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Level Up - Issue #117


Level Up

November 7 · Issue #117 · View online

Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

Running in person workshops 🥳
After running remote workshops for more than a year and a half, this week was the first time I ran some workshops in person for the first time in 2021 🎉. One of them was a 2-day Tech Lead masterclass in Amsterdam (dates planned for 2022 if you want to join 😉). The other was a full-day workshop for senior engineering leaders for a company I have been supporting on and off here in Berlin. I enjoy running remote workshops because there are some great trade-offs such as reaching people around the world and zero commute times. But, there’s an energy and personal connection you can’t replace with remote tools. I am grateful to have the opportunity to mix it up and appreciate the contrast.
It’s much easier to build up personal relationships in a casual, ad-hoc manner when you see others face-to-face. People benefit from body language during activities and can spend time sharing mutual interests or swapping advice during breaks. There is also the benefit of focus. After all, you can’t simply swap tabs during an in-person workshop or multi-task without being disruptive.
For the second in-person workshop this week, I had an additional challenge that some people needed to join remotely at short notice. I considered a number of options"
  1. Reschedule - The least preferable due to the priority and importance of the topic
  2. Continue with the in-person workshop plan - We would lose valuable input from those who couldn’t make it
  3. Meet in person and run this with traditional VC room - Those who’ve been the only participant when others are in the same room know what a poor experience that can be
  4. Meet in person but run the workshop as if everyone was remote - Everyone would dial in and I would run the workshop as if everyone was remote.
  5. Run the workshop with everyone remote - Ask everyone to dial in from individual locations.
Exploring the different trade-offs I decided to go with option 4 and I was very happy with the results. To prepare, I asked those who wanted to meet in person to bring headsets, laptops and expected everyone to dial in. We avoided feedback loops by asking everyone to keep on mute when not speaking, which is also good remote etiquette to remove background noise. Although those who came in person to the meeting space had the option of using smaller rooms, everyone decided to stay in the same room and dial in. We experienced a slight inconvenience with echo caused by hearing people in the room speak and then hearing it a short while via the VC software. Noise-cancelling and well-insulated headsets did well to reduce this echo.
This small inconvenience was definitely worth it as people were able to connect in the breaks and chat before and after the workshop in an unstructured manner. Sometimes this was about the topic, but more often it was not. I think also people were happy simply sitting in the same room as peers instead of doing everything remotely (and having potential distractions at home). Like any good workshop, we had regular breaks to keep the energy level up.
As a facilitator, I noticed that sometimes those in the room would talk directly at others in the room (instead of via the camera/screen). While those dialled in lost eye contact, at least they heard everything clearly because everyone used headsets with microphones instead of a VC room mic. A gentle reminder from me also nudged people to look back at the screen, something I deliberately focused on to set the right example behaviour.
I had great feedback from participants (both remotely and in-person). I’ll be running a follow-up workshop in a similar fashion in a couple of weeks and was so happy with the result I plan to run it exactly the same way. Keep the principle in mind, “Treat everyone as if they were remote.”
Enjoy this week’s newsletter and be sure to pass it on to a friend or colleague.
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Sign up for the online workshop, “Shortcut to Tech Leadership” or take a self-paced course at the

What a nice contrast to do some in-person events this week!
What a nice contrast to do some in-person events this week!
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Tweets of the Week
A great reminder for you and those on your team who might be interviewing. 👇
Colin Curtin 🇺🇲🏳️‍🌈🌲🌍
@UberGeekGirl The best advice I ever got about interviews is: help the candidate ace their interview and really exercise their skill set with you. Trying to make that work has been years of deliberate practice. Starting with “satisfy my ego and curiosity” prevents everyone who’s not like you.
laura calabazas
voldemort: so yeah suck it my soul is split across seven unique objects

harry potter: what the hell how why

voldemort: okay so first imagine we have a ledger of transactions, but instead of living in a single computer it lives on everybodys computer. now, by ‘mining’ we ca-
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany