Lara Hogan

I'm an engineering leadership coach and consultant. Previously VP of Engineering at Kickstarter, Engineering Director at Etsy.

I champion engineering management as a practice, getting comfortable giving presentations, and celebrating career achievements with donuts.

Blog Posts

Topics: management, giving presentations, inclusion

Advice for a new executive

Aug 30, 2018 • management

When I was getting ready to join Kickstarter as VP of Engineering, Chad Dickerson (who was the CEO of Etsy when I worked there) offered to send me a bunch of advice. Chad had been a CTO multiple times before being CEO; he knew that this executive-level role was brand new to me, so he offered to help give me a steer and a foundation as I walked into this totally new territory. (read more)

Week in Review Leadership Comms

Jul 31, 2018 • management

As an Engineering Director at Etsy and VP of Engineering at Kickstarter, I sent a “Week in Review” document every two-ish weeks to my whole team. This doc helped me set records straight, disseminate info to lots of people at once, and open up conversation internally, while reflecting on the themes that had come up in weekly one-on-ones, backchannels, team meetings, etc. (read more)

Feedback Equation

Jul 15, 2018 • management

As I mention in my book Demystifying Public Speaking, humans are mostly bad at giving feedback. We’re also really bad at preparing ourselves to receive feedback. (read more)

Leadership Style Colors

Jul 9, 2018 • management

Search for “leadership styles” on Google, and you’ll find lots of different articles describing the various types and numbers of leadership styles. Here are some examples of articles that say there are five, six, seven, eight, nine, and twelve leadership styles. (read more)

How to Facilitate a Working Group Meeting

Mar 26, 2018 • management

This is where the magic happens. After you’ve laid all the ground work for organizing a working group (define ground rules, choose and invite attendees, plan your agenda arc, and communicate broadly), here’s what to do when you finally get your participants in the room together. (read more)

How to Organize a Working Group

Mar 25, 2018 • management

I’ve been running a lot of working groups as part of my consulting practice, leveling up product and engineering organizations. (read more)

Meetup Architecture Principles

Mar 13, 2018 • management

Our Goal: Empower Meetup engineers to build coherent, lasting architecture solutions. (read more)

Onsite Interview Loop Template

Mar 5, 2018 • management, inclusion

This post originally appeared on Making Meetup (read more)

Team Leader Venn Diagram

Feb 22, 2018 • management

A tool for gaining a shared understanding of responsibilities (read more)

Manager Energy Drain

Jan 24, 2018 • management

One of the most frequent questions I hear as I coach managers is, “How do I handle how tired I am as a manager?” (read more)

Dealing with your wage gap

Jan 8, 2018 • inclusion

“serious question: say you’re in HR and a woman comes to you with, my (male) coworker with same title/years of experience/performance rating is making 47k more than me. what are you supposed to do? what can you do?” - @amyngyn (read more)

When your manager isn't supporting you, build a Voltron

Jan 4, 2018 • management

In my years of coaching managers and individual contributors, I’ve routinely heard the following complaints about their bosses: (read more)

Dealing with surprising human emotions: desk moves

Dec 22, 2017 • management

Dealing with surprising human emotions is one of the most challenging aspects of being a manager. Generally, when someone appears triggered, or angry, or some other strong emotion that’s surprising, it’s likely that their amygdala has been hijacked, which I’ve written about before. Our amygdalas are in charge of our emotional reactions, and they’re critical to our “fight or flight” decisionmaking process. When our core needs feel threatened, our amygdala kicks into high gear. (read more)

Etsy's Charter of Mindful Communication

Sep 26, 2017 • management, etsy, inclusion, leadership

While I worked at Etsy, the company’s Culture & Engagement team rolled out the following “Charter of Mindful Communication”. I’m not sure if it’s been updated since, but I’ve found this language incredibly useful throughout my work ever since, and even brought it over to Kickstarter. I hope it’s valuable to you! (read more)

Tracking compensation and promotion inequity

Sep 24, 2017 • inclusion, management

Plenty of tech companies are attempting to make their pipeline of candidates more diverse. But an organization won’t find much success recruiting a more diverse group of employees unless its leaders are aware of their existing internal inclusion and equity issues. Unless leadership has already started to tackle these issues, it’s likely that these new hires will enter into an environment that they won’t want to stick around in for long. (read more)

Manager handoffs

Sep 14, 2017 • management

Y’all know how crucial I think one-on-one’s are for managers to get to know their direct reports: what they need from their manager, how they like feedback, what makes them grumpy, and so much more! But what happens when a person switches managers? (read more)

Etsy Lessons

Jun 16, 2017 • etsy, management, inclusion, leadership

During my four and a half years at Etsy, I learned a ton, from a ton of people. Honestly, the lessons are innumerable, and I’m forever indebted to this crew not just for letting me learn and grow there, but for all that they taught me. Here are just a handful: (read more)

What does sponsorship look like?

May 14, 2017 • management, inclusion

The difference between mentorship and sponsorship
Illustration by Catt Small
(read more)

Why can't they just...?

Apr 21, 2017 • management, leadership

Stealing a page out of other leaders’ books, I began writing a “Week in Review” post every two weeks or so at Etsy, with a link open to anyone internally, and a distribution list of the people in my organization. I used it as a reflection on themes that were coming up in weekly one-on-ones, backchannels, team meetings, etc. (read more)

Managering in Terrible Times

Feb 3, 2017 • management, inclusion

These are terrible times. You may be facing these events head-on as a member of a marginalized group or as an ally, and if you’re a manager, you likely have direct reports who are doing the same. (read more)

Setting Expectations as a Manager

Jan 24, 2017 • management

This past week, an engineer who I hired a few years ago transitioned into management. It’s been years since he reported to me directly, so we had a first-one-on-one-redux in which we talked through my first 1:1 questions. I realized it might also be helpful to reset expectations about: (read more)

On Better Meetings

Jan 15, 2017 • management, leadership

As an engineering director, my week is filled with meetings: one-on-ones with my direct reports, skip-level one-on-ones with theirs. Meetings to make decisions, meetings to share information, meetings to teambuild. I have meetings to provide mentorship, or feedback on a presentation, or to get coaching. (read more)

Work at different management levels

Oct 17, 2016 • management

I remember working as a developer at a company and complaining that I had no idea what the bosses did all day. It felt like while we engineers were working hard and shipping stuff, managers just talked to a lot of people all the time, or sat in their offices behind closed doors, and I had no idea what their work looked like.1 (read more)

Questions for our first 1:1

Jul 19, 2016 • management

In the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of kicking off lots of new reporting relationships with both engineers and engineering managers. Over time, I’ve learned that getting some particular data during an initial 1:1 can be really helpful, as I can refer back to the answers as I need to give a person feedback, recognize them, and find creative ways to support them. Most of these I’ve stolen from some really amazing Etsy coworkers. (read more)

Coding a book

Mar 11, 2016 • tech, me

I’ve done a lot of writing in the past few years, all on a Mac, and mostly in Sublime Text. I publish this site using Jekyll + GitHub Pages, so it’s easy for me to write blog posts and whatever with Markdown files. But when it comes to writing books, the options get a little interesting; there’s not much out there that feels as safe as an author might want to feel when writing. (read more)

2014 and 2015

Jan 3, 2016 • me, etsy

I was inspired by Beerops’ post reflecting on 2015 to do my own reflection on the past year. Like for Katherine, 2015 was a hell of a year for me. I’ve not done a lot of year-long reflection previously, so I’m eager to frame this post as a comparison of 2014 and 2015, and some thoughts on what 2016 might bring. (read more)

Transitioning to meta-management

Dec 26, 2015 • management

Cate Huston’s post The Hardest, Shortest, Lesson Becoming a Manager recently resonated with me. She writes about the shift from day-to-day engineering to day-to-day management of engineers, and focuses on the reasons why it’s probably a smart idea to step away from coding as a manager. (read more)

Finding support as a new senior (woman) leader

Dec 16, 2015 • management, inclusion

As a female Senior Engineering Manager at a tech company, I’m in a weird spot. There are lots of women role models ahead of me who I look up to, and who I’m fortunate enough to call mentors. There are a bunch of women who I mentor, too, and many more women just entering the industry. (read more)

Support women-authored tech books

Dec 4, 2015 • tech

Looking for a gift for the designer or developer in your life? How about supporting women authors while you're at it? Here is a non-comprehensive list of great women in tech-authored books. Most have print and digital versions available, and I listed the prices that I could find at the time of this writing. (read more)

Exit-Voice Dynamics in the Tech Industry: How women in tech have had it up to here with this nonsense

Nov 14, 2015 • inclusion

This post is co-authored by Lara Hogan, Senior Engineering Manager and Michelle O’Brien, Political Sociologist and Demographer, Doctoral Student at the University of Washington

Lara: My favorite illustration for what it can be like to be a woman in tech uses a bucket. This bucket starts out full, but over time, it drains; like in the illustration death by a thousand cuts, little things start draining what’s in that bucket until we’re running on empty. From stereotype threat to harassment, from having my safety debated online to being asked, yet again, if it’s my boyfriend who codes, my bucket drains. The problem here is that, at least in my case, what’s in my bucket is not a renewable resource. (read more)

Non-linear career trajectories

Oct 18, 2015 • me

“If I knew that I could do what I do right now as a kid I’d find it a little daunting, because there was no linear way that I made it to where I am. I have a very wiggly trajectory. And some of it is luck, and some of it was talent, and some of it was just being at the right place at the right time. There’s no way that you could prescribe that.”
Kate Beaton (read more)

Celebrating our achievements

Aug 18, 2015 • me

If I were to describe my public “brand”, it’d be something to do with donuts.

Many people know that I enjoy donuts. So much so that when I give a talk at a company about web performance, often there’s a platter of donuts waiting, or audience members bring me a beautifully-wrapped donut afterward. People send me donut-themed gifts (though I am at a point where I have enough donut notepads and cards; thanks anyway! Please send actual donuts). My book release party had stacks of delicious mini donuts, and sometimes coworkers deliver donuts to my desk. So why the theme? (read more)

On changing your name

Jul 18, 2015 • me

Last year, I changed my name, and it wasn’t because I got married. I had gotten divorced two years prior and finally felt like I was my old name, again. I subsequently changed it legally, and I changed it everywhere else that matters, too. I published a blog post about it in September, though I had decided to change it months earlier. I finalized my name change order in October after three visits to court, each with its own challenges. By December, people were starting to forget what my “old” name had been. (read more)

The High Road

Jun 18, 2015 • management, leadership

"Taking the high road has never once come back to bite me in the ass." —Kelly Sue DeConnick

Think of the last time someone's behavior triggered you. What did they do that hurt you? What did they do that disappointed you? How did you handle the surge of emotions that followed? (read more)

Giving Presentation Feedback

May 23, 2015 • presenting

I routinely get the opportunity to provide feedback on draft versions of my coworkers’ presentations. I work with incredibly smart, interesting people, and it’s wonderful to listen to their stories, learn from them, and see what new thing they’re bringing to the industry. Having given different kinds of talks at a spectrum of venues, I’m able to ask questions and provide feedback that could (I hope!) help them with their presentation. (read more)

Mean time to 'women in tech'

May 18, 2015 • me

It starts innocently enough: I’ll be on a call with a vendor, engineer, tech lead, or other relative stranger to talk about performance. Or I’ll be in a casual conversation with someone who I don’t know all that well, talking about work stuff. Then they ask: (read more)

Behind every great woman

Apr 18, 2015 • me

Behind every great woman is a horde of even greater women who are smart, supportive, honest, and badass. There is at least one really special friend who pushes her to be better, who challenges her, and who screams her name from the bleachers when her team wins. (read more)

On having a totally reasonable amount of self-confidence

Mar 18, 2015 • me

I was at a tech women's meetup organized by a close friend and colleague. She took the podium for a moment to talk about women in tech, to thank sponsors, and to share some encouraging words with the attendees.

She suddenly called out to me from the spotlight. "Lara, do you remember when I said you should give a talk at Velocity?" (read more)

Working in Tech with a Chronic Illness

Feb 18, 2015 • me, inclusion

According to the CDC, “about half of all adults—117 million people—have one or more chronic health conditions. One of four adults has two or more chronic health conditions.” This means many of our coworkers deal with chronic illness daily, and we’ve gotten really good at hiding it. If I hadn’t told my teammates, I’m not sure that they’d know I’ve got Crohn’s disease and arthritis; I can mask most of the symptoms and have figured out how to get work done around them. (read more)

On Quitting

Jan 9, 2015 • me

Quitting gets a bad rap. When you think about quitting something, you usually think about ending a bad thing. She quit smoking, he quit his terrible job, they quit Facebook. (read more)

Swanson -> Hogan

Sep 17, 2014 • me

tl;dr: My given name is Lara Callender Hogan. A while ago, I got married, and changed my name to Lara Callender Swanson. I was divorced two years ago, and have recently decided to go back to Hogan. I still answer to “SWANSON!” :) (read more)

Modeling advocacy

Aug 20, 2014 • inclusion, me

Note: this post was written by my father, Bill Hogan. I asked him to share his thoughts on how he approached parenting two daughters, given that we ended up well-equipped to confront sexism and other tough challenges for young women in our respective industries. Dad focused on a particularly great anecdote from our childhood, which I heard about a few years later. For me, hearing how he gracefully challenged sexist attitudes modeled how important it is to stand up for what’s right, regardless of how deaf those ears may be. My parents gave my sister and me the strength and tools we needed to stay strong in our careers, and to support others in doing the same. (read more)

Quantifying the book writing process: my first draft

Aug 19, 2014 • me

The first draft of Designing for Performance is done! There is still a ton left to do: get feedback from reviewers, incorporate the feedback, then go through all of the publishing steps like proofreading, getting the figures redrawn, etc. But in this brief pause in the process as I wait for reviewers to take a look, I decided to analyze the first draft writing process, inspired by Ilya Grigorik’s retrospective on his own writing process. (read more)

On unsolicited criticism

Jul 22, 2014 • presenting, inclusion, me

I had a new experience a few weeks ago when I was speaking at Velocity. I gave a keynote to 2,000 people; throughout the following day, a half-dozen strangers came up to me to supply unsolicited criticism of my presentation tone. (read more)

My presentation workflow and challenges

Apr 4, 2014 • presenting

I was asked to write about my presentation-creation process the other day on Twitter. I thought this was really interesting – I would love to know how other people approach developing, editing and improving on their presentations and public speaking skills! So here’s my whole process, including what I’m really working hard to improve upon. (read more)

Live tweeting from Keynote

Mar 14, 2014 • presenting, tech

A version of this post originally appeared here. It’s now updated with more recent resources! (read more)

We’re all equally drenched

Sep 17, 2013 • etsy, me

I was recently reminded of a big reason why I love working at Etsy. (read more)

There’s nothing “pink” about interviews at Etsy

Feb 14, 2013 • etsy, me

There’s been a bunch of really great, thoughtful responses to this article by Meghan Casserly on hiring practices at Etsy. The crux of what’s wrong with that article, to me, was summed up nicely by my coworker Rafe Colburn: (read more)

Mobile Web at Etsy

Dec 7, 2012 • me

Today is my last day at Dyn. In a month I’ll be working at Etsy as their Engineering Manager of Mobile Web. I’ll help build a team and a strategy around optimizing Etsy’s website for mobile, partnering with their Mobile App and Web Performance teams. I am both sad about departing Dyn and excited about the new opportunity. (read more)

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