#BookReview: No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

Interesting Look At Business Practices Less Common Than Many Claim. Let me be clear here: I am a 14+ year professional software developer in my “day job”. I’ve worked for very small companies with barely 100 people and owned by a single person all the way to one of the largest companies on the planet (Fortune 50). And because I’ve had a 14 year career in this field as of 2021, that means this has all been done since NetFlix has been doing its thing.

And yet while I’ve heard that the Valley works a bit differently than the East Coast / Southern companies I’ve worked for, I’d never heard of several of the policies Hastings and Meyer discuss in this text. For this developer, most of them sound *phenomenal*, and I would *love* to work in environments that had them. Though there are others – “Adequate performance is given a generous severance” in particular – that would exacerbate issues I’ve already had at times in my career. Here, Hastings explains the reasons he adopted these policies at NetFlix and how they have grown over the company’s existence. Meyer provides a degree of “outsider feedback” going around interviewing people at all levels from Hastings to the janitors and examining the claims Hastings makes.

Overall, this is a solid business book explaining these policies, why NetFlix chose them, why other businesses should – or should not, in certain situations – and how they can begin to be implemented in any company. More for Executives than heads down coders or low level team leads, though there are some interesting points even at those levels. It is absolutely something business leaders should read and ponder, and it is a good primer for those who may want to push for similar changes in their own companies. Very much recommended.

This review of No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer was originally written on June 18, 2021.

#BookReview: A Lot Like Love by Jennifer Snow

A Lot Going On – And Yet It All Works. This turned out to be one of two romance novels I was reading at the same time, that release about a week apart, that both featured single dads and their only children. So that was interesting as far as my own reading went, but not overly relevant to what you, the reader of my review, want to know about. 😀

Here, Snow packs quite a bit into a fairly Hallmarkie romance. Which as I’ve noted before, there is a *massive* market for, so I totally get why she went this particular route. (Particularly when given her other creative outlets such as her satirical Housewife Chronicles books and her *dark* alter-ego J.M. Winchester.) We get a female coder – more common than some might have you believe, but still accurately portrayed both in real life and in this text as a male dominated field. We get an overbearing boss – which happens at all levels of coding, from the small companies our female lead works for here to the biggest companies on the planet. (I happen to currently work for a Forbes 50 company in the tech field, though to be honest my bosses are quite awesome here. :D) We get a tween girl whose dad doesn’t fully understand her, who wants to do one thing – in this case, write code – and yet whose dad is pushing her to more “typical” activities. We get the small town businessman dad whose business is struggling and who has many issues of his own, both from being a former NFL star and from having his wife die several years prior to the events here. We even get a hint of a long-ago romance and long-lost love via another side story. And we get the classic Hallmarkie former high school frenemy who shows up again… and may not be all that is remembered or presented. So like I said, a LOT going on, particularly for a 300 ish page book.

And yet, in classic Hallmarkie/ Snow style, it really does all work. It is (mostly) pretty damn realistic, despite what a few other reviewers claim, including several messy moments. It hits all the notes that any romance reader will want to see, yes, including a few sex scenes – oral (both ways) and full penetration – and the requisite-for-the-genre happy ending.

A truly excellent tale and a fine way to pass some time sitting in the shade or on a lounger whiling the summer away. Very much recommended.

This review of A Lot Like Love by Jennifer Snow was originally written on June 17, 2021.

#BookReview: WorkQuake by Steve Cadigan

Interesting Yet Also Seemingly Retreading Well Known Ideas. I’m not exactly known for reading business type books – which is one reason I wanted to read this one, actually, as it sounded interesting even though it was in more of the “Big Idea for Business” type space. While I tend not to discuss my professional life too much in these reviews, it bears a mention in this particular one, so here’s a very brief synopsis just to know my own background for my further commentary: I’m a mid career software developer that has mostly worked in local small-medium (500-2000 people) companies that were usually owned by a singular person, though I currently find myself as effectively a team lead working with various offshore teams and onshore contractors for a Fortune 50 company with approximately 200K+ people worldwide. I’ve had a couple of somewhat innovative breakthroughs, but for the most part I keep my head down and do whatever needs to be done in my current role.

So when I began reading Cadigan’s commentary about the future of tech being less about individual skills and more about networking – alluding to what I call the “Flight Director Principle” based off “Iron Flight” Paul Dye’s 2020 memoir Shuttle, Houston without ever getting even remotely close to actually naming it, much less naming it as I do here – eh… I can see it, and yet I also see in my own looking/ recruitments (in large part based on the very network Cadigan helped lead at one point) I also see quite a bit of employers – perhaps just in the areas/ jobs I’m looking? – still demanding specific technologies and specific amounts of experience with them. But perhaps Cadigan, presumably with a better sense of the pulse of business generally, has better insight there than I do as more of a grunt on the verge of being a low level leader.

Overall his ideas are certainly intriguing, and absolutely worth considering, one simply wonders, based on the text at hand, whether Cadigan is simply pushing change for change’s sake and taking the safe bet that change is always inevitable, or if he truly has specific – unnamed – change strategies. Cadigan here emphasizes adaptability for both the employee and the employer, which while valid, is still a safe and typical recommendation – if you don’t know the need to be adaptable, you’re probably going to quickly find yourself stuck, on whichever side of the hiring process you find yourself.

And this is my argument that his central theses here are mostly retreads of well known ideas. At least in my own experience in this industry even at the levels I’ve seen it, most of this stuff is well known, even if the particular anecdotes and case studies he uses aren’t always. And yet, this is still absolutely a worthy book to read and consider, because despite the well known general ideas, Cadigan does present a few scenarios and specifics that are interesting to consider and, I can say, many companies *need* to consider. Will the future of employment truly look as Cadigan forecasts here? We don’t have enough data at this time to know. But as this is a fairly short book at less than 200 pages of actual narrative, the time investment here is minimal and the rewards could range from minimal to quite substantial – and thus the risk/reward calculation says you really lose more from not reading this book and losing out on some valuable insight than you lose in time if you don’t really gain any new insight. Recommended.

Note: As this review was written on May 25, 2021, and the book doesn’t publish until August 3, 2021, yes, of course, this is an advance reader copy which in this case was obtained via NetGalley.

This review of Workquake by Steve Cadigan was originally written on May 25, 2021.

#BlogTour: Hard Sell by Hudson Lin

For this first entry in our Slide Into Summer Romance Blog Tour Series. we’re looking at a MM romance that makes its name thanks to its interesting dichotomies. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Hard Sell by Hudson Lin.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Interesting Dichotomies. This book, for me, was more about the interesting dichotomies than anything. You get a MM romance… with both an FF couple as side characters and set within the Asian community, which isn’t overly common. (Maybe not as hyper-macho as wildfire firefighters, but seemingly near that level in rarity.) You get a hyper successful financial type… who isn’t being his normal hyper successful self, and in fact is desperate for a win and who comes from… less successful… beginnings. You get a black sheep who feels he must prove himself apart from his ultra-successful family. And you get the particular blend of tech and finance that I could have felt was a bit too close to my own “real” world (where I work in IT for a Fortune 50 financial firm) that it could have been *too* real. And yet it all worked. And worked well in fact. On the actual romance side, you get a fairly standard will they/ won’t they / this is a freaking romance novel so you know they do. You get the whole “best friend’s sibling” dynamic, with its usual problems and resolutions. And you get a *crap ton* of angst. If you want your romance novels bright and breezy… this aint it. But if you want a romance novel unlike most you’ve ever seen before… this one is probably *exactly* that. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, a page-ish excerpt from near the beginning of the book (seemingly Chapter 1, but it *could* have been Chapter 3) and the publisher information 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Hard Sell by Hudson Lin”

#BookReview: Meet Your Maker by Matthew Mather

Intriguing Possibilities. This is similar in its application of emerging tech to Michael Crichton’s Prey – a couple of the scenes here in particular brought that tale *immediately* to mind – while doing an excellent job of using real-world politics as an equally interesting backdrop to the science/ science fiction. Mather plays with the ideas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in fascinating and terrifying ways – ways one hopes no one gets too many ideas from. Excellent story, and very much recommended.

This review of Meet Your Maker by Matthew Mather was originally written on July 20, 2020.