Skip to content

You have time, just change your priorities.​

Photo

It is challenging to be creative and spend time doing what you are passionate about when you have other responsibilities. If that is your position, I suggest you change your priorities so that you give more time and all your energy to that passion or to that project in which you want to work.

Failure is something real, as well as the consequences of this. But the worst defeat of all is to reach the end of our lives and realize that we never made an effort to achieve our dreams. It is much better to fail, learn from these failures, and move on.

Everything is risky, but if you pay attention, you will realize that most of the successes were given after failures and a lot of patience and perseverance.

Cheers!

A note about impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome is when a person doubts their accomplishments, feels that they don’t deserve it, or think that their achievements (a promotion, a raise, etc.) are the result of luck. The impostor syndrome can affect anyone, especially women and minorities who fear they owe their accomplishments to affirmative action.

What if we do the following when the impostor syndrome surround us?

What if we pretended we didn’t feel it?

What if we acted as though we were more confident and more competent?

What if we showed appreciation for what we’ve accomplished and behaved as we thoroughly deserved it?

What if we told our friends and family how happy we are about our accomplishments and how the result was expected due to all of our hard work and persistence?

It takes a lot of work to do this, it takes a lot of effort, more so than any of us is able to cope with.

But what if we did it every time the impostor syndrome shows up?

It’s possible that after doing the above for a while and acting as if we deserve our accomplishments, perhaps we would teach ourselves to take what we deserve and see the outcome we have always hoped for.

 

A note about Analytical skills

I’m focusing on helping my kids learn analytical skills, everything else they need to learn will be more accessible to them than this, now and in the future. STEM, leadership, and other career-specific skills are often (but not always) learned while working, most adults would agree with that.

A big difference between poor kids and rich kids are the options they are given from an early age. Kids from a low-income family are often given directions to do things, instead of analyzing things and make decisions on their own; they have little or no choice about the things they can do.

When people are given options from an early age, they learn to analyze them; they learn to compare and choose what option(s) are better for them. They learn critical thinking skills and use this knowledge to solve problems and make decisions.

One of the most significant differences in early education between different social classes, in my opinion, is the access to options and the ability to make decisions about those options.

Allowing kids to think and showing them that they can pick their homework, their chores, their schedule, etc. based on the information they have at hand, and letting them discover the output based on these decisions is critical.

Analytical skills will prepare them better for life, and this, in fact, might have a more significant impact than learning technical skills for example. This is one of a thousand things that can help with the inherited disadvantage.

STEM skills should be taught, but not instead of analytical skills, especially to those kids in disadvantaged households. Most technical and job-specific skills are learned while working. So, while it is great to bring attention to the gap in STEM education for example, I believe it is just as important if not more, to teach our kids analytical skills to teach them how to think, how to make decisions, and how to have a perspective on the things that they will encounter in their future.

 

How to explain technical information to someone with no technical knowledge

Last week as I was asked to describe what a JavaScript callback is to someone without any technical background. I thought about it for a few seconds and couldn’t think of a non-technical way to explain that a callback is a function that gets executed after another function has finished its execution, so then I was asked to explain a 500 error instead.

Explaining what a 500 status code is to someone with zero technical knowledge sounded more interesting and fun to me so this is what I remember saying…

A 500 status code is what you’ll get when a something has gone wrong on the web application’s server but the server doesn’t have any specific details.

Imagine a home with many doors, in this example, each door is a “web application” and the home is the “web server”, the place where all these doors are.

Now imagine that you open a door, and while the door does exist, there is nothing behind it, at this point the home will tell you that nothing specific exists behind the door so in web server language, that would be similar to a 404 status code which means “Not Found”.

What about the 500 status code? Well, if you attempt to open any other door and nothing works inside of it, the home will tell you that there’s something wrong with it, but not sure what it is. For example, there might be no lights or no water, but the home won’t tell you that, it just tells you that there’s something wrong and in web server language that’s usually what a 500 error means. Something is wrong with the web server or the app but it doesn’t know what it is.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
~ Albert Einstein.

By now you’ll probably already pulling your hair, and I understand, this is painful. My explanation or attempt to explain this to someone with zero technical knowledge wasn’t good enough, at least not in my opinion. But that isn’t the point of this, the point that I am trying to make is that it is very hard to explain something technical that is well understood by us and people that we work with, but not by anyone that isn’t technical and has zero knowledge about programming or web servers in the above example.

In my experience, having the ability to translate a technical problem or solution to a non-technical audience is key, it is something that you as a software engineer, for example, will need to do many times when communicating with business partners, customers, or anyone that isn’t a software engineer or has any technical knowledge.

How do we get better at this? Well, this is something that the more you do, the easier it gets, but it never stops being difficult. You might memorize a couple of examples where you can explain a couple of things, but with technology changing so rapidly it will be hard to have a template or an example of how to translate something technical onto something that anyone can understand.

The ability to tell a story is key to accomplish this, and without at least trying to get good at storytelling, your chances of confusing people and not being able to communicate something technical clearly are very low.

Also, be empathetic and patient. If you are trying to explain a technical concept be aware of who your audience is and tune your technical speak to their level. There might be times where you’ll replace the technical talk with something that your audience will understand, remember that your ultimate goal is to communicate and to do it clearly.

In conclusion, I learned something about myself and this blog post is the first step to improve it, I don’t think too much about how to improve my communication skills when trying to explain a technical concept, idea, or problem, to someone who doesn’t have the technical knowledge or experience with technical terms.

Here are some resources that I am using to help me with this subject:

Remove Bias Out of Job Interviews

Everyone is naturally biased, but when hiring and promoting people, we want to avoid our bias to eliminate discriminatory actions. In 2016, an article from the Harvard Business Review reported the following:

“When sociologist Lauren Rivera interviewed bankers, lawyers, and consultants, they reported that they commonly looked for someone like themselves in interviews. Replicating ourselves in hiring contributes to the prevalent gender segregation of jobs, with, for example, male bankers hiring more male bankers and female teachers hiring more female teachers.”

What can we do to make sure we hire a diverse team and avoid being bias during the recruitment and interviewing phase? One way to avoid this is to make sure you offer interviews to candidates based on merits and nothing else. A good start is to expand your personal network to increase the candidate pipeline with more women, people of color, and other underrepresented minorities. With a wider and more diverse pipeline, you can then focus on selecting people based on merits and nothing else.

Be blind

We need to be blind to information such as names, age, gender, or any other information that isn’t experience or skills. Companies like Applied, Blendoor, Edge, GapJumpers, Interviewing.io, Paradigm, and Talent Sonar offer services to help you remove this information from applicant tracking systems to avoid any sort of bias. These services these companies offer can be integrated with existing candidate tracking applications to remove information that can cause discriminatory actions.

Structured interviews

Being blind to some of the candidate’s information is a good start, but it isn’t the final solution. After the initial process of qualifying candidates based on merit, you’ll want to interview the candidates in person, phone, or a video call. In order to do this and remove any bias, you should have a well-defined and structured interview process. Make sure you ask all candidates the same questions, and in the same order, and encourage the interviewers to rate each answer as soon as the candidate answers the question. Standardizing this process will allow for clear comparisons between all candidates and leave very little room for bias.

Avoid group interviews

Another thing to consider is avoiding panel or group interviews altogether. For once, it is difficult to diversify the interview panel and there isn’t any data that proves that a panel or group interviews result in better hires. People interviewing candidates should be independent of each other to get the benefit of a personal and unique perspective about a candidate. After interviewing a candidate, submit their assessment before meeting with others to discuss the applicant. Individual interviews will allow you to collect multiple data points and different perspectives instead of one data point from a group of interviewers.

Work-sample exercises instead of resumes

Resumes are really not a good resource to determine if a person has the skills and experience for a job. Work-sample exercises require applicants to perform tasks or work activities that mirror the tasks employees perform on the job. Prepare work-sample exercises that candidates can use to demonstrate their know-how. To make these work-sample exercises and its results unbiased, do not include the name, gender, age, race, or any other unneeded information about the candidate.

The above suggestions can help eliminate some of the biases, but it will not stop all of our shortcomings. This isn’t perfect but it is a good start to help reduce our biases which can then lead to discriminatory actions.

Want to learn more and participate in our Diversity in Tech Meetup? Please join our meetup and attend an event if you are in Austin, TX.

Image credit: Gary Waters/Ikon Images/Getty Images

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, hit that share button below ❤ Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

 

Expand your personal network and be part of the solution

Last week I wrote an article where I mentioned we need more color in tech leadership roles. This was the second of a series of articles I am writing on the topic of diversity. I received a lot of praise for the article but also some unexpected reactions to it, like the example below:

 

The purpose of that article wasn’t to force or pressure anyone into doing anything they don’t want, obviously.
Oh and by the way, here is the definition of people of color in case another person out there starts making fun of that term again.

Thankfully, most of the feedback I received about the article was positive. And the reason of this post is an answer to a question that has come up repeatedly.

Where do I find qualified people of color for tech leadership positions?

My answer to this question is simple, reach out and build relationships with us, people that aren’t white and with no European parentage, also known as POC.

Hiring managers, executives, and even recruiters are overwhelmingly white women and men, and it isn’t uncommon that their personal networks aren’t filled with POC.

Therefore, while we try to increment the number of POC in these positions, white men and women need to make the effort to expand their network beyond people who looks AND behave like them. Diversity in personality is just as important.

Diversity is important, and it is good for business too! I don’t need to list all the benefits of having a diverse workforce, we all know the benefits. My personal favorites are the variety of perspectives and personal networks you find in diverse environments! Both crucial to be a competitive business in today’s world.

How do you expand your network? Reach out to POC within your organization, invite them to coffee, ask them about their ideas, promote them, make them part of your life. Also, attend events and make it a priority to talk to POC.

I host the Diversity in Tech Meetup here in Austin, TX, and you’ll be surprised by the small number of white men who attend the meetup. We need to increase the number of white folks who attend and invite them to be part of the solution, without them, it’ll be hard to move the needle towards getting more diversity in tech and other areas.

We don’t want to exclude white men from the diversity and inclusion programs, everyone is welcome and everyone is needed for true diversity to take place in tech.

What are your thoughts about this? Think of your personal network and decide if it is time for you to reach out to POC and minorities in general.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, hit that share button below ❤ Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

We need more color in tech leadership roles

Last month I wrote about the need of sponsoring more women and minorities in tech. The post was inspired by a tweet from Lara Hogan and it also inspired the Diversity in Tech Meetup here in Austin, TX.

Why aren’t there more blacks and Hispanics in tech? The reason to me is quite simple because there aren’t enough people of color in tech leadership roles. That is why. It isn’t difficult to find people of color who have the skills and passion. However, if you are not involved with blacks and Hispanics, of course, it will be difficult to find them, I grew with them, I hang out with them, they are my friends, they are my family, and I am one of them.

There is also the idea that the problem has to do with not enough black and Hispanic students graduating with tech degrees. This isn’t true. While the percentage of black and Hispanic students majoring in computer science and engineering is lower than that of white and Asian students, the truth is that the number of black and Hispanic students hired by tech companies is much lower than the number of them graduating from college with tech degrees.

Those who enter the candidate pipeline fall out somewhere along the way — and the culture and recruiting methods of tech companies seem to have a lot to do with it. — The New York Times

The issue is that blacks and Hispanics who enter the candidate pipeline, fall through the cracks somewhere along the way. You see, the issue for many of these candidates is the lack of other black and Hispanic people in tech companies. Most people do not feel comfortable being the only one person in the team who isn’t like the others. This also affects women, the number of women in tech jobs is also very low when compared to that of white men.

If companies want to increase the diversity in their teams and want to hire more blacks and Hispanics, they need to do it from the start instead of doing it as an afterthought. For established companies, they should seriously consider hiring blacks and Hispanics into tech leadership positions, it will be an advantage for these companies. You see, as minorities, diversity comes naturally to us. It is what we know, it is our life. When we think of minorities, we think of people who are in fact, the majority of people in our lives.

At the Diversity in Tech Meetups, most attendees are black, Hispanic, and Asian. About half of them are women. And a good percentage have identified as LGBT. There are also people of different ages, from recent college graduates to people who have decades of experience in the workforce. It is a very diverse group.

Most black and Hispanics might feel in disadvantage when they see the small percentage of people like them who work at tech companies. I have felt like that before, but since I don’t get intimidated easily, I have been able to find a small level of success while working in tech. Most people of color don’t feel comfortable working at companies where diversity isn’t embraced, and the numbers are there to confirm it.

This is why we should hire more people of color in tech, and into leadership positions. We want more blacks and Hispanics to feel welcome when they obtain a position in tech. And to help them stay, we have to provide a diverse environment in which they and everyone else can thrive. This is one-way companies can help to start changing their workforce and their culture into something that it is more diverse.

More color, and diversity, in general, is good for business.