I recently started a new job at Upstart as a Senior Software Engineer. It’s a very exciting opportunity for me and although I’m only a couple weeks in, I’m learning a lot, am enjoying working with my new colleagues, and have been really impressed with the leadership and company so far! (If you’re interested, check out our job posts)
Speed as a Habit
Upstart’s CEO, Dave Girouard, “former President of Google Enterprise Apps. He’s well known for building Google’s enterprise apps division into a $1B+ global business.” wrote this article and it was shared with me upon starting as a good way to understand how things work at Upstart and why. I found it interesting and has some interesting takeaways I wanted to share. I recommend giving it a read (5-10 min read) and let me know what you think in the comments below!
My Key Takeaways
Make decisions, most can be undone later
I’ve run into this problem a lot in my career and personal life. Many times a decision seems so daunting that you don’t want to make the wrong decision so you keep putting it off. I like Dave’s thoughts on this that by waiting and not acting, you often lose out on opportunities and that most decisions can be undone later if you realize that the path you took wasn’t the right one.
Action items should have deadlines
Often we’ll come out of meetings with a list of action items, which is good, but without some sort of ETA on the task, it’s unlikely to get done in a timely fashion. Putting due dates on tasks can help get more done quickly.
Ask “Why can’t this be done sooner?”
Expanding on the last takeaway, if someone gives you an ETA that seems off to you, especially for critical tasks, ask why? Also, depending on the task, think of ways you can speed up the delivery of the task whether it be to reduce the scope or add support from other team members to get it done.
Eliminate Cognitive Overhead
Similar to the first takeaway, many times we have so much going on, or a decision or task is holding us back from making any progress on the project. I encountered this recently with my basement remodel. Early on, I thought that a good starting point would be to do the bathroom. It would be the smallest room and would provide value in and of itself. However when I started planning it, I kept running into questions I didn’t have answers for. For example, the home-builders had installed a drain pipe in case anyone wanted to finish the basement with a bathroom later, however the location seemed very strange and limited our options on what type of shower/bath we could install. I spent way too much time measuring and searching for shower pans that would fit the space.
Eventually, I realized that these uncertainties were holding me up and I decided I needed to change course. I saved the bathroom for last and switched to the other rooms of the basement that were much simpler: no plumbing, just electric and framing. I drew up the plans, ordered the materials and got started with construction later that week! After I had built half the basement, I learned a lot and had a bunch of confidence that I knew how to build the bathroom. The funny thing was that after I picked out a bath and shower that I was pretty confident would fit, I had a plumber come out to take a look only to be told that the location of the drain pipe didn’t matter much because they’d have to dig it up anyway so the location of the drain was flexible! If you find yourself getting bogged down by a particular decision or task, see if you can’t re-plan or organize your work around it to remove the blocker and keep your momentum moving forward.
I hope you enjoy the article and let me know what you think! On a side note, Upstart is growing fast and always hiring for a number of different fields. Check out the job listings here if you’re interested or reach out to me if you want to hear more!