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Paul is Head of Engineering and a Google developer expert for Android & IoT, based in Liverpool in the United Kingdom. He is a remote Android expert who enjoys innovating within his company and growing his engineering skills. In working with teams, he values communication, continued learning and mentorship.
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You have over 57,000 reputation points on Stack Overflow, which makes you one of the top contributors. How do you find the time to contribute so much?
My Stack Overflow score has come over ten years of industry work. I started contributing answers about six years ago. That’s 10,000 rep points per year—roughly 1,000 per month or 250 per week. You could provide two or three answers per week and with compounding interest get the same score. The point here is those big successes may look amazing, but they are made up of little steps. If you want to achieve something, take the first step. If you have never answered a question on Stack Overflow, start by making your goal to answer one question.
You’re the author of Learning Android Application Testing. What did you learn from writing a book that you might pass along to an aspiring writer?
Writing a book is hard work! The book I wrote was a revised edition, so I had a rough guiding structure in place already. I learned that writing a book is just like any other problem: You break it down into its smallest components and build it back up. The publishing team really helped with this. In general, when you write a book, there are a lot more people involved than just the author. My writing process went like this: I wrote a sentence or two about what I wanted the reader to have learned at the end. Then, I wrote a sentence or two about what type of reader would read this book, and then a list of bullet-point steps to get from the start to the end. Then, I took each of these bullet points and repeated the process: What is the end goal of the bullet point? I found the starting point for each point and generated a list to get the reader from A to B. That’s the magic of writing a book! It’s the same process I use when writing blog posts, just scaled up to many, many pages.
You’ve offered some concrete steps to tackling a complex project. Does that advice apply to leadership, as well? What does great leadership look like to you?
Leadership can come in many forms. It’s not just about being in a management position or having control over people or budgets. Leadership is about helping people. It’s about showing them the light at the end of the tunnel and showing them that getting there is possible. You can be a role model without realizing it and without being in a standard leadership position. I believe in servant leadership, which means enabling others and sharing power and responsibility. A good leader listens to those around them and makes sure team members have what they need to succeed. When the opportunity arises, a good leader finds the team best suited to succeed in the project and enables them to take ownership.