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Great Startup Engineers (derrickko.com)
41 points by mdenny on Aug 31, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments

So great startup engineers should have focus, compassion, balance, responsibility, and openness. When would you ever not desire these traits in someone? The opposite is scatter-brained, indifferent, unbalanced, irresponsible, and uncommunicative; all rather undesirable traits.

I'd much prefer to learn about some trade-offs. Is lacking any one of these traits a deal-breaker? What if someone's very focused and compassionate, but a little irresponsible?

And most importantly, how does one evaluate these traits?

Hey, you brought up another one: not a black-and-white thinker!

Things are not only their extremes and the opposite. Hence why "balance" is actually an extremely undervalued quality in a person, and it was very apt of the author to call it out.

I think your observation about thinking in black and white is a good observation. However, you still haven't answered the OP's original question. And adding your observation to the list, these sorts of things are still required at large organizations.

In my experience, it's rare that all of these traits are active in someone at the same time. This is what he was getting at. One can still be a good engineer and lack some of these qualities, but that wasn't the point.

None of the qualities mentioned here are really specific to startups. Even if you work in a big company with lots of product managers and marketing people, being able to focus, take responsibility and empathize with your users is key to being a good developer. And definitely good qualities to have if you ever want to be promoted beyond an entry-level job.

I went in expecting something about dedication and ability to go the extra mile and be a "rockstar"—but instead it was a refreshingly short and focused list of often undervalued traits. Nice article.

I have a problem refocusing again and again. How does one go about that? Are there any resources that can help one with that. I am very comfortable with focusing on one thing and getting it done, but as soon as I switch contexts, I take a while to get up to speed.

Compassion is a great one, a trait I feel like we don't spend enough time talking about as an element of success. I've worked with many extremely talented, genuinely bright people whose business skills suffered because of a lack of compassion and empathy: for their users, coworkers, or people they generally (and probably correctly) considered less intelligent than themselves. Making a conscious and genuine effort to understand someone else's position and needs will get you MUCH further than dogmatic self-righteousness - even if you really are right. ;)

He is missing one thing a great start-up engineer should have: a great big chunk of equity, preferably all of it.

Stop blogging and add a fucking progress bar and transfer speed indicator to your file transfer app, ffs.

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