Posts With Tag: problem-solving

Insights, Shallow-Work, and the Next Correction

Person in front of a computer looking at a down market chart. PD from

2020 was a rough year. Much of my income had come from live performances as a magician, live events as a speaker and trainer, and in-person consulting gigs. By March of 2020, every live event was being dubbed a “super spreader” event, markets were cooling, and enterprises were preparing to “batten down the hatches” in anticipation of unknown societal and financial disruption. My livelihood was in grave jeopardy. My wife and I tightened our belts hoping to ride out the storm but, by the summer, it became clear that this particular storm had an indefinite duration. I eventually accepted a job as a principal software architect at an intriguing startup within the enterprise and quickly rose through the ranks to become their Chief Architect.

As my responsibilities grew, I realized it would be crucial to scale myself and my contributions, so my focus turned to hiring and I had never seen a market like it. Salary expectations had inflated 100%+ since I was in the market. Signing bonuses were being offered at a scale I had never seen before. As it became harder and harder to attract talent, compensation only continued to increase. I won’t lie, I was a little bitter and a little envious. My direct reports I hired were earning substantially more than I. I expressed these feelings to a colleague who asked, “Have you considered looking, yourself?” My response was “It crossed my mind, but I think it would be a bad idea. ‘Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.’” In other words, the tech market looked an awful lot like a bubble. I didn’t know when it would burst, but I knew it would. Companies were responding to the market changes by “warchesting” talent; proactively hiring for roles that didn’t even exist yet. 18 months later came some of the most brutal layoffs I’ve seen since the 2000-2001 era and almost all of those who found themselves swept up in the cuts were downsized through no fault of their own.

I believe another correction is imminent, but this might be a good thing, depending on how we navigate it.

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Sufficiently Advanced Technology, Software, & Sorcery

Playing Cards spread out on a table

Somewhere in the world there are magicians who are still talking about a magic trick they simply can’t explain… or perhaps they have solved the mystery. The linchpin is a single idea. One fact.

Almost 20 years ago I crossed an ocean to attend my first live magic conference. The headline acts/speakers included Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, and Darwin Ortiz; all major influences of my work and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet and work with them in person. I went alone and knew nobody attending, although that would change before the convention even began.

In the restaurant on the eve of the convention, I dined solo and mostly people-watched. I watched the retirees who have devoted a portion of their newfound free time to rekindling a childhood hobby. I watched the one or two young kids with their tiger-parent relentlessly molding them in to future Vegas headliners, and I watched the adolescents who spend every waking moment drilling the most difficult sleights and the most elaborate flourishes. There was a whole group of the latter engaged in what could be best described as the legerdemain equivalent of a rap battle, each attempting to one-up the displays of dexterity demonstrated by the last. With nothing to do (and nothing to lose) I approached this group. Minutes later, I left them speechless.

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