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Warren Shea

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How things have changed…

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 at 1:02 am

I came to a realization recently in that – I don’t blog as often anymore partly because I need peace and quiet to blog. That’s pretty much the only time I blog, when it’s silent…
And I haven’t had peace and quiet to myself in a while because I’ve been sleeping earlier than usual.

Yes, gone are the days of sleeping at 5am, waking up at 3pm (on the weekend), sleeping at 1-3am and waking up at 9:15am (on the weekday). Nowadays, you’ll find me sleeping between 12 and 1 and waking up between 7:45 and 8:30. And on weekends, sleeping between 12-2 and waking up around 10am.

My schedule has normalized to that of an average person…and it’s different.

I find that I’m more productive in the errands, in the menial tasks accomplished during the day – and that my loss of time in the middle of the night is correlated to a loss of critical thinking. Hence, my lack of blogging, my lack of development (coding), even my lack of ‘productivity’ – ‘Warren productivity’ that is. I have less time to focus and concentrate and the time I do have alone, I tend to squander. You need time to really get into something, after all.

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I took a 3-day course on management last week. Specifically, a “leadership development course”. Followed by a 1-day course on “Fundamentals of Customer Experience”. Both were incredibly enlightening and I feel that I learned more in 4 days in some aspects than I’ve learned in 5 years of experience. I learned more about bigger picture and how everything ties together. Maybe I’ll blog about it…later. There was also a substantial amount of self-discovery in these days.

It’s interesting – I find that I’m growing at a fast rate – on all the things I didn’t deem important earlier in my career. All the things I thought trivial due to my development experience and nature, is now my focus. It’s definitely taking some getting used to but it’s great that, overall, I’ll be a much stronger, well-rounded professional.

I found that this blog helped incredibly with my self discovery of things like my mantra (or “brand”) – “Reliable to Succeed. Passionate to Excel. Adaptable to Endure.” and that, without realizing, I’d already started the foundation to my “brand”. Even though I don’t write in my blog as much anymore (Q_Q), I definitely value the skills and realizations that’s come with writing in it. The writing skill/ability increase, the self-reflection and self-discovery, the change in mentality on things, and the transparency. I’m vastly different than I was, 4 years ago. And I’m pleased that this blog has helped chronicle the change. Sure, it may be only useful to me…but that’s someone.

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One thing that’s been running through my mind lately is “If I knew then, what I know now”. I really feel that the 4-day course I took helped me in leaps and bounds on the obvious, the common sense – of which I didn’t know. I’m sure there’s less of a “If I knew then, what I know now” due to that course and I can’t measure how important that is. Experience is not easy to obtain and it takes time to learn from experience. But I feel like I’d been given a helping handful of free experience in a short amount of time. And that’s priceless.

Sure, I didn’t figure anything out for myself, but I’d been handed well thought out conclusions. Not trying to reinvent the wheel here – best to learn from the knowledge out there than start fresh.

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In the last 6 months I’d been in my manager role, I honestly felt that I’d go back to dev after this role as this manager thing isn’t for me. But after this course, I realize that this manager thing isn’t for me…cuz I’m not great at it…yet. And I love being great at something over failing something. That’s so personally motivating/satisfying – and I take a lot of pride in my work. But I find with my new knowledge, I have the ability to be much better, dare I say – great – at my job. And that challenge is really laying the foundation for this possibly new career. I still love development though…but it’s nice stepping out of my comfort zone, being uncomfortable, but gaining new skills to be comfortable again. That’s a difficult journey and I’m proud to say I’m on it, as opposed to being complacent. Complacent is good…but not long term. “Adaptable to endure” and all that…

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That’s it. Going to sleep now. Was nice to write a bit again :)

Meetings

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 at 3:07 am

I used to hate meetings. Like, more than anything about my job. Nothing but time wasted in my day in which I could/should be developing. And I felt this way for years. I didn’t realize when I was Developer Team Lead of projects that meetings were important. My teams were never that big and I guess I made my strategy all alone and told people to ‘do it’. That, or I left my responsibility to others. Delegation and all that.

It’s taken 6+ years to realize…frig, meetings are important. Sure, it’s less important to the executor, who just has to do what they’re being told. Mindless drones, we are (or that’s how we’re perceived). And there’s a lot of time to think when you’re developing – think of ways this could be done better, ways to complain. But on the flip side – I realize now that the project managers have it really tough. Sending people on frivolous tasks is detrimental in more ways than one. Not only is it a waste of time, but the executor will know it’s a waste of time. And then they start to question leadership. No, direction has to be carefully thought out. Strategy has to be carefully planned out.

Leadership is hard (and I’m not talking about my role). Leading anyone to do anything can be hard. And you’re only as successful as the people working with you, as well as yourself. A bad leader with an exceptional team will…well, I was gonna say fail but they’ll actually succeed. Just at the cost of the exceptional team (story of my life for 3+ years). A great leader and a bad team…I’m not sure what kinda results those will produce to be honest. But to have really great results, you gotta have a good leader and a good team. Or better yet, a great, or excellent, or outstanding leader/team for even better results. Oops – kinda went on a tangent there.

I just wanted to say…it’s taken me 7+ years and I realize the importance of meetings now. In my current role, I’m trying to have meetings all the time to learn and to grow. I often wonder, does my team think “WTF IS WITH ALL WARREN’S MEETINGS?!?!” as I would have definitely thought, 1+ years ago. Inexperienced Warren would be saying “it’s no wonder Warren has all these meetings, he doesn’t do anything anymore so he just fills his time with dumb meetings – and drags us along”. I do do stuff still (how dare you! :@).

It’s critical to plan appropriately. I’m very good with organization and planning (when I want to be) and I find that skill coming in handy more so now than ever. “Planning and organizing”, in the workplace, should better be defined as “Strategy”. Hm, maybe I’ll change that on my resume. “Exceptional planning and organizing of team resources;Great strategist and leader” or something like that.

Meetings are the first step to executing strategy. They’re critical. Have them often. Don’t have them if not necessary but book time for them (in case).

Things I like/dislike about my travelling to the US

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 at 12:52 am

LIKE

  • The credit card machines are much faster and generally don’t require a pin – you swipe and you’re done asap.
  • If you’re in the left turn lane, there’s a traffic light on the corner…see the picture!

    So basically, if I’m the second car, at the bottom, behind a truck…I can’t see anything in the red area. So I can’t see the traffic light: when it’s red/green, whatever. So they put a traffic light on the corner, within the line of sight. It’s so smart!!
  • Cheaper everything – cheaper food, gas, clothes, dvds. Not only is the price lower than usual, there’s also a smaller sales tax (6-7%?) instead of our 13%
  • Wifi – a lot more wifi everywhere. They have Internet/Wifi in the subway! That’s awesome!
  • Deep Dish Pizza :)

DISLIKE

  • When you pay by credit card, a lot of places don’t bring a machine to you – you have to go up to the front to use the credit card. Get with the times, Chicago!
  • RE: Driving – People accelerate faster and jam the breaks harder, in general. They also don’t signal that often. And they’re more rude, in general (and more prone to road rage). One of the things that I noticed is that many of the drivers are on their cell phones a lot. Like…I glance around and EVERYONE is on their cellphone, driving on the highway. Not only that…they don’t have like, bluetooth or a headset or anything, they do the classic “phone between shoulder and face” thingy…it’s crazy!! SO DANGEROUS!!
  • Dangerous neighourhoods/abandoned homes. There was a recent shooting in Chicago (Thursday Night) – Cornell Square Park – 3 killed, 23 wounded. It’s a 15 minute drive from where I was, Friday Morning (Midway Airport). Not saying “that could have been me” but the area is definitely dangerous.
  • Cicadas. Lots of them…..making a lot of noise!

Chicago Part 2

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013 at 11:57 am

….there’s no Part 1.

I just went on my second trip (hence, Part 2) to Chicago – this time, solo! As you may/may not know, I’m not much of a traveller. I find the idea of going out of my comfort zone….uhh, uncomfortable. I also dislike the idea of going anywhere…uhh less safe. And the US scares the crap out of me. The fact that anyone, in theory, could have a gun – wtf is up with that?!

I must say, it’s pretty crazy travelling for work. I’ve got 3 developers on my team, 1 in Chicago and 2 in Milwaukee. That’s 3 people of my 15 person team. As such, I’m required to travel to the US roughly once a month.

With 4 nights stay at a hotel, car rental, round trip to Chicago and back, gas, plus food expenses ($45~/day allowance), the trip is like, $1500 total. I know it’s for work but I honestly feel pretty guilty, getting a ‘free’ trip and 4.5 days of food, expensed. And all I have to do is…well…work in a different office. I guess it’s cuz I’m still on a high of travelling – I’m sure it gets old – fast. But right now, I don’t mind at all.

I mean, I don’t have kids right now and I’m pretty much good and comfortable as long as I have an internet connection lol. So it’s not really such a huge personal burden on me. That’s probably why it’s okay‚Ķ

I also really really like staying in a hotel :) The idea of…a nicely made king sized bed, unwrapping fresh, unused soap, seeing what shampoos are offered…the option of US channel TVs. It’s such a nice treat :D

I didn’t go out at night at all during the trip – I was home before it got dark each of the 4 nights (Mon-Thurs). Some of my co-workers totally scared me with ‘how things are in the US, after dark’. For example, I was saying I needed to drive to Chicago Friday morning and I might have to drive at like, 5am. They were like ‘do not get out of the car, for any reason – if a lady comes up to you saying her baby needs help or someone says their house is on fire, just drive away. They may as well be dead to you. I remember one time getting gas and I’m literally sliding a credit card through a pane a tiny crack of bullet proof glass’

When I was in Milwaukee downtown, it’s so eerily empty. Like, imagine the zombie apocalypse occurred, Milwaukee is like the deserted downtown. Seriously, I’m in the core of downtown, looking down in the street and I see like, 3 people walking around. Maybe 12 cars in my field of view. 12 cars! I would compare the amount of people of 9pm Milwaukee downtown with 5am Toronto suburb. If the zombie apocalypse were ever to occur, I’d go to Milwaukee. I imagine I’d be able to handle the zombie volume of that area.

I bought 2 T-Shirts from Hot Topic, a black shirt with a mini arc reactor on the chest. And a spider-man shirt.

I also bought 2 Blu Rays – Star Trek: Into Darkness and Good Will Hunting. Now that I go to the US, and can spend $800, I’m going to start buying all my Blu Rays there – there’s a mere 6-7% sales tax there (1/2 of Ontario) and the cases don’t have that French translation on the boxes, allowing for maximum design and…beauty!

My next trip to Chicago is Oct 21 – Oct 25. During that time, I plan to get a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Tab (2014) :D Maybe 2.

As I finish writing this on the airplane as it’s about to land, I shall sign off.

Upon landing, I’m going to go home and then go hunting for a Zelda: Wind Waker HD Wii U!

Sunday I have family stuff but I want my Saturday to be just for me – whether it be web development or photography or maybe even work!

EDIT: Sept 22, 3PM – Added pics


My Rented Car – Chevy Sonic
An automatic (haven’t driven an automatic in a year!)



My hotel room at the Hyatt – pretty nice!

Braised Short Ribs
Smoked cheddar mashed potatoes, coilard greens, wild mushroom jus

Maple Pork Chop
Butternut squash risotto, caramelized apples, port cherry jus

Know when to quit

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 at 12:03 am

Was reading this post about high achievers. One of the rules I read for high achievers was knowing when to quit:

Know when to quit. Finally, high achievers are able to achieve so much because they know when to quit. They know when they need a break and they know when they need to step back for a week or two. High achievers understand that in order to continue achieving at such a high level, they need to take the time that they need to stay sane and mentally healthy.
Do not run yourself into the ground in the name of high achievement, cut yourself some slack from time to time.

I must say – I’ve really learned this in the last 2 months. That I work myself so hard on a daily basis, but I can tell when my body’s not in good shape – or rather, I feel myself getting sick. And I know to take a step back from it all…and relax. To simply rephrase the key point from above: “In order to continuously perform well, you need to know when to stop and rest”.

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I love my job. I love working so hard. But it’s killing me….until I say stop and it’s not. And then I regroup and it’s back to working hard again. It’s a cycle…and no doubt, I’m working so hard because I love what I’m doing. Because I can’t wait to see where my leadership and team go. I don’t know specifically where, but like my life, it’s all about being pointed in the right direction. The journey is more important than the destination. The milestones achieved along the way are just as, if not more important than the end goal.

…end goal?

To quote Hikaru no Go’s Honda’s teacher – “The road of a pro is long, and on top of that, it has no goal. You study your whole life.”

I think I have to change my mentality – there is no end goal. No final destination. The path never ends…(’til you die…but even then your children continue your path, in a way…).
I don’t know what I want my team to be in 2 or 5 years. I’ve never known that of myself, how can I know that for 15 people? But as long as they’re pointed in the right direction…