Nahuel Sanchez

A place to write down what I discover and learn everyday at my workplace. Front-end may be the main topic, but who knows, probably I'll be publishing something else.

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Average is officially over, so don't be that at work

Let me take a moment first to thank the "Send a free sample" Amazon functionality, because it's always hard to find a good book, but when it goes smooth by reading then you know you find your perfect match.

This is what's happening to me with "Thank You for Being Late" by Thomas L. Friedman, a book that talks about how things (technology, globalization, climate change, biodiversity, etcetera) are going super fast and how the society struggles to keep the pace, and it's like a how-to deal with everything that's going on today.

During Chapter 8, Friedman talks about how we are leaving the Holocene epoch for work. What's the Holocene? A "perfect Garden of Eden period when everything in nature was nicely in balance", as the author would describe it.

Basically, really really basically, following is "everything" that Friedman thinks about what's happening to work:

In those “glorious” decades after World War II [...] you could lead a decent lifestyle as an average worker [...]. And by just working an average of five days a week at an average of eight hours a day, you could buy a house, have an average of 2.0 kids, visit Disney World occasionally, save for an average retirement and sunset to life. So many things then were working in favor of the average worker.
[...] many workers in this labor Holocene enjoyed what was known as "a high-wage middle-skilled job" [...]. The high-wage, middle-skilled job has gone the way of Kodak film. In the age of accelerations, there is increasingly no such animal in the zoo anymore. There are still high-wage, high-skilled jobs. And there are still middle-wage, middle-skilled jobs. But there is no longer a high-wage, middle-skilled job. Average is officially over.

Now you know from where I took this post title.

Giving the extra mile?

There's no point on thinking about this concept at world scale, but instead try to apply what Friedman says to your workspace or personal work experience, either as an employee or employer, either as a Developer or a Technical Leader (if you don't mind me using terms I can relate to).

I remember that we had a money award at my previous job called "The extra mile" which worked as follow: everybody can nominate a coworker laying the reasons why we though he or she deserves the price based on that coworker performance for the last month, and then somebody from all the nominees gets the money.

Personally, I never quite understood why this award existed or why... how to... nominate somebody. Are we now supposed to reward people for just doing their job? Isn't that the salary what's for? But after reading this book now I get it, we're celebrating not average people! Which is terrible sad.

Average is officially over because it won't take you, your company, your team, anywhere. There was a time when you would learn a skill and that would be enough to succeed at work, but nowadays what you learn has an expire date as much as the milk in your refrigerator. While average gets you nowhere, the "extra mile" is now your start point at middle class.

If you have a friend who is a Doctor then he or she can tell you about the end of the Holocene epoch concept. Your friend probably said that getting the Doctor title isn't enough nor the end of the journey, is a checkpoint not the end of the race, as Doctors need to keep on studying for the rest of their lives if they want to be "something". That now applies to all working areas.

Spoiler alert: there's no end of the race... well, probably there is, and it's called mediocrity. If you are average, please, don't ask for a raise, because you're putting an expiration date on yourself... your team, your company.

No politician in America will tell you this, but every boss will: You can’t just show up. You need a plan to succeed.

That was Friedman again.

Enough of abstract concepts, let's get (even more) real...

I'm a front end developer, do you work as a web developer or something similar? Then we can both remember a time where your resume can only include HTML and CSS, and that would give you any job. SASS was a nice to have, and a JavaScript framework a bonus point.

Now if you open LinkedIn the job offers will list Vue.js as mandatory. For a framework released 4 years ago now Recruiters ask for 2 years of experience, but 2 years ago was in no one's picture. That's a mind-blowing perfect example of how things became so fast so quickly!

What do you think is the JavaScript framework... or web development technology... you are not learning this year, but companies will require two years of experience starting next year?

On another topic, everybody is saying that 2019 is the year of Progressive Web Apps: there's a lot of post about it, a lot of talk about it in conferences, Vue Storefront exists for nearly a year, Magento is releasing PWA Studio in the following months... Are you doing PWA or at least do you have it on your roadmap? Or are you planning on pass on this year without touching it? If so, cross your fingers for your competitor to think alike.

Are you a designer? Are you still delivering static PSD files or are you doing animations already?


Remember that showing up at work is not enough, that's only average, you need a plan, you need to keep on moving.

I always liked to say during performance reviews or interviews that everybody has access to the same documentation, the same resources, tools, software, the same mentors inside a workspace, so the difference between good employees and bad employees, the difference between those who succeed, those who fail, and those who meh (averages) is the personality.

Anyway, I'm not saying that to excuse companies from responsibilities.

Celebrating not average is sad because it means that everybody but that one who won "The extra mile", including the whole company, will struggle in the near future. Are we all average but one?

Shouldn't we stop and rethink what we are doing, where are we going and how are we getting there?...well... stop and rethink... I know how ironic that sounds in this post about the era of acceleration.

Hiring a remote developer but as an actual team member

At some point on a developer career it's possible that we'll get an offer to work for a foreign company as a remote developer, with a contract, from our home, in maybe a different language. And as a company it's also possible that you'll be thinking on hiring some remote Senior developers.

We all know in what we are thinking when talking about a remote position: sell/buy some hours, receive/assign some tasks, deliver/expect some code, repeat, whether you are the developer or the company.

As a front-end developer who worked as a Technical Leader in a local company, I was afraid to make the jump into a remote position because my main fear was to get stuck on coding only, without the possibility to bring something else to the table, just putting color on some buttons and nothing else for the next 5 years.

Well, it doesn't have to be that way, and thinking that a remote position it's only useful as the way I described before it's just lame thinking.

It's not simple, and it's up to the company

As a remote developer we can try to get out of the pre-formatted remote role model, but basically is up to the company we work for to give us the space to do so, to acknowledge the advantages of having us as one more team member and not as "the remote developer".

Companies usually set aside the remote developer from the development decisions (ironic, I know), despite the fact that sometimes that remote developer possesses a higher seniority than the local people, or more experience on the particular subject being discussed.

When a company turns to the idea of hiring a remote developer it's because they're searching for a Senior in terms of coding, because they have a tight deadline or the current projects they're having are becoming more complex day by day.

Your local team will need 3 weeks to finish a task so you hire a remote guy who'll get it done in 1 and allows you to remove pressure from the local team so then they can focus on something else... and repeat. Sounds familiar? It also sounds like a software factory, and that's fine if that's what you're aiming for, but don't expect team work on a software factory, don't grumble when you got stuck in quality, and don't blame the dev team when they not improve the delivery times.

For the same price you're missing somebody who can bring more, who can grow the team in terms of quality, delivery times, complexity of the tasks that can be carried out by the whole company, etcetera, just because... you're afraid?

Afraid of what?

You're afraid of giving full permissions to a guy you "don't know"? Are you afraid of giving decision power and all the company's credentials to somebody you've never seen before just because he can disappear from one day to the other?

I've seen local team members actually disappearing a day or two without notice, also people walking out of a meeting because of drama, developers working on a freelance project while being on working hours at the physical office.

Don't you have that kind of people at your office? If so don't give me that I've-never-met-the-guy excuse.

If the developer is going to be an asshole, it's going to be that either sitting on your office wearing a suit or in pajamas at home. If he's going to procrastinate, if he's going to spend 7 out of 8 hours in Facebook, he's going to do so either under your watch at the office or from the bed at home.

Come on, you're already know that, I'm just stating the facts.

I've seen developers on-site expending 90% of the day at YouTube, right in front of my nose, and I've seen spectacular remote Project Managers, Business Analyst, and developers, of whom I don't care if they are at YouTube or not because they deliver. Because I've trusted them.

I bet you can relate, I bet you already have some remote people who perform better than some local team member, so I also bet that you're starting to realize that this idea of not making the remote developers a real member of the team it's all just about unjustified fears.

But chat it's not the same?

Along with those fears stated above comes the "communication issues" also known as: just more excuses. Of course, it's not the same to have a face-to-face meeting than having to call somebody over Skype, but is it really that big of a deal?

I really don't stand this excuse, and I don't think we should spend too much time debunking it when we're living on a society where my +60 years old mom knows how to call me over WhatsApp, where my 20 years old sister knows how to share a video over Facebook while adding her own thoughts about it.

So, if 20 billions human beings can found a match on Tinder and potentially start a relationship or just have sex... I think we can overcome the "communication issues" when working on a Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration.

Turn on the camera and you'll see how all that remote things disappear. I'm being real, that helps a lot when you are trying to add the human factor to the communication process because it's not the same to say thing to a mic than to a face even when inside a monitor.

A developer sitting away at a 15 hours flight from your office can still give the same as the one sitting on your local branch. In this globalized world these excuses don't have a chance.

The long standing cliche war between the sales team and the developers team

If you think this happens only on the company you work for, surprise surprise, this "war" appears in many software developer companies as I happen to discovered in a dev exchange session during a Magento Meetup.

So, what's the problem? It seems to be that the developers claim that the sales guys are selling too much, and sales shrug their shoulders and keep on selling because that's what they do.

For a start let's say for a fact that sometimes developers are way up to the eyes and can't handle either the amount of work they have or the delivery dates people up in the chain of command are expecting them to accomplish. I'm not whining about it, I'm saying it happens to me in several occasions and it's something companies acknowledge by time to time (therefore, a fact).

If you are a developer going through this, then of course you are going to complain when a new project arrives as "you simply don't have more time to do it and nobody seems to understand that".

Time passes and you, developer, contain your discomfort deep inside, only having as a escape pipe your rolling-eyes attitude when a new client is presented. That means that when you encourage yourself to talk about this problem, with the sales team, is already late: you're angry, the sales team is angry too because they know by talk around the water cooler that the developers are complaining, so the discussion is getting to nowhere.

Sorry to disappoint you, my fellow developer, but to keep the company open for business the sales guys must attract new clients. Sales gotta sales, and, on top of that, the company must remain competitive, which means that the estimates provided in the commercial proposals must be competitives.

Stand in the shoes of a client picking a company for his next project: you will look at the estimates written in the proposal from the different companies you're consulting before choosing one, in addition to take into consideration the quality their provide.

Finally, the sales team times are different than the ones experienced by the developers team. Pre sales can take months, so it's hard to predict right now how busy the developers are going to be in, let's say, 10 months from now.

If you put your dev problems aside for a second, the explanations coming from the sales team are understandable, so give the sales guys a break.

I can see that both sides are right but unwilling to listen to the other. Nobody talks to nobody, developers raise complaint among developers only, sales within sales, and the real problem is never faced.

Up to this point we must agree that developers happens to have too much on their plate, and sales must keep on selling because everything I just said, but nobody is going to quit doing what they're doing to solve "the problems from the other side", at least nobody is going to do just that literally.

Understand that it's not about your problems and their problems, but a problem we have as a whole team.

The first step toward a solution is to start seeing this as an integrated team between devs and sales, no separate teams. Otherwise, if you can't accomplish this, then become a freelance and sell your time by the hour, because whether you are a developer or sales you're only thinking about yourself and not seeing the big picture, missing an opportunity to be a better company and benefiting you, plus everybody in the process.

Start talking, and planning together, but don't wait until you're mad. And find common ground about the problems you are facing, because sometimes it's not about changing the reality you're living but more about facing it and accepting it. Everybody, devs and sales, acknowledging the same reality (the same reality being the key words in this sentence).

Not changing the reality but just accepting it? Here's an idea...

Wouldn't be better to work in a place where a salesperson sells "the impossible", but closes the door behind the client, turns to the developers and says "Look, this project's delivery dates are challenging, but it's a key client we had to win"? Wouldn't be better to work in a place where, after that, the developers team says "Okay, we both agree on the times for this new client to be very difficult, but since we both agree on that let's work this out internally"?

Resolve it indoors! Keep on selling, good job, then sit on the same table and plan altogether with the developers team how are you going to accomplish the deadlines. It's impossible to get it done in one month? What if two devs work on this instead of one as it was originally planned? Wait, does this augmented reality requirement must be on the go live or can it be postponed for the support phase? Work it out as a team!

When I say that it's not about changing the reality but accepting it I'm saying that as long as we agreed on the problem, as long as we stand on the same boat knowing what's going on inside the company, both devs and sales, there's an opportunity to fix what's going on.

And, if not, if you don't think this means fixing anything... at least you'll be working on a place where the "enemy" is not inside the same building, causing the working environment to be much better, less stressful for sure.

Leave your stable job and stop being a coward

I worked on the same place for almost 6 years until one day I quit.

That statement, while true, is extremely simplistic and it's not like I woke up one morning and said "Today is the day I move forward", but instead took me a lot of thinking and time (more than a year) until I reached that decision.

What took me so long? Mainly lack of bravery. Chances are that if you are reading this post you're a coward too, but that's okay, it can be our secret, and you shouldn't be ashamed of that. My cowardice is known as "being too much time in the comfort zone" by other posts you might find on the Internet, but I don't want to be that polite and instead call stuff by its names.

My lack of bravery grew over the time fed by the fact that my job was secured in this place after 6 years. I'm not saying that I was irreplaceable, but after 6 years it's not like somebody were going to fire me overnight.

Also, routine mixed with flexibility. I knew I had a job from Monday to Friday, a secured job, something to do within a company with many clients, and on the other side if I wanted to slept 2 more hours I could do that and there was no problem because they knew how I was and that I was going to work towards objectives (meaning me sleeping two more hours in the morning won't jeopardize any project). You know, comfort zone.

Something started to bother me, and it was the fact that inside me I knew that my performance could be better. My work done could be delivered with a higher quality and especially in less time, and I could be learning something different, new, or a different way to accomplish my job description's objectives.

I was somehow stuck, and I wanted to know how the work can be done from a different perspective, under a different pair of eyes. Like the "I want a second opinion" phrase in the medicine world.

It's a sentiment hard to put on words, that you're probably feeling too, that I compare to the need of leaving your parents' house to live by yourself.

If one day you make the step, you're in for a smoothie of feelings starting from "What the hell am I doing?" to somehow relief, peace, panic, adrenaline for sure, happiness. If things goes well (it can fail, I mean, sorry, but this is not quite an inspirational post... things can go terribly wrong so think twice, haha) you'll find yourself smiling on the back of your Uber ride while looking over the window (with a stupid face in my case).

As I don't want this to be a motivational post, and as I don't want to sound like I'm saying "leave your work, leave everything behind and pursue your dreams because life", let me pitch in some disclaimer points here.

We need to know that jobs are not like yogurt and they don't have an expiration date based entirely on time. If you happen to be on a job for 3 years, 5 years, or whatever, don't quit just because you believe that you're being too much time in the same place.

I don't believe in the feeling that a cycle is completed based only on the time you spent on that cycle. There are more than years spent on the same chair, so if you're happy where you are just keep going and that's just okay.

Consider also that being mad is not a reason to quit. If you're mad, and you quit just because of that, chances are that you are, at least, to blind to think this through, to contemplate all the possibilities and choose wisely.

I once saw somebody saying "I quit" right in the spot of a performance review, not even letting the performance review finish, not even giving an hour to think about the big decision of leaving a job. Of course, that was just words and total regrets the following day, but still works as an example.

Mad? Make peace with yourself and with the company you're working on before taking a decision. Stop thinking of companies as "big evil corporations", and you'll probably find (as I did) that the company you work for is given everything they can, so allow them some mistakes.

If you are getting fearless and thinking about leaving your stable job, do it for the right reasons.

I'm hoping this personal post, my personal experiences that most likely is totally different to what you're going through, helps you think more deeply about the current situation you're living with your current job.

Do not forget about the emotions while selling something

I'm selling two iPhone X, Space Gray color, both with 256 GB of capacity. When I bought them I wasn't sure about getting the 64 GB version or the bigger one, but I made up my mind in favor of the 256 GB version and I'll tell you why it was a great decision.

Last year I went on a family trip with my mom and sister to a Brazilian beach where cellular signal wasn't available all the time, meaning LTE was a luxury, and also finding WiFi was a Tom Cruise's "Mission Impossible" remake possible plot.

In this scenario, the idea of today's about everything being in the cloud and not in the physical devices was a no go for me.

The trip was beyond great. I spent a lot of time in the water with my sister trying to record the best slow motion videos: sometimes trying with just the water, sometimes filming the sand to see if that improves the video, then letting my sister try some tricks in front of the iPhone camera over and over again until we get something good.

At the end of the day we ended up with many many GB of videos, and a job not done yet. Before dinner, all nights, and most of the times waiting for our mom to get ready, we selected the best shots in order to create a video, cinematic music included, to show to mom as if we were two Directors showing the final cut of a Hollywood movie to a film criticism.

The other phone, while exactly the same, it was just used for some work stuff. It's a great device for reading emails, writing emails, and taking notes.

The difference lies in the emotions

While both are the same technical speaking, they are not the same emotionally speaking. If I still need to prove my point I'll will continue telling you fake stories including a beach, a mom and a sister until your eyes get wet and you rip this phone out of my hand while letting me keep the one used for work... because that's the whole point.

I know it's very obvious I'm appealing to your emotions in the last story, but the true is that we're all victims of this trick in a regular basis.

Think about it. Think about the last time you bough something on Amazon, eBay or Mercado Libre, when you searched for a product you already knew, ended up with three or four browser tabs with similar publications of the same product, different price within a short range, and then you made a decision from where to buy based on not much logical data but confidence on the seller, the aspect of the website, the fact that one had a better description with a video of real people using the product, the fact that one had reviews from previous buyers.

Think in Coke showing a couple jumping of a cliff into a lake, McDonald's showing a single mom with his kid laughing while eating fries, a perfume showing a good looking guy with three Victoria's Secret angels.

I remember a local ad I often see on TV showing a divided screen where on the left you can see a cute lady getting ready to go out on a sunny day, and on the other side a big man wearing a hood and preparing his tools to break into the house of this lady the moment she step out. There you have the victim, the villain, the conflict... and the hero? A trustworthy armored door at an accessible price.

And Apple?, oh, boy, those guys really know everything about selling feelings instead of products. I remember during an Apple's Keynote somebody, probably Tim Cook, introduced "Live Photos" (you know, that feature that records a few seconds before and after an static photo) and said something like "This feature allows you to see a photo, gently press on the screen, and get a sneak peak of what was going on during the shot of that static image".

A time machine that shows you 3 seconds of video and audio around the static shot. Right in the feels.

What you're selling is a hero

Your product, service, software... whatever is the thing you're selling, it can be the hero of a story. A story where there's a problem your potential customer has.

The problem is the villain in the story you need to start telling. It can be pretty obvious like in the ad for the armored door, or very subtle like in the McDonald's ad where they tell that they know how hard it is to being a single mom but still you can come upon great moments with your son in their stores.

Spot the villain, disclose the problematic, then introduce the hero to your customer so they lived happily ever after.