The nerd in your corner

I’m here to help you move from a developer role into engineering leadership; to take on the challenging project of becoming a more confident and effective leader.

I’ve been involved in startups for 15 years. I built Zipcar’s technology, and more recently was Head of Engineering and Co-founder at Yerdle. I’ve had the sleepless nights and difficult conversations. I’ve had to learn how to maintain my sanity while underwater, and how to make my way back to the surface. I’ve been lucky enough to work with amazing mentors who have shown me how to bring my full humanity into my work.

These days I mentor founders at Singularity U and I coach engineering managers at companies like Google and Pivotal. I’m also an avid meditator, and have seen—firsthand—how important deep self-inquiry and self-awareness is for effective leadership. I want to help you become a better leader, manager, human, and nerd.


Making the shift

You will not increment your way into leadership.
Ultimately, it demands a change in mindset.

In this sense, becoming an engineering manager is a profound personal shift.

developer manager
deep thinking wide thinking
attention awareness
ideas people
technical challenges adaptive challenges
craft context
software behavior human behavior
code problems business problems
a strongly-held model many perspectives
hyper-rational intuitive

If you try to manage a team while in developer mode, it can be a huge struggle. Soft skills are hard! You may feel frustrated in your attempts to influence others or create a space for your team to do their best work.

It’s possible to change your mindset. To work from a place of natural presence as a leader. With presence, new soft skills become available and begin to feel more natural. Management work becomes fulfilling in ways you couldn’t have imagined.

I can help you make the shift.


😀 Satisfied clients

In case you haven’t made up your mind, here’s a carefully-chosen list of scintillating quotes about me.

“Carl is nothing short of amazing. He is as fluent in technology and software development as he is in the human soul and spirit, an incredibly rare and valuable combination. Carl helps bring a perspective to my work that has helped me grow, progress and solve problems more easily. Working with him has changed my life in the best way possible. I can’t recommend him enough.” - Paul Rush

“Carl’s empathy and experience has made this career transition more manageable. It was really powerful talking through my original motivations for my career.” - William

“Working with Carl helped me see the different modes of thinking I engage in when I’m deep in the code and then scoping projects with teams at work. His patience and insight helped me see I can choose how I want to engage my mind moment to moment” - S.

As you can see, there exists a set of people who find my coaching valuable.


🤓 The engineer’s mindset

I grew up in front of a computer. I loved it. Being an engineer required me to model and manipulate large code bases in my mind. So, I had this big beautiful garden of abstractions in there. I had to take the garden very seriously because that’s how I kept what was a very large and complex set of models fresh and properly stored.

The garden was amazing. I kept watering it. Planned out space for new containers. Made all kinds of topiary animals of abstraction.

The side effect of this practice was that I lived from that analytical mind even when I wasn’t coding. I lived in the land of ideas. I developed a very good intuition about software, but I wasn’t able to extend it into reading people. I couldn’t leave the garden walls. When I cooked, I had to cook recipes to the letter or I’d feel unsettled. And don’t get me started on how I behaved at all the parties I never went to.

Between the attention required by engineering work for dozens of hours a week, and the seriousness with which I took care of my garden, I inadvertently trained myself into a kind of developer’s dissociation. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. When you finally step away from the desk, and you have trouble forming sentences around other humans? It’s pretty frustrating.

I developed some skills for getting myself out of “dev mode” more quickly, and that led me to broader discoveries about the power of getting back into my body as a human, or “healing the mind-body split.” More like remembering that I even have a body, and finally understanding what a huge role it plays in intuition, vulnerability, and all kinds of other leadership skills.

☯️ The worthwhile pursuit of wholeness

I don’t believe there is a left brain vs. right brain, jock vs. nerd split that is wired into our circuitry at birth. We are not immutable that way. I think as adolescents, we discover and favor a particular way of using our minds and get excited about all of the possibilities therein. But cognitive development doesn’t end when we become adults. Major cognitive shifts can happen as we get older.

So, I believe in the pursuit of wholeness. I believe that when we intensely grow into one domain (like engineering), we do so at the expense of growth in other domains. Wholeness is about finding balance.