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I do a lot of technical and behavioral interviewing for my job. I’ve experienced some whoppers from the interviewer’s side of the table. If you want to blow an interview, here’s how you do it.


The ability to say “I don’t know” is one of the most undervalued traits in the world. It saves lots of people from doing dumb things. But there’s always someone who thinks, I don’t know = I’ll just copy and paste something off the Internet.

Here’s the thing with copying stuff off the Internet: we have the Internet, too. …

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Every fiction writer has looked at the last thing they’ve written in a character dialogue and thought, Oh, great, I just killed this conversation. I have no idea where to go from here. Crap.

I’d sit there and glare at the page. Sometimes I’d end the writing session and leave frustrated. I’d come back frustrated, and find myself in the same spot. Days might pass before I climbed out of the hole I dug for myself.

Turns out, there’s a simple technique to get going again.

The Trick

If you’ve never heard of it, I encourage you to read a wonderful book

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Before we start, I’m going to make a distinction between a change and a deployment. You can’t have the latter without the former, so for this article, I’m going to concentrate on the characteristics of a good change.


Yes, Captain Pedantic, I know you can do a no-op deployment of the same artifacts currently running in production — I’m not talking about those. There’s a whole realm of thinking around deployments that I’m not going to cover here in this quick blog post.

What’s in a Good Change?

A good change has three primary characteristics:

  • Simple
  • Measurable
  • Erasable


It’s easy for humans to reason…

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We make decisions every day. Little ones. Big ones. Sometimes we make decisions that directly impact other people.

Especially before making the latter types of decisions, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do I have the authority to make this decision?
  2. Should I delegate this decision?
  3. How much time do I have?

Do I have the authority to make this decision?

A couple of litmus tests for this:

  • “Will my boss be angry if I make this decision?”
  • “Will my peers ignore me if I make this decision?”

If the answer to either of those is yes, then the decision is not yours to make.

A note about the boss question

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“Get help or get out.”

Those were my mother’s words during the intervention that saved my life. Looking back on it now, those must have been incredibly difficult words for her to say. My father had stood next to her in the kitchen when she said it. The pain was on their faces.

So was their resolve.

I was a full-blown alcoholic living in their basement (it was a finished basement, it was nice). I had a hard time holding down a job and passed out drunk nearly every night. …

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There’s listening, and then there’s active listening, and either one isn’t waiting for the other person to shut up so you can talk. If you want to elevate your relationships and make more meaningful connections, active listening is your golden ticket.

Active listening is focused empathy. Focused in that your counterpart has your undivided attention. Put away your phone. Make eye contact. Let your counterpart feel like they’re the only person in the room.

Show empathy by suspending your ego long enough to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Allow them to speak without judgement. …

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Sometimes I get the opportunity to talk to students about DevOps patterns in cloud computing. Chances are, they don’t fully understand cloud, so speaking about KPIs, SLAs, and SLOs in that context isn’t going to sink in. These metrics are important aspects of running a cloud service, so I had to find something else. Luckily, we’re all in the possession of a machine our brains ride around in, so speaking about metrics in the context of the human body is something to which we can all relate.

KPI: Key Performance Indicator

These are metrics that you track in any system. In computing, these might…

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Several years ago was a First Day at a new job. I didn’t know anyone, and the office layout made it hard to meet new people organically. I was a hard-core introvert then and hadn’t learned extroversion yet, so walking up to people’s desks and introducing myself gave me the willies.

On the next day, I brought cookies. There was nearby bakery called the Black Forest Cafe, where they make the sort of baked goods that I will step over my own mother to acquire. They have these cookies. About six inches in diameter, magically crammed with scrumptious buttery and…

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Finding the right people to work for your organization is a daunting task. Before you start your next talent search, first take the time to understand the type of person you should be looking for.

If you don’t have a set of values defined that exemplify the type of person who drives your organization to success, you can use Dr. Cameron Seraph’s Competent Nice Person to Incompetent Asshole matrix, from his article, “Your Company’s Culture is Who You Fire and Promote”, to identify the right (and wrong) people who are already in your organization.

Basically, people come in four flavors:

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I was recently in a conversation about Tom Brady, and someone commented how it was weird for some people to hate Brady for being, well, Brady.

There’s a reason for haters.

Haters Explained

Negative reactions to people, things, and ideas are totally natural for folks in a tribal mindset. It’s fear of Other. It’s far easier to reject a new idea than it is to expend energy to consider it — especially if doing so challenges long-held internal assumptions. People who don’t do engage in introspection on a regular basis, or who can’t hold two conflicting ideas in their head at the…

Cy Tidd

I write books and software. Opinions held loosely.

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