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Guides / Additional resources on Staff-plus engineering

None of the Staff Engineer I spoke with got there alone. Most got there either through voracious reading or building a powerful network of colleagues. This section is a collection of recommended resources.

Your Network

Almost unanimously, Staff-plus engineers' most valuable learning resources wasn't a book, blog, talk, or paper, but instead their network of peers and mentors. If you only have one hour to develop yourself as an engineer, your best bet would be building a network of people in similar roles.

If you're looking for a Slack community, #staff-principal-engineering in the Rands Leadership Slack is a fairly lively room.

What do Staff-plus Engineers do?

Becoming a Staff-plus Engineer

Operating as a Staff-plus engineer

Technical Specifications

Engineering Strategy

Examples of engineering strategies:

There are also many great resources on other facets of strategy as well, for example, Marty Cagan's series on Product Strategy.


Although I've found that many folks don't read too many books, when I asked Staff engineers for their most valuable resources, they inevitably mentioned a personal mentor or a book. They had blog posts and tech talks they might mention related to a more specific problem, but they were most changed by this larger, more papery format.

Some books which were recommended:

If you're looking for, even more, recommended book lists abound, including my own at Irrational Exuberance's Best Books.


The Staff-plus engineers I've chatted with have generally mentioned giving talks as more valuable to them than listening to talks, but there certainly are some excellent talks out there. Cindy Sridharan (Twitter) is the best source of amazing talks, in particular, her write-ups of Best of 2019 in Tech Talks, Best of 2018 in Tech Talks, and Best of 2017 in Tech Talks.


Relatively few Staff-plus Engineers are avid readers of Computer Science papers. However, most are familiar with a handful of foundational papers, and the small subset who do spend time reading papers tend to get quite a bit out of it.

If you aspire to join the category of frequent paper readers, there's no better place than Adrian Colyer's the morning paper, which will send you a summary of a computer science paper every weekday. If you're more interested in getting some foundational exposure to some well-known papers, first read one of How to Read an Academic Article by Peter Klein or How to Read a Paper by S. Keshav, and then jump into this list of recommended papers:

Probably the best place to find high-quality papers to read is Papers We Love, which also run meetups to discuss papers. A few other resources are the ACM SIGOPS Hall of Fame Award list and Irrational Exuberance's paper collection.

Other nice things

As I did the research for these resources, I found some other pieces that didn't quite fit anywhere above, but which I think are good and worth looking at nonetheless:

If you find more, please send them my way!

Read another guide? or Back to the stories?

If you've enjoyed reading the stories and guides on, you might also enjoy Staff Engineer: Leadership beyond the management track, which features many of these guides and stories.

Staff Engineer book cover

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