How to Identify and Make Contributions with a Big Impact

by Edmond Lau

Every day, we deal with many issues that demand our time: meetings, emails, phone calls, bug fixes, pager duty alerts, the next deadline. We all want to make a meaningful impact in our careers, but our time is limited. Working more hours might seem like a reasonable strategy, but it’s not an effective way to scale your impact and can lead to burnout – I learned this lesson the hard way after putting in 70-80 hour weeks at my first startup. That’s why focusing on high-leverage activities — ones that lead to a high impact per unit of time spent — is so important.

But what does it mean to focus on impact? How do we increase our leverage? And how do we identify the efforts that lead to a big impact when building software products?

Poornima Vijayashanker invited me onto her show, FemgineerTV, to address these questions. Poornima was a founding engineer at Mint and now runs the website femgineer.com to help readers level up their career.

In this video, we’ll bust some myths in engineering and show why it’s not sufficient to just hone your technical skills to succeed as an engineer. We’ll explain how to juggle incoming requests from managers or product managers and how to prioritize those requests against your other work. And we’ll share specific insights on common problems we face as engineers, including how to reason about tool-building, how to make progress when you’re blocked on someone else, and how to improve the onboarding and mentoring processes for new engineers.

Poornima does a monthly video interview with other thought leaders, and past interviewees have included former Facebook engineering director Jocelyn Goldfein, Product Hunt co-founder Ryan Hoover, and others. Check out her YouTube page for more.

This is also my first time posting a video on my blog – let me know in the comments what you think about the format.

Posted:

“A comprehensive tour of our industry's collective wisdom written with clarity.”

— Jack Heart, Engineering Manager at Asana

“Edmond managed to distill his decade of engineering experience into crystal-clear best practices.”

— Daniel Peng, Senior Staff Engineer at Google

“A comprehensive tour of our industry's collective wisdom written with clarity.”

— Jack Heart, Engineering Manager at Asana

“Edmond managed to distill his decade of engineering experience into crystal-clear best practices.”

— Daniel Peng, Senior Staff Engineer at Google

Master the techniques used by top software engineers to maximize their impact

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