Twitter, Subscriber Chat, and the Hallway Track
Oof what a week for the tech industry. My heart goes out to all those affected by the layoffs. Layoffs are complicated, from the more obvious loss of stable employment, financial uncertainty, looming anxiety about getting back on the interview train in this market… to the survivorship guilt of those who remain (or guilty disappointment if they wished they had been on the chopping block as well), lingering questions of self-worth or good-enough-ness, and more.
For those “unaffected,” what does this mean for your job security and the job market? And for internet introverts like me who made real friends on twitter over the last decade, a real sense of loss and mourning.
I don’t know that I have particularly good advice for anyone, except to give yourself space to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, and then to focus on what’s in your control.
The Hallway Track
Two weeks ago, it seemed like all the conferences were happening in SF. As I browsed through the scheduled talks, I have to admit I felt a strong sense of ambivalence.
Part of my ambivalence is probably 2+ years of not going to large events, and the sense of dread when I imagine being in a space with so many people. But it’s also that I don’t really want to sit through yet another tactical talk on “How to scale your team” or “First 90 days in a new role.” Those are all useful for sure, but I can look up countless blog posts when needed and read them in a few minutes. To be fair, the content for these topics was quite sparse ~5 years ago, pre-Manager’s-Path and pre-LeadDev, and while I’m grateful that organizations continue to run conferences with these sorts of talks, I’m a bit over them.
What I’m craving more of is the conversations that happen 1:1 with friends or mentors in lengthy text exchanges, or in 1:1s with a trusted manager, or even with a therapist as you work through insecurities or uncertainties.
So I imagined what a conference schedule might look like that I would be thrilled to go to. It might look like this:
“How to set goals when the career ladder doesn’t appeal to me”
“Parenthood: How to re-configure how work fits into your life”
“Do I really need to write blog posts, give talks, do podcast interviews?”
“How to still show up as a manger when personally dealing with burnout”
“How to cope with the comparison to your friend who made $10m in crypto”
“How to plan for and transition out of a career in tech when your lifestyle has become dependent on a tech salary”
“What are you prioritizing for: getting clarity on what’s most important to you in your career”
“Dealing with FOMO: how to deal with feelings about missing out on the next rocketship”
Topics you might discuss with a trusted coach, mentor, or friend. How to navigate a career in tech and also live the life that you want.
Attending a conference in-person that week increased my resolve that this type of content is what I want more of out there in the world. I ended up spending most of my time in the “hallway track,” which refers to what happens at conferences not on the main stage. Turns out the hallway track is a little awkward when everyone else is attending a single-track conference, so the hallway track turned into a walk along the Embarcadero and lunch nearby.
For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to write a book. An engineering leadership book made the most sense, but to be honest, I didn’t feel a real draw to embark on such a big project in that space. I wanted my writing to be more personal, and I considered taking on a memoir.
In the last few weeks, though, I’ve realized that I don’t have to conform to the assumption of what I think an engineering leadership book must be. It can be a natural extension of what I want to write about already, here, with all of you. It can be about navigating a career in tech, and it can be deeply personal.
So, more to come, but I’m dipping my toe into sketching out what that project might look like, and I could use your help!
What topics do you really want to talk about, but don’t see much content around?
What are the topics you might bring up with a highly trusted mentor, coach, friend, or partner?
Thoughts on renaming this newsletter The Hallway Track? Or other ideas?
Feel free to reply by email or leave a comment.
I’ll also post these in the new newsletter chat that Substack just launched. As people leave Twitter 😭, it’ll be nice to have a space to be in community (instructions below):
To join our chat, you’ll need to download the Substack app (messages are sent via the app, not email). Turn on push notifications so you don’t miss a chance to join conversation as it happens.
How to get started
Download the app by clicking this link or the button below. Chat is only on iOS for now, but chat is coming to the Android app soon.
Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
That’s it! Jump into my thread to say hi, and if you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ.