Christmas Digest ๐ŸŽ„

Christmas wishes, some personal thoughts, and some readings under the tree

Hey, Merry Christmas! ๐ŸŽ„ I wish you a wonderful holiday season, filled with joy and surrounded by your loved ones.

This year has been strange, as I don't need to remember you. For me, it's been a transformational time, as I accepted a new role after 8 years as a founder, worked most of the year from remote, and started writing this newsletter.

I am grateful for the opportunities this year has brought to me, but I also know well the disruption and despair it has brought to the lives of many others.

I wish we are able to look at the future with hope, trusting that new opportunities will come, and looking forward to them.

This issue will be a little bit different from the others. I will share a few personal thoughts, and a few readings that have inspired me this year.

I hope you will enjoy it!

๐Ÿ”’ Lockdown in Italy, and gratitude

I live in Rome, Italy.

When we went full lockdown in March, I started working 100% from home, and started keeping a daily journal. I wanted to record my thoughts during this incredible times, so I could always remember how it was like.

I also started keeping a gratitude journal, writing down every day, first thing in the morning, one thing I am grateful for. I still do it today. Over a few months, this had an incredible effect on me.

I started with the obvious: my girlfriend, my family, my job, being healthy. But over time you run out of these, and start noticing the small things:

  • I love eating yogurt and honey after lunch! It's truly one of my favourite moments of the day.

  • You know the Christmas tree that we bought thinking it was too big for our place โ€” well it turned out to be beautiful.

  • I am so happy that we see mostly trees from our windows, even though we live in a quite dense neighborhood.

I could go on and on.

Being grateful is a muscle โ€” the more you use it, the more you become able to see blessings all around you. I wish to everyone to be able to create happiness, out of whatever life brings to us.

๐Ÿ“Œ December Digest

Now, back to Refactoring! This was a dense month, where I published three articles and discussed them with many of you.

Here they are ๐Ÿ‘‡

Why Communities Use Slack Better Than Companies ๐Ÿ’ฌ

This article was prompted by some great experiences as a member of a few Slack communities, as opposed to some mixed ones (๐Ÿ˜…) as a member of companies' Slack spaces.

I analyzed how communities have naturally an edge over companies in building healthy spaces, and what we can learn from them.

The True Meaning of Technical Debt ๐Ÿ’ธ

If you forgive the pretentious title, this article dives into the origins of this widely used metaphor, and why it is often misunderstood.

I also provide some battle-tested advice about how to deal with debt in real world situations, and list some great, related resources that have inspired me about this over the years.

Why You Should Develop a Growth Mindset in Your Team ๐Ÿง 

I have been fascinated for years by the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

It is such an important concept โ€” as it has an impact on everything in our life, from personal growth, to parenting, to our work with others.

It's also a difficult concept to explain. I tried my best, also drawing a line between your personal mindset, and the "collective" mindset you experience at work, created by your company culture.

๐Ÿ“š Readings under the tree

One of the reasons why I love this season is that combines having more time for yourself, with being at the end of the year.

So it feels natural to take a step back, review what happened in the previous 12 months, and plan a few goals for the next.

One of the things I did a few days ago (for the first time) is having a look at all the articles I read this year, from my Pocket archive, and create a small list of those I loved the most.

I already star the best ones as I read them, but even so I was left with some tens of starred articles, while I wanted to get down to less than ten.

I list here a few that I particularly enjoyed, and that are not necessarily 100% business related.

๐Ÿ”— Daniel Ek interview by The Observer Effect

Ok I lied, this might count as business! But it might not, too.

It's just a great interview with a thoughtful human being, who happens to be the leader of a great technology company. I love how the talk effortlessly goes from the small details (e.g. walk me through your typical day) to life-changing topics (e.g. becoming a father).

I enjoyed it from top to bottom.

๐Ÿ”— Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition

Gardens are one of the few human concepts that seem to exist across all times and geographies.

Religion, mythology, literature and general culture all have their instances of gardens, often with similar traits โ€” as if they stand as the representation of some more profound human need.

This article explores gardens across history, from the biblical ones, down to our days. It's a short, rewarding read.

๐Ÿ”— How To Take Smart Notes: 10 Principles to Revolutionize your Note-Taking and Writing

It's a bit embarrassing that one of the most impactful articles I read this year is actually the summary of a book. In my defense, though, 1) itโ€™s a great summary 2) I also read the full book, later.

That's how good it was.

Without reading this article, and then the book, I would have never started taking notes the way I do today. And without such notes, this newsletter probably wouldn't exist.

I believe there is so much value we can unlock by organizing our knowledge in a thoughtful way. It's still uncharted territory for most people, but this is rapidly changing thanks to popular tools like Notion and Roam, and incredible thinkers like Tiago.

In a world of tools, though, the article (and the book) provides what is needed the most: a process.

A process you can follow reliably to take notes that last forever, as an essential aid to your thinking, writing, and overall knowledge.

So that was my first Christmas issue! ๐Ÿ™Œ I really hope you spend a wonderful time these days, creating new, sweet memories that will last forever.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments or via email. I read and reply to everyone!


Hey, I am Luca ๐Ÿ‘‹ thank you for reading this through!

Every Friday I publish some advice about engineering management and how to improve your work in a team.

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