When I was a junior engineer, I thought that it’s my manager’s job to manage me. It even says so in the name: manage-r. I just do my work, and my manager manages me.

In reality, the reporting relationship is a two-way street, no different from any of your personal relationships. It requires effort from both sides. As a reportee, you manage up:

Understand your team’s goals, which are the same as the manager’s goals. Then, understand what you need to do for the team to achieve its goals. Ask your manager explicitly, “What do you need from me for…


First, seek to understand before being understood. This is an area I need to improve in, too: I should listen to what the other person is saying, without looking for an opportunity to get my point in. Or to use what he’s saying as a jumping-off point to making my own point. Which superficially sounds like building on the other person’s point, but is actually not, so it’s in a way dishonest. When listening, you can ask clarifying questions to understand, or to probe areas he may not have thought about to figure out if he has a view there…


Most blockchain applications are useless [1], built by people who have no clue what they’re doing, and funded by people who have no clue what they’re funding.

There are a few reasons for this:

First, a blockchain does away with the need for a central authority, but such an authority is often helpful. For example, someone proposed an Uber-like site that’s operated on a blockchain rather than having one company control the platform. But I want a minimum standard that I can expect from a taxi, and I want a central party to enforce it. If I have a problem…


Many services in India are designed for the top of the pyramid, the disporportionate few who fly regularly, own cars, have airconditioned houses, and have broadband at home. If you think everyone has broadband at home, only 6% do.

A few years back there was a recognition that startups should build products for everyone, just not the elites. This was dubbed as building for Bharat, as opposed to for India.

But we don’t hear much about building for Bharat any more. This hype train has passed us by, and good riddance:

For a company to make a profit (and therefore…


A founder shared with me a fascinating management philosophy, which I’m not going to implement as is, but is worth considering:

In his company, managers can also persuade, but each person has ultimate authority over what they choose to work on, and how, and they can ignore what their manager is telling them. Managers can enforce their view only in the following cases:

  • Ethical matters.
  • Things that require coordination like having a meeting, which can’t happen if different people want to meet at different times.
  • Decisions that have a long-term implication.

But if someone is making a decision that has…


If you’re a manger, you have to be in different mindsets at different times:

Doer: As a doer, you work in an individual capacity: If you’re an engineering manager, code. If you’re a design manager, design something. If you’re a sales manager, make some sales calls. Unless you’re down in the trenches doing the day-to-day work at least one day a week, you can’t manage well, and will become a pointy-haired boss.

Coach: As a coach, you observe what people are doing, identify problems, and suggest how they can do better. …


If I were looking for an analytics service, I would not use Firebase Analytics. It has too much cognitive overhead, too many surprises, too many things you have to do manually that it should have done by itself. (I would use Firebase’s BaaS tools, and perhaps use Firebase Analytics in that context, but not by itself, if I were just looking for an analytics service.)

⦿ Firebase Analytics does not distinguish between production and development versions of your product. As you develop your app, you’ll run it locally, and as you do this, analytics data from your local runs will…


On mobile, native apps have a lot of benefits over web apps. But, to avail of these benefits, native apps throw away a lot of benefits of web apps:

  • You have to install native apps.
  • You have to keep them updated.
  • They take up space on your phone.
  • They add yet another icon to your home screen or launcher.
  • To do something, you have to stop and think, “Which app is this part of?” For example, to order groceries from Amazon, I open the Amazon app, but don’t find it. I later realise that I should have remembered to open…

The iPhone, when it launched, didn’t even have basic features like copy and paste or multitasking. What it did have was very polished, and the first one iPhone bought, the 3GS, met a bar I didn’t know existed. Over the years, Apple added these and a lot more missing features, while maintaining a minimum level of polish.

By contrast, Android had features like multitasking from the very beginning, and added features faster than the iPhone in its first few years, always remaining ahead in this regard. It was a crappy user experience, built with no attention to detail. Over the…


I wanted to buy a mouse a few months back and, being a geek, I looked at various alternatives:

Trackpad

Trackpads come with laptops, but are also available as external accessories for desktop computers. I have Apple’s Magic Trackpad 1

which is an excellent trackpad if you use only Apple products, but it isn’t suitable for precise work like photo editing. This is bad — I need a pointing device that works for everything I do, not just for some.

When I switched to a mouse after months of using a trackpad, I found that I was flying through tasks. It…

Kartick Vaddadi

On-demand Leader. Earlier: IIT | Google | Solopreneur | Founder | CTO | Advisor

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