AGL 317: Managing Up with Nick Means

About Nick

Nick is a software engineer turned engineering leader who has been leading engineering teams at companies large and small for the last decade. He is currently the VP of Engineering at Sym. He cares a lot about generative leadership: helping teams bring more agency and autonomy to their work so they can build better software, build it more efficiently and find more fulfillment in doing it.

He is also a student of disasters and other complex engineering stories. He has been deeply fascinated by things like plane crashes, nuclear meltdowns, and supersonic flight for as long as he can remember. He has been fortunate to share some of his favorite stories on stages around the world, giving keynotes that bring lessons from the world of physical engineering to how we work together to build software.

He lives in Austin, TX with his wife Alison, their two kids, and their goofy Cavapoo dog named Benny. In his spare time, he is into perfecting his pour-over coffee technique, tinkering with electronics and 3D printing, and he is re-learning how to play piano.

Today We Talked About

  • Nick’s background
  • Transitioning from engineer to engineering leader
  • Ruby
  • Conferences
  • Hallway Track
  • Speaking is important
  • Resources
  • Turn the Ship Around
  • Managing Up?
  • Control… or lack there of
  • Extreme Ownership
  • The difference between the best interest of the Team vs. the Company
  • Umbrella vs Heat Shield
  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Everyone is dumb enough to be fooled anyway… interesting concept
  • Nice Things File
  • Highlight Reels vs. Raw Footage
  • Advice for new leaders
  • Meta Productivity
  • Longer Feedback loops

Connect with Nick

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