All my dongles

Are you thinking about me, Tim?

Ever since I got the iPhone 8 last year, I’ve had a dongle problem. The dongle is the stupidest decision Apple has made in the last five years (other than all the other stupid decisions.)

As I wrote in a post hypothesizing how the new iPhone came to be,

The headphone jack is the only thing that’s been reliable on every phone since the beginning of smartphones. It’s the one feature that’s there for the user regardless what headphones they have. They can plug it into the car, or into an audio for a quick jam session. They don’t need Bluetooth or any accessories. Let’s kill it. Let’s make dongles.

The iPhone can’t be plugged into a music source and charge at the same time, so using it in my 2011 SUV has meant getting a special adapter. The splitter plugs into the cigarette lighter to charge. It also plugs into the aux cord, which plugs into the…aux cord hole…to create the actual music.

This was all less than ideal, but what makes it worse is that my husband and I share the SUV. He likes to plug in his own music when he’s driving. Since he has an Android phone, he needs to unplug the aux cord, plug it into his phone, and plug the phone into a secondary, Android charger, that bypasses the Apple adapter and goes straight into the cigarette lighter.

Are you following all of this? Because I was lost a paragraph ago.

Things really got lit last week when our daughter dropped my husband’s old phone (a Motorola Z2 Play) in the toilet, and he had to get a new one (a new phone, not a new daughter - a Motorola Z3 Play).

All the new phones, following Apple’s lead, have The Dongle Situation. This means that my husband also needed to now buy a new adapter in order to both charge his phone and listen to music in the car.

Guess what?

That adapter is DIFFERENT from the Apple adapter.

And so, this is our current dongle situation:

I keep getting worried we’re going to get pulled over for violating some kind of dongle quota.

A lot of people responded on Twitter that it would make sense to just use Bluetooth. But my car doesn’t have Bluetooth. And neither do many, many cars that are older. Bluetooth just started rolling out for some models in 2010 (38% of cars in 2011 were sold with Bluetooth), but didn’t really hit the market for real until 2013-2014.

The other solution is to do some kind of modification. All of these sound just as much of a pain as what I have now.

Of course, I could just buy a new car, which is set up to better play with digital lifestyles. But me, and millions of more Americans don’t have new cars. 70% of all car sales per year are used cars, and the average American car is 11 years old, which means a significant portion of the country is still driving cars without Bluetooth.

However, you know who is driving cars with Bluetooth? And heated seats? And all the possible integrations that make using an iPhone and an Android together in a car very easy? The executives of the companies that produce all these products. That is, the people making the product decisions.

It’s very easy to green-light products that work well in your filter bubble. Usually, companies are super myopic and design only for a specific subset of users, because people are myopic, too. It’s in our nature to create these filter bubbles - it makes life easier than thinking about a million edge cases.

But edge cases can be extremely large in some scenarios. For example, most of the high-traffic websites on the internet work just fine on Macbooks, fiber internet, and iPhones. They don’t work in the other 4/5 of the world.

It got so bad that sites like Facebook had to simulate it:

In an attempt to understand the millions of people in emerging markets who only have access to slow internet connections, Facebook is adopting a new opt-in initiative called "2G Tuesdays." Facebook employees logging into the company's app on Tuesday mornings will be able to switch to a simulated 2G connection for an hour, making profiles, pages, photos, and videos load slower than they usually do on the 3G and 4G connections nearly ubiquitous in the United States.

It’s hard to say whether this fixed anything, because Javascript and third-party tracking still are bringing the internet to a grinding halt.

And in the physical world, dongles continue to take over everything.

But it - designing for the user- is something I always think about as I unplug and plug my dongles back in for the millionth time. Whether Tim Cook, Zuck, Satya, or any of the other people who are responsible for influencing how millions of people use products, understand how those millions of normal people live, and whether they’re targeting them at all, anymore.

Art: The Giant Snake, Max Ernst, 1935

What I’m reading lately:

  1. An oral history of AOL Instant Messenger

  2. Good summary of the recent Russian protests

  3. Everyone LOVES to make A/B testing front-ends

  4. I haven’t read this yet but it’s super bookmarked

  5. AI in China

About the Author and Newsletter

I’m a data scientist in Philadelphia. This newsletter is about issues in tech that I’m not seeing covered in the media or blogs and want to read about. Most of my free time is spent wrangling a preschooler and a newborn, reading, and writing bad tweets. I also have longer opinions on things. Find out more here or follow me on Twitter.

If you like this newsletter, forward it to friends!

Baby-friendly ho$pital$

Not so friendly for parents

Author’s note: This newsletter takes a while to get to the tech tie-in, but I promise it’s there. This is an issue that’s super important to me these days.

When I went to my first check-up for the baby I just had, while I sat in the smaller waiting room, I saw a sign saying that the office, in conjunction with my hospital, had just been certified as “baby-friendly.”

On the sign was a pregnant, glowing woman, smiling a thousand-watt smile.

“Baby-friendly” wasn’t something I’d heard about with my last pregnancy, so I was curious about what it meant. I heard it several more times in consequent appointments. Every time it was brought up, it was framed as “a way for mothers and babies to bond.” But, it wasn’t until I talked to other moms who recently had babies and did some internet sleuthing that I discovered what the philosophy is all about.

What it means is that hospitals are now getting rid of nurseries that are currently a part of maternity wards. These nurseries are where babies who are just born go for a short amount of time. Usually, in these nurseries the babies are weighed, observed, given baths, and kept for a couple hours (until they wake up to feed) so exhausted moms can get some rest.

Instead, “baby-friendly” means that hospitals are now encouraging “rooming in”, where babies are always with the parents in the hospital room, ostensibly so babies can bond better and moms can breastfeed easier:

For a hospital to achieve accreditation from Baby-Friendly USA, it must adhere to the 10 tenets and strive to meet certain goals. The org wants at least 80 percent of breast-feeding women who are able (i.e., who don’t have a justifiable reason not to, such as they’re recovering from a C-section and on painkillers) to room-in with their babies 23 out of 24 hours a day and eschew formula and pacifiers.

In order to understand what is being taken away here, let me paint a picture of the days immediately following childbirth.

Usually, what happens once you deliver a baby, be it by c-section or traditional birth, you are a sweaty mess, physically torn up, and extremely tired. Hormones are surging through you. You’re wheeled from the operating room where you give birth into a regular hospital room. The baby is placed next to you in a small plexiglass bassinet that’s higher than the hospital bed.

The baby needs something every ten minutes for the next five billion years, or until they graduate college. Either the baby is cold, or crying, or she needs to eat, or you want to hold her, or she needs a diaper change.

Since your insides feel like they’ve been pulverized with a mortar and pestle, and the plexiglass bassinet is high up, this usually means having someone come, bringing the baby to you, and putting the baby back in the bassinet, over and over again, through throngs of visitors, and through hours when you would kill someone for a ten-minute nap.

The hospital becomes quieter at night, but your baby doesn’t. He still needs to eat every couple hours, and, in between, makes all kinds of new baby noises that are impossible to sleep through. He also needs diaper changes, re-swaddling, and a million other small adjustments. During all this time, you as a new mom (and partner, if they stay overnight on the impossibly hard and small hospital chairs) are full of hormones and completely attuned to every sound, every cry, every sigh that your baby makes. You are, physically and mentally, a complete wreck, particularly if you’re a first-time parent.

Previously, to help with this, you could request that a nurse take the baby to the nursery for 2-3 hours between feedings, and have them be brought back when they cried and it was time to eat again. For me personally, the ability to send my baby away saved my life that first night with my daughter. I finally got at least a little sleep. I knew she was in solid hands - even better than mine as an inexperienced parent at that point - and I knew that, very soon, she would be right back with me to continue to learn the messy, complicated tango between mom and newborn child.

Learning that my hospital was moving to “baby-friendly” hospitals and realizing that those couple of hours of crucial rest would be taken away from me for my second baby was an enormous disappointment for me. It also came out of nowhere. One year my hospital was normal, and all of a sudden, at my first ob/gyn pregnancy visit, it was baby-friendly.

So, I started investigating into why American hospitals were suddenly moving in this direction, and it all started to make a lot of sense.

The TL;DR is that increasingly cash-strapped hospitals are looking for things to drive driving costs, and baby-friendly hospitals are a PR-friendly way to show new moms that hospitals care about them, while at the same time cutting expenses.

To be fair, the original baby-friendly movement started with good intentions for moms and babies.

The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

This initiative, when rolled out in developing countries, resulted in decreased child mortality rates, particularly when coupled with education for the mom.

In the United States, too, baby-friendly hospitals started with good intentions. But when you dig deeper, you find that one of the real primary reasons for baby-friendly terminology is cost savings.

In a PowerPoint presented to hospitals in Colorado in 2013,(PDF) a woman, “Dr. Mom”, gave the following presentation.

It’s clear that improving the hospital’s bottom line is a primary concern:

Sure, there are lots of slides about how breastfeeding, a focus of baby-friendly hospitals, is good for both mother and baby, but these in particular caught my eye (from this study):

Ultimately, why are hospitals pushing baby-friendly and breastfeeding? Because it saves them (and the government, through Medicaid payments) money.

In theory, it sounds great. In reality, baby-friendly hospitals are, in general, a terrible idea for moms, as threads upon threads of recent new moms attest. My own experience the second time around was far from ideal.

These hospitals are also potentially not great for hospital workers. My local Philly area magazine recently did a story about them and they confirm my suspicions:

In early February, I met with two postpartum nurses who work for Main Line Health. (They asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting fired.) They believe in the importance of breast-feeding and take the role they play in a mother’s success at it seriously. But as we sat around my kitchen table, they told me that the reason behind the transition to Keystone 10 — the Baby-Friendly initiative from the Pennsylvania Department of Health — wasn’t explained to the team. “The nursery just has a bunch of empty bassinets in it,” one said. “There’s no one staffed down there.” They say that the changeover still causes tension among the staff: Night-shift nurses want to acquiesce to requests from moms who long to get some sleep, but they have to answer to day-shift colleagues demanding to know the next morning why mom didn’t room-in. “It’s a constant back-and-forth,” said one nurse. “They don’t see these moms at night. I want everyone to come in at three in the morning when these moms are having mental breakdowns.”

But don’t they sound great?

I’m not a healthcare professional, but I’d be interested in knowing how much money losing a nursery saves, versus maybe not paying for things like unnecessary EHR systems.

Atul Gawande, one of my absolute favorite essayists, wrote a recent piece about the elaborate cost of these systems:

On a sunny afternoon in May, 2015, I joined a dozen other surgeons at a downtown Boston office building to begin sixteen hours of mandatory computer training. We sat in three rows, each of us parked behind a desktop computer. In one month, our daily routines would come to depend upon mastery of Epic, the new medical software system on the screens in front of us. The upgrade from our home-built software would cost the hospital system where we worked, Partners HealthCare, a staggering $1.6 billion, but it aimed to keep us technologically up to date.

Trying to shave hundreds of dollars off delivery bills by driving new mothers insane while the other side of the hospital is spending billions on ineffective software is an insane systemic failure, and one I’d be more interested in exploring from the tech side.

(Or at least, it seems that way to me, as a consumer of the healthcare system. If I have readers that have made it this far and are experts in healthcare, get at me!)

In the meantime, the baby-friendly hospital designation is only continuing to grow:

In 2007, less than 3% of United States births occurred in approximately 60 Baby-Friendly designated facilities. In 2018, those numbers rose to more than 25% of births in more than 500 Baby-Friendly designated facilities, and they continue to rise.

Art: Mother Holding Her Child in a Doorway, Adriaen van Ostade , 1667

What I’m Reading lately

  1. Books I recently finished:

    • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah - 110% recommend. This book is very, very, very good, even if you don’t like Trevor Noah on the Daily Show, which I don’t

    • The Egg and I by Betty Macdonald - Unexpectedly funny account of living on a chicken farm in Washington State in the 1920s

    • China in Ten Words by Yu Ha - I didn’t get as much out of the latter set of essays as the first five, but I still think it’s important to learn more about China as stuff heats up. This gave a good personal account of the Cultural Revolution

  2. Siri, Privacy, and trust by someone who is usually a staunch Apple defender

  3. This is a sweet .DS_Store git tip and I wish more tips came with animations

  4. Don’t read this if you’re hungry

  5. Thread:

  6. RIP Thinkgeek:

About the Author and Newsletter

I’m a data scientist in Philadelphia. This newsletter is about issues in tech that I’m not seeing covered in the media or blogs and want to read about. Most of my free time is spent wrangling a preschooler and a newborn, reading, and writing bad tweets. I also have longer opinions on things. Find out more here or follow me on Twitter.

If you like this newsletter, forward it to friends!

Thread: Favorite business fiction

I wrote earlier this week that I didn’t see the need for most business books (although I got quite a few managers emailing me, letting me know that they DO see the need, and do have time to read them - thank you for the counterpoints and keep them coming!), and that:

My favorite management books have been either actual case studies, biographies, or fiction books. I’ve plugged Shoe Dog a number of times now, and I’m going to plug it again, because it reveals exactly what you don’t want in a manager. Bad Blood is also an excellent example of a good management book as an anti-pattern. Both are filled with excellent details, and neither are drawn from blog posts, but written as biographies, or by journalists keenly interested in tying a story together.

I want to hear about your favorite management books, particularly if they are not at all related to business, but have taught you something you’ve carried through into your working life.

Or, fictional books that would make good management books. All of the Harry Potter books, for example, are a prime lesson in very bad magical bank cybersecurity best practices that let to social engineering hacks, and that could have 100% been mitigated by replacing all the Gringotts goblins with monitoring and cybersecurity.

View 15 comments →

Do we need tech management books?

On "An Elegant Puzzle"

Several months ago, everyone on my Twitter feed started talking about An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management by Will Larson, an engineering manager who has worked at Uber and Digg, and currently works at Stripe.

When it arrived, this book, published by Stripe Press, turned out to be one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. (In fact, people tweeting their pictures of the physical book is what originally drew me to it.)

I mean, just look at it:

I feel like I should be photographing this book at a bespoke coffee shop next to a perfectly-crafted cappuccino with a heart drawn into the foam. My poor table (covered with the remnants of breakfast, crayons, and drool) is not worthy.

Look at the inside! The layout! The fonts! The kerning! The pictures! It’s so, so, so pretty. Picking it up makes you feel like you are a Serious Engineer, ready to read some Serious Thought-provoking Engineering Content that you will then impart upon your team, like Moses bringing down the tablets down from the mountain, if Moses worked in Cupertino.

But, the more I read this book, the more I was disappointed by the actual content.

I want to preface this by saying that as someone who’s been writing technical (and non-technical) content for a really long time online now, I know how hard it can be to write good stuff and then put it out there for the whole world to read and review. This is particularly hard when you’re working for a long time on a book.

I respect the amount of effort (and time spent at these companies and accruing this wisdom!) that Will spent crafting this work.

However, things started going south almost immediately in the first chapter, where we are presented with this visualization:

I looked at this picture for a very long time, trying to figure out what it meant. “I’m not smart enough for this book,” I thought. “Just as it is too classy and elegant for me, the visuals are meant for people of a higher caliber - people who program in Lisp and can pass dynamic programming interviews at Google.”

What does this mean? Is the square with the triangle inside of it the manager? What are all the other squares? What is the “well-sized manager of manager” text connecting?

For reference, I read the accompanying text, which told me,

“When I transitioned from supporting a team to supporting an organization, I started to encounter a new category of problems that I had never thought about. How many teams should we have?[…] It’ll be an unusual month that you won’t consider some aspect of team design.

The next page says, “Managers should support six to eight engineers.” Was that what was being referenced in the diagram? I still couldn’t tell, so I moved on. However, I was already (elegantly) puzzled. Why is the first chapter talking about how big managers should make teams?

If you’re writing a book about management, to people coming into management, the first thing you should probably do is to talk about what managers do on a day-to-day basis and how that relates to the team.

The text didn’t get much clearer for me from there on. The book goes on to talk about different states of a team, and the visuals don’t add much to explain what these different states are (can I just add that as a data scientist, the lack of y-axis labeling really stresses me out):

And the book goes on much in this vein: Very beautiful, but almost useless, visuals, accompanied by very abstract text that’s really hard to grasp at an individual level. For example, this one says it’s a “visual representation of a well and poorly balanced organization.” (Please pardon my creepy thumb.) All I’m seeing is a bunch of boxes.

It’s important to note that the subtitle of this book is “Systems of Engineering Management,” which means the author is talking about a very abstract approach, but I think that abstract approach is what makes the book, for me, very hard to relate to.

After I finished the book, I sat with it a while, and then I went on Twitter and Medium, where everyone has been praising it.

Cindy writes,

There are two common threads that run through every chapter of this book. First, the book distills valuable insights into high level frameworks that can be customized, instrumented, quantitatively evaluated and iterated upon to serve different contexts and needs. Second, the book provides the reader with tools and techniques that are lightweight enough to be able to provide immediate value without being too prescriptive.

Amazon reviews are equally glowing, with phrases like “success bible,” “prescriptive”, and “must-read.”

Did these people see the illustrations? Here’s another actual one from the book. What does it mean? (And can I phone-a-friend for an Uber engineer to help me figure it out?)

But, in spite of all of these things that puzzled me, everyone loved it.

Was I wrong? I thought about it for a long time.

Maybe my reaction said more about me than it did about the book. I’ve been digesting this book and the surrounding reviews and tweets for the past several months now, and I think I have several fundamental criticisms as to why it’s not for me.

1) Management as fantasy

I saw this quote on Twitter a bit ago and I can’t stop thinking about it (by the way, if you don’t already, you should follow @generativist).

It’s so entirely true. Management books are mostly not for actual managers. Actual managers are busy managing. (Except for Patrick, who, I’m guessing does not sleep and is a honest-to-god vampire, just constantly reading and #hustling.)

Or rather, managers at who this book is targeted, people with the power to manage teams of teams, change organizations, and report up to the C-level, don’t read books.

These people are on flights, at presentations, giving updates to shareholders, firing people, hiring people, looking at or charts and budgets, and generally just consistently too busy to read books like this. They simply don’t have time. They need bullet lists. Which is why there are entire services summarizing business book ideas.

(People at the C-level, prove me wrong and shoot me an email if you have read this book! Also, please give me some free credits for your SaaS service and a t-shirt.)

Most people who read management books, myself included, are not the high-level managers this book is targeting. However, that hasn’t stopped me from reading lots of management books. Over the past several years, not counting all the books I’ve read as part of my MBA program, I’ve also read: Mythical Man Month, High Output Management, The Manager’s Path, The Phoenix Project (which I reviewed for Normcore) and many, many more books that I’ve probably blocked out of my mind, about how to be a manager.

Why? Because it’s interesting. I want to know what the people I report to are thinking. I want to think about strategy. And, maybe, someday, I think, I’ll also be a high-level executive. Gotta be prepared. Never hurts, right? I’d wager that at least 80% of management books are purchased by non-managers thinking these same kinds of thoughts.

Aside from being generally aspirational, this book also encompasses only the author’s experience at fast-moving tech companies. This review from Gregely clarifies this:

An Elegant Puzzle is to date the most hands-on perspective on engineering management within a high-growth, tech-first organization, that I have read. It's a long overdue book for engineering managers and leads.

For me, reading the book was full of "aha!" moments. When I joined Uber, the Amsterdam office was 25 engineers. I started to manage 5 people when moving into engineering management. Three years later, the Amsterdam office is 150 people - doubling every year - and my team tripled. Many of the problems I faced are challenges the book discusses in detail. Challenges like setting a vision/strategy for my team, building a robust hiring and onboarding pipeline, or dealing with a never-ending stream of migrations.

For people who work in a similar environment like Will does, the advice is very relevant. These are places that are considered "top tier" companies, meaning the engineering environment is strong, leaders are technical, compensation is close to top-of-market, and engineering is a value-add, not just a cost center.

Most companies are not these companies. Like I’ve Normcorely said before, most tech runs on Java 8, waterfall, IT budgets that are constantly slashed and readjusted, and companies that are not making music services or smartphones or smart thermostats. Most companies are boring AF, and make solidly good money.

None of these strategies will work in those cultures, cultures where you have to have days of meetings to justify an extra engineer in headcount, companies where developers are not given admin access to their computers, companies where IT is still seen as an afterthought.

But the book doesn’t acknowledge that. It doesn’t start with a huge preface that says, hey, if you’re working at Uber or Stripe and managing teams, but don’t really care about the day-to-day implementation details as much as the abstract view, (and also like beautiful but very puzzling diagrams) you’ll love this book!

By making this book for everyone, it’s almost for no one.

2) Books from blog posts don’t convert very well

The second problem with this book is that, as I mentioned, I noticed that the chapters didn’t flow well together. I had a hard time connecting the dots. After some research, I learned that this book had come together from his blog.

Generally, books being put together from blogs can be really tricky, unless you do it right. I should know - in 2012, I decided, as an experiment, to create an ebook from a series of travel blog posts I wrote about Scotland (please don’t read this book. It’s terrible.) The book came out just ok, and I learned a ton about how ebook publishing and revenues work in the process, but the hardest part was reorganizing the content and tone in a way that made sense for a continuous text rather than a series of unrelated thoughts.

Synthesizing a lot of different ideas into one big one is always the absolute hardest part of writing. I wrote in my Goodreads review of Elegant Puzzle that it felt fragmented.

The content was taken from blog posts, and as such, does not form a cohesive narrative, but is instead chapters upon chapters of bite-sized bullets that are hard to remember and don't tie together well.

The organization of the book is strange: it starts off by talking about how many people you should hire if you're managing managers. This is not applicable to most people reading the book, unless you're a c-level exec, and if that's the case, you're definitely not spending time reading this book, you're too busy. Most people come into management through promotion, and have no idea what to do They also don't immediately have the power to hire 8-10 people, or change anything about the team size. I'd have liked to see this book tackle the subject from that approach.

In a similar vein, I felt that Manager’s Path also struggled with this:

I hate to say that this book was disappointing because I enjoy following the author on Twitter and have enjoyed lots of her clear, well-written blog posts about management and technical strategy, particularly ones like "how do individual contributors get stuck".

I think this book essentially tried to stretch those blog posts into an entire volume, which doesn't quite work. There is a lot of repetition of concepts, and even though the book is clearly organized according to the table of contents, it doesn't seem to follow any particular logical pattern when you're in the weeds.

The problem is that blog posts, like newsletters, are fragments of thoughts, jotted down while you’re thinking about every day life. They’re not holistic systems that need to constantly reinforce a single message. It takes a lot of work to get them to that point. I don’t feel like Elegant Puzzle quite got there.

As an additional aside, the voice of the book was really uneven, switching from formal to informal very quickly, another symptom of a bad blog-to-book conversion.

3) The Tyranny of Modern Workplaces

Finally, one of the biggest problem for me was the lack of concrete examples, just abstraction. I wanted to know about the author’s actual experience at Uber and Digg and Stripe. What were the actual problems that he faced that led him to the thoughts that formed this book? What databases went down? How much budget did he have to ask for? How big were his teams? Who did he have to fire, hire, and convince? The few examples he did include did a lot to color in those details for me, but there were only two or three.

Obviously, this is not something we can get out of any management book, and that’s an enormous shame.

This is an issue larger than Elegant Puzzle. Just yesterday, I came across the review for a very intriguing book, called “Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It).”

The blurb reads,

In many workplaces, employers minutely regulate workers' speech, clothing, and manners, leaving them with little privacy and few other rights. And employers often extend their authority to workers' off-duty lives. Workers can be fired for their political speech, recreational activities, diet, and almost anything else employers care to govern.

When reading this, something clicked for me. We can’t write the details simply because we are blocked from our employers, both legally and culturally, from doing so. Sure, Will could have written about that time that his team brought down production (purely hypothetical scenario), but Uber probably wouldn’t like it. Not only would there be a lawsuit, but his former team members could come out and say that he was wrong to talk about it, other people would be reticent to hire him for their companies, and so on and so on.

So we’ll never get the truth about what actual incidents contributed to this book, which is a real shame, because actual specific examples and actual case studies are what new managers need, much the same way doctors do residencies and operate on actual patients and see hundreds of different cases before going into practices.

However, we could have gotten at least some few details, which we didn’t.


Ok, here we finally are at the end. What I’ve found from Elegant Puzzle, and other books like it, is that management books won’t tell you how to be a manager, in the same way that the owl drawing won’t tell you to draw an owl.

There are too many assumptions, not enough details, skipped connections because of being drawn from different, various blog posts, and, mostly, these books, because of the level of abstraction, are aspirational.

What makes an actual good management book? My favorite management books have been either actual case studies, biographies, or fiction books. I’ve plugged Shoe Dog a number of times now, and I’m going to plug it again, because it reveals exactly what you don’t want in a manager. Bad Blood is also an excellent example of a good management book as an anti-pattern. Both are filled with excellent details, and neither are drawn from blog posts, but written as biographies, or by journalists keenly interested in tying a story together.

Ultimately, you’re better off finding friends who are managers and talking to them over coffee. I’d read a book on how to do that.

In the end, I admire the effort that went into producing this book, but it was, honestly, just not for me. Although it makes a beautiful conversation piece on my stained kitchen table.

What I’m reading lately:

  1. An interview with the 30-50 feral hogs guy! Insanely wholesome and good.

  2. A post about babies at the office

  3. What it’s like to run a newspaper in the Arctic.

  4. Ok, this new zine just looks super-cool.

About the Author and Newsletter

I’m a data scientist in Philadelphia. This newsletter is about issues in tech that I’m not seeing covered in the media or blogs and want to read about. Most of my free time is spent wrangling a preschooler and a newborn, reading, and writing bad tweets. I also have longer opinions on things. Find out more here or follow me on Twitter.

If you like this newsletter, forward it to friends!

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