Adam Drake

Right Now

I help boards and executives at growth-stage technology companies continue (or resume) rapid acceleration by advising them on improving their leadership capabilities, operations, and technology. While I specialize in executive advising on leadership and process, I can also dive into deep technical problems with Data Science or Software Engineering departments.

Do you think I can help you and your team? Contact me by email or Twitter! I’m always interested in learning about what other companies are working on and how I might be able to help. I’m usually booked 6 to 8 weeks in advance, but might be able to rearrange my schedule if a visit is needed.

I have a few tech projects in progress that will undoubtedly become blog posts. I’m also working on an e-book about leadership in organizations, as well as a field manual for triaging performance and architecture in growth-stage startups.

Recent Publications

Redis Performance Triage Handook

May 15, 2017

Intro I do a lot of work with growth-stage startups, and many of them use Redis for all sorts of things. Sometimes as a key/value store for caching, sometimes as a message queue, sometimes as a pub/sub message broker, etc. Redis is a great tool, with great performance, when used properly. However, I’ve often seen cases where it is not used with good performance in mind, often to the detriment of system uptime and customer satisfaction. [Read more]

An Unreasonably Deep Dive into Project Euler Problem 3

May 14, 2017

Intro I’ve been busy as usual for the last couple of months, and haven’t really had time to extend the Project Euler series after Problem 1 and Problem 2 articles. However, I finally did set aside some time to play around with Problem 3: finding the largest prime factor of a number. Problem Statement The prime factors of 13195 are 5, 7, 13 and 29. What is the largest prime factor of the number 600851475143? [Read more]

The Ten-Minute Reorg

March 26, 2017

I spend a lot of time working with growth-stage startups. I often see similar problems across companies when it comes to scaling up their tech teams. At a certain point, the intuitive way to grow a team breaks down, and a reorganization (“reorg”) is necessary in order to adopt a scalable structure. Where some companies may take months to design and execute a reorg, I prefer to handle the majority of it in about ten minutes. [Read more]

Command and Control

January 28, 2017

Introduction When I advise organizations, they often ask if I have written down or somehow codified my perspectives on leadership and operations. Until now, the answer has been a polite not yet. I simply didn’t believe I have accumulated sufficient experience to warrant writing something from a position of authority on the topic of leadership and operations in organizations. After much consideration and gentle prodding from advisory clients, I have come to understand that my perspective may be flawed. [Read more]

I am Here to Win

January 26, 2017

I’m not here to be right, I’m here to win. That’s a phrase I often keep in mind, especially when I feel my own ego getting the best of me or when I see someone else’s ego affecting their judgment. In this context, win means making progress towards a larger strategic goal, likely by achieving some intermediate objective. So if you are playing to win and not just to be right then you are putting aside your own ego and emotional involvement in order to make progress towards a larger goal. [Read more]

On Confidence

January 26, 2017

Bearing, presence, gravitas, and authority are all some words used to describe those who project confidence. When I am advising executives and leaders to help them with their teams, one of the topics of concern for them is confidence and how to gain it. Or at the very least, how to project confidence even when it’s not there. The latter seems to be especially concerning to those who are relatively new in their leadership positions. [Read more]

On Forecasts

January 26, 2017

Overview I was meeting with a client recently, and since it was the end of the year and they were in their budgeting process we were discussing forecasting methodologies. They were asking about their marketing function specifically, but the conversation applied more or less to all areas of the business which set targets and/or develop a budget. So basically, the whole business. It’s important to note that in many companies budgeting and forecasting are the same thing, so this is as much a budgeting topic as a forecasting one. [Read more]

Leadership and Communication

January 19, 2017

Good leadership is hard to quantify, especially when considering intrinsic qualities like humility (which I argue is the most important quality of all). However, there are external skills which can separate effective and ineffective leaders, and communication is arguably the most fundamental of those externally-visible skills. When a company is small, and everyone fits in a single room, then a shared vision can almost be maintained by osmosis. Additionally, at this stage a company is usually extremely focused on a narrow goal or set of goals, so there is clarity not only due to small company sizes having more efficient communication, but also because the set of objectives is small as well. [Read more]