habits

Your money and time shows what you care about

We can talk about what we value but until we put our time and our money as wagers, talk is cheap. In the book Atomic Habits, the author James Clear suggest that repetition is the key to forming habits. Doing 5 minutes of reading every day, is way better than spending 6 hours reading a […]

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commication, engineer

Communications habit

Last week at work, I learned that an executive has been working on a diversity and inclusion effort monthly. They really care about moving the needed to increase the gender and under represented diversity in our engineering ranks. I was pleasantly surprised that they are so active in this area. I personally have not heard […]

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badminton, gtd, personal growth, systems thinking

Taking the long view

Yesterday, one member of my badminton group reinjured his knee which was already hurting from a skiing accident. He wanted to play yesterday because he loved the sport and thought he could still play and take it easy. Unfortunately, we pushed him pretty hard on court, and he collapsed in pain when he twisted his […]

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relationships, trust

Trust bucket

I’ve been thinking about why we trust certain people but keep others at arms length. This was inspired by seeing how a colleague navigates their interactions with meeting new people in the company. For people (other) in our work and personal life who we don’t feel an increase in trust – Our intuition tells us […]

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engineer, writing

Why should engineers write?

I write a lot of internal documentation, blogs to convey ideas for my future self as well as for engineers internally to reference. Younger engineers often are reluctant to write anything other than code. Here are reasons to write Writing something down clarifies your own understanding of the topic It’s one of the highest leverage […]

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engineer, gtd

What is next most important to add value?

Our VP Of Engineering asked us to think about this at work. We are all busy at work, but are we adding value to our customers with what we are doing now? What is the next most important item on our backlog that add value to our customer immediately? It’s a great way to prioritize […]

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inspiration

When NPS doesn’t cut it

How do you know when a training is effective? NPS score is a measure of whether the participants would high recommend someone else to take the training. But I wanted to switch up the metrics to measure outcome and confidence. At work, we are delivering a deep dive training to engineers to teach them about […]

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gtd, manager

Doing 1:1 with my direct reports

For my direct report 1:1’s, I’m trying a new structure. I open up a Google Doc that we both have access to for our 1:1’s Hearing from them what’s on their mind and discussing I bounce some ideas of future work to put on their backlog, some updates that are interesting for them and give […]

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engineer, productivity, gtd

My Email Flow

If you send an email to me, it’s very likely (95% chance) I will reply If you are recruiting me for a position at company X – You will get a polite / canned response that “I am extremely happy at Splunk and want to be there for 4 years to help the company grow”. […]

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inspiration

Not Proud to be myself?

I was fortunate to attend a talk by BD Wong in San Francisco and the playwright Lauren Yee promoting her play “Great Leap Forward”. BD Wong is an openly gay Asian man. He talked about how as an adult, he finally announcing to the world about being gay and being very proud to be gay […]

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engineer, gtd, impactful-engineer

Standing your ground

Two and a half years ago, when I joined my current company I was attending a new hire training and the last slide showed a very long URL to a document that we were suppose to remember for more information. I asked the presenter whether there is a URL shortener so that we URLs are […]

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inspiration, personal growth

Limited motivation

Recently I have been running dry on my personal motivation on important projects such as transcribing Impactful Engineer. I have not been able to diagnose what the root cause is.  Some possible reasons could be Transcription is not what motivates me and hence I’m putting it off The overall project and goals is not current […]

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inspiration

Effective Engineering Teams

An effective engineering team is highly collaborative, focused on delivering high quality code with velocity. The team sets the standard for other teams to follow in how they design software, write and test their software and ultimately delivering business value to the customer. The team functions as a coherent group, helping each other succeed, having […]

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feedback, inspiration, personal growth

Thank You For Your Feedback

This week I practiced what Lyn Campbell recommended during our interview on Impactful Engineer (read here).  I asked for feedback from someone I work with.  I asked her how she thinks I can improve in meetings. She generously took the time to give me the following feedback During one of our meetings about a previous […]

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attention, inspiration, time

Single Tasking Time & Attention

So Far I’ve deleted all my infinite scrolling apps (FB, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter). I’ve stopped reading online news and only read a printed Sunday paper. I’ve paid for products to remove ads (Cruncy Roll, YouTube, Pandora). Call To Action To Take Back Attention & Time Today, I listened to the founder of Center For Humane […]

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cate, parenting

Talk About Your Frustrations

Dear future self: Today, you were frustrated at your teenage daughter that she was 10 minutes later in leaving the house for high school. Even though she is the only one affected, you felt that it reflected on your personal value to be early or on time. You expressed to your daughter that you were […]

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inspiration, life-strategies

Take The Journey As a Team

Who Is On Your Team? Taking a journey alone is not only difficult, lonely but also not sustainable.  Starting with simple personal goals such as exercising. If I am only accountable to myself, I can skip a day, skip a week, skip a month, I only have to answer to my nagging self.  If I […]

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attention, habbit, life-strategies, time

Reading – Thinking – Writing

I have recently started a media detox program of not reading online news, online blogs, social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, FB, Instagram). Instead I am focusing on listening to interview based podcasts and reading physical books. During this journey of reassessing how I spend my attention and time, I also started powering off my cell phone […]

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inspiration, mentor-seth-godin

link: Ask First!

Seth Godin writes with the smallest number of words to convey the clearest of messages.  Here he explains GDPR and the market’s dilemma “Talk to people who want to be talked to. Market to people who want to be marketed to. Because anticipated, personal and relevant messages will always outperform spam. And spam is in […]

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learning, systems thinking

Affecting Change

Systemic problems in our society, by definition, seem impossible to fix.  Part of the reason is that systemic problems are rooted in how our lives are structured and it’s not under the control of one person, one organization or sometimes even one government.  When I was doing a bit or searching around Google, there was […]

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badminton

The Finger Power In Badminton

@Tony Tam That’s right! It gives you more control and racket speed if you relax the fingers before you hit, but for power, you still need to figure out how to do the weights transfer! Weight transfer has something to do with the body, shoulder, forearm, and wrist rotation. You used to have problem with the […]

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books, inspiration

The Pop-up Bookclub

Recently I’m experimenting with starting up bookclubs at work in order to meet new people and helping to instill the habit of book reading into my own life. Here is what I’m doing Create a #bookclub channel on Slack Create a document with a list of books that anyone can propose Once there are 5 […]

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attention, life-strategies

Delete Google Activities

Taking Back Control Of My Privacy Goodbye Infinite Scroll Media : LinkedIn App Goodbye Twitter @ tonytam Friends Don’t Let Friends’ Data Be Stolen #deleteAllFacebook (Instagram,WhatsApp) Life Strategy #1: Why I Am Only Reading Long Articles and Books Google Activities This is the hardest one yet.  I love the convenience of Google maps, suggestion browsing […]

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inspiration

ignore

There is a Chinese proverb 難得糊塗 that my dad put up on the wall of our home which he wrote the calligraphy with Chinese ink and paper.  Every day at home, I would see it.  When I was younger, my dad was very angry and frustrated with life.  And I like to be believe that he stared […]

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attention, life-strategies, time

How I Optimize

Recently I have made choices on how I spend my time and this has helped me decide what I say YES to and more importantly what I say NO to Optimize for time over money If I had to choose between taking muni or Lyft to work, I choose Lyft.  Muni takes 45 minutes for […]

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inspiration

Saying What You Love

My daughter loves watching anime (Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice), she adores owning physical books, she loves drawing anime characters.  She is sometimes quiet about other things, but never about these unmistakable passions in her life. She is unwavering, unapologetic and ever in love with these passions in her life. It is infectious, because of her, […]

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books, inspiration

Book: Tell Me More

I loved this book (Tell Me More, by Kelly Corrigan). Once started, I couldn’t put it down.  It is a book about the author’s journey to learn to do and say the hardest things in life.  To learn to listen to her daughter and her dying father.  I will just quote from her website instead. […]

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attention, digital, life-strategies

link: Seth Godin Your kitchen table

Taking Back Attention I’m going on a detox program with media Goodbye Infinite Scroll Media : LinkedIn App Goodbye Twitter @ tonytam Friends Don’t Let Friends’ Data Be Stolen #deleteAllFacebook (Instagram,WhatsApp) Thank you brain trust member : Seth Godin After I have done my detox, I find this gem in my email Your kitchen table […]

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digital, life-strategies

Goodbye Twitter @ tonytam

On Saturday April 8th, 2018 12:15am I decided to make my twitter.com account @tonytam protected.  It is one of the many steps of media detoxification.   Once in a while, I do get exposed to something of value from the 250+ people I follow on Twitter. But the price of admission for these nuggets of information […]

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inspiration, life-strategies

Finite and Infinite Games

This podcast episode from one of My ‘Virtual Brain Trust’, Seth Godin, has given me a framework to talk about how I’ve structured my life around longer term vision leading to the right short term actions. Seth Godin’s Akimbo Podcast Finite and Infinite Games The idea is that there are finite games and infinite games.  […]

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engineer, thought-process

Talking About How, Instead Of What

This post is not meant for you, it’s meant for me;  So no need to read. Start With “What” People ask for advice. “What should I do, I’m running into this situation where I don’t know whether I should choose A or B?” Rather than telling them what they should do, I have been realizing […]

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attention, digital, engineer

link: Facebook’s “engineered addiction”

http://calnewport.com/blog/2018/02/09/facebooks-desperate-smoke-screen/ The Smoke Screen In my opinion, the first problem — the engineered addiction — is the more pressing issue surrounding social media. These services relentlessly sap time and attention from peoples’ personal and professional lives that could be directed toward more meaningful and productive pursuits, and instead package it for resale to advertisers so […]

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inspiration, introvert

Proud Introvert, Yay!

Welcome To My Introvert World I used to be ashamed to be an introvert. I thought I was weird for not enjoying cocktail parties. Everyone else seem to be having a grand old time, small talking about the weather, what they did for a living, leaving a conversation after 5 minutes so they can mingle […]

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blogging, getting things done, writing

Why Do I Blog Publicly?

(The photo is my sfbadminton.org group playing a badminton tournament at Stanford) Why Do I Blog Publicly? Before I answer that question.   I will tell you who is the audience for my blog at tonytam.org. Audience I write the blog with me as the primary target audience.  The reason I write is to clarify and […]

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inspiration, learning

Learn Or Languish

Learn something, learn anything. Learn a new sport, learn to be better at a sport you are good at. Learn a new skill, learn to use part of your brain you seldom use. Learn to be empathetic, learn to listen to others. Learn how to love yourself more than you do at this moment. Learn […]

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inspiration

Are We Defined By The Company We Work For?

I Have A Point .. Bare With Me :D There are great companies in the eyes of the public. These could be Fortune’s 100 best places to work US Stock Market top 10 companies by market cap Companies with most number of eye balls <insert> however you want to define great companies Now let’s say […]

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inspiration

Hacking Getting Better At Presentations

Presentations!! I don’t like giving presentations, even though my job and my passion with Impactful Engineer requires me to. Why Don’t I like Presentations? I don’t like my voice in front of a big audience I don’t speak clearly enough and I sometimes mumble I don’t enunciate words clearly (I learned English when I was […]

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inspiration

What If You Out Prepare Everyone?

Imagine this … Someone invites you to a 1/2 hour meeting on a topic you are familiar with and an agenda that is clear …… You spend 2 hours researching, writing down your thoughts ahead of time with 3 possible solutions and with pros and cons ……. You go into the meeting, you ask the […]

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getting things done, inspiration

Getting Things Done 2018 Edition

Here are my current tools to getting things done in 2018. I optimize for capturing 100% of my brain on paper or electronic. I do not optimize for having only a single place for a task or idea. Things that are time sensitive or urgent I use Google Reminders with time due dates I also […]

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inspiration, mentorship

The Non-Definitive Guide To Mentoring Software Engineers

(This is the first blog post of Impactful Engineer, make sure to sign up for our monthly interviews with software engineering leaders) You are someone who would like to mentor someone else in their professional career to help them grow their influence and impact. More Comprehensive Reference Material Mentor’s Guide – Anita Borg Institute for […]

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happiness, inspiration

Celebrate The Wins In Your Life

Hedonic Treadmill I’ve noticed that when I received really good news such as a pay raise, a promotion, really great results from a test (in college). My happiness level rises up for a very short time (less than 1 hour), then my emotion tapers off back to what it was before. So let’s say my […]

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inspiration

“Nothing Good Comes Easy”

Someone I admire said “Nothing Good Comes Easy”. Apparently that is not a new saying. Anything worthwhile takes hard work. Ask any athlete who is on top of their game how much training and preparation they have to do to get ready.

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Tech

We Need Sponsors, Not Just Mentors

Mentors can listen, give advice, but sponsors can speak up, create opportunities and provide real time feedback. For under represented workers, having a mentor is great, but having a sponsor makes a world of difference!

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inspiration

podcast: How to Get More Grit in Your Life

The psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that a person’s level of stick-to-itiveness is directly related to their level of success. No big surprise there. But grit, she says, isn’t something you’re born with — it can be learned. Here’s how. Her TED talk Duration: 44:54, Played: 42:27 Published: 5/4/16 8:00:00 PM Episode Download Link (31 MB): […]

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badminton, life goals

Health Goal: Senior Badminton Tournaments

I had seen a wonderful life coach, Amy K and she worked with me to help me understand what I believe are life values. From those conversations, she had told me that our life is like a wheel.   There are 4 sections to that wheel.  Health, Family, Work, Money. All of these 4 sections of […]

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inspiration, Tech

vi

Linux Mag asked Bill Joy (creator of VI): “So you didn’t really write vi in one weekend like everybody says?” No. It took a long time. It was really hard to do because you’ve got to remember that I was trying to make it usable over a 300 baud modem. That’s also the reason you have […]

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Tech

Tony’s bashing of Apple iPhone

Those who have ever talked with me know I am not a fan of the iPhone. I have never owned an iPhone, but my family does. I do have the Mac laptops and I have owned the first generation iPad. When the iPhone first came out, I chose other phones because of the lack of […]

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attention, inspiration

Link: NYTimes Don’t Let Facebook Make You Miserable 

A contrast to what people ( myself included) Post publicly vs privately searching on Google. Just a great reminder to look at social media posts with the awareness that it is partial truth On social media, the top descriptors to complete the phrase “My husband is …” are “the best,” “my best friend,” “amazing,” “the […]

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aging

What Changes When We Get Older? 

After turning 46 year old last year, I was talking with my wife about how I feel differently compared with when I was 39 years old. I tried to recall how I thought when I graduated at 22, when I was working hard at 29, when my daughter was borned at 31, I was divorced […]

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engineer

Social media sites are a trap for businesses

When social media sites like Facebook requires businesses to pay to show content to their own followers, it is time to rethink how businesses engage with their customers.  Facebook puts a limit that only 2% of followers will see shared content if a business does not pay. Give this article a read: Social Media is […]

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