My New Adventure: Leadership Development for People in Tech

by Edmond Lau

Photo credit: Joshua Earle

Last week, I shared with you my personal, farewell letter to Quip.

This week, I’m really excited to announce my new adventure. I am partnering with Jean Hsu — a good friend and an engineering-manager-turned-coach — to embark on an ambitious quest.

We’re joining forces to build a new brand, Co Leadership, into the pre-eminent, leadership development brand for engineers and other leaders in tech.

Here’s why you should get excited about this, too.

Last year, I sent out a survey to my readers to better understand the dreams you have and the challenges you face as engineering leaders. Hundreds of you responded.

I read through every, single response and ended up with pages and pages of notes. It’s clear that many of you would find it helpful to have more resources in engineering leadership development, and I’ve been itching to work on it all last year.

There’s SO much I wanted to do. Courses on how to be an effective tech lead and how to have effective one-on-ones. Guides on how to communicate effectively and how to build effective teams. Interviews to collect the best practices from the strongest teams around Silicon Valley. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.

For the past few years, I’ve always aspired to become one of those successful solopreneurs — an engineer-turned-entrepreneur who would builds a strong brand and business on his own around The Effective Engineer. I followed people like Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, and others who had built multi-million dollar brands around themselves.

But one thing that’s always held me back from going all in is how lonely it would feel.

When I quit my job to work on my book full-time back in 2015, working solo every day was by far the hardest and scariest part. The experience was rewarding, and I have no regrets about doing it. But whenever I fell into a pit of despair — maybe I had a bad day and everything I wrote just sounded terrible — it was very demoralizing and challenging to pull myself out. I could talk about my work with my wife and my friends, of course, but it wasn’t the same as having someone being in it with you.

You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever worked solo on a multi-month engineering project before. There are those days when you feel so discouraged and hopeless because you hit a wall or because you crawled too deep into a rabbit hole or because things just aren’t working like they should. And you wonder to yourself, “WHY am I doing this? When will I ever be done?”

When I thought about who I might partner with, the one person who came to mind was Jean. I had only met her maybe two or three times. But she’s been working at a few well-known companies in Silicon Valley, including Google, Medium, and Pulse, and she was someone I respected from her thoughtful online writing on engineering leadership.

I sent her a email in early September to see if she wanted to explore joining forces. And then I waited. I was excited at the possibility of having someone to work with whose values seem to align with my own. I was also nervous because I had no backup plan of who else to ask.

I distracted myself but kept checking my phone for the next two days waiting for a response. When she finally replied that she also thought our missions were aligned and that she’d interested in exploring, I was delighted and giddy. We’ve been meeting up once a week ever since to invest in our relationship and to dream big about the things we want to create around tech leadership.

What you can expect going forward is more, faster, and better resources on how to grow yourself into leaders that people love to work with.

More — because I’ve now quit my job to focus my energy on this full-time and because now there’s two of us working on it.

Faster — because we’re both pushing ourselves to figure out the minimal viable products of what we’re creating so that we can validate our work and get you access to what’s valuable sooner.

Better — because when you have two people challenging each other, you end up with better and more creative ideas than either could come up with alone.

In fact, if there’s one lesson you can take away from my past few months, it’s that many things you’re leading by yourself will be easier, faster, and more rewarding if you can find someone to co-lead with you. Asking can be scary and nerve-racking — it certainly was for me because it meant giving up some control — but the results can be astounding. It’s amazing how much more clarity I’ve developed about my mission in the past few months.

I’ll continue to write about effective engineering on this blog, and I’ll be shifting more energy toward writing about engineering leadership and effective teams. If you’re a leader in tech (or aspiring to be one) and would like to get more of the best resources Jean and I build for leadership development, let us know here — I’ll take care of adding you to our new Co Leadership list so that you don’t miss out.

Our quest to shift the leadership culture in tech is very ambitious, and we’re well aware that we can’t do it alone. We’re only successful if we create real, transformative value for you.

You can be confident that we’ll be listening to your input about the biggest gaps in your own leadership that you want to close, and taking your feedback seriously to shape our course.

The more you empower us, the more we’ll be able to create resources and experiences that empower you. Join our quest, and let us know how best to help you.


“A comprehensive tour of our industry's collective wisdom written with clarity.”

— Jack Heart, Engineering Manager at Asana

“Edmond managed to distill his decade of engineering experience into crystal-clear best practices.”

— Daniel Peng, Senior Staff Engineer at Google

“A comprehensive tour of our industry's collective wisdom written with clarity.”

— Jack Heart, Engineering Manager at Asana

“Edmond managed to distill his decade of engineering experience into crystal-clear best practices.”

— Daniel Peng, Senior Staff Engineer at Google

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