The Hagakure is Back
"People think you need to be inspired to write. No, you write in order to get inspired." —Paul Jarvis
The Hagakure is back.
Back in November 2020, I had started a new VP Engineering job at an early stage startup in Berlin. At the time, I wrote that I would throw myself at the new role and that this newsletter would take a step back. When the time was right, I’d bring it back. That time is now.
Much has changed since—personally, professionally, and certainly the world itself. The COVID-19 pandemic is not quite done yet, and it changed how we see and do work. A new armed conflict erupted in Eastern Europe, the consequences of which will be far reaching.
Professionally, the culmination of a lot of self-reflection led me to change tracks. Today I’m no longer an operator, dedicating myself instead as a coach and advisor to helping others operate with excellence.
And personally, this career shift forced me to come to grips with myself—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Why reboot this newsletter?
Write to think. Writing clarifies your thinking. Writing well is also a superpower. The more you write, the more you improve your thinking while also improving your writing. In my case, there’s a side quest of becoming a more disciplined and consistent individual. Writing on a schedule, every week, is good practice.
Write to help. Thanks to hands-on practice, and from the experience of others, I learned a lot about engineering leadership over the last decade. I intend to pay this forward and help others by sharing my own tacit knowledge.
Write to explore. I am not convinced about the way we work, generally speaking. Growth brings opportunity, but too often it squashes all humanity out of those doing the work. I got a glimpse of what’s wrong, but also where (and who) to turn to for making it better. My writing is then also partly about this exploration towards fixing the way we work.
What to expect going forward?
I have always included a short introduction at the top of every issue ahead of the curated links to external content. From now on, the focus will be on my original writing, and less so on curation. I aim for each issue to be no more than a 10-min read—but leave you thinking for longer.
As before, each new issue will go out every Thursday 5pm CET. I will continue speaking to the tech leaders out there, and to those with a broader interest in engineering leadership and management. I will focus on startup CTOs and VPs of Engineering—helping existing ones navigate their tricky roles, and aspiring ones on the path to get there. I’ll remain as opinionated, and as keen on debate. My interest in the truth is persistent, my curiosity limitless.
This newsletter accrued way more subscribers than I ever thought possible. But evolution and iteration mean change. Some of you may no longer find a good reason to keep receiving it from now on. If that’s the case, I appreciated having had your attention, and I hope you got some value from it.