tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:/posts Grind & Love the Process 2020-11-14T11:53:22Z Pedro Sttau tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1616651 2020-11-14T11:50:55Z 2020-11-14T11:53:22Z Oscar Ortet - Happy birthday Dad

Today is my father’s 69th birthday. 

They say that only later in life you truly appreciate your parents and see them as individuals outside the context of merely a parent. 

I think I am now at that stage in life where I am able to see my Father beyond a parent and see him presently and retrospectively as a Human being that has faced the same challenges and hardships I face every day as an adult. 

All of us face difficult times, but what we become as we go through them is what will stay behind. My father faced life by standing by his principles and by carrying himself through life with kindness, respect, and care for others. 

Anyone that I know who has ever met my Father would tell you he is one of the kindest most gentle Humans you will ever meet. Someone you can count on like a steady unassuming beacon of light that is always there in places of darkness. 

When I think of my dad, the image I have of him is one of a person who you can count on in whatever the circumstances. He is predictable in the way he cares for those he loves, it’s the best kind of love a parent can give to their children, boring, steady, and ever-present. 

My father and I didn't get to spend much time together, he is a Doctor, the type that sees medicine as a calling, his life’s work, which meant that most of his time would be spent taking care of those under his care. I would watch him come home at 8:00 AM after working 12-14 hour night shifts in the Emergency room, go straight to the shower, have breakfast, and go back to the hospital for work. There were no complaints, existential crises, he didn’t treat me poorly despite being exhausted all the time, he just did what he needed to do to serve others. 

You see back in the day the meaning of success was inherently connected to one’s ability to serve and care for others. It was not related to a bank account, social media standing, ranks, or job titles. Success was about protecting and nurturing the ones you love. This is what my father gave me and my sisters. 

All I can hope for is that one day when my son is my age he sees me the way I see you, I love you happy birthday Dad.
Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1267957 2019-06-23T08:28:37Z 2019-06-23T10:40:02Z When preparation meets opportunity

Today I want to talk about what it means to be given a chance against all odds and the how important it is to find in life people who believe in you and are willing to give you a shot.


Back in 2010 I was working in Portugal, my country was going through one of the worse economical crisis in recent memory. It was bad, not poverty bad, but it was a real struggle. Every single month was a battle to pay rent, pay the bills, get food on the table, no matter who you were or how good your job was, everyone was affected. 

Source: https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2018/04/04/2199417/whats-up-with-portugal/

We were operating in a mind set of scarcity; business was slow, rents were high, taxes were unsustainable, young people were trying desperately to survive in order to sustain an economy that was very much reliant on a fraction of the population that was active and supporting the country. In 2012 our Prime Minister went to the extreme of recommending young people to just leave the country, migrate

I just knew it was time to go, I began preparations to move out of the country with no real plan in place on how to do it, all I knew is that staying was not an option. 

When preparation meets opportunity

During the worse of times I was lucky enough to work for a great company that gave me the support I needed to grow as a professional,  believed in me and stood by their staff throughout the worse circumstances imaginable. Obrigado Ricardo! The company was employing hundreds of professionals that were adding value to a very fragile economy. Its because of companies like this that the country managed to pull through. 

In 2011 something unexpected happened, a friend of mine forwarded me an opportunity that he felt was suitable for my profile, it was a technical management role for a company in the UK that was looking for a technical programme manager to help run the technology for their Asian Brand Asiarooms.com. I had lived a large part of my life in Asia (Macau) so Asia was not a foreign continent to me. While my focus wold be in the AEAN market my job location was in the heart of Manchester. 

I had all the technical skills required for the job, I could code, I had a proven track record of managing both large and small scale projects, and I had cultural exposure to the market the company operated in. 

On paper it looked like a good fit, only problem was that I had no experience whatsoever working for an international company and at the time living in Portugal meant that I would be up against local candidates that were vastly more qualified than I was. 

In truth I had very little to lose, the worse thing that could happen was rejection, something that I was more than familiar with as an entrepreneur. 

Focusing on the experience 

As with everything, when a person focuses on the experience versus obsessing with the end-state, wonderful and unexpected things tend to happen, in my case life put in front of me someone that would become very significant, this person was Jonathan Potter

Jonathan was managing the recruitment process on behalf of Laterooms and he saw something that I was not prepared to see myself, he looked beyond all of my limitations or what I perceived them to be and focused on the value he felt that I could provide to the company. 

In truth, it was more than that, this person had faith in me and after having done a full due diligence on me as a candidate, he was truly convinced I was the right person for the job. Jon made sure that I could help his customer and that I was the right fit, and once he did, he backed me up with everything he had. 

My hiring manager and future boss was Dr. Christopher Burtcher. Jon held Christoph in the highest regard, "Christop was like a Swiss clock" he said, always precise, always on time, very technical. 

My first interview was a skype call in the an early Tuesday afternoon. Christoph was on time, precisely on time. He began the call by asking deliberate specific questions, there was nothing ambiguous about the process, every question was technical, to the point, structured, logical, with no space given for broad answers, it felt like I was being tested and stretched to see how much I would bend and if I would break.  

The interview ended as concisely as it began, I had no idea if I had done well but I knew I did the best I could. A few days later I heard from Jon that I had moved onto the next stage of the process. I was thrilled! 

In the next 2 weeks I had 6 subsequent interviews with other stakeholders and few more with Christoph. By the end, I reached the final stage of the recruitment process and it was all down between me and another candidate. 

The day everything changed

It was a rainy cold day, my phone rang, it was Jon, what followed will stay with me forever;

  • Jonathan: Pedro, are you sitting down?
  • Pedro: .... yes? (I could sense Jon's excitement) 
  • Jonathan: Would you like to take a job as the next Programme Manager for the Laterooms Group?
  • Pedro: ...
  • I remember literally fighting off the tears, it just felt that everything was about to change, a chance for things to be better.  
I didn't hesitate and took the job, the rest they say, is history. 

I went on to have a wonderful career at Laterooms where I made a lot of mistakes, learned along the way and became a better person at the end of it. 

What happened , didn't just "happen" to me, there are no coincidences or lucky moments. Everything in life comes down to preparation, hard work and the willingness to step towards something that you want, every day, even if you are unlikely to get it. 

In the process of doing this you will make mistakes, fall, stumble, find out things about yourself that you have been avoiding for a long time. You will meet people that want you to fail, that will applaud every-time you miss-step, but in the midst of all this you will also regain your faith in Humans when you realise that there are people that will stand by you and help you along the way, even when the odds are stacked against you. 

I like to think that their faith in me was not miss-placed. 

Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1420960 2019-06-17T08:40:01Z 2019-06-17T08:50:55Z KPIs for engineering teams

There are essentially two types of KPIs, the ones you can control and the ones you can't. The later ones essentially suck and no matter how aspirational they are they should not be used to measure the performance of engineering teams.

Engineers typically enjoy operating in a very tangible universe that is almost binary in a way: something either works or it doesn't, a deployment either passed or failed a set of automation tests, an HTTP request is successful or it isn't. 

This means that engineers expect to be measured in a very concrete and objective way, and this is only possible if whatever metrics they need to work towards are realistic, achievable and within their control.

A few examples of KPIs that suck:

- Audience or conversion metrics that they cannot directly influence,

- Overall financial / P&L metrics that they can only impact indirectly,

- Everything and anything they cannot directly change, influence of fix

KPIs that work for engineers:

- Software specific KPIs: Code quality (peer reviewed against specific pre-set quality standards), roll-backs that a specific piece of code has caused, estimation accuracy (initial estimation versus actual delivery time), time to market of new features within a specific part of the code or component, tech debt reduction over time (assuming its being tracked). 

- Business centric KPIs: Business metrics of features that the developer has worked on with a direct impact on key business metrics: i.e. when an engineer is working on a search results page; conversion rate from search to the details page or to the end of the funnel would be something he/she can influence. 

Whatever you do, make sure that engineers understand the WHY before the WHAT and that any key performance metric that is put in front of them is realistic, achievable, measurable, and most importantly, something that they can directly influence.

Above all else, make sure that Engineers have KPIs to work for, even if they suck.    

Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1336457 2018-10-30T08:42:34Z 2018-10-30T11:37:36Z The different levels of Commitment

What commitment is can be hard to define and measure but its a trait that is always present wherever we see success. Highly committed individuals drive change, leap through obstacles, they influence others around them to feel and act the same way. 

Companies that are fortunate enough to have them typically embrace change, they tend to have a very special kind of DNA where innovation is not a special project mandated by management but part of what the organisation is made of.

Since watching Connor Neill's video (I highly recommend you follow his channel) I have been thinking a lot about my staffs level of commitment as well as my own personal commitment to what we are all trying to achieve as a team.

If there is one thing I am extremely proud to see is the passion and desire that I see in my team to achieve very difficult things. I see products being built where resources at times are scarce, people overcoming obstacles by finding resourcefulness within them.

The four levels of commitment (from Performance coach Pep Mari

  • Level 0: There is no commitment, no willingness to learn or grow,
  • Level 1: Willing to improve,
  • Level 2: Will to improve to one's highest potential,
  • Level 3: Wiling to do whatever it takes to achieve a goal.

Reference: https://youtu.be/ROuhUV4jQRQ

    How to get committed people around you:

    • Make sure you have not hired 'zero level commitment' people In the first place; Do not waste your time with none believers, a highly self driven person is very unlikely to reach such a level commitment, 
    • Make sure you are at Level 3 yourself; Getting people to connect emotionally to a cause requires absolute determination and obsession with the cause at hand. If you are not actually committed and seen to be committed (both are equally important) nobody will follow you.
    • Embrace failure; As your people are moving up the commitment scale, they will make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. If people around you are afraid to fail they will stop moving forward. Failure is an essential part of success, make sure you make this clear. 
    • Have an inspiring mission; There needs to be something worthwhile to follow, the mission of a company cannot be revenue or profit, both these things should be a consequence of a much more meaningful journey. Make sure people understand the why more than the how. 
    The good thing about commitment is that it is something we control, it starts with a decision and a first step forward. 

    Being successful is about accepting that one is about to take on a journey with extreme uncertainty but with a limitless destination. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1260640 2018-08-28T03:01:00Z 2018-08-28T03:01:00Z Cynicism is like a virus
    Cynicism is an attitude characterized by a general distrust of others' motives.[1] A cynic may have a general lack of faith or hope in the human species or people motivated by ambition, desire, greed, gratification, materialism, goals, and opinions that a cynic perceives as vain, unobtainable, or ultimately meaningless and therefore deserving of ridicule or admonishment. A common misapplication of this attitude involves its attribution to individuals who emote well-thought-out expressions of skepticism

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicism_(contemporary)

    If there is one thing any organisation should aim to eliminate completely from its culture, that is cynicism. 

    Cynicism is a symptom of something that is lacking in someones life, its not a natural 'by default' Human trait, it is a conditioned mind-set that is very difficult to manage because its part of a defensive mechanism that aims to avoid disappointment at all costs. 

    To me it is infuriating because its such an irrational and unscientific state, believing that an output will not change given a different set of input goes directly against the scientific method and the experimental approach that is a Human Trait. We learn through trial and error, mostly error, this work-flow is a direct antagonist to the cynics approach. 

    Cynics deny the existence of variables and treat the future as a constant, its an inferior illogical approach that often is highly contagious, as most easy things in life are. Its like fast food for the mind, being a cynic is easy, effortless and evasive

    How to spot a Cynic inside your organisation?

    • They tend to think they are the smartest person in the room without really sharing their ideas,
    • They reject any new idea almost instantly,
    • A lot of eye rolling and general bad attitude even in the most casual of meetings,
    • They instigate negativity in others,
    • They use objection as a tool to elevate themselves versus actually use it to build or move forward, 
    • They tend to think successful people are lucky, see no merit in others,
    • Will be the ones making remarks like: management is clueless without really having been in the role and understanding the inherent complexities of a job of that nature,
    • Think they can do a better job in any role,
    • They have a deep sense of entitlement, 
    • They rarely showcase to the public their own ideas. They talk about it, but when the time comes to actually surface them, they dont.
    • They do not tolerate criticism from others,
    • Their productivity is murky and difficult to measure,
    • They often are very articulate in the way they speak, but they weaponise communication. 

    Cynicism is the opposite of growth and improvement. We can only truly improve if we embrace failure and deep down believe things can be better if your our input changes, this is a principle that I will stand by until my last day on this earth. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1314177 2018-08-22T12:24:28Z 2019-06-23T10:41:57Z Strategic Thinking & Lessons in Management by Jeff Bezos

    I learned a lot about the way Jeff Bezos thinks and looks at business and life after reading early this year 'The Shop of Everything' by Brad Stone. As I grow older I realise what thinking long term really means. 

    You see, when you are young, strategic thinking is something that you need to force yourself to do, you think of it from a time perspective; strategic decisions are important because they provide better returns, but they take considerably longer than a more tactical approach.  

    While this makes perfect sense, it's a very narrow minded immature of looking at it. 

    When I ran my own company I thought that making a long term decision meant I would see an outcome in a specific date, as if there was a mandatory waiting time that I needed to endure in order to get a return on my investment, since I didn't have any money to bank that waiting time, every decision I made was short sighted, focused on our day to day operations. The result were what would be expected, a company that ended up living and surviving day to day. 

    I now see things so differently, strategic thinking is not task orientated, it is seeded in a set of principles and philosophies that drive a set of actions without a specific output date set in stone, strategic thinking is malleable, it bends but does not break as its existence does not exclusively depend on external circumstances. 

    It's still focused on obtaining a return on investment, but it takes other things into account as well, such as sustainability, scale, competition. 

    Im not sure if at that age I would ever be able to understand this, specially without having gone through the hardships and failures I went through due to my limited view of things in general.  

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1263713 2018-08-20T05:51:48Z 2018-08-20T05:52:13Z Monday Focus: Remote is not the same thing as outsourcing

    People often mistake the concept of remote work with outsourcing. Outsourcing is the delegation of a project or a task to a third party identity usually due to a lack in capacity or a gap in a specific skill-set. 

    Remote work, the way I see it, is not about delegation, its about decentralisation of capacity within the same team. In this sense, a remote engineer is not a third party, he or she is just another engineer part of the team that happens to work somewhere else. 

    This really touches something that I am very passionate about: What makes a team a team? Is it a group of people sitting together inside the same infrastructure or is a team something more meaningful; A group people who want to achieve something together

    I see remote work as the default way of working in the next 10, 15 years, I will elaborate more on this in a future post.

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1307549 2018-08-16T07:29:09Z 2018-08-16T07:29:37Z Flow State

    When I am in my Flow-state I am at my best, in whatever task I am trying to accomplish. Unfortunately I don't know how to get into this state voluntarily, it happens, sometimes, when the right circumstances meet. 

    To me, being 'In flow' is more than being present in the moment, its about achieving a certain level of focus where there is just the right amount of challenge to keep me interested and operating at my best, but not enough to make me take a step back; where there is just the right level of skills required to make the task technical but not so much that makes me have to stop to think.

    In this state, its possible that a Human Being is able to be between System 1 and System 2 thinking, not completely intuitive but not deep thinking either. See reference to the book 'Thinking, fast and slow' by Daniel Kahneman

    I feel that in this state I am able to be simultaneously in deliberate and fast thinking without going too far off to the extreme of either. 

    I need to look more into the science of 'flow-state' and on techniques on how to potentially pro-actively trigger it. 

    Source of Graphic: https://justincone.com/keeping-users-interested-is-a-matter-of-flow/

    The below video is a segment from one of my favourite shows, the Joe Rogan's Podcast. Its a fabulous description of flow state from the perspective of a great MMA coach applied to the training and athletes, even if you do not like MMA, its worth while listening. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1311938 2018-08-15T06:36:05Z 2018-08-16T07:30:12Z Leading a fulfilling life always in process by Matthew McConaughey

    This is on top of my list of impactful and meaningful speeches I have seen, Matthew McConaughey touches on how success is modelled and how to lead a structured life that is fulfilling in all the areas that are key to a successful Human experience: spirituality, family, career, finances and health. 

    He touches on something that is at the core of my life system: the importance of being present in the process, in flow. I will be writing very soon a post about my thoughts on what "flow" is and how important this aspect has been in my life and growth as a professional and a Man. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1305586 2018-08-06T06:50:04Z 2018-08-06T07:16:02Z Waking up at 4:30 experiment - Part 1

    Once I got back from Europe, I decided instead of suffering to overcome the Jet Lag I would leverage it to do something I have always wanted to try: Waking up at 4:30am. I have read many accounts of how successful people woke up very early

    Unfortunately I have always thought of myself as a Night Owl, basically only woke up early but I was very far from being fully functional in the early stages of the day. 

    It was at night time when I felt my productivity and creative were both at their highest level, when I ran my own company most of the actual work was done dark into the night; The first part of the day consisted in getting through the clutter, email, meetings, phones calls.

    Switching to a schedule that goes against what my natural circadian rhythm has been for years is going to be a challenge, but the benefits could really justify the the effort.

    After a week of trial, here is some ming boggling math that substantiates the benefits of this change so far:

    Time savings 

    • Traffic congestion inbound to work - 10 avg mins waiting for a car, - 12 avg mins of traffic 
    • Traffic congestion outbound from work - 12 avg mins waiting for a car, - 14 avg mins of traffic ,
    • Waiting time to elevator: - 4 avg mins morning, - 2 avg mins lunch time, 4 mins avg return lunch time, 3 mins avg leaving 
    • Elevator trip: - 1.10 secs avg morning, - 0.50 mins afternoon

    Total: Just the savings in time alone, we are looking at approximately one hour a day, so 5 hours a week over 20 hours a month, this is 2 and a half additional working days added to my life!

    Preliminary findings

    The biggest effort and variation comes in the form energy and general well being. I decided to separate both because I have had days where I am full of energy but my overall well being is not the best. 

    They appear to be two separate things, one is the fuel to do things, the other is related to satisfaction, joy and general happiness. I also did not add the weekends as they would introduce too much noise into the data as stress levels are reduced and the sleep schedule was slightly altered. (not entirely)

    Below is the initial data set:


    • Overall energy levels steadily increasing,
    • Initial dip was due to getting a minor cold during this time,
    • Significant gap between morning and afternoon energy, 
    • Energy levels trend is in sync trend wise between afternoon and morning despite the gap between both. 

    Next Steps 

    Continue tracking, consider adding "night-time" as an additional data point. The impact of this change in the quality of my life has been massive at this point, I will do a follow up on this post once I hit week 6. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1305609 2018-07-23T08:32:29Z 2018-07-30T04:39:01Z Monday Focus: Work is not email

    In an age where engagement and communication are constant, the purpose of why they exist in the first place seems to have been lost. Communication does not equal connection, its not on its own productive, its not on its own conducive to any positive outcome. In fact, communication should lead to productivity, it should not be the end goal by itself.

    If we measure the amount of time we spend communicating versus actually creating something of value we would take pro active measures to communicate less and do more. 

    There are many jobs where communication is at the core of the role description, but even in these roles the actual work is not communicating, its improving the processes in which communication occurs.

    Challenge of the week: Track the amount of time you communicate, start with email alone and work your way to other channels. I will share my own results next week. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1303418 2018-07-16T03:00:36Z 2018-07-30T04:39:12Z Culture is not a project

    Its common to see companies plan initiatives to improve their culture in an attempt to get it to align to some sort of an ideal or vision of what the company should stand for. The problem is that if the organisation isn’t already what it to sell itself to be, the culture of the company isn’t going to be either.

    Culture is always a reflection of the past and present, it is completely oblivious to the future, it doesn’t care about any plans or short term initiatives. 

    In short, the culture of a company is the result of what a company has actually been in past and what is actually represents today. If staff is demotivated, cynic and shows lack of passion and belief in the companies mission, this is what the culture actually is, the mission itself is meaningless if its not backed by people that truly believe in it. 

    Is it possible to significantly change the culture of a company? Absolutely, but this cant be done over night and it will take a level of commitment and introspection that most companies are quite simply not ready for. 

    Understanding why an organisation exists is important, but being able to stand by it when things get tough is what will ultimately create a belief system that will attract the right type of talent and the right set of behaviours.

    The culture of a company is something that becomes, its not something that is done.

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1243755 2018-03-27T01:56:54Z 2018-03-27T01:58:41Z Lessons from the Falcon Heavy Test Flight

    It was so wonderful listening to the cheers of the SpaceX staff as you watch one of the largest rockets ever created by Mankind leave the platform racing up to the sky. Watching the those massive rockets lad simultaneously felt unreal, I had to rewatch it a few times to make sure this was not CGI.

    While the technological feat was a marvel to see, the Human aspect of this launch was what stood out to me. I think only someone who has had hands on experience creating something will understand what it feels like to see your work rewarded that way. 

    What you are listening to is not the sound of hype, its not fluff or superficial cheering, its pride, relief and a deep sense of collective accomplishment. 

    Some Lessons learned from how SpaceX managed this launch:

    • Failure is not just part of success, but an essential path to success,
    • Tempering expectations is a good thing, 
    • Full transparency is always rewarded in the long run,
    • Its impossible to disguise the genuinity of a truly engaged team,

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1264377 2018-03-23T09:46:05Z 2018-03-23T09:46:05Z Mark Zuckerberg - Vulnerability and Honesty as signs of growth

    I just watched Mark Zuckerberg's interview following the Cambridge Analytica data incident and it really struck me how much he has grown as a Leader. 

    The growth I am referring to has nothing to do with the external facing confidence that comes from great success and a boosted ego, its internal facing, truthful, vulnerable and honest. 

    I don't like Facebook, I don't use it, I don't like what it stands for and I don't like the principles behind the product. It was fascinating to see that as its Founder matures, his vision of what the product should stand for appears to be changing as well. 

    During the interview he mentioned that he felt that having the greatest positive impact across the word was the most important thing to him, this translated in the way the product was built. 

    I am hoping that as his view of what having a positive impact in the World changes, so will the product and what it stands for.

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1260137 2018-03-22T09:04:00Z 2018-03-22T11:36:02Z Your poison is your secret

    Today as I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk's daily vlog (highly recommend),  I heard him say something that really resonated with me in different levels, something that has been a theme  in my past past and that is currently affecting a very important person in my life. This post is dedicated to her and everyone else going through similar circumstances. 

    Everyone has or has had secrets in their lives, what we often fail to understand is how debilitating they can be to us, how destructive and toxic they become to ourselves and everyone around us. 

    A secret is an underlying idea that if something is known we will no longer be worthy of respect, friendship or love. It grows like a cancer; the longer it remains buried and unchallenged the more it will contaminate everything around it like a virus that is constantly multiplying, unchallenged.

    It devours any positive feeling it finds on its way, with  its unstoppable merciless drive it will reduce hope and dreams to ashes. 

    Whatever is hidden will always influence what is in the light, until its also darkness. This cycle will never end until we realise the very simple fact that life is too short to live in shame and worried about judgement. 

    Most of what we hide are mistakes, things we have done in the past, things that we believe are not in line with who we want to be, so we bury them, pretend they did not happen, lie about them. 

    I have done this myself, it nearly destroyed me, it stopped any progress I was making in my professional life, created havoc in my personal relationships because it perpetuated a state that I felt trapped in, an emotional trap that dictated the way I thought and created limitations in mind, mental blockers telling me that whatever mistakes I did were perpetual and would prevent me from ever being successful, it planted this idea in my mind that I would never be happy, that I did not deserve happiness. 

    If anyone ever found out or knew who you really were, your life would be over.

    In the end, it the above was nearly true, but not because of what others thought of me or my shame, but because of what I ultimately condemned myself, of what I reduced myself too.

    If you are facing something like this, I have a few words of advice for you:

    • Face whatever mistakes you have done head on, write them in a piece of paper, 
    • Surface your mistakes, make them known, to yourself and others,
    • Forgive: If your mistake affected other peoples lives, seek forgiveness, but don't expect it. Not everyone has forgiveness in their hearts, remember that this is not a problem for you to solve. Forgive yourself, after having faced the consequences of your actions, its time to seek forgiveness from the most important person of all: yourself. 
    • Learn: Make sure you have learned from whatever brought you to this place. Make sure you understand the root of the problem, most of the time the mistakes we are deeply ashamed about are only symptoms of something deeper underlying, this is what needs to be learned, faced resolved, 
    • Move on: Yes, move on. This means.. literally.. move on! It is no longer your reality.
    Someones opinion of you does not need to become your reality.

    Les Brown

    Life is short, you are going to die, soon, never forget it, live your life, be the best you can be, there is nowhere to hide from yourself.

    p.s. people care a lot less about your mistakes than you think, in fact most people don't really care too much about anything at all, trust me on this. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1263775 2018-03-21T07:32:41Z 2018-03-21T07:41:06Z iCarasia.com: More than a Make-over

    iCarasia.com just got a make-over. Actually, its more than a make-over, we have changed the way we operate, the way we see ourselves and the value we give to our customers. 

    One of the key changes we have done is the addition of our products section. While in the past we focused a lot in the services that we provide, now we have added a set of technological solutions that we provide to our customers. 

    We have put out heart and soul into these products, they were built with a pure intention of making things better: We want to make it easer to buy and sell cars in the industries we are in. We want to do this by providing trust, transparency, good prices and a world class user experience. 

    Yes, revenue is important to us but this is not what drove us to build these products. Revenue is a consequence of a strategy that is based on a pure intention to make things better.

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1262972 2018-03-21T06:32:36Z 2018-03-21T06:33:11Z Its my fault

    A few days ago a very talented member of my staff reached out to me in a very disconcerted way saying that she made a big mistake that could impact a very important ongoing project. 

    She chose to place emphasis on the fact that the mistake was hers and hers alone. She also made a deliberate decision not to point fingers at her team, external circumstances or anything beyond herself. 

    The truth was that I was pushing for a very tight deadline, and mistakes are inevitable. In fact if we are not making mistakes it probably means we re not pushing hard enough.

    What I heard from my staff:

    • I am aware of the mistake,
    • I have taken ownership of it,
    • I know what to do to fix it,
    • I am already fixing it,
    • I have learned from it.

    The outcome: A few hours later the error was fixed and the innovative product she and her team had been working on was launched to the market successfully. 

    Check it out here: https://icardata.icarasia.com

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1241712 2018-03-12T04:03:22Z 2018-03-12T04:03:51Z Monday Focus: Drive over Talent

    A question I often get asked by recruiters and professionals is what are the most important traits I look for in candidates.

    Independently on what the role is, basic technical competency is imperative. If a candidate is applying for an engineering role, the candidate must be an actual engineer, he or she needs to be able to demonstrate the experience stated in the resume seamlessly without any preparation or brief beforehand. 

    Beyond this, to me, the most important thing comes down to the drive and how badly the candidate wants to succeed and contribute in his or her role. This is where I feel the market is severely lacking, there is not necessarily a shortage in talent in IT, there is however a severe shortage in people with the type of drive and desire to contribute that is needed to breed long term sustainable success in an organisation. 

    Wanting to do a good job and willing to put in the hard work to achieve collective success is the single most important trait a candidate can have.

    Ultimately this factor is what separates a great team member from someone who relies and usually holds on to something they have that is meaningless when not shared: Talent holds no value when not applied to collective goals. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1257062 2018-03-05T08:12:19Z 2018-03-05T08:12:49Z Monday Focus: Not all Managers are Leaders
    There is a big difference between a Manager and a Leader. 

    A Manager focuses on moving people around to achieve a goal. It focuses on capacity management, resource distribution. A manager is pragmatic but very often bound and constricted by pragmatism, by a budget, by what an spreed sheet says it is possible to achieve. 

    A Leader goes going beyond what is theoretically possible because he focused on potential, his mind is in executing a vision not in the limitation of what he has to work with. 

    Leading is about moving an idea from point A to point B taking the best out of everyone to achieve a common goal. 

    Good Management is always channeled through a leader, its is apolitical, it has a very clear underlying vision, and an objective strategy to deliver it. 

    People that are being led properly feel they can overcome obstacles and can go beyond themselves, they are working for something that is greater than their own self interests. 

    Nobody really wants a boss, but most people will agree that having inspirational leadership that is grounded and guided by a clear vision is a valuable asset to have.

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1099324 2018-03-05T02:25:37Z 2018-03-13T02:53:48Z Being Technology Agnostic as a CIO

    One of the biggest mistakes I have done in my career is falling on the tech bandwagon and making decisions based on what I thought the inherent value of a specific technology was. 

    The raw truth is that technology is nothing but a vehicle to get somewhere. Sometimes throughout your journey you will need to take a bumpy old dirt road while other times you can take a brand new highway to get to where you need to go, in both cases they usually point towards the same direction. 

    Many organisations never fulfil the full potential of the technology they already have purely because they are not ready from a cultural or operational stand point to execute. In most cases technology is not the problem, its just a distraction. 

    I remember when running my digital agency when quoting for a project, most of the work and cost would fall into back-office development, very rarely the customer experience would be the main priority, as if the technology was always more important than the outcome it is supposed to generate. 

    Things I ask myself when becoming too excited about any technology:

    • Whats the skill set gap and ask myself how long would it take and how much would it cost to change technology?
    • Does the technology have a proven record, any success cases?
    • If something goes wrong, do I or my team have anywhere to go?
    • Is there any documentation? Is it kept up to date?
    • Whats the effort if I chose to move away from it?
    • Is there a simpler way to achieve the same outcome?

    Fundamentally every technology that is considered to be cutting edge today will be seen as legacy tomorrow. As CIO, technology, no matter how sexy it may appear to be is the last thing on my mind when creating a product strategy for my business.

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1250660 2018-02-22T06:28:09Z 2018-02-22T06:29:47Z Unbuzzing AI and Machine Learning

    I really dislike buzz words and the way they are leveraged by some people as a tool for self promotion. 

    Lets face it, most companies are not truly working in Artificial Intelligence, at best they are implementing an interface on top of existing platform that has been developed by other companies (there is absolutely nothing wrong with this). At worse they are working on AI creating a platform from scratch, and as exciting as this sounds, unless significant fire power is thrown at the initiative, its not likely to end well. 

    Innovation does not always come from reinventing the wheel, sometimes small iterations with existing frameworks and ideas can create a significant impact in whichever ecosystem you operate in.

    At iCarAsia we decided to use TensorFlow as a machine learning platform interfaced by another tool developed by Google to be used as the front facing interface. Is there a risk of us putting all eggs in one basket and risking looking control over our tech? Maybe. In the grand scheme of things does it matter? No!

    The reality is that the benefits of executing this and pushing the benefits to our customers in a shorter time span, coupled with the massive learning gathered from exposing the product to our customers completely outweighs the risks. 

    An AI project is only cool if it actually does something useful, if it helps people by enhancing an experience. We did not look at AI as a technological problem, it was seen as a  potential way to enrich and improve the way car buyers and sellers connect. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1250637 2018-02-21T04:07:14Z 2018-02-21T04:10:00Z FutureTech Kuala Lumpur

    I'm going to be speaking about iCarAsia's experience implementing our AI based Chatbot at the FutureTech event in May. Feel free to drop me an email or reach out to me by LinkedIn if you are interested in attending.

    Event details Below:

    If you want to make sure I am not going to bore you to death, have a look at some of my previous speaking engagements below.



    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1243053 2018-02-05T07:59:37Z 2018-02-06T07:31:51Z Monday Focus: Fake positivity

    There is this trend in the tech industry of forcing and fabricating positivity as if it were a magic potion that would suddenly make everything alright. I find that disguising of faking emotions is one of the most toxic and ineffective things a Human being can do. 

    Its okay to have a bad day, its okay not to use the term "awesome" when things are difficult, its okay to feel failure and let it sink in temporarily.

    In the workplace, not fully accepting bad moments and failure is counter productive as it is a form of inaction by itself. Success and improvement are an inevitable result of countless tentatives and failures, they are not supposed to feel good, joyful or cool. Bad days are supposed to feel bad, failure is designed to feel that way so that we want to take action and get away from that place as fast as possible. 


    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1240084 2018-01-30T03:28:29Z 2018-03-12T03:42:24Z Self Awareness is precious

    Today I was just speaking to someone that mentioned to me how difficult it was to continued doing the same mistakes over and over again at work and how this was impeding growth. Suddenly I realised that this person did not realise she had one of the most important instruments to personal growth: Self awareness. 

    In my view, self awareness is the ability to pragmatically see our mistakes for what they are, they are not permanent limitations that we need to live with, a mistake creates a temporary state of imbalance that also creates an opportunity for self reflection and improvement. 

    If we allow others see their mistakes as an opportunity not a stain or a defect, we will give them space to change and become better. 

    By treating others with this level of kindness and patience, maybe we will start treating ourselves the same way and become better people and professionals in the process. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1167592 2017-06-26T07:03:50Z 2018-01-12T22:11:08Z The Value of a Long life

    A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a video of Bernie Sanders campaign that really touched me during the elections, as I rewatched it  a thought occurred to me; Bernie Sanders is 75 years old, he has lead long life of activism, consistently standing by things he believed in never shying away from a battle no matter how hard it was.

    So at a time when convention expected him to sooth down, he ran for the toughest job on earth, and nearly won! 

    When I look at the way society sees the contribution of our senior citizens, I realise that we have a huge problem that is only likely to get worse as the life expectancy becomes longer. Its a widespread cultural problem that will inevitably lead to an almost greater economical disaster if things don't change.

    This idea that the value a person can contribute as they become older declines is so confusing to me when experience it is essentially the most valuable trait in a professional. This line of thought defies logic, especially in industries like the one I operate in where for some reason youth is over hyped and experience is no longer seen as cool.

    Here are two wonderful examples of a life with purpose that will probably make you fear old age a lot less.

    Experience cannot be bought nor faked, at iCarAsia we value and welcome experience, if your a senior techie, we hire and value people like you.
    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/649148 2017-04-20T07:18:53Z 2017-05-19T05:30:55Z The unglamorous volatile nature of work

    I always find it interesting how market demand for a specific job in a particular time influences the perception of how good a job really is. In the late in the 80's, before the World realised how twisted and fragile the financial market was, a job in Finance had a very different social connotation than it does today. 

    As things evolved and people became more aware of how toxic that industry was and perception changed. Suddenly working as a broker in an investment firm was no longer viewed as something that was positive to society, over time this has not changed much and it is still common to hear that It takes a "especial kind of person" to be in Finance. 

    Whether this is true or not is besides the point, what is interesting to me is how external circumstantial factors have the potential to impact and influence the perception of how valuable, respectful, or even worthy a profession is. We see this effect wide spread in every industry today. The evolution of software engineering as a profession is no exception. 

    Currently, there is a high demand for software engineers, this is mostly driven by microeconomics; supply and demand, there is scarcity of a skill-set that the market requires that raises the value of the job resulting in a shift in the social perception of that profession. 

    As with most things, this will change, and perhaps the moment will come when artificial intelligence is able to create mathematical paradigms without Human Intervention. If (when) that happens, the creative aspect of being an IT engineer will progressively subside and be replaced by a more "supportive" function, filling the gaps of the few things machines are not able to do independently. 

    Creativity meets repetition

    While this future is not too far ahead, we are not quite there yet, but more and more we are living in a time where the symbioses between Technology and Humanity is making one or the other indistinguishable, the need for an underlying "invisible" technological layer that is able to support the next generation of Human Beings is creating a high demand on Human brain power, there has never been a  better time to be an IT engineer. 

    It is not that the profession has dramatically changed, but external circumstances certainly made a dramatic effect on what being an Engineer is all about and how valuable the profession is to Society. 

    This is perhaps best illustrated by the perception of how much creative work is done by a software engineer, I will try and stay away from dwelling too much on the concept of creativity itself, as it is a highly subjective and debatable, so let's assume that in this context creative work is the process and the ability to creating things with little or no restraint and/or obstacles that are not directly related to the process of creation itself. 

    Breaking Down Creativity

    There is an image imprinted in our minds of an engineer sipping coffee from a cup in a trendy "cafe" changing the faith of an entire industry from his laptop. While it is not completely infeasible that this could ever happen, the reality is that as with most professions there is a certain conventional labour that makes up for most of the work done by a software engineer. 

    It can start with the restrains imposed by a coding frame-work, to a set of conventional rules, tests and protocols that need to be followed in order to create something. More often than not, it is a tedious process that is more acquainted with the labour of a factory worker than the creative work of an artist. 

    My Grandfather was a writer and I can still recall my Mother mentioning how he dreaded the process of writing, it took an tremendous amount of discipline and will power to get through the creative process. It is not a spontaneous feverish process born our of passion, creative work is a result of careful planning backed-up by a very clear vision and the means to deliver it. 

    Creative thoughts lead to plans that may or not happen in the future, only actions are able to create things, getting the creative process from a thought to reality takes rigorous labour and structure, this is where great ideas come to die and where entrepreneurs tend to fail.

    Software Engineers have the potential to create great things, but assuming that it happens overnight in an eureka moment is not realistic. I used to believe in sporadic moments of genius and brilliance until I came across Daniel KahnemanThinking, Fast and Slow publication. (also available in Audible)

    Conditional Autonomy

    And then there is the autonomy, the painful reality is that, the luxury of deciding on the end to end scope of a project is only possible when someone has no stakeholders to respond to, perhaps in the very early stages of a Start-up when there is no board or Angel Investors. 

    The false perception that a person can determine its own destiny working for someone else creates a big problem; i.e. a wave of talented self-driven engineers are put in root of collision with a corporate industry that is not willing to be dictated to, in the end, the result is usually frustrating mess where expectations fail to meet reality from both ends. 

    Now the problem is not the absence of autonomy, the main issue is around what autonomy really means in the real world. As with most areas in life, it usually means that unless funding is not a problem, the person that gets to sign the check is the person that makes the final call, this may seem as logical at first, but in the mind of a young passionate engineer or entrepreneur this usually comes as a shock. 

    Great ideas need a spark to start but they also need money to run, and this is where a conditioned autonomy takes over. 

    Fixing education

    This of course has a much wider impact, as it will change the decisions students will make as they go through the education system creating a chain effect further down the line that leads to discrepancies between the talent available at any given time and what the market is demanding, purely because we are basing career decisions on perception and by present circumstances steered by a fragile and volatile market. 

    So the speed in which things change know-days demands for a better predictability model in place to help understand what are the skills that the market will need in the future.

    A good solution would be to focus on the foundations of learning and accept right from the start the reality that the market is always going to change and that education should be about giving the structure and the tools to embrace change, not fight against it.

    This does not mean that we should ignore specific talents and desires of a particular individual, but it does put in question a tendency for an overly specialisation at an early age. Assuming that a teenager has enough data and experience to decide the career before having ever had an exposure to it on the first place is not logical. 

    The bigger the impact of this investment is the less likely the student will be to change its major even if there is a realisation that it was a poor choice or that there may another opportunity that brings more advantages long term. 

    We need to refocus on the basic foundations that enable flexible growth. The ability of a person to change career at 40 years old needs to be something that not only is possible but supported academically, accepting and embracing change is a principle that needs to be set in students early on as opposed to committing to a single discipline for 4-5 years and finding out that in the Word has changed.

    Adaptability and the ability to learn and process information is the new discipline. I am not proposing we should turn everyone into the "jack of all traits", but specialization too early on without "learning how to learn" is not the right way to go. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1147721 2017-04-20T05:41:17Z 2017-04-21T10:27:55Z Shared Risk Management

    I wrote this post over 4 years ago while working for Laterooms. The idea was to publish it in Laterooms engineering blog but for some reason or another it never happened. The intention was to document the way we managed risk in an Agile environment and how the technique we describe and experimented with impacted delivery.

    Problem Statement 

    Our team was finding a great number of unmitigated issues mid-sprint that had not surfaced during sprint planning, not because the planning sessions were not being rigorous, but because risks were not being identified and mitigated ahead of time.

    We needed to get a better understanding of what types of issues and to what degree they were affecting our progress. Up until this point, as a Product Owner I had owned our RAID, logging all of the risks and issues, qualifying them for impact and trying my best to mitigating them to the best of my abilities.

    The more we got entrenched into Scrum, the more I realised this was an agile anti-pattern, no individual person is able to identify and mitigate a wide range of potential risks that affect a product team. Identifying and mitigating issues had to be made a collective goal, shared and owned by the entire team.

    Qualifying Risks and issues

    The first step was to make sure all of the risks and issues affecting the team were logged, by collaborating with the team, using our Systems Context diagram to map out all of the different systems surrounding the team we quickly realised that we had a lot more risks that we initially thought.

    We now needed a way to qualify the risk and issues, so we decided to use a common scale that would allow us to overlap risks and issues with velocity, providing the a full picture of how RAID impacts the teams progress.

    Improved Visibility

    Our Risks and issues board is visible to the team at all times, we booked in a weekly stand up where the entire team goes through the risks inventory and assess the impact and probability of each risk.

    When Risk Management becomes a shared activity, it is owned by the team and becomes part of the organic process. Teams get used to looking at the information radiator and begin to use it as an indicator of what is ahead.

    We use our risk board similarly to what the Dashboard of an airplane, our dashboard gives us a visibility of any potential risks ahead of our journey giving us time and space to make informed decisions on what to avoid any potential obstacles/dangers that lie ahead.

    We then surfaced the risk board in a burn down chart where X is the effort required to mitigate the risks, y is the estimated loss should the risk convert into an issue. The key objective is to use this tool to prevent risks from becoming issues that would inevitably hurt delivery. 


    Unsurprisingly, shared risk management clearly showed that we have a lot more issues impacting progress than we thought. Most issues have dependencies that have been identified, since we now know ahead of time are, and how they impact velocity, we now know what areas we need to focus on.


    • Made all of the issues impacting the teams progress visible,

    • Surfaced risks that would have gone unnoticed,

    • Able impact of issues and unmitigated risks on Velocity,

    • Highlighted recurring areas where dependencies emerge,

    • Improved sprint Planning – Less unknowns,

    • Increased the efficiency of the mitigation of risks as they are identified when the probabilities still low. 

    I highly recommend that you checkout the Laterooms engineering blog, particularly if you are interested in the implementation of Elastic Search
    For further reading Elastic, the iCarAsia Engineering team has a great series of posts that cover how use Elastic Search to improve our consumer experience.
    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/933134 2015-11-13T09:59:30Z 2015-11-13T10:00:31Z Portent

    Portent - Short Film Teaser from Phil Arntz on Vimeo.

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/900916 2015-09-03T12:36:42Z 2015-09-03T12:36:42Z One Civilisation & One Species

    It has been a long time since I have written anything worth while reading, but as I stare at a picture of a young little boy who's beautiful lifeless body washed up by the shores of Turkey I can't help it but feel a sense of despair and unbearable impotence. I have a son, just like him, he looks just like him, he dresses just like him, both loved, both with their entire lives ahead of them. 

    They are the same

    This can't be it for us as a civilisation, this needs to be turning point where we fundamentally realise that nations and countries are nothing but made up imaginary boundaries made by a pre-historic civilisation that fails to understand that evolution is not about technological progress but about the ability to destroy all things that make what should be one into many. 

    Progress is understanding that what makes us different from one another is what makes us so similar. There should be no religion or country or boarder that makes any Human Being feel unwelcome in his own planet.

    I feel such uncontrollable grief and sadness that needs to lead to something. 

    I live in a Muslim country. I'm not Muslim, the friendships and bonds I have created with many people I have met and that have welcomed me into their country irrespective of our differences has made me a better person. The more I learn about the local culture the richer I am. 

    How much richer would Europe and the World be if they did the same?

    Action needs to be taken. 

    Pedro Sttau
    tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/686070 2014-05-11T02:11:02Z 2014-05-11T02:59:57Z Good old paper

    I think old age may finally be starting to take over me; little by little all my digital gadgetry is having to live side by side with paper notebooks, magazines, post-its, sketch-books. My decision to go "full-scale" digital was made consciously last year, mostly driven by convenience and efficiency. It seemed so logical, as cloud computing took over with its wide range of fully synchronized productivity tools it did not seem efficient to keep using paper, so I progressively moved into digital and started using Google Keep for all of my notes, Google Draw for diagrams and sketches, all my magazine subscriptions moved to on-line, the only thing I did not do is give up books,  actual books, not that nonsense fakery you download into a Kindle device. 

    A couple of months into the change  I started noticing that my ability to retain information seemed to be getting impacted by the fact that my mind had its own way of interacting with data on a digital device. It is as if my brain labels anything that is digital as something that is either temporary or unnecessary to retain and it makes sense if you think about it; the sheer volume of information coming in from a smart phone warrants some sort of an organic filtering, and not just for efficiency purposes it is also part of a defence mechanism, a logical consequence of the self preservation nature of our brains that do anything possible to retain energy and spend it only when strictly necessary. 

    When I write something on paper it somewhat materializes whatever I am doing into something palpable and therefore real, my eyes can see it, I can touch it, it is materially present. Its curious that even in my profession I see the same pattern where there is an ever so present need to materialize the intangible; for those of you familiar with scrum, the sight of post-its being moved and posted on walls by teams of people is quite a familiar sight. 

    There is definitely something to be said about being able to get a hold of something is actually there, moving it around, writing on it or passing it over to someone else, one of my team members used to say that as he moved a ticket from "In progress" to "Done", there was a sense of accomplishment very difficult to obtain on a digital device where everything is transitory by design. 

    Pedro Sttau