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Scaling yourself ‘down’ as an engineering leader

with James Everingham

November 14, 2023
Scaling yourself ‘down’ as an engineering leader
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James Everingham (@jevering) is co-founder and VP of Engineering at Lightspark. Lightspark is building core infrastructure on the Lightning Network. Most recently he was Vice President of Engineering for Novi (Meta) and co-creator of Diem. Previously, James was the Head of Engineering at Instagram. James has led many world-class engineering teams throughout his 35-year career as a manager, entrepreneur, and technology developer. At Yahoo, he was Vice President of Engineering for Yahoo media properties after acquiring Luminate, an interactive image technology company he founded. Other previous roles include CTO and founding team member of LiveOps, Senior Director of Engineering at Tellme (acquired by Microsoft), and Senior Director of Engineering at Netscape Communications, where he was responsible for the flagship Netscape browser. Before joining Netscape, James held engineering and management positions at Oracle and Borland International.

"We had a great story in our head of like if we can simply make money flow or value flow fast and free frictionlessly around the world like a lot of good is going to happen but then that's the ending. That's the happy ending. Like, what are the chapters that we're going to write in between to get there? The first one was, 'Well, we're going to build this new infrastructure. Let's start getting it out there and getting it quickened in an area where it's already accepted.' And that's what we did. You know, that was the first one and we worked backwards from that. They're trying to make the story happen. They're not trying to make a list of tasks happen. And I think that's a really important distinction.”

<cite>- James Everingham    </cite>


  • James’ latest experience scaling down in his career (2:44)
  • Increasing your risk tolerance as an eng leader (5:15)
  • Surprising ways eng leaders operate in a smaller org vs. a larger org (7:16)
  • Optimizing communicating patterns when scaling down as a leader (10:23)
  • Strategies for creating high-impact conversations within teams at a small org (12:12)
  • How to use the Socratic method effectively as an eng leader (14:04)
  • James’ framework for anchoring decision-making principles (17:05)
  • Why focusing on customer problems before business problems is a key principle (19:30)
  • Layering the Socratic method approach & principle-based decision making (21:43)
  • Tips for implementing these approaches early on & scaling them up (24:31)
  • The trap of “process” & knowing when / where to introduce processes (25:41)
  • Navigating the balance between complete process & anti-process (27:59)
  • Deconstructing James’ approach to product planning & goal setting (29:51)
  • How James introduced the product planning narrative @ Lightspark (34:15)
  • Advice for newcomers looking to identify & share a product narrative (36:38)
  • Rapid fire questions (38:31)


This episode wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our incredible production team:

Patrick Gallagher - Producer & Co-Host

Jerry Li - Co-Host

Noah Olberding - Associate Producer, Audio & Video Editor https://www.linkedin.com/in/noah-olberding/

Dan Overheim - Audio Engineer, Dan’s also an avid 3D printer - https://www.bnd3d.com/

Ellie Coggins Angus - Copywriter, Check out her other work at https://elliecoggins.com/about/

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