Having spent a large part of my career as a business writer and editor, one of my passions as Safari’s editor-in-chief is to help our users develop their business and management skills alongside their tech chops. I believe strongly that successful professional careers, whether they include formal management roles or not, are driven as much by organizational effectiveness and business savvy as they are by personal talent and skills. To that end, I am particularly excited about the new business books we are adding to Safari this week, which include a number of true must-reads for anyone set on improving their management acumen. Add these to your queue and you won’t regret it. Read more »
A little over a year ago, I decided to leave behind seven years of work experience in academic libraries and begin a new career in community and marketing in tech. I had no experience with either of these subjects and threw myself into a new career with very little planning and a lot of enthusiasm.
I worked harder than I ever have in my life in order to make the transition successfully, but as the newest member of the Safari Growth Team, I want to share my experiences and what I’ve found useful along the way.
A Twitter bot is a program that composes and posts tweets without any human intervention. They can be purely utilitarian (@safaribot announces new and popular content added to Safari), they can be artistic (@pentametron assembles rhyming couplets out of existing tweets), or they can be utterly surreal (@autocharts and many more by Darius Kazemi). We’re kind of obsessed with them.
Getting set up
I recommend three preliminary steps before writing a line of code: Read more »
My job here at Safari is a unique and multi-faceted one, which suits my personality and work history well. I’m basically an experienced project manager who is deployed on internal projects that are of important strategic value to the company. This means that I can be working on basically anything! A built-in part of the job is to quickly immerse myself in topics about which I may initially only have a passing familiarity. My background prepares me for some of this gear switching – I have worked as a web and print project manager, financial advisor, classical musician, bartender, and am an avid multi-disciplinary fiber artist. But invariably I have a lot to learn about whatever projects I’m currently working on. I recently got rid of plenty of outdated physical technical books from when I was learning to build websites, but now I have access to a much larger and more up-to-date digital collection in Safari.
By Lauren Keller Johnson
Lauren Keller Johnson is a freelance writer living in Harvard, MA
As a manager or team leader, you’re responsible for many things. But your most important task may be crafting and executing strategies for your group.
Strategies are the plans you build to set direction. They might center on how your group will help the overall organization achieve its mission. Or they might emphasize how your group will sharpen its competitive edge; for example, by achieving unparalleled excellence in its operations, developing breakthrough products or services, or finding innovative ways to anticipate and satisfy customers’ needs.
You might define brilliant strategies for your group, informed by a clear understanding of your organization’s mission or a careful analysis of market and technology trends. But if you can’t execute the strategies you’ve crafted—if you can’t put them into action—then they’re worthless. Read more »
While my job responsibilities don’t formally include accessibility, Safari is awesome and lets me use my ability chops for the products and sites we make. I had not created an accessibility report for a native iOS app before, so testing Safari Queue was a fascinating experience for me. I’m very pleased that Safari is comfortable with me posting the results of my testing, especially since the results reveal that we have some way to go before the app is perfect. In my experience, transparency about accessibility weaknesses has a strong correlation with companies who have a commitment to fixing those weaknesses.
Queue is pretty accessible! There’s definitely room for improvement, but I spent time reading in Safari using my iPhone with the screen blanked. There were some hurdles, but I managed some not insubstantial reading and navigation without being able to see the screen. That being said, we definitely have some stability fixes to put on our list.
“I still remember the point in my career, when the commitment to lifelong learning became a core value of mine.”
My career had gotten off to fast start. I was hired by a great firm right out of college, and by the age of 28 I had been promoted to Vice President. I was gaining experience through increased responsibility and I was becoming more and more expert in my industry. But, without fully realizing it, I was also quickly becoming a specialist.
This reality hit home when I left the company to start a new adventure in a new industry. I was no longer an experienced expert. I was in a foreign land. There was suddenly a whole lot I didn’t know. And needed to. And while this was my wake-up call, it was far from the only time I would feel the need to learn in order to grow and succeed in my career. Over time, in fact, I’ve come to realize that the need is continuous.
Lifelong learning, the decision to commit
At that early point in my career, it wasn’t hard to deliver on a commitment to lifelong learning, and I did so by completing my MBA, taking certification courses, and reading about business topics that were relevant to what I wanted to accomplish. When I was doing new things in new industries, it was easy to find new and exciting things to learn and to connect learning to achieving my goals.
More importantly, I had unlocked a portion of my brain that kept me motivated to want to learn more. And that was a very good thing: I discovered, as I moved through my 30’s, and encountered a slew of new industries and verticals that the need to learn was ever present. Learning turned me on; it seemed at the time that supporting my commitment to lifelong learning would be an almost effortless pursuit.
Then something interesting happened in my 40’s as I took on more senior leadership roles. I shifted from learning new things to applying the things I had already learned. For example, at Safari I created the inside sales channel. Sure, there were new concepts I had to learn about the business, but most of my work was based on past experience. My first few years as a manager in the Safari sales organization were what I would call “build mode,” where I was creating something that had not existed before, evolving and fine tuning along the way. I was not exactly pushing the same mental boundaries as in my 30’s, but it was a lot of fun.
Reaching the plateau; don’t confuse busy with learning
After seven years at Safari, even with the increased responsibility of leading the enterprise sales and marketing organizations added over time, I started to feel like I had arrived at some sort of plateau. I loved my job but something was missing. It wasn’t something I could articulate at the time, but in retrospect it’s clear: that “learning mode” I enjoyed so much had subsided.
Safari launched a new platform in mid 2014, and during the time pre-and-post launch, I found myself consumed by new challenges: by product development, the strategy to sell and support the new interface, and all of the operational change issues associated with launching a new product across the sales organization. This was a major shift in our business — an exciting time of building something new. You probably expect me to say that all of this new stuff happening spurred me back into learning mode. The funny thing is that it didn’t; it just kept me busy.
Senior-level learning, the pursuit of new peaks
It wasn’t until I made a personal commitment to use Safari every day — the very product I tell other people to use every day — that I became aware of my comfy spot on the lifelong learning plateau. Yes, I was busy, and yes, I was building new capabilities through experience, but I still wasn’t learning beyond the job. I had forgotten the joys — and the importance — of discovering new ideas. I started using our Queue mobile app, and spent time each day reading books and watching videos on various business and technical topics. Some of the content was genuinely eye-opening, and some was sort of “been there, done that” — but the real breakthrough was that I had reignited that place in my brain that powers “learning mode.” That’s the happy place where my creativity thrives; where I start thinking beyond what’s next to what’s possible.
I now look at the challenges I face at Safari with a new perspective. I’ve been reminded of best practices that I haven’t applied in a while. I’m discovering new topics to explore. I relate more personally with the value we deliver to professionals every day — not because I know our product features, but because I know the deep satisfaction of hopping off of my plateau and reaching new peaks in learning mode. I find myself having more relevant conversations with my team, with my customers and with others I interact with every day. And I make time everyday to read at least a chapter in Safari to make sure my engagement with learning mode never wanes again.
By Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina, authors of Rebels at Work
“There’s no money in the budget for that” is the most common management response to new ideas. The more creative or risky the idea, the quicker our bosses’ “Sorry, no budget” reflexes.
We walk away thinking, “Well there’s no sense on pushing that idea forward. There’s no money to fund it.”
But here’s an important truth: money is rarely the real reason our ideas get shot down. If you push just a little, you’re likely to hear something very different.
Here are the real reasons bosses say no, and how to get around them.
1. “It’s just not that important.”
When an idea helps an organization accomplish something that’s important and valued, that idea gets funded and approved. Many very good ideas get rejected because they don’t support what the organization most cares about. So show how your proposal supports what’s most valued. Read more »
By Lauren Keller Johnson
Lauren Keller Johnson is a freelance writer living in Harvard, MA
Leading a software engineering team? If so, you know you’re responsible for ensuring that team members write great code. But that’s just part of the picture. You’re also in charge of managing how they collaborate to achieve the project’s goals. And that’s no secondary objective. Interactions among team members matter just as much as code quality to a project’s success, write Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick in their book Team Geek.
Yet many people new to management roles ignore this side of software project work, and few software engineering curricula teach students how to communicate and collaborate in a team or company. How to help your team members interact effectively so the team can reach its goal of shipping great software? Begin by building the right team culture. Read more »
I believe that hiring someone can be an act of social justice, if it is done in a way that protects against bias. This seems to be true especially in our diversity-challenged industry.
I want to do everything I can to fulfill this belief. As Google found out, even well-intentioned people can have unconscious bias. So I decided to learn as much as I could about what other people do to counteract bias while hiring, and to make sure I was doing all of those things. Read more »