## delights]tsn: engaged,leverage

Sugg — I think we can try and develop a powerful habit to focus on the delights in our memory. Such a perception would help us focus on the delights in the current “struggle”.

The delight should NOT be related to anything “strategic “(mirage) My expectation was invariably way too high in terms of strategic value, leverage and ROTI, therefore underwhelming. These expectations were crushed by job market demand fluctuations.

In terms of engagement … my expectation was slight high.

Against this backdrop, there have been little delights, but stigma/respect (not salary!) was too huge as a factor and has overshadowed those little delights. For a perspective, please look at the spreadsheet “predict next 3-5Y job satisfaction”

I chose a python job at Macq .. engaged for a few months, to my delight.

I chose the c++ job at RTS .. engaged for 6 months, to my delight.

  • Reason: interviews — traction in interviews and also in GTD and zbs
  • Reason: interviews — socket QQ and linux system QQ .. was in-demand
  • Reason: QQ discussions with colleagues .. visible progress

Both job decisions produced good/superior leverage over 3-5Y.

I chose a c# job … engaged for a year and then disengaged, shorter than expected. Leverage was good.

I chose a Quant dev job … engaged for a year and never disengaged. Leverage was underwhelming.

I chose a c++ large scale eq OMS job … engaged for a few months. Leverage is unknown

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camp_out]ff: %%coping strategy/strength

Exec summary: If I find myself engaged, I would want to spend extra quiet hours including weekends working in office and make progress on localSys. I would be able to apply myself and match my brain power against the accumulated brainpower baked into the local code base.

By “Camp-out” I mean all forms of extra time spent working in office. Camp-out is a concrete form of engagement. Usually the engaging period is a honeymoon but hopefully it can become a more sustained focus on localSys. If it does happen (I won’t push myself too hard…) I would hit better GTD, productivity, and earn some respect from some colleagues (not necessarily the boss).

More importantly, I would feel proud of myself and free of regret or guilt. See warning below.

Capture the mood. Eg: You get an engaging project that give you insight into portable GTD, tools, or localSys.

  • Xp: Qz — I did capture the mood a few (like 3+) times. I felt really good even though the camp-out didn’t “save me” in the end. Like U.S. presidential election, the “end” result depends on many many things so it’s unwise to use it as a big paint brush and wipe out all the effort.
  • Xp: Macq — I made big efforts to camp out to work on c++ build system and python. No regrets. The camp-out didn’t really build my foundation in localsys as the expectation was too high. No regrets!
  • xp: OC — I did a few times, mostly to learn c#. No regrets.

— Warning: camp-out may not earn me respect, GTD, enough localSys mileage. Ashish feels I would survive.

I feel I may still get PIP, but after such an all-out effort, I would be decisive to leave. Consider Qz and Macq.

— I see this as my competitive strength and an effective coping strategy.

I used to feel I’m kind of inadequate if I have to camp out and sacrifice family time just to keep my head above water. Wrong! Most of my peers simply don’t have the absorbency, and productive solitude to do this. Many can’t even imagine it.

I said my son may have more or less math abilities, but his effort (chiefly absorbency) is probably lower than his classmates. My daughter’s abilities is unknown, but her absorbency is better than her brother. Similarly, my absorbency is higher than my peers as demonstrated by camp-out.

— Initially, May need 6M-9M to get over the initial hump. I can even rent a temp home for 6M if I feel engaged. See kids only on weekends.

— As contractor I feel the motivation but zero pressure to camp out; As employee I feel pressure to camp out. Clearly I feel better as contractor.

— Q: In my experience, part of the camp-out hours are often spent on blogging (flight control) and morale-boosting workout. OK?

— Q: However, if code is too opaque, I won’t be able to figure things out 😦 What can I do?

— Q: What if I receive a PIP.. will I be able to persuade myself to camp out?
A: Yes. I did in GS, Qz and Macq. No honeymoon, but I have been able to overcome the huge negative energy, convert it partially to motivation and get myself to camp out and focus on GTD.

I like this imagery — I felt like a boxer on my back-foot, not hopeful but not pessimistic either.

— Q: If in the mood for localSys but need to sleep? Shall i go home?
A: don’t go home to sleep. Sleep in office. Go home to eat then come back to office.

 

##fully engaged+!ROTI still beats boredom

Every learning direction has naysayers, and virtually all learning efforts generates low ROTI. ROTI and strategic investment are holy grails, mirages or white elephants.

We can’t dismiss $ROTI but I think we really need to look beyond $ROTI — too elusive. As Mithun put it, java multithreading alone can fetch you highest salary.

Fully engaged for a few short months but without ROTI is actually not bad. It’s like satisfactory sex without simultaneous climax. I enjoyed the journey, without worrying about the destination.

I’m able to fully engaged for a few months, while my peers can’t!

I have blogposts on spare time usage. Tech learning (even the non-strategic topics) are among the most productive. There’s really nothing more worth learning.

  • — most of these are failed technology bets, but 10x better than not engaged (i.e. boredom)
  • 2012-2013 c# study
  • HFT-specific QQ topics
  • MSFM
  • 2011-2012 self-learning volatility
  • self-learning swing
  • MOM study
  • gemfire study
  • — less disappointing ROTI in terms of self-confidence, thick=>thin/zbs, mobility, broad-base
  • bond math, socket, FIX, data structure, algo, threading,
  • coding drill, including c++ language experiments
  • specific SDI and pure algo challenges

[17]predict 2-5Y job satisfaction #OC surprise

Q: did the learning actually help with my job interviews (am not salary-focused like Mithun)? This is a key feedback.
A: Yes to some extent

The “table” is subject to frequent change, so I keep it in recoll (was a google sheet). Here some notes:

  • stigma/appreciation/respect(zbs) — turns to be the #1 key to job satisfaction, but appreciation is tricky. Bonus can break it, performance review can break it, other things can break it too. I often felt like “damaged goods”.
    • In Mac and Stirt (and OC too), managers considered me good enough for transfer to other teams.
    • retrospective can be more negative than dissatisfaction then-n-there, for Macq, Stirt
  • salary + other income — turns out to be insignificant when I have inner confidence and self-esteem. It is still one of the most important factors. When it’s very high, it overrides almost everything else.
  • distractions — do hurt my O2 for GTD, zbs development and self-learning
  • traction — positive feedback, includes zbs growth, instrumentation, self confidence, IV, catching up or surpassing peers
  • strategic orgro/stagnation — turns out to be a white elephant.
  • Many of the top factors are “perceptions” rather than “hardships”
    • perceptions — self-esteem@comp; strategic tsn; engaging… #best eg@perception — peer comparison
    • hardships — mkt depth (job pool size); workload; family time; commute; salary

! OC job was actually not bad if there were some appreciation from boss. However, the new, strategic specialization didn’t bring enough satisfaction.

! Verizon job experience was rather positive. I was on the rise, in my prime. It all ended when I moved to GS. I should have quit GS earlier. Citi was the start of another prime period. Prime mostly in terms of self-confidence, self-esteem …

My prediction — to have a satisfying (not necessarily strategic) job next time,

  • I need the #1 factor — appreciation.
  • A well-paid java job will mostly likely make me feel good.
  • LearningSomethingNew and engagement will NOT be a deciding factor (Recall c#/py experiences). I will still make time to learn something, just like in 95G

 

[19] body-build`does hit low visPgress#leverage,disengaged

In Singapore (but very few NY 🙂 jobs, I noticed a pattern — the longer I stayed on a stable job, the lower I dropped in motivation, incentives and positive feedback/reinforcement for IV body-building including QQ, coding..

Every time I pass a non-trivial tech screening, I feel a real boost … Reinforcement of absorbency and reinforcement of a wellspring of energy lasting a few days to a few months … sometimes years thanks to my retrospective blogging. My Singapore experience is missing this crucial IV element. Without it, my absorbency of dry technical learning is hard to sustain. This also explains why my absorbency of localSys is hard to sustain.

(My son has never experienced such positive reinforcement.)

To gain perspective I find it necessary to compare with other endeavors. My conclusion — body-building has the highest leverage. See also meaningful endeavor(Now)4family: IV^zbs^gym..

Whenever I feel guilty/ashamed of my fixation on IV, and try to learn zbs, localSys, GTD etc,  eventually (often quickly) I hit a broken reinforcement loop and a weak or depleted “energy supply” and invariably give up, very rationally.

Q: is there any /endeavor/ with higher visPgress than IV body-building?

chores that require absorbency visPgress #immediate $ROTI leverage over long-term, on family well-being
body-building Yes in the form of blog+github… not $$ [1] reasonably high, given huge $gain and huge t-investment 😦 higher leverage than everything else combined [2], despite the churn
… cf localSys highly visible respect, not $$ ->necessary but insufficient condition for move-up
non-prop investment easily visible but small low given the small profit no leverage so far
yoga (+ fitness) some but hard to keep $zero high leverage, well-known
diet for BMI highest but hard to keep $zero 😦 low since it’s hard to keep up

[1] I think many of my peers can’t keep up the body-building effort precisely because there’s no $ROTI… personal projects: any ROI ] salary@@
[2] direct fruits of the endeavor:

  • made my nice TPY home possible
  • enabled me to move between countries
  • made GC possible
  • gave wife the SPR then Singapore citizenship
  • gave me decent salary
  • supported my property investments

%%engaging[def2]deep dive shines through QQ interviews

Opening example — I had 3M of fixation on tibrv^JMS. Just look at my blogposts. I go beyond interview topics. This fixation hopefully shines through on interviews.

This post is more about “engaging” than focused effort — I couldn’t really force myself to focus on speed coding or c++ TMP, or high-churning javascript.

Ken Li (Citi-muni) was probably a sharp observer of my personality and once said “If you are interested in software development then you will have a long career till retirement … no need to worry. A lot of developers lack that interest.”

Very few candidates had more than 3M personal spare time engaged in any tech topic.. Something like a deep dive. (Even fewer can sustain 12M focus.) Consider XR’s interest in machine learning. Consider grandpa.

Apparently, many interviewers are personally interested in these same details (the whys/hows/whats) so they seek out like-minded enthusiasts. This is one hypothetical explanation why those crazy theoretical QQ questions come up so often.

Other examples of personal fixation that (hopefully) shine through

  • sockets — blocking operations …; unplugged
  • clustered index
  • timer hardware interrupts
  • userland vs kernel mode
  • nested classes across languages
  • compiler rules on overriding

Now, many of the weeks spent has low ROTI but I was not fixated on ROTI since my earliest engaging studies in 1998 — first deep dive in unix + C programming + perl. As it turned out

  • unix and linux became dominant on server side and enhanced my career
  • perl became m entry point into programming career
  • C domain was hopeless, but with c++ I was able to capitalize on it

Still, many of my engaging studies had low ROTI, but what if I didn’t capture my interest? I think I would end up wasting my spare energy!

Striking balance — too much “engaging” –> regretful ROTI; too little “engaging” –> bored and unfulfilled.

##[19]if I were2re-select%%tsn bets #tbudget=30m

##[17] checklist@tsn #engaging provides a checklist but here’s a FRESH look, which may not be so in-depth, balanced, and comprehensive.

Q: Hypothetically, knowing what I know now, beside c++ and python, which trySomethingNew bets would I have chosen in 2010, after GS?

  1. mkt data and sockets
  2. forex, equities, options, IRS — I like the well-defined body of dnlg as entry-barrier. I learned it fast 🙂
  3. trading engine dev including pricing, OMS, connectivity
  4. risk analytics?
  5. devops?
  6. big data including hadoop, cloud etc?
  7. — not-so-great
  8. c# — heavy investment, a lot of legwork but insufficient ROTI
  9. MOM and Gemfire — shrinking demand
  10. swing? Fun but very poor job market
  11. quantDev? extremely disappointing job market
  12. HFT? entry barrier too high

engagement+spare time utilization: %%strength

Very few peers are so conscious of burn^rot. Higher utilization of spare time is a key strength during my US peak + my dotcom peak + also my high school. We could analyze what’s common and what’s different between these peaks…

Outside those peaks, I also used this strength to complete my UChicago program, but the tangible benefit is smaller.

(This is different from efficiency on the job. Many efficient colleagues spend less time in office but get more done.  My style involves sacrificing personal spare time and family time.)

Looking forward, I guess this strength could be strategic for research-related domains, including any job involving some elements of research and accumulation.

A repeated manager praise for me is “broad-based”, related to this strength.

##taking on c# ] 2012 #j4..

See post on j4 stick2c++: Score big{losing@quant/c#

This review is mostly for future planning, not nostalgia

  • — Q: what were the motivation/j4 in 2012?
  • c# was #1 on front end in banks + some buy-side… Now it is losing mind share to web GUI. Very little heard on WPF.
    • lousy technology bet
  • c# was challenging java in a small number of banks … Now it has taken too long to mount that challenge
  • After the “conquest” of java (QQ and GTD), I felt c# was fairly close to Java and a “low-hanging big fruit” compared to c++ and python
  • I witnessed a few systems with java back-end and c# front-end and a demand for versatile developers….Now there are very few.
  • On Wall St I saw more c# than c++ jobs … now unsure. Python and java have since gained market share from c# and c++
  • — Q: why I stopped pushing on the c# front? See 2 reasons y I stayed with c++NOT c#
  • I don’t like the Windows platform. My focus has shifted away. No single big reason.
  • The absolute amount of energy (and time) I had to spend on both GTD and QQ were precious. The “focus shift” means a huge write-off, and disappointing ROTI, comparable to the MSFM write-off.
  • — Q: how was my …. –>  planning and execution?
  • I feel 80% successful. I feel in my c# first 12M I gained more confidence (5/10) than my java first 12M
  • experience (in GTD and … also IV) grew from 0 to 5/10 in windows __serverside__ dev and scripting, c# language
  • attending interviews remotely… Worked to some extent
  • taking on a wide range of c# GTD tasks … worked, including WCF, Excel, WindowsService, vbscript integration, …
  • chipping away at the biggest GTD rock namely MSVS .. worked. Now more confidence
  • — intangible gains { c# endeavor , a fresh look as of 2019. NO…. No need to consolidate with the above
  • self-image boost in absorbency, sustained focus and deep-dive.
  • Precious engagement for 12M. Over the last 20Y, some of the best months were in those 12M.
  • i’m no long afraid of a decline of java in the face of a Microsoft challenge. Right now, java is challenged mostly by python and javascript
  • removed most of my fear of joining a windows dev team like Ashish’s
  • insight into the evolution and cross pollination among the big3 languages
  • leverage? not bad
  • market depth? good except the high-end usually requires WPF
  • MSVS was a scary monster. After my c# experience I became familiar with this monster.

##elusive^achievable gains{tsn

When I try-something-new, i aim at multiple target ‘gains’ as in a pyramid

  1. strategic value, long-term orgro is the most elusive, comparable to HuKun taking his brother as role model. Biggest success I can think of is c++ (thanks to lots of IV). More strategic is my rental property investment
  2. salary hike is one of the least likely [CVA]
  3. I hope to open up new job markets at similar pay. I enjoy a wider range of opportunities and being in-demand
    .. but what if the new “market” is unsuitable?
  4. I hope to broaden my capability-base incl dnlg.
  5. I don’t want all my eggs in one basket… hedging
    .. but the broad base may not be so relevant
  6. I hope to build my self-confidence about learning
    .. but sometimes not much self-confidence boost
  7. I hope to keep my mind young, active and engaged, rather than doing the same boring job over 5Y. i hope to avoid wasting my precious spare time – burn/rot
  8. (Not really about tsn) i also want to strengthen my position, extend my lead on the body-building race. This effort takes huge amount of energy

case study: swing — rare engagement + orgro, thick->thin but abandoned !

case study: c# — i made sacrifices for deep-dive, and in return experienced rare engagement + orgro + thick->thin. I have since given up the direction, as c# is not so relevant to my current direction.

fixation@ROTI@tech-xx : too result-oriented; disengaged

fixation@ROTI/payoff/success/result/accu … dampens job satisfaction+joy@learning.

This affects my “engagement”. Granted, we should not Ignore these ROTI factors, or those “smells” … instead we should evaluate our direction and take stock, but let’s not overdo it.

  • +ve Eg: Barcap option math
  • +ve Eg: Barcap swing learning
  • +ve Eg: RTS socket programming
  • -ve Eg: git
  • -ve Eg: curve building
  • -ve Eg: WCF

Consider a tour guide aiming for the tip at the end.
Consider Grandpa in his research career.
Consider a singer like 王杰 or the last few years of 邓丽君。
Consider Einstein’s violin

Q: has that increased your income or benchmark score? # more time in office, shorter commute, MSFM, c# ….

  1. This question can be posed to grandpa.
  2. This question can be posed to any education institute including the “top schools 名校”. Ironically the same questioners seem to be /fixated/ on these top schools for their kids. So for these people, this question is self-contradictory.
  3. This question can be posed to my friends engaged in quantitative investment analysis.

This question is harmful, misleading, derogatory, discriminatory, browbeating, pessimistic/fatalistic, myopic, … This question tosses aside many important things to our lives, our joys, and satisfaction —

  • career safety net
  • exploration of personal talents and personal interests
  • “in-demand” satisfaction
  • market depth
  • mobility between firms
  • freedom — I don’t want to feel “trapped”
  • observation (even conviction) on various topics, based on in-depth personal research

spend more$ to prolong engagement+absorbency

  • increase spend on good mobile data and mobile devices to capture the creativity, absorbency …
  • increase spend on printer
  • increase spend on hotel stay near office (or taxi home) to capture the engagement on localSys
  • spend on flights to gain family time, engaged
  • spend unpaid leave to attend interviews .. to gain joy, motivation, engagement, precious insight into their selection priority

Not so sure about …

  • Regrettable — spent unpaid leave before starting Macq job .. to gain peaceful family time? low ROI
  • questionable spend (gave up higher pay rate) to gain … c++ skills like QQ, GTD, zbs

[18] weekly coding drill plan

  • No need to pass all the tests on leetcode! See tried 3 “hard” leetcode Q’s #tests100%
  • focus on effort, the process of learning
    • not the result like how many questions I have “learned”. Result is unreliable to measure.
  • time slot? mostly weekends. Weekday evenings are probably tough but I did it many times
  • time quantum? Ideally 30-90 min, not 3 hours like in the past.
  • interview format to target?
    1. codility
    2. white-board
    3. take-home?
  • skills to target
    1. pure algo ideas
    2. ECT
    3. syntax
  • select the top 50 classic problems or contrived but popular questions.
  • don’t waste time on questions with many “dislikes”.
  • level? Some past problems are very hard. We could still try those “hard” problems when we feel engaged and confident to grow through them. If too hard, just read the solutions straightaway.
  • question pool? retry — past questions in blog. 温故而知新
  • question pool? Leetcode — if the problem is engaging and classic, even if easy
  • language? py or c++ are easier (than java) to test on my laptops
  • target? 60 minutes a week (better than 0 minutes as in the past). This includes coding, blogging, email discussions
  • how many weeks? 3, starting from late Apr 2019
  • involve friends to increase the engagement — CSY, Ashish, XR, YH, Deepak, Alok, YH,

##define good life: job,health,life-chances..

I will not list generic and vague items like cash asset or health.

  •  job
    • #1 factor — sense of security that I can always get a job. Ashish Singh is the first one to point it out
    • engaging, challenging job, learning something meaningful, not like java/SQL again.
    • some complexity
    • [$$] reasonable commute
  • [$$] not so much time spent on home maintenance
  • enough time to spend with kids
  • enough time for exercise
  • [$] yoga classes + other classes
  • [$] healthy and convenient diet
  • grand parents frequent visits? Very hard
  • kids not falling behind in school
  • passive income? LG2 but the more the better
  • appreciating property?
  • parks nearby, not necessarily upscale waterfront
  • [$$] clean street
  • [$$] car-freedom
  • freedom to blog everywhere .. /therapeutic/
  • ..
  • life chances
  • [$ = money can “buy”, to some extent]

engaging[def1] #marketableDomainXp.xls

Let’s keep this in blog , not spreadsheets.

“Engaged/engaging” means level of mental engagement, including traction, level of interest and positive feedback loop. This depends on many things such as trySomethingNewStrategic. In retrospect engagement may not mean much, but it does affect my satisfaction then and there, which is important according to Theodore Rubin.

Engagement is a major determinant of medium-term job satisfaction. Because of it I walked away from CVA, Barx and other higher, easier java jobs.

This factor is notoriously n inherently elusive, unstable (strategic). Engagement is impermanent, then-and-there, like joy and sadness. I once found wafer fab spacesuit fashionable! Big data, wpf, quant, swing, FIX, kdb, … were once attractive to me. What’s engaging used to be stategic trySomethingNew, but look at other blog posts… It’s hard to identify an endeavor as long-term engaging.

When I was into option math, I didn’t want any low latency or connectivity projects.

I think soon I could lose interest in mkt data or latency.

However, even in a 5Y java/c#/python job, I believe i can find engaging challenges.

Q: On marketable-tech-xp.xlsx, which factors on row 2 help keep my mind engaged?
– Some form of complexity is always helpful. There are some on Row 2.
– Poor “market value” always decimates my “engagement”. There are some protective factors on Row 2.

The job_satisfaction_predictor spreadsheet compares past jobs in terms of engagement.

 

 

susFocus^engage^absorbency^visPgress^traction – Clarified

I hope to differentiate these related terms, and reduce proliferation of tags

  • traction — is kind of vague and high-level, so no “t_traction”
  • traction — often describes learning curve breakthrough. Defined in [11]traction(def)^learning curve gradient #diminishing ROTI
  • visPgress — is more concrete and well-defined than “traction”
  • (dis)engaged — describes a mental state, like “absorbed”, “enchanted”
  • (dis)engaged — can be felt only from inside
  • sustainedFocus — is often required to overcome tough learning obstacles
  • sustainedFocus — can be sustained by self-discipline (absorbency) whereas engaged is often due to luck and sustained interest.
  • sustainedFocus — is more a specific form of being “engaged”
  • sustainedFocus — is a longer phrase compared to the honeymoon of engagement
  • absorbency — is most specific
  • absorbency — describes the difficulty of staying engaged despite dry, repetitive, focused learning

Grandpa is a model of

  • engaged
  • sustainedFocus — but without too much self-discipline needed
  • absorbency

In comparison to grandpa,

  • I want to have more sustained focus
  • I want longer engagement, because I tend to lose interest too soon
  • I know my engagement lasts only hours, so I frequently feel a bold justification to capture the moment, perhaps at a financial cost
  • my absorbency capacity is not as good as I wish
  • i feel a real need to capture commute time
  • I need a job that gives me more personal time, even during work hours.
  • … I think these factors have profound consequences, such as my career decisions

learning nothing Strategic@a job@@ Normal !

Suppose after I stay on a job for 2 years, (beside lots of local system knowledge) I now only have some “familiar, un-fresh” tech topics to learn, like 2 of the following

  • Java — serialization, Eclipse, ..
  • Linux commands
  • Some domain jargons
  • Perl, or python
  • SQL
  • git
  • A bit of math # always turns me on!

… but none of the following

  1. algos
  2. low latency
  3. quant
  4. .. other hot domains but none guarantees higher income

Q: Would I lose interest and feel bored? Note 80% of my peers are in this situation. They are coping fine!
A: I think I will, but need to see the reality. Looking at my past “strategic” learning, I think many are similar to my TriTech direction — my naive preference for opamps design in my 1997 third year IA at TriTech — Nothing strategic after all.

Hoping for a job with something engaging and challenging is realistic and reasonable. Hoping for “strategic” is naive. For many years, I was driven by this TriTech motivation which inevitably made me feel I’m in the wrong job. (Only Barclays job felt “strategic” for 6 months.) Now looking back, ## past vindicative specializations shows a small number of vindicative examples. I feel that’s 30%, so most of my trySomethingNew or other specializations didn’t prove strategic.

However, Quartz is different. Learning something familiar but generic like java is still better than learning Quartz. Quartz is a killer.

##9 specific Short-term goals I look fwd 2keep motivated

This question is relevant to “meaningful endeavors”, “next direction” and “sustained focus”.

Q: Over the last 10Y, what I looked forward to :

  • before GS — it’s all about earning capacity.
  • GS– promotion and salary increment, but I soon realized limitations in me, in the environment etc
  • contracting phase — in-demand, muscle building; try something new; billing rate
  • sg 3 jobs –See in SG: realistic next motivation for working hard
  • after re-entry to U.S. — IV batting average, as gauge of my market value

Q: what positive feedback can I look forward to, to keep me motivated?

  1. success with tricky coding questions from real interviews (perhaps from friends)
  2. more time for myself (but not in bad mood) — blogging, reading, exercise, sight-seeing.
  3. more time to reunion with family and grandparents. Remember [[about time]] movie theme?
  4. more income to provide for kids, grandparents and my dear wife
  5. more savings — to achieve more investment success
  6. more savings — buy a home nearer to office to cut commute
  7. more IV success, perhaps in quant or HFT domains?
  8. growing IV capabilities towards better jobs
  9. positive feedback from mgr like Anand and Ravi K.
    • promotion?
  10. build zbs in c++/py — unrelated to IV, but gives me the much-needed respect, cool confidence, freedom from stress …?
  11. weight and fitness improvement
  12. more insights to publish on my blog, a sign of my accumulation

focus+engagement2dive into a tech topic#Ashish

(Blogging. No need to reply)

Learning any of the non-trivial parts of c++ (or python) requires focus and engagement. I call it the “laser”. For example, I was trying to understand all the rules about placing definitions vs declarations in header files. There are not just “3 simple rules”. There are perhaps 20 rules, with exceptions. To please the compiler and linker you have various strategies.

OK this is not the most typical example of what I want to illustrate. Suffice to say that, faced with this complexity (or ambiguity, or “chaos”) many developers at my age simply throw up their hands. People at my age are bombarded with kids’ schooling, kids’ enrichment, baby-sitting, home repair [1], personal investment [2], home improvement… It’s hard to find a block of 3 hours to dive in/zoom in on some c++ topic.

As a result, we stop digging after learning the basics. We learn only what’s needed for the project.

Sometimes, without the “laser”, you can’t break through the stone wall. You can’t really feel you have gained any insight on that topic. You can’t connect the dots. You can’t “read a book from thin to thick, then thick to thin again”. You can’t gain traction even though you are making a real effort. Based on my experience, on most of the those tough topics the focus and engagement is a must.

I’m at my best when I have my “laser” on. Gaining that insight is what I’m good at. I relied on my “laser” to gain insights and compete on the job market for years.

Now I have the time and bandwidth, I need to capitalize on it.

[1] old wood houses give more problems than, say, condos with a management fee

[2] some spend hours every day

[[Focus]] for technical xx

See also my email to Raja, XR and ZengSheng on “the zone”, the “creative engine”…

As the book author, Dan’s concept of focus is more narrow. It’s related to a student’s focus. I told my son he needs better concentration. As a student I was very good with concentration and engaged.

Compared to my engaged “traction” days, I now spend too much time emailing, blogging on non-tech, calling home, research about housing, shopping, food preparation … But that’s not the key. During the work or study hours, I am not focusing as I did in primary school.

Traction/engaged days are with growth, concentration, positive feedback loop, tech blogging….

I think Yang was the first manager who pointed out I need better focus. Perhaps he meant I tried to study all the systems in PWM Comm all at once. I made real progress (with ErrorMemos, SQL, Java …) after I sent my wife/son back to Singapore.

I made real progress with quant stuff during the Barcap days. However, I also had to keep job hunting remotely.

Avichal, who sat beside me, said I had too many distractions… Disengaged.

Similar to dabao’s case, I guess the initial code complexity requires focus… Without sufficient focus, the complexity is just too much for my capacity. Better shut out everything else and focus on delivering something non-trivial. Remember PWM, Quartz, …

Grandpa had a lot to say about focus…

create positive-stressful env n keep fit #UChicago;c++job

Hi XR,

We talked briefly about this human nature — no one has that “perfect” will-power, perseverance and persistent motivation, therefore as a result the environment we put ourselves in can help induce a significant personal effort.

Here’s the situation we discussed — you are in a perm job, you won’t feel motivated to keep up interviewing skills. I guess our workload + family responsibilities will “crowd out” any personal study plan to keep learning and stay fit for interviews. (This looks like one example of the boiling frog — a frog won’t jump out of hot water if on a slow cooker.)

I see many examples of this human nature:

  • I mention my blog and my github in my resume, so I sometimes worry that prospective interviewers may spot mistakes. That fear keeps me motivated to improve my “published” work. When
    I review my work, I often learn something, and I often feel excited that I’m slowly building up a positive “public” profile.
  • Without taking my current c++ job, how many (spare time) hours would I be able to put into c++ self-study? I think average 2hr/week is achievable but not easy. Nowadays I actually put in about 5 to 10 hours outside 9-6 work hours, on my c++ projects.
  • In Singapore, my wife can put in some effort to improve English but she doesn’t have time or energy. She finds it difficult to put in the effort. In the U.S. she WOULD indeed put in more effort learning English. On the other hand, many students in China could build a formidable English vocab simply by reading — they have a persistent motivation.
  • 30 minutes moderate exercise 5 times a week — is a basic guideline, but I know very few adults actually doing that consistently. I bet when one’s health condition requires that much exercise, there will be more motivation and more effort.
  • Once I paid course fees, I routinely put in 30 hours a week on my financial math studies. In theory I could self-study the same, but how many hours would I put in on average over a year? Perhaps 30 minutes/week!

(Most of my examples are about self-improvement and self-motivation. )

stay long→move up to hands-off roles: hurts fitness

I think a few people I know said they deliberately avoided hands-off roles. Avichal, Nitin of Morgan Stanley, .. If I ever become a manager, I feel 100% sure I would adopt the same career strategy.

(How about German Cheung?)

In the US and in Singapore, I stayed away from hands-off manager or client-facing architect/pre-sales positions.  One of the top 3 justifications is to stay fit. Hands-on roles keep me fit to the job market.

In 80 to 90% of the financial IT job interviews I attended, there’s a non-trivial technical screening, usually a coding test. However, I am an biased statistician or there’s no science here — nothing but personal observations.

Backgrounder — (See also https://bintanvictor.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/long-term-system-expertcontractor/) I did hope to stay in a job for a few years and grow into a system expert. In a few places, it turned out that in one team (say up to 10 people), there are multiple system experts each with many years of experience in the local system. Even if you have 3 years experience in this local system, you may not be appointed the team lead. The chance is 50/50 … could be 30% or 70%. So do you want to remain here for 3 more years and hope for a leadership role?

When I couldn’t rise up in the team, I always decide to move “out” of the comfort zone into the “cold” — every job interview has a technical screening. I soon came to the conclusion that to stay relevant and marketable, I must maintain portable (non-local) tech skills. Many techies at my age wouldn’t choose this route partly because only a minority of techies can stay fit after 45.

Well, I see myself in that (lucky) minority. I don’t mean to say I’m as fit as at 30, but I am fit enough to pass the tech screening.

#1@what I enjoy: body-build`

(Avichal asked me …)

#1 of what I enjoy most – body-building. There are various elements that make it challenging, engaging, sustainable

* some value-add for the tech community

* relevant to immediate IV -and- value-add-for-employer, which translates to stable and hopefully rising income…
Example – high performance c++ on linux

* unlocking additional job markets
Example – c++, c#, swing, socket
Example – FX domain knowledge
Example – quant stuff

* Real insight gained only by in-depth study, overcoming a non-trivial entry barrier, and building a lead over competitors
Example – quant trading strategy
Example – threading, STL,
Example – insights into c#
Example – stat risk content, even though not really relevant to my interviews.

* strategic value to my competitive position
counter-example: secDB