Mike is a Google Developer Expert in Android and Kotlin, and he is heavily focused on making performant apps by leveraging functional reactive architectures. He started his Android career 6+ years ago working on logistics software, particularly with physical barcode scanners. Since then, Mike has done a stint at NY’s premier Android shop, TouchLab, chased the equity dream at a few startups, helped fight the good fight at the New York Times and spend some days as the Android Lead at Nike. He is currently working as a Staff Engineer at Dropbox. Mike is also a co-founder of FriendlyRobot.nyc where he helps NY startups turn their dreams into Android realities. In his free time, he enjoys writing and speaking about overly complicated concepts at conferences and area meetups, writing for tech blogs and maintaining his open-source libraries which include NYT Store, TinyDancer and Apollo-Android.
Connect with Mike
You have been the Team Lead at the New York Times first and, currently, at Dropbox. What are the traits of a good leader? Can a good leader emerge from a “non-leader”?
Good leaders strive to become the worst engineer on their team. Overall, I want everyone to work with me to be better than me. I achieve this by teaching others everything I know. Team members can then build on my experience and achieve things I could only dream of. As a follow-up, my criteria for hiring someone: “Would I be ok with this person being my boss one day?” I wholeheartedly believe that every member of my current or previous team would make a phenomenal staff engineer or director.
How does one realize if leadership is the best path for themselves? How can one best transition your career into becoming a leader?
You just have to try it. It’s okay to suck at being a leader—or anything. Failure at something is not a reflection of who you are as a person. There are jobs in which I have succeeded and others not so much. I learned in both instances. No questionnaire will predict whether being a leader will make you happy. As far as advice, pay attention to those individuals who are doing it now. There’s a nice Mark Twain quote that says, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
As a leader, what do you value most in a team?
Kindness, understanding, and the ability to separate a job from a person that does it. I value those people who bring out the best in me by making work a pleasant environment. My favorite coworkers were ones who asked for help when they needed it and offered it when they saw that they can make my day better.