Hacker Career Advice

Lessons in Career Calculus

Optimization means “making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource.” You hear it a lot at startups and in software development, because capital (human, physical, and financial) is limited.

It’s a good goal—but beware local maxima. Focusing too much on incremental gains means you can miss out on the big, transformative ones. That goes for your code and your career. So if you feel like you’ve peaked, explore something new and expand your view.

And while we’re making math analogies, consider the humble saddle point. From one angle it looks like a peak (careful, it could be local!) and from another, it’s rock bottom (with nowhere to go but up).

Either way, standing still is a bad look. Take a risk, pick a new direction, and keep working towards your global max.

Saddle points also illustrate the opportunity cost of following one path over another—like going to grad school instead of taking a job right after graduation.

BTW, if you’re considering an MBA, read this Twitter thread first. B-school alone won’t make you successful or a PHB, (trust me, I have one).

It will however, teach you how to apply some reliable tools & frameworks to real world situations.


© 2018 Neal Shyam