started Zapier.
  • [5:20] Why hiring is one of the most critical aspects of a startup.
  • [8:50] What does Bryan look for when hiring Engineering Managers and remote employees?
  • [13:20] Three ingredients for running a successful distributed company.
  • [16:50] The benefits of a fully distributed company.
  • [21:30] Bryan describes the challenges he has faced with running a distributed company.
  • [25:00] How does Zapier optimize their hiring process?
  • [31:00] What does the Zapier on-boarding process look like?
  • [36:00] Change is the only constant.
  • [39:30] Why you need to keep an eye on the mental health of your remote employees.
  • [43:00] Tools and resources that Bryan recommends.
  • [44:30] Why people should consider working at Zapier.

Why you need to pay attention to your hiring process.

What would you identify as the number one area that business leaders should focus on as they work to take their business to the next level of growth? Should they focus on big-picture strategies or less sexy aspects like their hiring process?

Looking back at the growth of Zapier, Bryan Helmig says that the hiring process is the most important area for businesses in general and startups, in particular, to focus on. Hiring can be even more complicated for a distributed company but, in Bryan’s view, it doesn’t have to be. At the end of the day, it all comes down to relationships - the people who you hire and trust are critical to your business’ health. Learn more about Bryan’s approach to the hiring process at Zapier by listening to this episode.

3 ingredients for running a successful distributed company.

Let’s face it, running a successful business is hard enough but the challenges can increase tenfold when you are operating as a distributed company. Thankfully, leaders like Bryan Helmig are leading the way and paving a path forward. In our conversation, Bryan was kind enough to share his three ingredients for running a successful distributed company.

  • Team - Focus on less “poster values” and emphasize behavior values like, “Default to action.”
  • Tools - Don’t be a robot; build a robot. Tools drive how your organization works.
  • Process - Be willing to revisit and change your processes as you go.

Which aspect of Bryan’s three ingredients resonates the most with you? Make sure to catch my full conversation with Bryan as he expands on these three ingredients and much more.

The advantages of a distributed company.

What is your knee-jerk reaction when you think of a distributed company? Do you have a positive impression or a negative one? Don’t assume you know all of the relevant information, get it from the source!

One of the unique advantages of a distributed company is the limitless opportunities it provides when seeking talent. You don’t have to limit your talent search to those in your geographical area; you can choose from qualified candidates all over the world. Connected to this unique advantage is another advantage - diversified points of view. With a distributed company, you have the opportunity to get a global perspective that can give you an advantage over your competition.

The challenges of a distributed company.

While it might seem like there are only positives, the reality is there are a good number of challenges that arise from operating a distributed company. One key aspect is pretty obvious, you don’t get to look your peers, employees, and supervisors in the eye - this can lead to a whole host of challenges.

People who tend to view their workplace as a key aspect of their social life would find working for a distributed company challenging. Clear communication can also be a barrier for many individuals as well - what may come off as curt and obtuse in an email might not be what the sender had in mind. These challenges may prove too overwhelming for some, but the evidence shows that many people find the freedom and flexibility of working remotely are too good to pass up. Get even more insights into how a distributed company operates by listening to this episode of SimpleLeadership with Bryan Helmig!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Bryan Helmig

Connect With Christian McCarrick and SimpleLeadership



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Apr 29, 2019

There’s good news for all you tech leaders who feel you got thrown into management without much preparation - leadership can be learned. My guests on this episode of SimpleLeadership are Johnathan and Melissa Nightingale, the founders of Raw Signal Group - a company with a simple promise, “We Build Better Bosses.” They are also best-selling authors of the book, “How F*cked Up Is Your Management?: An Uncomfortable Conversation About Modern Leadership.”

I can't think of two people better suited to talk to about the challenges of tech leadership. Prior to founding Raw Signal Group, Johnathan and Melissa were both tech execs who spent their careers running large parts of companies (product, engineering, data, design, marketing, PR, etc.). It’s honestly hard to find a role that one of them has not taken on. Through their work with Raw Signal Group, they've helped thousands of leaders understand their roles, build their skills, and be better bosses. Join us for this great conversation and learn how great leadership can be learned.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:50] The winding path that brought Johnathan and Melissa to their current roles
  • [7:18] Leadership skills can be learned across disciplines
  • [13:19] The point Johnathan and Melissa realized a gap existed in tech leadership
  • [16:56] What are the mistakes that happen over and over in tech leadership?
  • [24:35] The most important thing for new managers to focus on the first 90 days
  • [36:00] Leadership is not about good intentions
  • [40:40] How can managers contribute more to family planning and maternity leave issues?
  • [43:15] How Raw Signal Group can build better bosses for tech companies

The same management leadership issues exist across disciplines and industries

There is a strange belief that exists among those who are in tech management roles - they think that leading engineers is somehow different than what other leaders within their organization deal with. It’s true that engineers can be a bit unique, but there is much more that can be learned from other leaders in different areas of your organization than you think. Even leaders in entirely different industries have something valuable to offer.

Johnathan and Melissa speak to the issue by pointing out how significantly tech leaders can be helped when they learn to humbly approach others they see doing things well to simply ask for insight into how they do it. Listen to hear how they coach leaders to build cohorts of help within their own organizations, across departments.

Have you identified the leadership skills you want to steal?

When it comes to learning leadership skills, every leader needs to be on the lookout for the things the leaders around them do well. It’s one way you can see things in others you admire and develop a list of leadership qualities or skills that you want to improve in yourself. Melissa refers to it as the “leadership skills you want to steal.”

But the truth is that you don’t really have to steal anything. Most leaders are eager to help others understand the things they do well. But it requires that you have the bravery to approach them to ask for help.

There are no natural leaders. You can learn good leadership

We’ve all heard someone described as a “natural born leader.” While we understand what is meant by the phrase, Johnathan and Melissa push back against the notion that some people are born with the skills needed to be leaders and others are not. Even casual observation proves it not to be true. None of us naturally know the critical skill of leading teams, having effective one on ones, conducting effective meetings, or firing someone. If that’s the case, then how did those who do those things well get that way?

They learned the skill over time. Melissa and Johnathan developed their company, Raw Signal Group after years of observing the terrible leadership practices being carried out in the tech industry. They felt that not only did they have a responsibility to ensure that their personal leadership was not guilty of the same abuses they saw going on around them, but that they also had an obligation to help solve the problem industry-wide. You’ll enjoy hearing their frank perspective on how leadership can be learned, why it’s important to grow as a leader, and how anyone can do it.

Leadership is not about good intentions

We’ve all done it. We misspeak or forget to respond in a way that is sensitive to the diverse people and backgrounds in the room. And when we’re told how we hurt someone, we often say, “But that was not my intent.” Johnathan says "intent" is something we fall back on as a defense when what we should be doing is accepting the correction, admitting our wrong, and committing to do better next time. When we say we didn’t “intend” to do what we did, we are attempting to avoid accountability.

We all have to learn how to be better humans, people who care enough to learn how to communicate with more inclusiveness and more sensitivity toward others. Leaders especially. It's a big part of what makes for a team that gels well and becomes powerfully effective - and it starts with the leader. Learn how you can and should grow in this area, on this episode.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Johnathan and Melissa

Connect With Christian McCarrick and SimpleLeadership

Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Player FM, TuneIn, iHeart Radio

Apr 8, 2019
Steph is the Head of Publications at Toptal, a serial maker, and a supporter of women in technology.  Outside of leading a remote team of a few dozen, she is a self-taught developer that builds projects related to women in technology, remote work, and self-improvement. 
She’s launched products that have hit #1 on Product Hunt, articles that have trended the top of Hacker News, and was nominated for Maker of the Year in 2018.  She actively supports women in technology by speaking about the psychology behind inclusion and through building resources like FeMake and is a judge for the Toptal Women’s Scholarship.
On today's episode we discuss some of the best practices for managing remote teams based on her recent blog post."Managing Remote Teams: A Psychological Perspective." Continue on for a great discussion with Steph.
Contact Info:
Personal website:
Show Notes:
Steph's Awesome Book List
Best Practices for Managing Remote Teams: A Psychological Perspective
Thanks for the Feedback 
Radical Candor
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions
Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success
The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)
Dec 17, 2018

Liam is the co-founder and CMO of, Running Remote Conference and After graduating with a masters in Sociology from McGill University, Liam opened a small tutoring company which grew to over 100 employees, and looked to solve a problem with remote employees not reporting accurate work data which turned into He consults on outsourcing and process design and is passionate about how to gain insights into the inner workings of how people work.

On today's episode we discuss running remote teams, including hiring, performance, management, culture and mental health.

Liam's Social Profiles:

About Time Doctor:

Time Doctor is a time tracking and productivity monitoring software for remote teams. The goal with the software is to help individuals and organizations to be more productive when working remotely
Time Doctor Social Profiles:

Show Notes:



Fellow Feedback App

Radical Candor

Running Remote YouTube Channel

Dec 3, 2018

John Rouda is an IT Leader and Computer Science Professor. Currently, he is an IT Director and he teaches as an adjunct professor at both York Technical College and Winthrop University. John has spoken at numerous conferences and is currently on the board of the Interface Cyber Security Conference. John’s past experiences include more than a decade of Technical management in both software development and network infrastructure. In 1999, John Rouda and 2 partners founded a business developing, hosting and marketing websites. The business was profitable each year until it was sold in 2007 to a larger competitor. John has developed dozens of mobile apps for the Apple Appstore and Google Play Marketplace. He holds two master degrees, one in Business Administration and one in Computer Science. He has written 3 books that can be found on Amazon & Audible. John regularly speaks on technology, entrepreneurship and leadership topics at events and conferences, including a TEDx talk in 2015. He hosts a technical leadership podcast called A Geek Leader that can be found on iTunes or at John is married to a beautiful wife and has three wonderful kids who he dearly loves.

On today's episode we discuss motivation, empathy, leadership and cover the highlights John's Ted Talk.


Show Notes:

Notes to a Software Team Leader: Growing Self Organizing Teams

Dan Pink - Drive

Simon Sinek - Start with Why

Nov 19, 2018

Saurabh is currently an Engineering Manager at Twilio. He joined Twilio about 4 years back as a senior engineer. He then moved into a tech lead position and then transitioned into management about 1.5 years ago. Since then, he has grown into managing multiple engineering teams within Twilio's Messaging organization. Before joining Twilio, Saurabh worked in a couple of fin-tech startups in the Boston area mostly in an Individual Contributor role. He has a strong passion for engineering leadership and is always looking for avenues to give back to the community. Other than computers, he is fond of reading, cars, astrophysics and travelling.

On today's episode we discuss the importance of relationships and building trust.

Contact Info:

FB: >
Show Notes:
Google reWork
The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations
Using Agile Techniques to Build a More Inclusive Team - Kevin Goldsmith
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Radical Candor
The Manager's Path
Rand's Leadership Slack
Oct 29, 2018

Michelle is a Senior Backend Engineer at ChowNow, helping local restaurants grow their business by strengthening relationships with their customers. She has previously served as both an engineer and a manager for the last  7+ years in entertainment technology. She has worked tirelessly to help movies and television get made faster and cheaper, saving productions millions of dollars. A Philadelphia native, she has a background in Media Arts and is a self-taught Python developer. Michelle is now working to give back to her community through mentorship and conference speaking.

Contact Info:

Show Notes:

Sober Stick Figure: A Memoir

Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran (Podcast)

Sep 17, 2018

Darragh is currently the VP of Engineering at Intercom. (One of my favorite companies). He joined Intercom in early 2012 as a product engineer and Intercom's second outside hire. Fast forward to today, and he is Intercom's VP of Engineering where he has grown and scaled the organization into a world class Engineering team. Prior to Intercom, Darragh worked at numerous other companies including Darragh is mentor on the Plato network and is passionate about the outdoors and his family.

On today’s show we discuss his path from IC to VP of engineering and tips on how to scale a fast growing engineering team.

Contact Info:



Show Notes:

The Pragmatic Programmer

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

Aug 20, 2018

Camille Fournier is the head of Platform Engineering at Two Sigma, a financial company in New York City. Prior to joining Two Sigma she was the Chief Technology Officer of Rent the Runway, a transformative brand that offers unprecedented access to designer fashion, disrupting the way millions of women get dressed.

She is an open source contributor and project committee member for both Apache ZooKeeper and the Dropwizard web framework. Prior to working for Rent the Runway, Camille served as a software engineer at Microsoft, and most recently, spent several years as a technical specialist at Goldman Sachs, creating distributed systems for managing risk analysis and firm-wide infrastructure.

She has a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University and an MS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Camille is a well-respected voice within the tech community, speaking on a variety of topics such as engineering leadership, distributed systems, scaling teams, and technical architecture. In 2017 she released her book, “The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change.”

Contact Info:

Twitter: @skamille


Camille Talk:

Show Notes:

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

Harvard Business Review

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders

What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Aug 5, 2018

Lara Callender Hogan is an engineering leader, coach, and consultant at Wherewithall. She is also the author of Designing for Performance (O’Reilly, 2014), Building a Device Lab (Five Simple Steps, 2015), and Demystifying Public Speaking (A Book Apart, 2016).

Lara champions engineering management as a practice, having built and led engineering organizations as an Engineering Director at Etsy and VP of Engineering at Kickstarter.

In her world tour to advocate performance to designers and developers alike, Lara has keynoted the Velocity Conference, presented at Google I/O, and given talks at companies like The New York Times to help shift them toward a culture of performance. While at Etsy, Lara co-created the initial physical device labs, and co-authored a tutorial and bookfor companies interested in building their own lab.

To connect her passion for performance with her activism, Lara donates all of the proceeds from Designing for Performance to charities focused on supporting underrepresented people in tech.

Lara also believes it’s important to celebrate career achievements with donuts.

On today's episode we discuss proper expectation setting, mindful communication, Lara's new company and a surprise management challenge! Listen on to find out what it is!


Contact Info:

Title: Co-Founder

Company: Wherewithall

Twitter: @lara_hogan



Show Notes:

The Lead Developer Austin 2018 Workshop
Desk moves
Paloma Medina
Tuckman's Stages of Group Development
Etsy's Charter of Mindful Communication
The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change
Jul 23, 2018

Mihai Fonoage is the Vice President of Engineering for Modernizing Medicine. In this role he leads a Team of Engineers that are working on building high-quality software for medical practices to increase efficiency and improve patient care. With over 13 years of experience in the technology world, his technical prowess has strongly contributed to Modernizing Medicine’s success. Mihai has a PhD in Computer Science from Florida Atlantic University and was Modernizing Medicine’s first employee. He is a recipient of the Sun Sentinel's 2015 Top Workplace Professionals and the South Florida Business Journal’s 2014 40 Under 40 award.

On today's episode we discuss Mihai's path from being an intern to becoming the VP of Engineering and his guidance for engineering managers on how to best prepare to scale to prepare for the role.


Contact Info:

Company Website:
Personal Social Media accounts:

Show Notes:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


The Lead Developer London: "The Hardest Scaling Challenge of All: Yourself"

The Oz Principal

Jul 9, 2018

Jen Dary is the founder of Plucky, an organization that works with companies and individuals to create healthy dynamics at work. She is a leadership coach and speaker; she travels across the US teaching workshops, including her popular course, So Now You’re a Manager, which trains new managers across the country for the complex work of herding humans. Jen lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two young sons.

On today's episode we discuss one of the tricky challenges of being a first time manager - managing your former peers and friends. We also discuss Plucky Cards? What are those? Stay tuned to find out!

Contact Links:
twitter: @jenniferdary, @beplucky
IG: @bepluckster
Writing: >
Show Notes:
lluminature: Discover 180 Animals with your Magic Three Color Lens
Plucky Cards
Brene Brown Ted Talk: The Power of Vulnerability 
Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
Podcast: How I Built This
Jun 11, 2018

Leonard is the founder and CEO of Hello Chava, a company reimagining productivity tools for the solo professional. Over the past 25 years, Leonard has recognized emerging markets and launched multiple successful products with a particular focus in SaaS, Cloud Computing, and Collaboration through first gen products such as Hello Chava, Syncplicity, Windows PowerShell, and SETI@home.

On today's episode we discuss scaling your leadership, being humble, racing cars and slowing down to go faster.

Contact Info:


Show Notes:

How to Talk to Kids Will Listen

HeadSpace App

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

May 13, 2018
Given a jar of peanut butter, a spoon and a challenging problem, I feel set up for success!
I build and manage happy, healthy engineering teams that ship impactful products without sacrificing the user or developer experience. I like to focus on engineering culture (testing, performance + career growth), creating tools for engineering managers, internationalization, accessibility and improving the relationship between engineering, design, product managers and product support.
I'm in a happy place when using storytelling for impact and automating workflows to ensure best practices and culture.
born in Minnesota, I have Texas roots, where i graduated from the university of Texas at Austin. at Stanford, i tinkered with soldering irons in the HCI lab while pursuing a PHD. before finishing, i graduated with a masters and co-founded the machine learning company diffbot. later on i directed engineering at Coursera for six years and am now the CTO of a small startup called Hi Hello.
always a lifelong learner, my favorite conversation topics include: basic income, extending life, open source, crispr, equal opportunity in tech, android and vegetarian restaurants.
Today's topic is about, Should engineering managers write code?
Twitter: @eleith
Show Notes:
Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership
The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age
The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World
Radical Candor
May 6, 2018

Today's podcast is a recording of a live panel that I moderated which focused on nurturing an inclusive environment at technology companies. It was part of a larger event put on by the tech mentoring company Plato.

The fantastic guests that I had a chance to discuss this with were:

  • Shivani Sharma, Senior Engineering Manager at Slack
  • Nick Caldwell, VP Engineering at Reddit
  • Nidhi Gupta, SVP Engineering at Hired

I have interviewed both Shivani Sharma and Nick Caldwell on previous podcast episodes and I encourage you to go to my podcast archives and listen to those episodes.

Listen on as my panelists discuss the current challenges with diversity and inclusion at tech companies and strategies for helping to foster a more inclusive environment.


A special thanks to Plato for sponsoring this great event and for allowing me to use this for my podcast.
Plato matches tech managers to highly experienced engineering leaders to help resolve their challenging management situations. If you would like to find out more information about Plato you can visit their website at where Shivani and I are also mentors.

Show Notes:

Plato Website
Video Of the Panel Discussion
Medium Article about the event

Apr 29, 2018

Erica is an engineering manager for the integrations and data analytics teams at SalesLoft –
where she’s helping grow the product engineering team for the 4th fastest growing software
company in North America and #1 best place to work in Atlanta. During her 18 year career in
tech, she’s worked with large companies, including Boeing, FOX Interactive Media and Turner
Broadcasting, as well as early-stage startups--of which 2 were acquired, by MySpace and

Erica works passionately towards diversity and inclusion in tech, via education and exposure to
opportunities. In 2013, she started the Atlanta network of Women Who Code, where she
organizes conferences, hackathons, developer workshops, monthly tech talks and networking
events for women technologists. In addition, Erica collaborates with companies to help improve
strategies around diversity and inclusion. She also helps develop and teach youth coding
programs, speaks at tech events and mentors entrepreneurs for various incubators and

On today's episode we discuss improving diversity and inclusion at companies and how important it is in building high performing teams.  We also discuss Women Who Code, The WeRise Conference and 100 Girls of Code.

Contact Info:
Company Website:
Personal Website:
Conference Website:
Twitter: @ericastanley

Show Notes:

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Rooney Rule

100 Girls of Code

Women Who Code

Software Lead Weekly

The Manager's Path

Apr 23, 2018

Dennis is the Head of Integration at HiredScore, a startup that helps large companies achieve their hiring and recruiting goals using deep system integrations and AI.  Dennis is a former team and group leader at Sears Israel working on large scale social e-commerce platform and before that he was a team leader and a full stack developer at the Israeli Air Force.   He is passionate about people growth and company culture.

On today's episode we discuss the challenges, both logistical and emotional, when a manager decides to leave their team and company.  This is based on Dennis' personal experience leaving his past company and a blog post he wrote about it.

Contact Info:</p 

Show Notes:

The hard thing about hard things: When a manager decides to quit

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership


Apr 16, 2018

Katie is a Director of Engineering at Buffer, a globally distributed team with no offices, and O’Reilly author. At Buffer, she leads the engineering team focusing on crafting productive, effective teams and delivering a world class software product. She previously worked as software engineer before moving into leadership. Her writing has appeared in The Next Web, Inc Magazine and Fast Company.

Contact Info:

Medium: >
Show Notes:
The Brain-Changing Benefits of Exercise
Brene Brown - Listening to Shame
Cate Huston Blog
Lara Hogan Blog
The Manager's Path
Manager's Tools Podcast
High Output Management
Julie Zhuo Blog
Apr 8, 2018

Rachael is an engineering manager for the infrastructure and backend teams at Lever, a collaborative hiring software product helping companies recruit and grow their teams. She joined the team in 2014 as a product engineer and was one of the first employees to kickoff internal discussions around diversity and inclusion. She transitioned into a management role over a year ago and is dedicated to growing engineering teams who have a strong combination of technical and soft skills.

On today's episode we discuss best practices in hiring and diversity and inclusion in tech companies.

Contact Info:

Twitter: @rkstedman

Show Notes:

Lever - The Diversity & Inclusion Handbook

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

Textio - Augmented Writing

Mar 26, 2018

Four Engineering Managers from Facebook, Kabam, Clever, and Medium shared their tips on becoming a great Engineering Leader during the Plato event hosted on May 15, 2017 in San Francisco.

This event was sponsored by Plato.  Plato matches tech managers to highly experienced engineering leaders to help resolve their challenging management situations. Find out more and sign-up to me mentored at

Show Notes:


YouTube Video of the event

Medium Article based on the panel discussion

Mar 19, 2018

Jean-Denis Greze is Head of Engineering at Plaid, the technology company giving developers access to the financial system and the tools to build many of the most influential applications and services of the modern financial era. Companies such as Venmo + Paypal, Coinbase, Robinhood, Acorns, Betterment, Clarity Money and hundreds more are built on Plaid - whose investors consist of Goldman Sachs, NEA, Citi Ventures, Spark Capital, American Express, and Google Ventures.  

Prior to joining Plaid, Jean-Denis was Director of Engineering at Dropbox, where he led the growth, identity, notifications, Paper and payments teams. Prior to Dropbox, Jean-Denis worked in fintech in New York and has CS degrees from Columbia as well as a JD from Harvard Law School. Outside of work, you’ll find him trail running, reading, or plotting his next vacation to Japan.

If you want to learn more about Plaid after this podcast, visit them at and check out the open eng roles on their career page - where you can actually apply by API. You can also follow them on Twitter - their handle is @plaid, or give their awesome recruiting team a shout at

On today's episode we discuss software engineering values and how to enable engineers to be successful at your company and beyond.

Social Media

Mar 12, 2018
Ian Miell is a software industry veteran who has written, maintained, managed and architected some of the world's busiest systems. He works in financial services now, and also speaks, writes, teaches, and consults on various subjects, the common theme being how change can be managed within complex organisations and the raw technology that can enable that.
On today' s show Ian discusses the steps he took to change a team's culture that he inherited.
Contact Information:
Show Notes:
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
The Checklist Manifesto
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
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