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. Feel free to contact me directly to learn more.

I have a few tech projects in progress that will undoubtedly become blog posts. I’m working on an e-book about leadership in organizations, as well as a field manual for triaging performance and architecture in growth-stage startups. I sometimes write code for open-source projects like TinySite and CompressTest. I also work on ApplyByAPI, a tool that helps companies focus on quality over quantity in their tech hiring process.

Recent Publications

An Unreasonably Deep Dive Into Project Euler Problem 4

August 16, 2019

Or: How to make your solution 8000x faster with math and short-circuit evaluation. Introduction It has been a couple of years since my last Project Eueler effort, An Unreasonably Deep Dive into Project Euler Problem 3, and since I’ve also been wanting to do more work with Rust recently, I thought it would be a good opportunity to do both things at once by doing Project Euler problem 4 in Rust instead of my default of Go as before. [Read more]

Digital Maneuver

July 27, 2019

BLUF: A Newsletter Digital Maneuver is the ability to quickly build or modify software applications or systems in order to gain a decisive advantage over a competitor. I’ve spent decades helping organizations increase their digital maneuverability and have recently created the Digital Maneuver newsletter in order to distribute some of these ideas and other curated content to people who are interested in achieving that in their teams. If you want to learn more ways to deliver software faster in your organization, sign up here. [Read more]

Developing your AI BS detector (v2)

March 18, 2019

Introduction In April 2018 I gave a lecture at an event in Toronto which I titled Developing Your AI BS Detector.. That event was designed to be a discussion around “Rational AI in the Enterprise” and I’ve found that since then others have been interested in hosting a version of the lecture as well. Recently, I updated the slides a bit and changed the focus of the lecture somewhat to make it more clear and accessible. [Read more]

Technical is tactical

February 19, 2019

Intro: levels of war The US Department of the Army publishes a Field Manual called Operations (FM 3-0), a doctrinal guide for conducting military operations. In it, three levels of war are described. They are: The strategic level (such as national policy) The operational level (such as campaigns and major operations) The tactical level (including battles and small-unit actions) At the strategic level, national interests and policy inform national and multinational military objectives, and global plans for achieving those objectives are developed. [Read more]

Novel Results Considered Harmful

August 1, 2018

Introduction Ravi Adve from University of Toronto graciously invited me to give a public lecture at the university earlier this summer. I was very grateful for the opportunity. The university’s facilities were fantastic, and Ravi did a wonderful job organizing everything. The audience was engaging and asked thoughtful questions, and the attendance was much higher than I had anticipated for a Tuesday morning lecture in the middle of summer! There was great representation from multiple departments, including Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics. [Read more]

Always Be Shipping

July 1, 2018

Introduction Sometimes when I’m advising startups the topic of a feature freeze comes up in a variety of contexts. The context I’m referring to is one in which technical debt, poor architecture decisions, and other related issues, have accumulated in a system to the point that it has become seemingly unmanageable. The situation has allegedly become so dire that all new development of features for the business must stop in order to dedicate all developer time and energy to cleaning up the mess. [Read more]

Leaders Eat Last

June 29, 2018

Introduction When leading teams, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to lead from a perspective of wanting the team to grow and improve in order to achieve a higher goal. The biggest part of that is taking care of the people on the team. This can mean things people may typically think of, like supporting and encouraging someone on your team while they pursue their career goals. [Read more]

Artificial Intelligence and The Heilmeier Catechism

June 11, 2018

As part of my advising work, I encounter a plethora of companies. Most of these companies want to begin, improve, or continue initiatives surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Data Science, Data Analytics, or other such labels applied to a project wherein data is used to accomplish some business objectives. The difficulty is that these labels often serve to obfuscate the true nature of the project in order to make it sound more exciting, and to entice funding from those with the power to grant it. [Read more]

Speak with Confidence

June 9, 2018

Introduction When I’m asked to spend some time with a startup to help them continue their growth trajectory, by far the most common issues I help to solve are problems relating to leadership. Specifically, I’m usually asked by the investors and/or executive team to work very closely with the technology leadership in order to help them improve their output. The best way to improve output is to improve leadership skills. [Read more]