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What’s good career advice you wouldn’t want to have your name on? (80000hours.org)
206 points by robertwiblin 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 206 comments

Have the courage to stand up for what you believe in, even if it terminates your employment status. I'm only unkeen to have my name on this, because I haven't done it, and I wish several times in the past, I had. I respect the person who did this early in his career in one ISP immensely: it was stunning to watch somebody say "you're full of shit" to the new CEO, and walk out. (he was btw, full of shit)

I've done similarly career-threatening things in the past and my strongest advice is to stand and deliver in an actionable way.

Telling the CEO he is full of shit is not actionable. Telling the CEO that his plan will not work and that to save the situation he needs to do XYZ is. If you've judged the situation correctly and that level of drama is actually necessary, then either they will respect you and do it or they wont and you'll quit/be fired. Either should be fine for you from your perspective as an employee even if financially it's a leap.

I say it's good advice because it's turned out to be very good for my career. I've had it blow up in my face once and turn out better than silence every other time. That's a muh better ratio than I would have guessed, I suspect because it's easier to fear the consequences of action than inaction.

> ... either they will respect you and do it or ...

Another possible/likely option - they'll pay lip service to your plan, convince you to stay, and then gradually slip back to the full of shit approach they originally intended.

Basically I'm not willing to go to this level of drama unless the consequences of going the other way are really, really obvious. That means things like illegality, safety of life issues, ethical breaches, total project failure, etc. If you just think they're wrong and don't want to deal with their wrongness anymore, tell them so in your resignation letter. Hell, maybe by the time you have an offer in hand they're have realized you're right. Won't that be fun.

But ultimately there is no substitute for good judgement here. You have to decide, sometimes quickly, whether a particular situation demands immediate action of whether it can be forestalled or defeated by other (less risky) means. And you're absolutely right that it requires good judgement and preparation to ensure that they cannot contain or deceive you.

If ethical breaches cause you to escalate to this level of drama, may I ask in what sector you are employed? In my own industry I see breaches like this as a matter of habit and I can't even imagine being generally employed in IT if this bothers you. Unless of course you have really lax ethical standards compared to mine. That's also an option.

I work in security.

If you're in an environment where serious ethical failure happens on the regular I would encourage you to get out. There are plenty of jobs, including in IT, where the worst you'll see is self-serving lies and corporate doublespeak.

As for my standards being laxer than yours, well, I don't know you.

So do I!

I'm definitely looking to transition to a more healthy environment, but so far every place I have visited has a similar terrible attitude to the practicalities of security and handling breaches. I have asked for clarification by legal sources many times, but this appears to be legal, with the obvious exception of the illegal things. Those are not legal but they don't have a governing body that actively punishes transgressions. It also appears to be widespread. Perhaps I just live in the wrong country :)

I think so many of us dream of having the financial freedom to be able to do this. At least for me, that's one of my big drivers to build passive income streams and lifestyle hustles.

Honestly, that's the kind of teammate I deeply love to work with - one who doesn't _need_ the job, but one who _wants_ it and believes in what we're doing.

There are very few jobs worth believing in to be honest.

This is not accurate. There are large number of jobs that have a directly impact, as part of solid teams working on things for the right reasons.

I strongly disagree. Many many jobs, especially the higher paying ones, are bullshit jobs. Real work to actually improve the world doesn't tend to make a whole lot of money, it's much easier to lobby for bureaucratic inefficiencies you can inhabit, create artificial scarcity, gamble with other people's money, or outright scam people.

Look at the web. There's a ton of jobs (many would say a nigh-overfull bubble's worth) in the web right now, yet most webshit doesn't meaningfully improve anyone's life and is instead just a way to trick people into looking at ads or providing their personal data so it can be collected and sold.

I work for Google and Google has a lot of products that has improved my life immensely. Google maps, Google search, Google docs, gmail and Youtube are all very useful products, especially for poor people who can't afford paid options. I don't feel bad in the slightest for working to improve them.

People say that Google does questionable things but I haven't seen any of it. Of course as a bottom-up organization it is very likely that other parts of Google are less ethical but that doesn't really affect my work or conscience.

> People say that Google does questionable things but I haven't seen any of it.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/11/18260712/google-amit-sing... (Google confirms it agreed to pay $135 million to two execs accused of sexual harassment)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Tech_Employee_Antitrust_L... (High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation)



Correction: I haven't seen any of it in my work. My work is not related to any of those things. I have only seen unethical things done by Google in the news, never any emails encouraging anyone to do unethical things or anything like that.

One example doesn't make his comment invalid.

In cases like this it helps to give examples, as the person you are responding to evidently doesn't believe this is the case. Maybe you can change their mind!

I suppose it heavily depends on what is considered impact and the right reasons.

How is that beneficial to someone's career though?

Sure, it shows one's morals and standards, but how does that boost one's career?

It can protect your career when you are being asked to do something that might be illegal. Especially if you have a security clearance of some sort and it would violate it.

This might be an important distinction between ethical and moral. Standing up against unethical behavior protects one career, but if the behavior is ethical but immoral (that is to say, it violates your own standards but is deemed acceptable in the larger community) then it doesn't really protect one's career. But the self image protection might still be worth it.

Well, among other things it can mean you end up in a situation that more closely aligns with your morals.

This has a number of predictable benefits.

...by force. Although I’m sure Edward Snowden feels good ethically, I’m also sure he has material issues that make him regret (that’s the goal of his ennemies, after all).

Similarly, a middle manager who has to downsize houses because he stopped working on weapons for example, it could be even harder for him because he won’t even get famous for it.

I should know, I’ve made one of those choices in another area.

That's assuming that your input affects the current situation.

Sure, if you leave the company and go somewhere else, then you're potentially going to find your moral environment. But, there are better ways to find these environments, versus job hopping.

Without leaving, how often will your conflicts affect your situation?

Would like to hear more about the predicted benefits.

If you value living a moral/ethical life, then working for a company that operates immorally/unethically would be bad.

If your only considering career benefits in terms of career advancement compensation, then perhaps doing the right thing won't be "beneficial" to you.

However, if you aim to be a good person, doing the right thing is the correct path.

Is a moral career not better than an immoral one...?

That's a question for whoever's standing up - how do they measure career success?

Going by the theme of the post, "By making as much money as possible", wouldn't be an unreasonable measure.

If you truly value a moral career, there are surely better ways to find one than to join a company and express your opinions internally, in an almost retroactive manner.

As someone who has experienced not having money for food, an immoral career is better than being morally unemployed.

>>Have the courage to stand up for what you believe in, even if it terminates your employment status.

This is very bad advice purely career wise. In fact being in the good books of the cartel managers is something you should proactively do.

Also stop believing in this myth of finding a boss who is powerful, just, fair and does the right things all the time. Humans are irrational species because we have to often arrive at a one pick decision between competing priorities, sometimes even paradoxical priorities. Reality is a big mess and no straight work-reward equations are possible. This extends to so many things in the real world. Business, relationships, contracts, job space etc etc. One must always aspire to be slightly evil as much as things allow one to be. That means developing tact to manage everyday politics, negotiating, coercing, influence and various other people management things.

Plus given this specific point, if your boss or immediate leader is too powerful fighting him is pointless and self destructive. And even more important point, stop fighting other peoples battles. Whistle blowing, activism and standing for principle all gives you a huge sense of self worth and makes you feel important about yourself. But it's a very bad strategy, because you will fall out of favor and get marked up as a trouble maker in the eyes of any powerful watching. And you will never meet a boss or a leader who is likely to appreciate this. Stop trying to be a martyr or other people's cause.

It bothers me that your comment is written well because it lends credibility to a comment that essentially amounts to 'don't stand up for what you believe, it won't work! Be a weasel instead!' I strongly disagree, I think this approach is worse off for pretty much everyone in the long run. I can also tell you that unless you are really good at hiding your opinions/intentions, for some(me for example), your attitude is a repellant and you will be labeled a weasel. There are a number of such types in my office and I really do wonder if they realise how transparent their behavior is. To some people this behavior will be effective, some will tolerate, but for others you will be on a blacklist, prevented from going further because they effectively see you as the type of person who won't say anything that doesn't further your own cause. They just won't trust you and it's really uncomfortable for some people to try to gel with this.

Pretty much any one responsible for making decisions for others can't be fair by any definition. Add to this that they have to tend to their own interests too. You have to align your interests with their's. There is nothing wrong with this. The problem is often people get in your way when this is supposed to happen. This is where 'throwing people under the bus' situations happen.

The second problem with people is that they try to evangelize their own little personal moral-principles based religion, some cause they believe in and try forcing it down other people's throats. There is literally no reason why any one should care about what or why you believe in anything at all. Especially if they don't stand to benefit from it in any real way. There is also no reason why you should mark any one as your enemy for not believing in what you do. This is even more troublesome because people attach things like moral prestige/superiority/pride to their cause and humiliate other people's intelligence for not aligning with theirs. Why should you want to do this?

Stop trying to be a rebel, take a step back and what see you are doing. Your boss wants X, in an ideal situation the best you can do is convince them to agree on settling with X-dx. But if your boss wants X and you want to change their directions and want them to do A instead. They are going quietly relieve you of your work, and find some one else to get the job done.

What if you're 99% sure someone doesn't know what they're talking about, but there could be on shred of crucial information, you aren't privy to, since companies are sometimes large and unwieldy things, and information doesn't always flow as it should.

You could call someone out, and make a fool of yourself, if you're wrong. It would make me very hesitant to ever actually do something like this, because you never know.

So this is a legit thing. You don't know all the facts, there can be reasons CEO asshats say things. But there are also times you have to think hard about what you trust: do you trust your core knowledge, or do you assume they know better? Remember, CEO level people have KPI which is about shareholder benefits, not necessarily reality, or ethics.

I sat in on an 'all hands' briefing once where a CEO level guy spent 2hrs demanding we code a 3D VR shopping mall for him to sell to local stores. When I started talking about how immature the market was (this was 1994 and most people were on dialup) I got roasted. Afterwards, the CTO said he did that randomly, to get dominance, it was just how he chose to behave in a room, in order to "win". I didn't stay in that company long.

> What if you're 99% sure someone doesn't know what they're talking about

I hate this. I can't convince colleagues that they are wrong. And I can't push too hard as long as I'm not 100% sure. So I have to make their work for them just to proof them wrong. I think it is not a good investment to aim for 100%, at least where I work.

Article comments and comments in this thread seem to miss the point of the title entirely. Here's some actual advice I don't want my name on, but seems pretty effective based on working at a lot of different Big Cos:

- Always go for prestige over purpose. Have a choice between a shiny project with very little actual impact to the company and a behind the scenes project that will actually make lives better for employees and customers? Go for the shiny project. It will look better on your resume and to executive teams, and will get you promoted faster.

- Learn the art of looking busy and practice it often. If you look busy all the time, people will assume you're productive and also not give you a bunch of extra work for no extra compensation.

- Play politics. A lot. Especially throwing other people under the bus. The key is to align your politics with the right power players in your org. You'll get promoted faster, get more bonuses, and be able to get away with more things in general.

- Get the scoop on what's actually going on at executive levels by making friends with the office managers/personal assistants. You'll get an early notification of problems coming up, people to avoid, opportunities to take advantage of, etc.

- Loyalty is for chumps. Play the game for yourself. If you get a better offer somewhere else, take it. If your boss is an asshole or putting a glass ceiling over you, leave. If you need time off, take it. If your team isn't being effective, throw them under the bus and move on.

> Especially throwing other people under the bus.

Hard disagree with this one.

I've seen better success with 'compliment everyone behind their backs, giving a good reason'.

Throwing everyone under the bus can be very very effective, but it's got to be for a very short run at the goal, typically. If you end up working with those people again, you're cooked.

I'd say, if you don't see yourself working with that person ever again in the next 6mo. to 1 year, you can throw others under the bus, provided you can get ahead of them on the org charts and the cocktail talk. If you are going to be working with those people again and they are in your radius of org chart or cocktail talk, compliment them all behind their backs relentlessly.

Don't be a doormat, of course, but sing other's praises. You'll get a reputation for being a great person to work with, and everyone wants to work with a great person to work with.

Everything else on this list is spot on, great write up!

You have to be careful with throwing people under the bus because if it's noticed by people..going to be honest, they are not going to trust you and word will get around. You become that snake to avoid, you're dangerous to work with. So, hopefully you do it in a way where it can't come back to you. At the org I work at, if you're seen doing this, you're not a team player and you get an unofficial mark against you. People will generally look up to people who take responsibility.

Regular smoozing I think is not too hard and you're just being sociable.

If you feel you need to play politics, get with good team and play politics in concert. My department has made a lot of good progress just by providing a united front and influencing together. It doesn't even have to be a bad thing.

What if you gain a reputation as the person who throws snakes under the bus?

That seems like it would be a very good reputation to have with non-snakes because it would signal to them that you'll defend them the need arises.

Then that's not playing politics and throwing people under a bus, that's standing up for values.

>> Especially throwing other people under the bus. > Hard disagree with this one.

Sometimes you gotta burn bridges. The IT/tech world is surprisingly small, and it's possible you'll see these people again, but the trade-offs can sometimes be worth it.

Guys like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates have reputations of acting like A-holes. You're going to have to step on someone's toes to make it to the top.

As a counterpoint: the long-term success of Donald Trump.

History is being written as we type.

That said, he's out of runway and can't get ahead anymore, being the US President and all. The throwing everyone under the bus tactic can't work if you can't distance yourself away from those you burned, and he's out of room now.

> Get the scoop on what's actually going on at executive levels by making friends with the office managers/personal assistants.

I'd expand this to always make friends with gatekeepers. Office managers, PAs, front desk, kitchen staff, building security, etc. They're hardworking people who tend to be ignored and mistreated. Respect them, be friendly, and it will open many gates along with making their lives better.

Genuine question: how is making friends with the kitchen staff going to advance your career?

I have heard many things I'm not supposed to know from the rumour mill that kitchen/support staff is apparently a part of. They're not always entirely correct, but they are always at least correct enough that I can find out things I normally cannot find out.

Of course there are also the not directly career benefits such as having better/nicer food and a more pleasurable time at work.

You never know. They may not get you a promotion but they can improve your quality of life. They're more likely to respond to your input about what the kitchen should stock and/or serve. As another reply mentioned they may pass on information.

Be good to others and they'll be good to you.

They hear things and typically like to talk.

You would have done well to show more examples; people are having trouble with the art of bus manipulation.

* Throw people under the bus, but pull them out at the last moment. "I could say that it's the other team's fault, but we're practicing blameless postmortems. Can we focus on fixing our process?"

* Throw people under multiple busses. "We're behind on the upgrade effort because there are three different upgrade efforts going on and we can't focus on any of them."

* Throw busses at people. "I am not trying to take over your team. I am only asking that we follow the law. Waiting for Legal is a smokescreen; we need to act now or get sued next quarter."

* Be bureaucratic. "I wasn't able to finish the project because we have issues in deployment and code review. We'll be finished soon, and I'm improving our deployment process so that this won't happen again."

To be clear, bus throwing is most effective in two situations:

1) The executives-wrangling-for-a-role level. If three people want that sweet VP title, they're not just trying to show they're the best, they're also trying to show the other two people are not good for the role. Taking a promotion competitor and throwing them under the biggest bus possible is a great way to knock them out of the running. Chances are they're trying to do the same to you. (Note: at Big Cos, high-level promotions are at least as much about politics as about actual merit of work / competency).

2) The other person is a different part of the org entirely. For example if there's a project that's a joint effort between IT and Marketing and something goes wrong you better believe the ladder climbers are going to look for the biggest bus available to throw the other team lead under. It's an effective strategy because it's a responsibility avoidance tactic and, hey, screw those other guys because they never give you what you want anyway.

Please note I don't actually recommend people do these things unless they care more about career advancement at all costs than about actually building strong relationships, well-functioning teams, and general life happiness. The thing is, a lot of people prioritize the former, which I think is the whole impetus behind the article's title.

> - Play politics. A lot. Especially throwing other people under the bus.

That's a gun with one bullet. If you use it, you better use it wisely, cause there are no takebacks if you miss.

I don't doubt that this happens frequently in many orgs. But I would like to caution people against grabbing onto the narrative that the unethical, scummy political games played by others are the cause of one's professional suffering. It's an easy thing to do, but just because it feels good doesn't mean it is true.

Of course, it doesn't mean it isn't true. But narratives that soothe the ego should always receive an extra dose of scrutiny.

Unfortunately I agree that these points work well. But even better and healthier for your soul is to work somewhere where technical excellence gets rewarded and respected. I think it hurts me financially but I just can’t make myself into a political animal without killing my spirit.

> - Loyalty is for chumps.

That's simply not true, but ...

- Be loyal to people not things.

- Loyalty is earned, not given out freely.

I assumed he was talking about loyalty to the company - in which case I agree with him.

Not agree with first. I have seen people change over time.

If everything smells like shit, maybe you should check your shoe?

I will print this out for my teenage sons and make them learn this.

Teach them to be good people while they're still impressionable. Save this stuff for when they're older and it's easier to change tactics, and harder to change character.

How sad. But not at all surprising that someone would eagerly jump on trying to advance their career by such unethical means.

Ugh, please don't.

Or just advise them not to work at a Big Co with shitty culture?

- When trying to decide on a new career direction, go onto career websites such as Indeed.com and look up what is the highest paying and most desirable. For example, whenever I go for a certification, I do a search for it on Indeed. I look at how many hits come up, how much it pays, etc.

- Dress just a little bit nicer/more formal than everyone else in your workplace. People who don't know you will assume you are more important than you are and people who do know you will unconsciously associate you with upper management and you'll be more likely to get promoted. Management promotes people they "see" as management material. If you look the part, they're more likely to see you that way.

- Take audio recordings of your meetings with your coworkers and boss. Use the recordings to take notes that you may have missed at the meetings. Particularly in a new position, going back and listening helps to pick up what people emphasize.

- If people can see your computer screen, do all your non-work bullshit on your phone, where people can't see. Keep only work stuff on your computer screen and you will look productive.

- Don't ever tell anyone at work anything personal that could be even slightly controversial, including political beliefs. People like to talk shit and if they have something on you, it will get spread around most workplaces. Gossip is cache for people and they'll use whatever they have to make themselves more likable.

Questions about the audio recording, have you ever had pushback from others? Is it a ask for forgiveness not permission situation?

How transparent have you been day to day, for example is it visible during meetings or in your pocket? And do you keep a specific audio recorder/use only work phone or have you recorded on personal devices like your non-work phone?

I hit record on my personal phone before I go into the meeting, then turn the screen off and put my phone on the table at the meeting. A lot of people put their phone on the table at meetings.

Do not actually do this, as in many places this is illegal. Check first whether or not it is 100%, entirely legal with a source that is not someone who tells people on the internet to record others without consent.

I hope you've looked up your local wiretapping laws...

It's interesting that nearly all of these pieces of advice are fairly non-controversial. What's the point of posting stuff anonymously if it's the same stuff that most people would be happy to attach their name to?

Hi Nostrademos — I was involved in this project. We asked a lot of questions and the answers to some others were quite a bit more controversial (we're going to release a new question each week or thereabouts).

But one thing we learned in the process was that seriously successful people doing their thing feel pretty gagged.

It's not worth it for them to write even things that seem uncontroversial to you or me, because someone out there might hate it, or misinterpret it, and start creating problems for them.

Yeah, I figured it was something like that. There are plenty of things that I believe are true but don't say because the blow-up potential just isn't worth it. (And I'm someone who actually likes arguing on the Internet.)

Why not do something actually anonymous, though? Put up a form box on your website where people can write anything in response to the prompt, and let folks access it through Tor? Then post the results with the appropriate disclaimer. You might need to moderate it a bit to cut out crap like "PENIS1!!11!1!", but you might also get some genuinely interesting commentary.

Then again, this is basically what Blind does.

Yeah, but then, like Blind, you just get a bunch of bullshitters. The problem with Blind is that you're getting long-term career advice from a 23-year-old who's obsessed with 'TC'. Even if that person's obsession is in line with yours, he rarely has the experience to tell you what's going to work. Most posts there come from a place of anger and insecure showing-off that they're unlikely to be useful.

Yeah, that tends to be the case when it comes to these things. Unpopular opinions posted on sites like Reddit are never really that unpopular, underrated sources/sites/channels are never really that underrated or unknown, and controversial articles and lists are never all that controversial.

As for why that's the case... well most people/sites don't want to become a social pariah, most underrated creators are by definition unpopular enough most haven't heard of them and truly unpopular opinions are unpopular enough that they're unlikely to get posted.

Still, when I heard 'career advice you wouldn't want your name associated with', I was thinking it'd be something like the stuff in that James Damore memo or what not. Or something inspired by Machiavelli's The Prince.

I agree. I was expecting something sort of like the good Blind posts, but I guess these are controversial because... one said "fuck"? Another said that people put too much emphasis on career advice, which is probably controversial for the site/community the article is from?

I was hoping for some Machiavelli-style tips as well, if only for the entertainment value. Something like, “if you cannot be both loved and feared by your employees, it is better to be feared.”

Right, I saw basically nothing there that would be controversial.

> When you’re in college... Your time is less valuable

This really jumped out at me.

As a college student, I've never had so many opportunities available to me at once -- nor so little maturity with which to take advantage of them.

That said, I certainly agree with taking care of low-level health problems, the sooner the better.

From the perspective of a high-schooler, college/university is the most work/least time you ever had. But it wouldn't seem that way in 10+ years.

I'm a bit over a decade past college (36) & aside from short bouts between jobs (which never lasted very long) I've never had as much free time as I had as a student.

Mobility but no means, versus means but no mobility.

Most people find later in life that they actually had more means then they realized.

So what things should someone in university atm look to do to ensure they're maximizing their means

Be seen. Volunteer for on-campus events that are organized by the university (find the person running something, and ask them directly if there's anything you can do to help them).

Always ask "Is there anything else I can do to help" after completing a task. Always be the first to start volunteering (show up early) and the last person to stop volunteering (stay late).

If you're a person of good character and genuine spirit, people will notice and talk about you. People will ask your help with bigger things. Repeat.

If you do this, you'll quickly get snatched up into some professor's research project and forced into grad school, like it or not. There you'll be forced to get your PhD and spend your life doing well paid research in something you're terribly interested in. Awful.

I think the answer will differ wildly for different people. What I wish I had done:

- Pay at least a little attention to nutrition.

- Be more willing to do things by myself; there were certain activities, for which I had a vague impression you were supposed to wait until other people invited you to go with them.

- Be less afraid of upsetting professors and other authority figures. (And I say this as someone who is a professor now!)

- Try less hard to weasel my way into the "in" crowd. (And by "less hard" I don't mean "not at all"; these efforts were worthwhile to some extent.) Conversely, there were all sorts of interesting people who weren't "popular"; try to make friends with them, or even ask them out on dates.

- Somehow found a way to relax more, although that is always much easier said than done.

* Try new things, join groups, stick your neck out. Don't find out you really prefer [X] or [Y] when you're 40, figure it out when you're 19. College fencing, for example, opened a whole world for me, like SCA, blacksmithing, etc. It's always going to be awkward joining/hanging out w/ a new group, just be patient and keep going.

* Spend as little time in your dorm as possible. Be out with people, read a book in the library or student union, join an intermural team, go to a party, whatever. Don't fall into the Weed-And-Vidya-Game pattern that college types tend to have. I suspect one of the reasons many dorms make students share a room is to force this.

* Be willing to say no to a course of study, or even to college. It's not for everyone, and I hate that we force people into it even if they don't have the money/interest/aptitude for it. The best-off people I know are CS grads, but several grads are not making great cash. Meanwhile I know (hired) electricians making north of six-figures, and I know a couple plumbers who are doing quite well.

* Most of the couples who got married after college are now divorced; most of the couples I knew in college split before graduation. Some are still a thing and happy, but the takeaway is don't limit yourself because of relationships. Date around if you can.

I got married to a woman I met in college, we're still married ~20 years later, and given what I hear about how terrible dating is now I'm fairly convinced it was the best decision I ever made. I made a lot of bad decisions in college, but that wasn't one of them.

Work is irrelevant beyond a paycheck. Don't stress out over anything if it doesn't involve you getting fired. Work as little as possible. Get as much done as you can working as little as possible as long as it doesn't stress you out. Never lose sleep over work. Never work unpaid overtime unless you'll lose your job over it. Never care if your bosses are angry or unhappy as long as it doesn't affect you having a job. Don't let their emotions affect yours. Nothing is important enough at work to go out of your way for. There are others along this line I'd advice. Obviously this doesn't apply if you are a doctor but for most jobs it does.

This. I never understood why people at a startup I worked at (even after it was acquired by a FAANG) gave a shit what happened after hours. There was an ops guy actually trying to slack people at 3am. At one point they tried to contact me again on the weekend, my boss decided she'd ask why I didn't seek "ownership of the problem" (one of the god awful basically fascist "workplace principles" of said FAANG). My response was basically, I don't work for a startup, it was the weekend, I don't work on weekends. I left about three weeks later, my boss also accidentally sent me a PIP offer minutes before I was going to send in my 2 weeks notice. Got a bonus $20k for leaving a shit company ;)

Agree. I tried to tell boss hire more people if you want 99.99 % uptime. But he complained about money. Then I quit.

What other advice do you have?

One I forgot but also in one of the other comments: take your time doing tasks and always look busy. Never rush to complete projects unless doing so gets you political points. Keeping a slow pace of work while looking like working a lot is key. Make many small commits and push them up either all at the end of the day or periodically throughout. Prepare work for a few days ahead if possible and push it up incrementally. Know how to do the minimum to not get fired while still looking very productive. Milk it for all it's worth.

Note, most jobs don't start this way but many end up this way, mainly because your employer doesn't value you. They don't give you proper raises or other compensation to show appreciation. When you can't increase your total compensation, increase your hourly compensation with the above tactic till your per hour rate skyrockets. Best achieved while working remotely. It's also important to not be loyal and always remember that the extra effort will never be rewarded. That said, there are rare, occasional exceptions. Very rare.

Finally, remember, it's hard to get fired at most places. You really have to push your bosses to do it, especially once you've been there for awhile. Take advantage of that. This is all a game, so play it. And speaking of games, have fun whenever you can doing non-work stuff. Or start a business on the side if that's your thing with all the extra time.

This sounds exactly like the Gervais Principle, aka Mgmt Strategies as demonstrated by The Office:


Mostly a joke... but still painfully accurate at times.

Chaos is opportunity: If you want to learn a lot of things and gain a lot of responsibility quickly, work in an organization or area where the roles and processes are poorly defined. You'll be given responsibility for anything you take on and don't screw up, and you can use that experience to either move up in the organization or move to another organization that's maybe a little less chaotic.


Chaos is a ladder.

> * Gain the trust of people who have a lot of influence. One big benefit of working with such people is that you can learn a lot; another is that if you do good work, they come to respect and trust you — and that can be crucial in getting the best jobs.*

Best advice in that article. Find the people who are clearly the thought leaders and ask them to mentor you.


I've read multiple accounts of successful people having essentially this story and it's really stuck with me:

I went into a meeting with my mentor.

During the meeting, a lot was said by different folks.

After the meeting, my mentor asked me: "What happened in the re?"

I proceeded to give him a rough outline of what was said.

They responded: "That's what was SAID. Here is what actually happened: Person A said they were ready but they are clearly not b/c $X. Person B said they had $Y but that's not true because we already know $Z".


This kind of guidance is priceless because it saves you potentially years of trial and error trying to learn how to read between the lines.

Trying to answer the question as written:

1. When people discuss politics at work, it is far, far better to say nothing than to say anything that goes against the prevailing politics of your company.

2. There is never a circumstance where you should question any program designed to help groups that your company has deemed are underrepresented, no matter how unfair you feel it is that those same opportunities aren't available more broadly. Not only are these efforts frequently highlighted publicly, they are often lead by VPs with buy-in all the way up the executive chain. There is zero upside here.

The correct approach is to talk to your leader about how you could incorporate similar training/learning into your career plan.

Consider your choice of field carefully. I loved programming and yet doing it for a living and climbing the ladder made me start hating it. IMHO the tech field is overrun with young, bright, energetic people, most of whom are dreamers with their own private techno-utopian fantasies who secretly harbor the belief they'll be multi-millionaires or billionaires in a few short years. Dreamers are mostly innocent but there are lots of cutthroat assholes and psychopaths (as there are in many fields). The blood (money) in the water attracts some seriously disturbed people. Greed is everywhere, and in many forms.

Do something you love that doesn't require you to compromise your morals.

I wish I had been a musician. I wish I had focused on finding the right mate instead of so many nights programming, even though it brought me some fame and some money. I'm a little fucked up because I chose tech over loving the right person, and they are gone now.

So true. Actually early days of programming are good when you enjoy it. But once you decide to work for money, it becomes shit. This applies for everything. Real problem is money. Programmer makes lifestyle-changing-money in early days which keep them in constant fear to lose. As long as you're disconnected from money and doing your shit without bothering about others, everything works well.

This is the reason I keep telling myself life is long. Try as many things as possible. Don't fear to start again as there ain't such thing as security. But alas my stupid mind... still seeks security over bewilderment.

The quantity of money plays a decisive role in an industry's transformation into a cutthroat, toxic environment.

SWE is now already there, but it used to be much more relaxed when there weren't so many billions floating around. Start-ups and the out of control VC money are one of the worst things that happened to this industry.

Did you decide how to find this mate?

This fell short, I was looking for something edgy.

For example: It pay$ to change jobs early in ones career. If you stay longer than 2 years out of some missplaced loyalty youll miss out of some quick dollars. Tons of caveats but in general it works. Now caveat it seems to peak around your 5 or 6th switch.

Source: All my mates and I have switched at the cadence and weve averaged a 15% increase in salary

I agree, switching often is kind of a self correcting phenomenon - if you are always switching to places that pay significantly more, once switching often starts to hurt you, you will just stay at your current place until you’ve been there long enough for it to not hurt you.

However, in terms of leveling/promotions, I think this stops pretty early. And it’s also possible to end up somewhere like Netflix where there may not be a place paying better for your experience/level. In particular it seems you need to grind out more than 2 years to get promoted to a managerial position or for any n>4, go from Ln to Ln+1 (except for maybe at a fast growing startup). So once you have 5 years experience you might be able to keep getting pay increases, unless you’re already near the top of market, but probably won’t get title promotions

"HR does not operate with your interests at heart, do not talk to them."

-- Anonymous

Be smart enough to determine if your interests align with the company's interests before talking to HR. Sometimes they do.

That’s a dangerous thing to try. We like to think we are smart but even the lowest level HR person knows things that aren’t even on our radar.

Ever had a complaint made against you? Possibly - maybe it was quietly filed away. Ever wonder if people are paying attention to when you come into the office? They are.

I went through an outsourcing at my last job and for nine+ months the only people that knew it was coming was executive leadership, the CIO, and his HR staff.

HR is risky because they have hidden information in spades. The interests you think align might not after all.

HR is not in your interest. They are only looking out for the company. They will protect illegal actions by the company if you are raising issues. See how Wells Fargo HR was complicit in their recent scandals.

Yeah, HR is a dangerous tool. Know the rules and intent before using.

Frankly, if you are to the point where HR is even in the conversation, then you really need to have a large financial incentive to stay around. The reward better be worth the risk.

But the legal system expects that you go to HR and that they act appropriately when you report certain things. So, I'm not sure the "do not talk to them" is always correct.

Scenario A: your job sucks, and you don't see a future there. Your boss constantly undermines you, doesn't give you credit, gives you a workload harder than any reasonable employee could work.

Scenario B: your company is doing something illegal, and you pointed that out to your manager. Your manager started undermining you, not giving you credit, uninviting you to meetings about your work. Now your job sucks and you don't see a future there.

In Scenario A, you should just leave. HR isn't going to fix the problem, they're just going to throw their hands up, tell you to work through it with your manager, and then quietly label you as a difficult employee. You're probably on a track to be laid off or PIP'd in the next cycle, so might as well either learn to shut up and take it, or get out.

Scenario B, you should absolutely tell HR. HR won't do anything, or they'll make your life worse. But that's exactly what you need to have happen to build a case. Depending on the severity of the situation (i.e., how pervasive and illegal the activities are), HR's inactions could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to you.

Most programmers invest a lot of time in coding and related activities (learn the newest framework) but this thread is again a proof that most neglect all other aspects of their career (e.g., regular salary negotiations).

I worked as a programmer for several years and now I run a tech recruitment consultancy (coderfit.com). Programmers come to me daily with various problems. I am writing up all the individual solutions that lead to more money in a book. It covers career growth, interviewing, job search, and salary negotiation; please have a look here: “Coderfit: Make more money as a programmer”: https://gumroad.com/l/cdrft

Never see a job as a career.

The ONLY PATH for wealth is to work for yourself by starting and building your own business.

Make no mistake... You are always building a business, and if you're not building YOURS, you are building THEIRS.

A lot of people become industry insiders by building other people's businesses. Then, when they can't overcome the inefficiencies, they leave and start their own business. This is the story of Zoom, and others.

Building someone's else's business, as a launchpad for your own, isn't a bad idea.

It's not the "only" path, but it is a better path than most. You're right about everything else though.

Why wouldn't you put your name on it?

It's actually very useful to try to visualize the social relationships that underpin the people you work with every day. Make a diagram and identify people who are supportive, people who are forthright, people who are untrustworthy, people who are obstacles, who are their friends, who are their adversaries, etc. Update it from time to time. When you want to push an agenda, you'll have a better understanding of the political context and can plan accordingly.

I've seen the most basic version of this as a chart with two axes:

Axis 1: How much political influence does this person have?

Axis 2: How easy are they to influence?

Some key points: - Axis 2 is from your perspective

- It's good to keep in mind that the chart might look different for other people

As an example: you might find it easy to influence person B who only has mid-level influence.

However, Person B might be able to influence someone you have no chance of influencing.

You can also add other dimensions such as "What does each person value e.g. money/influence/respect" etc

Make friends with people who have keys. Janitors, secretaries, maintenance guys. Win the trust of people who are trusted with the keys to the company. You never know when you might need a favor.

My grandfather said something to the effect of: "the 'real' work happens on the golf course and in the secretary pool".

In large businesses there are channels of money flowing through the organization like blood vessels, some small, some unbelievably big. Find one and plugin a straw. If it goes dry, take off, and find another.

(this is basically the ugly side of consulting)

When I was an intern at an Aerospace org, I had a mentor that was the head of engineering of several smaller companies at once emphasize one point - Always align yourself positively with people 2-3 levels of leadership above you. That is, if necessary, skirt around your direct report(s) if you have something to bring to the table for higher up people. It is how you move up faster, but of course, strains your short term relationship with your direct report. Haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but maybe others can chime in?

Build those relationships in advance, and only go around your manager if you absolutely have to and are reasonably confident that higher-ups will side with you. They will be useful regardless.

Best option when you have a frustrating manager, although not always feasible: Quit and work somewhere else with better management.

Yes it works. My direct report's boss was a nightmare to deal with. His areas of influence were always producing problems. All the staff routinely agreed the problems were to be coming from one place. He had tried to get me fired at one point.

My reports to three levels above me were an agreed, small but positive influence in removing the problematic leadership. I ended up leaving later on for different reasons.

Someone should actually write the article that goes with this headline -- it'd be super interesting.

1. Get a disease something like migraine/sinus where quick medical treatment not possible and symptoms not visible. If you tell people that you need urgent leave to attend some function, they feel like cheated. Instead use this disease and take leaves you want. They feel compassionate.

2. Always show your in hurry to manager. You can do this by running with laptop when meeting colleague for chit-chat.

Unless required by law in your profession: Don't go to college.

I don't know if this is serious or not, but really these days learning to code and engineer software without college is extremely doable, and you can be ready to work in under a year (faster with boot camps and such, but the cost there may not be worth it). I know many, many highly successful developers that didn't go to school at all. They taught themselves to code and built something cool, then started working. By the time most people leave school with a mountain of debt, they are making 20 to 30k more than entry-level engineer would make. You really don't need college anymore.

> Unless required by law in your profession: Don't go to college.

Good advice if you don't actually like your profession and don't mind spending your career at the middle to bottom rungs of your profession. That's not necessarily a slam, the average is where most people are.

If you want a career doing fun and interesting things, even going to college isn't by itself enough; you have to master the things you learn there so that they're second nature. But, trust me, it's worth it both professionally and financially.

Yeah right, because colleges exist only as trade schools and don't give people who go there any other benefits.

And they are useless even as trade schools, no mater how complex the trade might be. That is why all the science and engineering * conferences are teeming with people whose education ended at high school.

* as in "making actual things" engineering

This ended up doing more damage to my career than it did good.

If the company's one way of making it to the next payroll/ funding round is to fire you, they will. Don't be more loyal to the company than they are to you. Learn to be a mercenary when it comes to salary talks in reviews.

A slacker who can kiss butt and play politics will almost always beat a hard worker who can't when it comes to most metrics that matter, like salary, work life balance, lack of stress at work etc.

Not controversial IMO, but useful.

Most companies are stuck in the dark ages, despite what you think after browsing HN. A lot of money to be made in consulting if you can market yourself well.

But aren't they stuck in the dark ages because they don't want to pay to get out of it (seeming as tech is just a cost center)?

Value all parts of compensation that you cannot easily sell at zero. Options? Zero. RSUs for a private company? Zero. Promises for future raises? Zero. Actually: any promises - zero. (Promises on signed paper may sometimes be worth more than zero)

Always remember that the place you work at has no (and owes no) loyalty to you. Calculate accordingly.

I’m in this situation right now. Got my first job 17 months ago at a FAANG. Was promised compounding RSUs every year and a bonus every year.

They’ve delayed the compensation by 5 months because “I joined late.” They didn’t tell me about this until I asked about 10 months in.

Hell I joined this company earlier out of college than most students. 2 weeks of vacation post-college when most students were taking 2-3 months. And now they turn around and tell me my compensation is going to be 30% less than what was promised my first year?

Now, 17 months later around the review cycle they are saying that our org has less money or whatever, and compensation will be lower this cycle. I’m expecting maybe a fourth of what I was promised.

Which FAANG company hasn't been giving you bonuses or refresher grants?

Has to be Amazon or Apple. Probably Amazon due to the skimping on RSUs and bonuses, have heard that they’re upping the PIPs lately

You know, it baffles me that Amazon is the only tech giant[1] that consistently sounds absolutely terrible to work at. (In my experience - YMMV)

How do they keep finding engineers?

[1] Well, except Intel. You don't hear about them much online, but around here the local office (not sure about others) bait-and-switches employee openings for contractor openings. They don't even pay that well, and no extra compensation either.

Intel may not pay like the FAANGs but I don't think they're terrible to work at like you said. My first job out of college (15 years ago) was at Intel (Folsom) and it was actually relatively peaceful and nice. I left after 2 years because I wanted to chase the silicon valley startup dreams at the time (which was a right move for me at the time I think, and looking at the outcome/my past 13 years, I'd say it was a good decision), but I also could've stayed -- some of my coworkers from back then are currently still at Intel and happy. Maybe your local office has specific issues?

I had a few Google coworkers that were Intel alums. It's not that they're a bad place to work - I heard that working conditions were fairly good actually, in terms of pay, work/life balance, management, etc.

But they could be a stifling place to work. Intel is effectively a monopoly, with a clear development roadmap and a clear Process-Architecture-Optimization model with deliverables every 12-18 months. Pretty much everything about the company is setup to prevent anyone from rocking the boat. So their software activities are all about making sure the Intel architecture stays on top, their hardware activities are all about making sure that a new architecture comes out every 4 years and the die shrink happens on schedule, and they're basically averse to anything that might add variability or risk into their market position.

Certain people do really well in that environment, but for a lot of folks in software (itself a creative profession), that kind of work environment is basically hell.

Intel is (recently) no longer effectively a monopoly, and Intel and the industry is in huge turmoil between process issues, neural accelerator chips, ARM, and AMD. Intel just hired Jim Keller, and we will see what happens to them, but it's bound to be interesting.

I'm sure a lot of people think the team they are joining will be different, and some of them must be right.

People join, build up their resume over two years, and then quit to work somewhere better.

"Upping the PIPs"? Is that a thing? For a company to formally raise the bar across the board as a means to not give bonuses or raises!

I wonder if having Amazon on your resume is a bad signal now. Risk of the candidate being a participant in a toxic environment. Also a signal that the candidate was at Amazon because they couldn't get into other FAANGs (is it common for people to select Amazon over others when holding multiple offers?)

As someone who is involved in some of the recruiting process at a large tech company, I can say that the Amazonians who come our way tend to be decent people stuck in a toxic environment. Whenever I do a culture fit interview with them, I have several tactics I use to draw out the horror stories they inevitably have, and I'm usually pleasantly surprised by how they seemed to have maintained their own integrity through it all.

The contrast of their own attitude and actions in the face of being in a bad situation ends of very much working to their advantage. I enthusiastically recommend many of them as a "hire." On the flip side, every so often I churn up one of the perpetrators of toxicity, and I make sure what they tell me about themselves gets meticulously captured and reported to the decision makers.

So just having worked at Amazon doesn't automatically disqualify you in my book.

My experience matches yours, my friends and acquaintances at Amazon have been fine people, it’s just that some of their organizational decisions / probably how middle management comp gets calculated can make things toxic.

Also Amazon is easier to get hired at than other big tech companies, so I guess it is some strategic decision to hire/fire easily rather than have a stricter hiring process that would also introduced a lot of false negatives (like FLAG do).

I’ve heard similar accounts lately from some friends at Amazon. They seem to be tightening the belt.

Why do you guys automatically want to hate on Amazon so much? Amazon compensation doesn’t work like that. In fact there are no bonuses. You get a sign on bonus and 4-year stock grant so no way you get anything lower than the number specified in your offer letter.

Definitely not Google or Netflix. Netflix they’re automatic and basically the same for Google.

Alphabet shifted the timing of stock compensation in 2017Q1, and this definitely screwed over some Noogler cohorts in 2017 (who may have expected a refresh in January 2017 or July 2017, but actually didn't get one until January 2018).

https://abc.xyz/investor/static/pdf/2017_Q1_Earnings_Transcr... (first paragraph, page 3)

Same at Facebook and Apple. At least, they're entirely formulaic.

That was not the case when I was at Apple- the formula recommended a bonus but IIRC it was officially at managerial discretion. Different orgs were run with different budgets, and while not this extreme I had seen similar things happen while I was there, including getting lower bonuses myself and one coworker quitting after their bonus was significantly lower than promised (or maybe they were denied it entirely, I don't remember exactly). We were told the same thing about organizational budgeting.

AFAICT (as a non-manager), it was entirely manager’s discretion, within a budget, at Apple.

How are those things not specified in the contract?

Bonuses are discretionary, or based on future performance

I valued my stock options at 0, so I left after 2,5 years in a 4 year vesting. I didn’t believe the company would IPO. It did. The founders were good types, after all.

Those 2,5 years are now worth 1,7m$, which after tax is about half. I do wish I had stayed the 4 years, instead of valuing them at 0.

Hindsight is 20/20. It’s all about what the right decision was with the information available to you at the time, not what decision would’ve had the best outcome in retrospect.

Making the right decision at the time but later finding out it was the wrong one just seems like a proclamation that it's better to be lucky than smart. I get what you're trying to say, which is finding solace knowing you did what made sense given the scenario at hand, but it ultimately says you can do the right thing and be punished and do the wrong thing and be rewarded.

That said, I still agree with OP - it's good advice not to put too much stock in stock (unless it's liquid).

If you play poker, you know that, for any given hand, you can make the right play but still lose. But you’ll come out net positive by repeatedly making the right play.

You don’t get to play as many hands in your career as you do in a session of poker, so if you’re optimizing for income, generally speaking you should go for a job that gives you the highest guaranteed income rather than work for startups with, say, 1% odds of netting you significantly more than you would get at FAANG, for example.

I agree with you - you're optimizing for the most likely scenario. My point is even if you play your cards right, you still might lose. In other words, it's better to be lucky than good.

OTOH, if you’re bad, it’s much more unlikely luck can save you.

Honestly this is bad advice. Sure, you shouldn’t plan your life around striking it rich but if you’re going to take a job thinking the equity comp is worthless then you are probably choosing the wrong company and/or going to negotiate poorly.

Late stage growth companies that offer RSUs can be sold on secondary markets, so even though it’s not as easy to sell it is probably not worth 0 unless something is very wrong, which again is something you should assess before accepting any offer.

Strong disagree - you absolutely need to factor in liquidity effort alongside vesting schedule and face value for equity comp, and in general for most non-public companies that liquidity capability is zero.

- RSU's that I can only dump on a secondary market are worth a fraction of their face value. - Grants in a company that'll never have a liquidity event are worth a fraction of their face value. - Options in a public company are definitely worthwhile, but I shouldn't be negotiating their face value one-to-one with cash.

It's possible you've had a great outcome liquidating some equity from a private company, in which case I'm super stoked for you and that's a great outcome - but it's not the norm.

Yes, which is why you should be negotiating for more RSUs to compensate for the additional risk and illiquidity.

My point is that if you join a startup thinking your equity is and will forever be worthless, then why do you care if you get 10 or 10000 shares? To not care is bad advice for anyone joining a company that has a path toward IPO or acquisition. And if you don’t think a startup has any path then why are you joining a company that is offering you equity comp in the first place?

I'm always torn about advice like this, and honestly I think that everybody who holds a strong opinion about it (on either side) holds the wrong opinion about it.

On one hand, the basic intent behind this advice very true. Liquidity is worth something; the reason people are willing to forego 3% returns on T-bills, 7% returns in the stock market, 9% returns on rental income, or 1000+% returns on startups is because they either need the money now or there's a non-negligible chance of the money not actually being there later when you need it. (Note also that those asset classes - and their returns - are in inverse order by liquidity.) Anyone who tells you that your stock-options are surely going to triple when the company IPOs or that this ICO is going to make you a millionaire or that owning real estate is a guaranteed way to build wealth is selling you bullshit. And it's very useful to be able to see through that bullshit and appropriately discount it.

But OTOH, people who say that you should value illiquid assets at zero are also spouting bullshit. That's clearly wrong: there are people who get rich off of stock options, or RSUs, or real estate, or cryptocurrency. And you're also strictly better off at a company that gives you $100K + 500 RSUs than one that gives you $100K. I know folks who didn't bother to negotiate for RSUs when they joined Google because they either didn't know what it was or valued it at zero; those folks now have a net worth several times smaller than the folks who negotiated for more stock. This is a poor-person mistake: believing that only those things that you can ascribe a cash value to right now have value.

Like most things, it's worth breaking out of excluded-middle fallacies and understanding that your optimal strategy lies in making a best-effort estimate of some very fuzzy and uncertain quantities. You'll be wrong, but you'll do better than either those who value those quantities at zero or those who believe the estimates of the folks who sell these assets.

I fully agree, I personally know a good number of people who did quite well for themselves taking a slightly lower offer at a fast growing startup than taking a standard or above-average FAANG offer. The problem for a lot of people of course is how to value options/rsus, and that generally the fast growing companies that everyone is taking about are generally about as hard to get a job at as FLAG

For example let’s say you can take $240k TC at a big tech company where your comp is fully liquid, but instead have the option to take $170k base+bonus at a startup worth $400mm with RSUs valued at $50k/year. It’s easy to say that those RSUs are worthless and just go with FANG, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a calculated risk for slightly lower short term liquid comp in exchange for equity in a company you believe has a strong chance at 10xing. The net result is that you are choosing slightly lower pay in exchange for access to a high-risk high-reward investment

Maybe you've had good experiences; mine are that this is excellent advice - companies are there for themselves and not (repeat: not) for you.

Important: same goes for bonuses, which are also practically promises, and are not guaranteed.

Yup I value bonuses at $0 during negotiation. A few times companies have tried to low ball a counter on the base by promising an increase in bonus percentage. No thanks

Some bonuses actually are contractually guaranteed. They might be variable by performance, but every company I've worked for with a bonus plan has guaranteed some bonus outside of the absolute worst performance (in which case you should be looking for a new job long before this becomes an issue)

Hah, may I point you to the fact that MiB writers still haven't been paid royalties[1] because the movie was never "profitable"?

[1] https://twitter.com/ed_solomon/status/1139031900931198976

Not really sure how pointing out that Hollywood accounting exists relates at all to my noting that some bonuses are contractually guaranteed. Such as mine, which guarantees an X-Y% of base salary bonus based on my performance.

Yes, but was the language for your performance gone over by your own lawyer?

Is there a clause for when an upstream team decides to stonewall the work you've involved with?

What happens when your boss transfers and the new person you report to doesn't have any history to go on?

This stuff happens all the time, although mostly at the business level. Zeroing it out is a great way to make sure you aren't in financial position where you're taking a risk on things you don't 100% control.

Also, everything is negotiable! Can't negotiate the salary, negotiate on more vacations, transportation/lunch compensation, and window office, an office, laptop of your choice, etc.

This. Seriously, if you're young or new to the domain and is reading and may get yourself justifying things, STOP. This is the best advice you'll ever have.


This is such a wierd response. Like, you can disagree without calling the GP a liar.

He's not literally saying they're valued at zero. He's saying you shouldn't let RSUs (which are not wealth, but contractual promises of future wealth) or options (which are lottery tickets) affect your career decisions.

If the difference between vesting vs. not vesting is a month or two, stick around. But most of the time you shouldn't take promises of future wealth in lieu of hard cash.

Read between the lines. You don't need to take everything literally.

You can have all the options i still own on startups i worked at for $1500

email is me@dmitry.gr

Let me know when you want the wire transfer info

Determine who the most savvy executives are in your line of business. When they start jumping to other opportunities, it’s time to sharpen your resume.

A great lesson to learn as early as possible. Your boss may be good in a very niche space but a horrible, demented human being and functional alcoholic. Get away from him/her as quickly as possible. You will lose years of productive growth trying to "solve" them for the good of the business and relationship.

The following is (very?) controversial advice. Depending on your situation, it may be bad advice. There are too many downsides to list, so please use your best judgement.

Before voting or commenting please remember this HN guideline:

>Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith

...and for what it's worth, I absolutely wouldn't want to work with the person I'm describing below.

1. Lie strategically.

When looking for a job/project, lie about what you know, what you've done, who you know, what you can do for the company, etc.

Many times you are never actually called on to prove these things.

If you are sure you'll be called on to prove them, still lie, but study them as much as possible beforehand.

2. Do what matters for the people the matters.

Figure out what metrics count. Ignore or give away everything else.

Who controls your next promotion? Who could potentially refer you to your next job?

These are the people you need to please before anyone else. If you have time to please people who won't advance your career, don't. Look for ways to improve your relations with those who matter -- or ask them to introduce you to others like them.

3. Extract value from everything you do.

Look at every opportunity you would normally pass on and figure out how you can use it to your advance. Maybe you can refer someone, maybe you can take it on and subcontract it out.

Never pass up any opportunity without first asking how you can extract value from it.

4. Everything is negotiable.

Your severance package? Negotiable. Your working space? Negotiable.

Figure out what matters to the people who you interact with and use those levers to push for your desires.

The threat of a lawsuit, or an actual lawsuit, can be used in negotiation, even if the lawsuit would be unfounded.

5. Take as much data with you as you can.

When employed, you have access to an incredible amount of valuable data, resources, and tools. Take full advance of these while employed, but also remember that you will move on from your position at some point.

Back up whatever you can without being noticed. Who knows what can come in handy in the future.



Most of this is unethical. Some of it is illegal.

Understand your risk tolerance. Understand your environment.

Doing any of these can, and likely will, burn bridges. Many industries are tightly knit. People talk. Be smart.

I agree with 1 - 4, at least in part, but 5...

>Back up whatever you can without being noticed. Who knows what can come in handy in the future.

Definitely not worth the risk. What value does the data even have to me?

Code? I can get the smaller bits on stack overflow. Similar enough large projects can be found on GitHub or similar.

User data? Worthless. The bits that could be used for money are illegal enough that they would never pay off using in such a manner.

What little value you can extract from the data does not outweigh the career ending risks.

On the money for 1-4. Don't do 5, though. Memorize the crucial parts: who it was aggregated from, how much it cost, or what important characteristics it had. Never take the original thing. Preserve the appearance of having "had an insight while working on problem X". It's hard to do that when you've literally got Stockfish next to you, so don't take the data. In the end, being sued like Carmack is preferable to being sued like Lewandowski.

On number 1, personally I have had better luck in interviews being honest. I put a load of buzzwords on my CV but things that I know the basics of I will tell them I only know the basics (if asked). I think you look worse if you try and bluff your way being some kind of expert when you are not.

People don't talk. HR departments talk. If you consider them people then that's on you.

Apologies for the formatting, it seems new accounts cannot edit their posts.

@dang, would you be able to delete this? I reposted with better formatting but didn't realize that new accounts cannot delete comments either!

Use the foulest language you can in passwords. Makes it unlikely it will get shared.

If you don’t know something, say „I don’t know, but I’ll check”. Find the answer/solution and share it publicly. People will notice your knowledge and remember thing you know. It will open doors later.

Here, mid to big company ULPT. I'll never let my name be next to this:

- Get a reputation as a guy who wears everything on his sleeve. You fucked up? You're going to say "I fucked up. Give me a chance to fix it. Thanks for your help so far. If you can find the time, I'd appreciate if you could also help me with Y". Likewise "this is fucking retarded" if you see something fucking retarded. Use the word 'fuck'. People love "straight talkers" and people especially love the kind who swear because they see them as honest people. Don't use it in an angry manner, more in an obvious bemusement at the state of the world. It's fucking retarded that some machine has a locale different from the rest and we forgot to specify the character encoding for bytes to string so that machine misinterprets UTF-8. No individual is fucking retarded. You're not pointing fingers at anyone but the universe for this having happened. Then you fix it. Rarely, but at crucial moments, exploit this with lies.

- Always try to punch above your weight. Your organization is in shambles. The new product isn't taking off, your boss is leaving, your boss's boss is leaving. You're asked to take over your boss's responsibilities. No one else wants this. They can't guarantee success. Take it. Take your boss's boss's job if he's gone. If they're hesitant, use words like 'interim' and 'acting'. People suck at firing and you can always Marissa Mayer your way through ("the patient was dying; it's a wonder I kept them alive this long"). This is all opportunity.

- When you do the extra thing, make it visible. Someone fucked up and your site is dropping a fifth of traffic. You were planning on taking it easy that weekend: drop some acid, go with your friends to listen to Lane 8, maybe go home with a girl you met there. Don't do it. Instead fix the site but make it visible. Tell your boss, "I'm going to take a couple of days off. Last weekend really finished me off.". Make sure you make everyone look good, updates all the time on company Slack. "Oh shit, turns out our health check didn't detect this condition for one of our five servers. That's what it was!" See, no blame, "we" made the mistake. Then put in a protective layer around that. Improve the health check and take the server out. Now go have some fun. Do this early and you'll get a reputation as a hero. Live off of it.

- Always be bold. Make strong assertions. Then back them up. If you're convinced of the opposite of your original assertions, correct it as soon as possible. Go back to the guys you told the wrong thing to, uncorrect them clearly. "Guys, I fucked up. There's an edge case where JSON isn't valid YAML and we hit it". No one is making a decision on a particular engineering problem and the meeting is drawing to a close? Use the words "All right, looks like we don't have much time here but I think it'll be useful to leave with a default option just so we can scope future discussions. How about we consider X our default". No one's even going to fight you on that. If they do, they're forcing indecision.

- Make others look good. They made a mistake? No, we did. Sometimes maybe it was even you who failed to spot the mistake. Together, you all made something nice? No, they made something nice. They'll be obligated to say "Yeah, I only did X, you did all the Y". Accept that with grace.

- Be likable. Dress nicely. Be friendly. Be unassailable, for instance: Curmudgeonly coworker makes a disparaging remark about your code? If it's right, don't silently eat it with a "Addressed comments". Hit them with the "Thanks for the detailed review. Made the changes requested. By the way, also found article X that describes a general principle for this". Positively framed. You retain your dignity and portray security (irrespective of how insecure you are). In software, people adore "plucky guy who learns" because they imagine that he'll be good at the asymptote. Exploit it.

- Stick your neck out in low-risk situations. Some dude in Sales wants a quick feature and the cost is going to be felt by an engineer far in the future? Do it, even if you have to do extra hours. Then coast on your reputation as a doer. Someone else will pay the price. You can double down by "I don't think we should generally do it, but if it will really help I can do it but it'll take me some work. I need you to not go tell all the other sales guys that I did this, though". They'll tell the other sales guys that you do things but not what. Perfect. Now in their heads those guys think you made magic.

Don’t take a job unless you know what job you plan to take afterwards.

Yes. Every job is a stepping stone to the next one. Plan where you're heading.

What jobs do you need on your CV to get that job that you really want?

Move jobs after a year or so for more money regardless of whether you like your employer.

Circumstances change. Your salary stays with you long after that great manager has moved on.

Non-controversial, manufactured advice that pretends to be insightful.

Lost causes exist. If you’re in one, run.

Get an Adderall or Vyvanse prescription. There are plenty of doctors who will prescribe it without grilling you too hard for a legitimate ADHD diagnosis.

This is worth other people chiming in on.

Adderall prescriptions are perfectly fine if you need them to treat ADHD or narcolepsy, but it is an amphetamine and should be treated soberly as such. Though addiction with proper medical supervision is known to be low, in recreational and non-therapeutic usage, addiction is significant [0]. Amphetamine addiction is known to not be the most pleasant experience. Withdrawal and relapse cycles are also not very pleasant.

I'd not advise lying to your MDs in order to try to get Adderall. If you feel that your job requires you to fake ADHD or narcolepsy in order to do good work, it's time to find another job. Money will not buy your health back, it will not buy years of your life back, and is not worth a chance (small as it is) at an amphetamine addiction.

Honestly, good sleep, exercise, and eating right are the ways to help you get an edge on the competition. Mostly because no one ever does it. Granted, I take a few cups of coffee in the morning to get going too, so I suppose I am a bit of a hypocrite here. :P

It's not rocket science, faking a disease to score amphetamines is a poor decision.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adderall


Concerta is great as well. The extended release can give you 16+ hours.

...Also great for weight loss, appearances matter.

Sell hard drugs at work! (Jk jk!)

There is nothing here that I wouldn't mind attaching my name to.

So here is my (very?) controversial advice.

Depending on your situation, it may be bad advice. There are too many downsides to list, so please use your best judgement.

Before voting or commenting please remember this HN guideline:

>Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith

...and for what it's worth, I absolutely wouldn't want to work with the person I'm describing below.


1. Lie strategically.

When looking for a job/project, lie about what you know, what you've done, who you know, what you can do for the company, etc.

Many times you are never actually called on to prove these things.

If you are sure you'll be called on to prove them, still lie, but study them as much as possible beforehand.


2. Do what matters for the people the matters.

Figure out what metrics count. Ignore or give away everything else.

Who controls your next promotion? Who could potentially refer you to your next job?

These are the people you need to please before anyone else. If you have time to please people who won't advance your career, don't. Look for ways to improve your relations with those who matter -- or ask them to introduce you to others like them.


3. Extract value from everything you do.

Look at every opportunity you would normally pass on and figure out how you can use it to your advance. Maybe you can refer someone, maybe you can take it on and subcontract it out.

Never pass up any opportunity without first asking how you can extract value from it.


4. Everything is negotiable.

Your severance package? Negotiable. Your working space? Negotiable.

Figure out what matters to the people who you interact with and use those levers to push for your desires.

The threat of a lawsuit, or an actual lawsuit, can be used in negotiation, even if the lawsuit would be unfounded.


5. Take as much data with you as you can.

When employed, you have access to an incredible amount of valuable data, resources, and tools. Take full advance of these while employed, but also remember that you will move on from your position at some point.

Back up whatever you can without being noticed. Who knows what can come in handy in the future.



Most of this is unethical. Some of it is illegal.

Understand your risk tolerance. Understand your environment.

Doing any of these can, and likely will, burn bridges. Many industries are tightly knit. People talk. Be smart.

Be female. The pendulum is swinging back and overcompensating. At my workplace women are given opportunities and preferential treatment that men are not. And I work in defense software.

I assume you're being downvoted not because what you said os controversial - it is in the spirit of the topic - but because it is not advice at all. Its just misogyny.

"Women - make a point of branding yourselves in linkedin, communication, personal branding to leverage the advantages that are being offered, use the overcompensating in treatment of women to your advantage" - still stupid, less overtly misogynistic, at least posted in the format of an advice

How is it misogyny? Do you work where I work? I feel weird even saying it because it does feel misogynistic but it matches my actual experience at my current job.

It's not "career advice" - i.e., something people can contemplate and act on to improve their career. It's just inflammatory social commentary.

You are right about that. It was a bit tongue-in-cheek but it's obviously very poor advice.

If you find yourself alone around a woman you work with, leave the room, building, or do whatever you can to not be alone with them.

I'd say the opposite. Exploitation of this sort is vanishingly rare. It isn't worth optimizing for. Instead, be incredibly normal with everyone, girls and boys alike. Maybe you like their clothes, or you wonder how their vacation was, or you just want to share this new restaurant you like. If you're likable, people literally will not believe you could do bad things. If, for some reason, a cosmic ray hits the universe's RNG for you and you somehow encounter the exploitative femme fatale who's setting you up for a fake sexual assault suit, all the other women will back you up anyway because even though they're attractive, you were always professionally nice to them, and it wasn't even out of a sense of insecurity because you could casually make small talk like you were comfortable. You'll absolutely kill the case. And more importantly, in the happy path, you'll encounter a lot of people who you can work with productively.

Know where the skeletons are buried.

Punch back, especially upwards.

Know an analyst at the investment bank with the largest holding in your company.


Care to explain more about the "women are dead weight part"?

Not sure if this is trolling or what, but either way, can someone with more karma please flag this?

tl;dr - express dark triad behaviour

This thread leaves me in despair.

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