Leading Questions Podcast

We are Dawn Kuczwara and Jer Lance; technologists, leaders, and (most importantly) opinionated people who want to draw from our wealth of experience in becoming leaders and leading teams to help answer your questions. If you'd like yours answered, email us and we'd be happy to "help!"
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Leading Questions Podcast



All Episodes
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Aug 7, 2018
This episode's question is:
This was an interview question at a recent job opportunity, I was curious how you'd answer it: Explain a time when you tried your best to achieve a goal but failed.
Links from this episode: Download this episode
Jul 24, 2018

This episode's question:

What do you do if you don't fit into your job?

As mentioned on the podcast...The Peter Principle  

Jul 10, 2018
Sorry for the missed week, but we're back, bless our hearts! By my count, 10 f-bombs before we hit the 5 minute mark on this question:
I'm almost 30 and I'm single and I have no children and I'm doing okay with money. I have a good job that pays okay and they treat me fine but its a super boring job. I don't hate it, but I'm not excited to go there everyday. I had a chance to interview at a startup, and I did, and they've made an offer. I don't know if I should take it because I don't know how to make a decision like this. How do you know if you should switch from a stable career to a risky startup? How do you know how risky a startup is? What do you do if you made a mistake?
Brought to you by Uranus Fudge! (without their knowledge) And, upcoming conferences!
Jun 12, 2018
This episode's question is:
My company keeps pushing me to talk at conferences. Why should I?
Why should you, indeed!?  
May 29, 2018
This episode's question:
My company encourages conference attendance and reimburses expenses/travel. Previously I purchased a hotel stay for an event and was reimbursed immediately. More recently, I purchased a prepaid hotel stay and conference ticket for an event 2 months out, but my company has said that I can't be reimbursed the cost of the hotel because I haven't stayed there yet. Once the stay is complete, then I can add it with my other expenses for reimbursement. While I should have been aware of this rule change and I'm thankfully financially stable, but how much could I push back? Should I take the risk or is this even really a point of concern?
May 15, 2018
Join Yanni Kuznia and Jer as they broadcast the live Q&A from Penguicon! Questions include:
What is the worst job you've ever had (not starter jobs like fast food)? I keep hearing about servant leadership...what's that? It's easy to find tech conferences, what are good conferences for leadership? Is college necessary? If so, how much?
Note: I kept referring to "Carnegie Mellon" courses when what I meant to say was "Dale Carnegie" courses. One of those is much more "bullshitty" than the other. I'll leave which is which as an exercise for the reader. Download this episode
May 1, 2018
This episode's question:
Can you please discuss your thoughts on what constitutes a good resume and, more importantly, what constitutes a terrible resume? As a hiring manager, I'm subjected to a wide range of resume formatting, some of which is clearly performed by the recruiter or agency presenting the candidate. A recent trend separates a candidates job history from their skills or accomplishments, making it impossible to determine the candidate's career growth, for example. Can you discuss what an individual can do to clearly present themselves in writing to clear HR hurdles for a phone screen or in-person interview? Also, please share your all-time "worst resume" stories.
Download this episode Upcoming Events:
Apr 17, 2018
This episode's question is:
When you're interviewing, when should you talk about salary? And how?
Some events for your consideration: Download this episode Discarded titles: Talking Tenners, Discussing Dollars, Discussing Dead Presidents, Chatting About Cash, Chatting Cheddar, Jabbering About Jacksons, Questioning Quid, Wondering About Your Wad (eww), Speaking Sawbucks, Speaking Shekels, Speaking About Stacks...and so many more. See what we do for you?
Apr 3, 2018
I want to apologize for that pun first...but, here's this episode's question:
I am currently a programmer in niche languages with specialized experience going to school to be a software developer. I don't have a lot of experience doing large programming projects in C++ or Javascript or whatever. I make a good living now, but I get the feeling I might need to take a pay cut as I enter the development world. What should I expect to make as a person who is not new to tech but is new to being a developer?
Some events you should consider attending!
Mar 20, 2018
This episode's question (bear with us, it's long...):
I've been fired from my last 5 jobs, 3 of which have been in the last 9 months. Now I'm getting to the last point in interviews (3rd and at the end they really want to give me an offer letter) and not heard anything from potential offers since. Including silence when I've tried contacting them via email. The reasons for my firings were as follows:
  • In the role of a Software Engineer: I got fired after 3 months for not learning fast enough.
  • In my next role as a Software Engineer at a small business: I got fired after my 30 day review in which my manager gave me glowing praise
  • In my next role as a Software Engineer: I got fired after working there close to 3 years. When asked why I was told, verbatim, "We are exercising our right as an at-will employer not to tell you"
  • In my next role, as a Lead Software Engineer and Project Manager at another small business: I got fired . This one I know why, I didn't get along with the CEO's micromanagement and working remote. I was set up for failure too many times
  • In my most recent role as a Scrum Master at a medium sized company: I got fired close to my 3 months. I was again given glowing praise and minor feedback on my 30 day review.
None of these companies will tell me what's going on or give me anything to work on and improve upon. Do you have any advice? Please.....I don't know what to do or how to improve.
Fun facts from this episode: Download this episode
Mar 6, 2018
This episode's question:
I have a person working with me that is a friend. She's a great friend but a terrible employee that is hurting my business. My question is this: how do you fire a friend while maintaining the friendship?
And boy do we have a treat for you...Dawn's daughter in a turkey hat! Love you, T! :)
Feb 20, 2018
This episode's question:
My current position has a manager title, but I have no direct reports. However, I am expected to lead others who do not report to me. What's the best way to lead people that you don't have direct authority over?
This seemed appropriate!
Feb 6, 2018
This episode's question:
At a previous job, I had an employee transfer from another group to mine. In chatting with her it became clear that the reason that she moved groups was because she'd been sexually harassed by her previous manager. She'd reported it to HR and their solution was a warning to the manager and moving the engineer to another group (mine). I'm really bothered by this, both by my peer and the company's reaction. How do I continue to work and collaborate with a peer that I've not only lost respect for, but that has done something I'm pretty disgusted by and angry with (and gotten away with it)?
With special guest Mike Eaton helping us answer questions and talking about Kalamazoo X (Saturday, April 21 in Kalamazoo, MI. Be there!)
Jan 24, 2018
It's meetings all the way down this's our question:
At what point is it appropriate to interrupt a manager's meeting and inform him that he's wasting everybody's time? Right now, I am sitting with 18 people gathered in a big conference room and the manager is going through his spreadsheet of projects to get updates from each person. He's spending about 10-15 min per person. First, we are NOT going to get through this list today. Second, this is a colossal waste of everybody's time. How do you go about giving that sort of feedback to your manager and how do you deal with time-waste meetings?
As promised...Zoey...
Jan 9, 2018
This episode's question:
I'm a leader and my manager isn't helping us get better. He keeps having leaders under him stop being leader because they can't learn how. I'm new. I want to learn. How do I learn if my leader can't teach?
Also mentioned during this podcast: Kalamazoo X conference on April 21st, 2018...go to there! Download this episode
Dec 12, 2017
This episode's question:
How do you guys handle being on the receiving end of a performance review where you weren't able to achieve the goals that were set at the beginning of the year? Setting aside the idea of whether the annual goal setting thing has any merit, what do you do to ensure that not having hit those goals doesn't have an impact on your raise, bonus, or promotion?
Also, we mentioned The Power of Habit and Smarter, Faster, Better, both by Charles Duhigg.
Nov 28, 2017
This episode's question:
Should a manager be focused on execution or on the team? Should they be focused on both?
We also mentioned Waltzing with Bears during this episode. Great book, worth a read!
Nov 14, 2017
This episode's question is:
When it comes to hiring, are social media accounts an assets or a liability? From a management perspective, would you ever reference an employee's social media account when evaluating an employee's performance or recommending them for a promotion? If you don't normally have a social media presence, is it worthwhile to create one for potential employers to find and reference?
Oct 31, 2017

This episode's question is:

As a team lead, what do you look for when interviewing developers, or perhaps other roles as well. I feel like resumes can be BS-ish, it's easier to have actual things to show. Do open source contributions appeal to you? Or just personal projects? Current apps/scripts/whatever in the field the developer is interviewing for? Do you care if they go to conferences or if they speak at them? Personal hobbies?

Quote of the episode: "I'm the motherfucker with feelings up in this motherfucker" -Jer

Oct 17, 2017
This episode's question is:
You both talked about doing things in the past to help your employees improve, but how do you do that with fellow managers or with your manager?
Oct 3, 2017
This episode's question:
What are your favorite interview questions? What are you looking for in good answers, and what would concern you to hear?
Sep 19, 2017
This episode's question:
How do you lead teams that do a job you know nothing about or don't know a lot about? Can you?
Sep 6, 2017
This episode's question is: What would it sound like if we could hear Dawn's talk at ThatConference 2017? I'm glad you asked, gentle reader/listener, because this is what it would sound like! Feel free to download the corresponding slideshow here to follow along if you'd like (but probably don't do that while you're driving).
Aug 22, 2017
This episode's question:
I'm starting a position soon as a senior engineer at a company, where my new leadership and I have discussed a potential track where I come on board as a senior engineer and then, if things are working well, moving me into more of a team lead and leadership track. As a result, I'm wondering if I should approach this differently than other jobs where I've come in before as senior member of a team. I know what I'd do, and it has generally worked well with me in the past, but I would be really interested to know how both of you approach this, as some of this is new territory for me.What is your process when you start as a leader or as a senior member of a new-to-you but already established team? More specifically: 1. What sorts of things do you ask your leadership when you're coming into a new team? 2. What do you ask the outgoing leader if they're still available? 3. How do you approach and start to build rapport with your team members, especially if they're tightly knit and may be wary of outsiders?
Archaic references from old people: Download this episode
Aug 8, 2017
This episode's question:
At work, I have been interviewing internally for management positions, but I haven't been getting them. I get feedback that I show promise or I have some ideas that are good or whatever. They say I don't have enough experience actually doing leadership, but how do I get experience leading until I get the job?
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