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Figuring out how to balance my inner swiss-army knife
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It’s probably safe to assume that many of us here are tinkerers at heart. We relish the opportunity to sink our teeth into an interesting problem, new technology, or novel solution.
At massive companies with croissant-level layers of middle management, reaching outside of your skillset can sometimes be frowned upon. Your manager might say: Let the engineer do the coding, the data scientist run the experiment, the finance analyst crunch the numbers, and the marketer write the copy. Basically, how dare you try and learn something new. It slows us down and breaks the process.
At smaller companies, however, swiss-army knife generalists are incredibly valuable. Interviewing someone with that “I have no clue but I’m excited to figure it out” mentality is exactly the culture I want to define. Why? Because it’s contagious. You are hiring someone that loves building and a challenge. They bring energy to the table.
Being willing to be a student in one area while being a master in another is a superpower. While listening to Gustaf Alströmer talk about his experience working with YC companies, I was struck by the notion that, even though technical ability is a critical skill for founders, many of us write off learning to code later in our careers. There are probably hundreds of opportunities like this, regardless of our roles, that could wildly change our approach to work if we’re willing to include them in our T-shaped versions of ourselves.
However, there are (of course) tradeoffs. How much longer will this take you to learn? What are the downstream risks of something breaking? Is this, instead, an opportunity to hire and learn from an expert? What will you not be doing because you are excited about the shiny thing? I don’t know if there is a perfect formula for figuring out the build versus hire question. Maybe, it’s just a balancing act.
Raman at Rhetoric
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