Brad Lucas

Programming, Clojure and other interests

Fear Of Layoffs

December 9, 2023

So your company has had a layoff recently, and you fear another, or you are simply afraid that they will in the future. What should you do? Any suggestions?

Fear is the mind-killer.

First, it is good that you are concerned. A layoff, when experienced personally, can be very traumatic and disruptive. Being afraid of one can also be very disruptive, especially if it causes you to become unproductive. A situation that can spiral into becoming a target for the layoff, especially if your performance suffers. Remember the phrase from Dune, "Fear is the mind-killer"? In some sense, that may apply to you.

Logic vs. Emotions

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Do some strong performers change behavior to match a change in the team?

December 5, 2023

Early in my career, I was working at a large financial services company in Boston. A friend of mine was assigned to a group set to work with an external consulting company brought in to take on a large project. At some point, my friend, who was a very productive engineer, was pulled aside by the head of the consulting company to have a discussion. The consultant told him the story of a worker at a hat factory. This worker was twice as productive as all the other workers. He was making two hats for every other worker's single hat. This was becoming more and more obvious, and it made all the other workers uncomfortable. One day, this productive worker was visited by a representative from the other workers. He said this: "I see and appreciate your enthusiasm for making hats, but you are making everyone else look bad. Here's a suggestion. Keep working as hard as you like, but for every second hat you make, open your desk and put in the hat you just made." At that, the consultant paused and looked at my friend, waiting for a response. My friend sat there for a moment to let the meaning of the story settle in, then stood up and said, "OK." From then on, my friend did just enough to match the others in the group, and the project lasted for a long time. This was the goal of the consulting company.

I've remembered this story at various times in my career, always in relation to some sort of consulting company being brought in to "help." But recently, I thought of the story from a different angle.

I wondered: do strong performers sometimes hide extra hats on their own, and if so, why?

For example, I've noticed that in some groups, performance can sometimes devolve to the lowest common denominator. Strong performers sometimes start to slow significantly after the introduction of new team members, some of whom are poor performers. Could the strong engineers be holding back hats in reaction to the behaviors of newer members in the group?

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The Importance of the Camera in Managing Remote Teams: Tips for Success

November 28, 2023

Managers looking for ways to increase camera-on participation should think carefully before acting. They may default to mandating participation and be discouraged by the results. Rather than forcing compliance, managers should think of ways to create an environment where participation increases naturally because team members want to be on camera rather than because they have to.

To do so, think first about why someone might not want to be on camera. In many cases, consider that they are simply not comfortable. The specific why may be personal, and it may not be appropriate for you to ask directly. Consider focusing on creating a safe environment, and in many cases, associates will become more comfortable on their own and start showing up on camera.

First, I found it important to set an example. If you are leading a team, then always be on camera. You can't expect others to do something you aren't willing to do. Also, you'll notice that some will naturally follow your example. I've spoken to associates from other teams who stay off camera simply because others are off camera. Lead by example to start things off.

Next, start by talking to associates one-on-one and asking how they feel about being on camera. Ask them if they'd at least go on camera while talking with you. Listen to what they have to say. See if you can figure out where the hesitancy is. Don't criticize or call out their reasons. Just try to make sure they feel heard. When appropriate, tell them why you think it's important for them to be on camera for team meetings and when meeting with their peers in small groups. Encourage this level of participation first.

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Yahoo Finance Quote Download Java Update

April 7, 2020


Back in June of 2017 I posted an article describing how to retrieve quotes from the Yahoo Finance page.

Original Article

The other day I received a message from a user who found that the program no longer worked. After looking into the issue I found that Yahoo responds differently depending on the User-Agent setting being presented to the server. The quick fix was to change the value submitted.

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Book Squire Is Ten Years Old

October 7, 2019

While releasing a new version of Book Squire the other day I realized that Book Squire is ten years old. What first started as a quickly developed application to solve a personal need has grown into one of my longest running applications.

Back in 2009 I was frustrated with the online access to our Library. It was tedious to enter the card number and pin then navigate to the page to see the status of my account. In addition, I was checking on accounts for family members and with four Library cards in hand was finding my patience tested.

I figured why couldn't a program do this. Maybe, do it everyday and at some point send me a note if there was something important to know about.

That was the plan which resulted in Book Squire.

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