Blitz-Watch 2: The Business of Being a Software Engineer

10 months ago
The second set of Computer Science related videos that I share with criminally terse comments so that you could, hopefully, decide whether you need these in your life without investing too much time into actually watching everything.

This is the second set of Computer Science related videos that I share with criminally terse comments so that you could, hopefully, decide whether you need these in your life without investing too much time into actually watching everything.

These ones are about perfecting yourself as a business asset, a crucial thing to do that engineers often overlook. As usual, I intentionally didn't leave out videos that I disliked, to give a broader picture of what gets on your radar when searching for the topic and what my decision process looks like.

After several instalments of this series, I'm going to compile my version of must-watch videos for software engineering professionals, ranging from technical talks you should not miss, to developing social skills, empathy, and understanding of how things work in life and the industry. Stay tuned!

Personal Branding for Developers

Be humble and personal. Don't compare yourself. Deliver content, if it isn't much: three people who saw your video are four times the use made of your knowledge compared to if only you used it. Creating content based on what you know is a good way to actually learn better.

Rating: 4/10. If you have zero experience with personal branding, this video could be a nice introduction into the concept. Otherwise, there are more insightful forays into this incredibly important topic.

Transitioning to Leadership for Developers

Hiring, reviews, requirements, one-on-ones, etc. are just techniques to achieve the goal of leadership, which is to make your coworkers better. Envision people and treat them like they ought to be, not as they are. Leadership deals with more uncertain and more abstract information in larger scope, with less clarity of success and satisfaction from direct action. Showing your vulnerability is a way to be approachable, so manage that. Value your indirect outputs if you want to succeed.

Rating: 3/10. Too broad for my taste with rather mundane points to take away.

Competition is for Losers (Peter Thiel, 2014)

Business works by capturing X percent of the Y new value it creates in the market, and these two variables are independent: you can create a lot of value and capture none of it, or create not much but capture a significant part of it. Monopolies try to present themselves as competitive, and businesses with a lot of competition try to present themselves as only players: this is achieved by optics of narrating your market as a union of several markets you're in, or as an intersection of those. It's good to be a monopoly so when you start out, penetrating a niche small market is a good strategy, then to grow concentrically.
There is no set formula for a monopoly but the rule of thumb is uniqueness and an order-of-magnitude edge in your proposition (improving something 10x compared to status quo). It's not really important to be the first one; it's important to be the last one. In the value equation, most value is far in the future and growth value is overestimated, so analyze how to stay for a decade. Vertical holdings and software companies are probably the only two examples of true monopolies.
"The competition was ferocious because the stakes were small." Ask what the actual market is, not the narrative of the market.

Rating: 9/10, a must-watch for everyone looking to go beyond individual code contribution.

This talk is part of the excellent How to Start a Startup lecture set published in full by Startup Class. The whole set is a must watch.