Monthly Digest β€” September πŸ“Œ

1 Year of Refactoring, How Notion uses Notion, No-Code Agencies, and 4 new articles

Hi there! September is almost over and it's time for our monthly digest!

For all new people who joined recently, this is a special issue I write at the end of each month. I use it to give updates about Refactoring itself, recap the latest articles, and share some great resources.

Let's start! πŸ‘‡

πŸŽ‚ 1 Year of Refactoring

I started writing Refactoring exactly one year ago. Here are a few numbers about this first year:

  • 55 articles written

  • 173 resources linked (~3 per article)

  • 11,659 subscribers

  • 138,123 email opens

When I started, I had never written anything regularly in my life. I would have never thought I could write one article every week for one year straight.

My takeaway is that good habits compound. Even if you start small, if you keep showing up results will come by themselves.

Despite popular narratives, I believe most success stories are not born out of incredible performance leading to overnight success. They are born out of adequate performance, sustained for an uncommonly long period of time.

🏍️ Valentino Rossi

Last weekend we went to the Misano MotoGP race to bid farewell to Valentino Rossi in his last Italian race.

Valentino is the one of my childhood heroes and had a great influence on me.

I learned a lot from his attitude, his communication style, and even his management skills. I would love to write a full article about it in the future, but in the meantime here is just a picture of us at the races πŸ‘‡

πŸ“– How Notion uses Notion

Last week I came across this incredible article by Notion about their own Notion workspace.

It describes their approach to building a company knowledge base, and is linked to other articles exploring specific areas, such as engineering docs.

Even if you don't use Notion (chances are you should, anyway), the article is packed with great advice. It's not just about how to organize information, but also how this information will be used by your team, and what issues you should pay attention to.

Very recommended.

🏠 No-Code Agencies

Recently I got to know a few people who worked with no-code agencies to build internal tools and small applications.

They are all very happy about the outcome. Outcome usually means a functional, good-looking application built in a couple of months, at a fraction of the price of a regular one.

The two most recommended agencies (no affiliation) on my radar are:

This made me think that, before no-code roles become popular within companies, there might be an intermediate stage where no-code agencies flourish.

I feel agencies have a better shot than individual roles right now, because they can better articulate the value, they self-manage, and they require less time than hiring someone for the same job.

Delivering a no/low-code product with an agency may also be the gateway drug that introduces no-code within the company. After the first release, employees could be trained on Bubble, Webflow, or whatever tool has been used, and maintain the applications built this way.

This approach has definitely less friction than learning the tools + building the applications internally, from scratch.

πŸŒ€ Refactoring Articles

Finally, here are the four new articles I wrote in September!

How to Design a Good Technical Strategy πŸ‘οΈ

The tech strategy of your company is the plan of how Engineering enables the Product and Company strategies and drives them forward.

If you do it right it becomes a superpower that improves everything you do.

So how to design one? This article talks about it, dealing with:

  • πŸ‘‘ Your role as a tech leader

  • πŸ”ƒ The two levels of strategy that exist in your company

  • πŸ’¬ Strategy as a conversation

  • βš–οΈ The three elements you should consider for your tech strategy

I also included resources and examples from successful companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Zoom.

How to Avoid Negotiating on Estimates 🧘

Over the last 10 years there have been very few things in my engineering work that have remained constant.

One of them is: developers hate to give estimates about their work.

I believe estimates naturally lend themselves to an infamous cycle, where:

  1. Management negotiates them harder

  2. Developers produce more conservative estimates in the first place

  3. Repeat

Can we do better? This article is about how we can do healthier work while also reducing such conflicts.

Generalists 🎨

When my experience as a co-founder ended after ~8 years, I felt uncomfortable with most other roles I could apply for. For two reasons:

  • I felt unprepared: I knew what these roles were about, but in the past they had been only part of my job, or just briefly.

  • By working full-time on a specific role I wouldn’t leverage other skills I had acquired in the past and genuinely loved.

Talking with some friends it turned out to be a common feeling, and the diagnosis was clear: I had turned into a generalist.

This article is dedicated to all generalists out there! πŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ I talk about:

  • 🎨 How generalists are different from specialists

  • πŸ’₯ Generalists’ superpowers

  • πŸ’Ό Generalists’ career strategies

How I Grow Refactoring πŸ“ˆ

Here I describe everything I do to make Refactoring grow, and how it went from 0 to 12K subscribers in less than one year.

The process is based on four elements:

  1. πŸ“‘ Notes β€” about readings and ideas.

  2. 🐦 Twitter β€” for sharing my ideas.

  3. πŸ’Ό Linkedin β€” for connecting with readers.

  4. πŸ€— Communities β€” for connecting with peers and more potential readers.

In the article I talk about them in detail, with actual examples and screenshots.

⭐ Weekly Featured Jobs

Here are the remote engineering jobs featured this week! They are all from great companies and I personally review them one by one.

  1. Thyme Care β€” Fullstack Engineer β€” a better cancer journey for all.

  2. Haven β€” Founding Engineer β€” platform to enable users to engage with health and wellness providers.

  3. Commit β€” Tech Lead / Senior Engineer Fellowship β€” the remote-first community for software engineers.

  4. Paperstreet β€” Full Stack Javascript Developer β€” the easiest way to share your startup's progress with anyone.

  5. Coinbase β€” Senior Software Engineer, Enterprise Integrations β€” the easiest place to buy and sell cryptocurrency.

Browse many more open roles (or add your own) on the full board πŸ‘‡

Check out all Refactoring Jobs


Hey, I am Luca πŸ‘‹ thank you for reading this far!

Every week I read tens of articles and draw from my own experience to create a 10-minutes advice about some engineering leadership topic.

Subscribe below to receive a new essay every Thursday and put your own growth on autopilot!