The T-shirt is in the mail

Hackathons are too important to ignore during these crazy times. They are a proven mechanism to improve engineer morale and plant the seed for the occasional product launch or ops tool you later realize you can’t live without.

Completely remote Hackathons can be hugely successful. I have organized them at Big Tech (Amazon) and product companies, and I’ve seen them work in both settings. Engineers still need a break from the daily routine once in a while. The burst of creativity from events like this spill over into the day-to-day routine as well.

Aside from the inability to provide participants…

And Ruby is the perfect language to start

If learning to code seems like a daunting task, I am here to tell you that yes, you can code. Coding is like giving someone instructions. Half the battle is actually knowing what you want to do. If you understand the problem at hand, then the remaining work is translating the instructions into a language the computer understands.

Programming languages such as Ruby are much closer to English that you probably realize. Consider the following instructions you might give to your stock broker:

For each of my stocks, if the current price is below the threshold we agreed to, then…

Let’s use science to unite, not to divide us

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Just because someone says to follow the science, it does not make their point automatically true. The phrase itself is arguably incorrect from a grammar standpoint. Science is really a process rather than an undisputed entity. At its core, science is a verb, not a noun. The noun simply refers to the pursuit of relevant activities.

We all are pressed for time, so most of us don’t have time to research scientific claims made by others. …

It's Probably Not What You Think

At this point, I am three months into starting my own LLC and working for myself. A good portion of time was spent on administrative startup activities, a topic I summarized for the benefit of others in my Quickstart Guide available now. Over this time period, I’ve had a good amount of time to perform freelance contract work. Already having learned so much, there is one thing that stands to me from the experience thus far. It’s completely obvious but one of those things I didn’t realize until now.

Freelancing entails a lot, and I mean a lot, of screen…

When you are your brand, it can be hard to distinguish the two.

Photo by Jose Silva

Market segmentation sounds like the topic of a college lecture I should have paid attention to but probably dozed off. While I wouldn’t change a thing about my college experience, I’ll admit it would have saved significant time and energy in my case if I learned and applied these techniques sooner.

Fortunately, it’s never too late. Through the process described here—market segmentation—I not only learned a lesson about my business, I learned something about myself.

That, in the end, is much more valuable.

“Know thyself” is an indispensable piece of advice that goes all the way back to the Ancient…

The Breakthrough Series

Choosing the right name is hard but not impossible

A famous computer science quote attributed to Phil Karlton working at Netscape at the time is incredibly relevant in business as well.

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.

When starting a business or forming your LLC, this is literally one of the first steps you take. What do you name your new business? It’s the first impression customers have of you. You can always create different brand names later, but that takes significant effort for your customers to recognize a new (brand) name. Awareness marketing is not in the budget, so you…

Breakthrough Series

Sometimes less is more

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

It’s a really simple concept but difficult to execute in practice. You start creating your slide deck and find yourself doing it again. The temptation is always there, but you have to avoid it.

Use. Fewer. Words.

Now, you can use plenty of words in your talk. In fact, you want the audience hanging on your every word. However, we want to avoid lots of words on the screen in front of your audience. A general rule to follow is no more than 30 words on any individual slide. …

Applying interval training techniques to work

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Having worked at home for months now (like many others), it’s clear my most effective work pattern is analogous to Interval Training. The ability to intersperse short periods of “recovery” in-between high-intensity work sessions is exactly what I need to maximize productivity. In an office setting, these periods of reduced intensity might have taken the form of conversations with colleagues or a short walk outside. They were typically short breaks in duration and I sometimes found myself wanting a more distinct change of pace before returning to the task at hand. …

5 steps to immediately improve your next presentation

Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash

You sit down for a presentation on a topic you want to learn about. Or minimally, your boss said you should be aware of it. Ten minutes later, without consciously thinking about it, you check your phone. Nice, your favorite band dropped a new single! Let’s check it out, maybe read a few reviews. A minute or two passes by. You realize now the presenter is talking through a fairly detailed slide. You quickly read over what’s on the screen while simultaneously listening in order to catch up. You attempt to refocus and get the most out of this session.

The first in a series of articles begins with a lighthearted look at the challenges of communication

Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

Communication is about the simplest thing we do every day, and simultaneously it is also the most challenging. We speak, we write, and sometimes even combine the two mediums such as during a presentation with handouts or slides. Many other forms of communication exist (art, body language, etc.), but we’ll save those for another day. In this series, we will focus on the written and spoken word.

I mean, it really should be easy, right? Just say what you mean. Well, not so fast. Consider for example, a situation late afternoon where hunger strikes surprisingly early. Any couple will likely…

Darren Broemmer

President of The Broemmer Group, technologist, and author. Science enthusiast. A desire to inspire through the written word.

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