Good Work—Edition Nº 17

A hand-curated newsletter devoted to exploring how we choose to spend the 90,000 hours that will make up our careers.
Andy Sparks

🎶 The Cloud Atlas End Title by Gene Pritsker

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.Carl Sagan*

Julian Weisser introduced me to a phrase I fell in love with this week: “putting people in play.”

Over my career, I’ve repeatedly felt like a threadbare piece of discount clothing, not much good in the first place, stretched thin, and useful to nobody. Growing up, it felt like so many of the adults I knew had sold their souls for rafts of stability. Being an optimist, believing there’s big, bold, and beautiful opportunities in life, turned me into this angry sort of Holden Caulfield who just thought everyone else kind of sucked. It’s hard to look back on the person I was, clawing for an opportunity to find some depth to life.

And then one day I met a fellow named Luke Barbara. Over a couple years, Luke was my Yoda. I’m not sure what he saw, but somehow he managed to pull the positivity out. When the first business I tried to start went under, he got me my first internship at a technology company. Luke put me in play.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to prefer working with people with a lot of experience, but my conversation with Julian this week made me see how preference is causing me to miss out on the opportunity to work with incredible people who just need someone to put them into play. If you feel like you just need someone to see you or put you into play, email me (I’m And if you’ve met someone recently who has that undefinable but obvious spark, consider putting them in play. It will mean the world to them—and to you.

This Week

Putting People in Play

I keep a repository on GitHub called Early Career Reading List. Whenever I find myself sending an article to someone getting started for the third or fourth time, I add it to this list. Here are a few I recently added (thanks to Freia Lobo for sharing the first two):

  • In Reason Why Higher Education is in Trouble #452: there isn’t a required class on mentorship. It’s like universities see mentorship or apprenticeships as competition or something, so they act like it doesn’t exist, causing students to fend for themselves. “On Mentoring,” by Diana Kimball, while explicitly more about being a mentor, should be required reading for those getting started.
  • Have some coffee (and stop worrying about finding a ‘mentor’),” by Ellen Chisa is a terrific complement to Kimball, as it includes a series of practical pieces of advice on developing relationships with mentors.
  • Identify Leaders By Giving People Assignments,” by Brad Feld is a delight. Having spoken with Feld about this before, I hadn’t realized he’d written it down until today. I’m convinced that the “millennial entitlement” we hear about has almost nothing to do with being a millenial and almost everything to do with how few people are willing to put in the work to make shit happen, as Feld notes here.

That’s Good Work for this week. Looking forward to what’s next.

Andy and the Holloway Team

Good Work is written and curated by Andy Sparks, Courtney Nash, Dmitriy Kharchenko, Hope Hackett, Joshua Levy, and Rachel Jepsen.

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