What we can learn from Real Madrid about career and companies

Raúl and Iker Casillas both won three European Cups with Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won four in his tenure with Madrid.

Zidane has won its third title as a coach, besides one as a player.

Francisco Gento won six of them while wearing the white shirt.

But the club itself has won thirteen.

Different generations of Real Madrid players sharing the room

Real Madrid’s generations at http://www.jamiecooperartist.com/

Raúl, Casillas, Zidane and Gento went in and out of Real Madrid. They did their best effort to win, both for themselves and for their teammates and the club. And after several years of service they parted ways with the club. Some did it in friendly terms, some didn’t. Sooner or later, Cristiano will do the same.

And in the end, it will be the club what remains. As years go by, it’s not the particular effort of any of the players what is remembered. It’s the sum of the efforts of these successful players and of those others who came before and succeeded them what matters, what counts, what remains.

Workers come and go from companies. You put your best into them. You try to improve them. And even you can try to find someone who preserves your legacy once you’d gone.

But hopefully, in the end, you will go and the company will stay.



You can be Bart, or you can be Lisa


As a manager you could trust more in some members of the team.

As a team member you can trust more in some colleagues than in others.

As a contributor you could gain the trust of your boss, or not.

When wondering about why trust is earned, remember this dialogue between Marge, Lisa and Bart from The Simpsons.

  • Marge: Ready to go back to school?
  • Lisa: [ Weakly ] Oh, I don’t know. [ Coughs ] I mean, I could risk it, but…
  • Marge: No, no. You just stay put.
  • Bart: Wow. You didn’t even feel her forehead. How do I get that kind of credibility?
  • Marge: With eight years of scrupulous honesty.
  • Bart: Eh. It’s not worth it.
    (The Simpsons, Lisa gets an A)

Remeber. You can be Bart. Or you can be Lisa. Every role has its advantages and drawbacks.

Choose. Bart or Lisa. Because you can’t be both at the same time.

Gimli, son of Gloin, on software development

How to measure the productivity of a software developer has been an ongoing debate for years.

They studied professional programmers with an average of 7 years’ experience and found that the ratio of initial coding time between the best and worst programmers was about 20 to 1; the ratio of debugging times over 25 to 1; of program size 5 to 1; and of program execution speed about 10 to 1. They found no relationship between a programmer’s amount of experience and code quality or productivity. (Steve McConnell, Rapid Development)

Imagen de Legolas y Gimli en la peli de 1978

Gimli le explica a Legolas la vida del programador

From the number of lines of code written to assigning function points to each part of the code depending on complexity, there is a whole set of proposals out there.

Consider both points above together – your coworker codes 25 function points in one day, but they’re all simple validations (if text box “a” is not a date, throw an error…)

In the same day, you stared at the screen for six hours, whiteboarded a lot, then rewrote one line and deleted fifteen other lines, making a major part of the data processing engine faster by two orders of magnitude.

So he wrote 650 lines and 25 function points, you wrote *negative* fourteen lines of code and no new function points.

Who’s “better” ? (Joel On Software Forum)

J.R.R. Tolkien, in The Lord of the Rings,  was so kind as to take some time to explain, through the words of Gimli the dwarf, the most complex and marvellous part of a software developer’s work.

We would tend these glades of flowering stone, not quarry them. With cautious skill, tap by tap – a small chip of rock and no more, perhaps, in a whole anxious day – so we could work, and as the years went by, we should open up new ways, and display far chambers that are still dark, glimpsed only as a void beyond fissures in the rock.

Quote on learning from experience

After the first few minutes of Die Hard 2, in a self-referential joke, the character played by Bruce Willis realizes his current problems are the very same as in the previous movie.

Oh man, I can’t fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice? (John McClane, Die Hard 2)

Every problem you deal with will resemble any problem you faced in the past, at least in some ways.

So every problem you tackle, is a chance for learning. Every awkward situation you solved means you are readier to face the next one.

You don’t need to learn from failure, nor need to learn from success either. You are well enough just learning from experience.



Quotes on power and responsibility

“with great power comes great responsibility” (Uncle Ben, Spiderman)

“Management now builds companies around people, not factories […] this gives employees far more power than ever before. Truly talented individuals are worth more, because when they move from one organization to another, they bring more value with them. But this power also brings a huge responsibility to the individual. If your boss isn’t giving you the opportunity to zoom, you have to protect your personal mDNA and leave for a job in which you can improve it. […] Smart, talented employees will work to maximize the value of their mDNA. Smart, talented bosses will work to find and keep those smart employees” (Survival is not enough, Seth Godin)

When looking for a job, search for companies that let you grow. And then do your best, until you have grown enough.

When looking for an employee, search for people that want to grow. And then empower them to do their best, until they have grown enough.

Whether you’re hiring or being hired, you have both power and responsibility. Use your power. Accept your responsibility.

Related: Team leader vs Project Manager

Quote on overcoming obstacles through terror

You have to anticipate and embrace the inevitable sensation of fear. You will feel fear for sure. And you will feel risk. None of those daydreams where you imagine yourself in a movie of your own success, just happen without that zone and period of risk and terror. (Edward Norton, on his entrepreneurship facet)

Don’t expect you will stop being afraid. On your career, every move has its own risk. You have to learn to deal with it, the sooner, the better. Turn your fear into fuel, and keep on working.

Interest + Professionalism = Passion

I’ve heard we shouldn’t be asking our partners, suppliers and workers for passion, but for professionalism.

Suppliers who fail to call you back. Vendors who tell you that you shouldn’t worry about the order, but send you the wrong item. Employees who just sit down and wait for the time to leave.

The cause of all of these can be traced back to two roots:

  • They don’t care enough. A lack of interest.
  • They care but can’t do better. A lack of professionalism.

What I found is that is hard to find a passionate person who lacks one or the other. Find the ones with passion and you can count they’ll bring their interest and professionalism with them.

When in doubt, ask for passion.

Bonus hint: Interest and professionalism feeds each other. The pro, when headed to the right goals, will develop interest. The interested one will, with enough time and training, turn into a pro.

Related: The Fallacy of ‘Love What You Do’, Jason Fried, Inc.com