The Adventures of Farmer Pete

I'm a techie who likes to pretend to be a farmer.
You can read more about me here or on LinkedIn

This morning, my dad and I were talking about the mental shift engineers have to go through as they go through promotions. He shared a military analogy that I thought was helpful.


I've been working professionally as a software engineer for 23 years, inspired to learn how to program at 13 by my dad. I started as an intern in software testing and am now an engineering manager.

Throughout the years, people have approached me, wanting to know if they should make a career change to tech. Obviously, the answer to that question is highly personal, and I can't tell you what you should do. However, if you are looking to make a move, I can tell you more about what it's like to be a software engineer so you can make up your own mind.


Stop trying to fix people. Your team members aren't problems to be solved, but rather individuals who need and want motivation. Instead of trying to fix them, figure out how to motivate and inspire.

The challenge is that there are no easy solutions, no silver bullets, no one-size-fit all solutions. We must acknowledge that each person has unique dreams and ways they want to be motivated.


It can be overwhelming when faced with a big decision, especially when there are a lot of things to account for. So I started exploring some mental models to help improve my decision-making abilities.

I came across the Weighted Decision Matrix (also sometimes called the Pugh Matrix) and it's been super helpful. It's going to be a tool I reach for in the future whenever I need to make a decision.

Why this is awesome

  • It provides a great, concise visualization. When making a non-trivial decision, it's easy to lose sight of what's important. By putting everything together on a single page, it makes it easy to compare and contrast the various options.

  • It forces you to make implicit things explicit. By laying out all your criteria and then ranking them, if forces you to think about what matters most. When making a group decision, it identifies where your priorities might not be aligned.

  • It relies on relative and intuitive comparisons. Rather than crafting scoring rubrics for every criteria, you can instead make comparative evaluations. It can be tough to measure how “complex” a project is. But, it's a lot easier to have discussions comparing two solutions to determine if one is more complicated to implement than another.


We all have limited time, both in each day and on this earth.

What is holding you back from both thinking big and accomplishing audacious goals? What are you willing to give up in order to achieve your life purpose? What is so sacred that you cannot sacrifice it without losing part of yourself?

Ray Dalio put it well when he said:

I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.


I recently read through Your Next Five Moves by Patrick Bet-David. One of the things that stood out after reading through this book five times is that every person needs to find their own path to success and that there are many different paths we can take. As Patrick said:

Wealth and success are not waiting for most of us at the top of anyone else's ladder. A richer life—financially, emotionally, and intellectually—is possible only when you take responsibility for your own success.


Does this sound familiar? As you finish the last page of a great book, you experience a high. Armed with new knowledge, you're ready to put this into action. However, a week later, you can barely remember what you read, and a month later, all the time you spent reading hasn't had a material impact on your life's trajectory.

I invested time in establishing systems to capture, store, and organize information. However, I realized that I didn't want to optimize for curating information. I wanted to find a way to take more action and apply what I was reading. The following quote, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, puts it well:

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

That then begs the question, “Why don't we put what we read into practice?” The overly simplistic answer is that there's too much information.

As Elbert Hubbard said,

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.

That is why I've decided to put my time and energy into figuring out a system that allows information to be distilled into actions. That is why I read through a book five times; each pass through the book is faster than the previous time, and I prune away more and more content until what is left is actionable information.


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