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.

If you think I can help you and your team, contact me by email or on Twitter! I’m always interested in learning about what other companies are working on and how I might be able to help.

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

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]

Don't Categorize, Prioritize!

June 4, 2018

Introduction When I begin an advising engagement with a client, one of the first things I try to understand is what their top priorities are as an organization. This seems like an obvious step, but there is a subtle difference between what most people say are priorities, and what they actually do when they think they’re setting priorities. This is because people say they prioritize, but they actually categorize. [Read more]

Three Things Your People Need To Know

June 2, 2018

Introduction As part of my work with scale-up companies, a critical component of the process I follow during an on-site visit is having interviews and discussions with a variety of people. I have these discussions with everyone at the company, not just the CEO and CTO with whom I most often closely work. People who are lower on the organizational chart often know more than the executive team about what is actually going on in the company. [Read more]

Scalable Machine Learning with Fully Anonymized Data

June 1, 2018

Note: This article will likely be revised and expanded before being submitted for review and publication. At the moment it is missing critical sections, that will be added later. If we have suggestions for improvement, please send them to me directly. Abstract In this article I will discuss the well-known technique of feature hashing, but with the modification of performing the hashing step on the client-side before sending data to a server or daemon performing model training and prediction. [Read more]

Big Data, Small Machine

May 28, 2018

Introduction I was honored to be invited by DevTO to give a talk at their May meetup. The organizers were keen to have someone speak about high-performance machine learning, and I was happy to oblige. The general thesis of the talk is that, for the purposes of machine learning, setting up large compute clusters is wholly unnecessary. Furthermore, it should generally be considered harmful as those efforts are extremely time consuming and detract from solving the actual machine learning problem at hand. [Read more]

Hello, Recruiter!

May 11, 2018

Hello Recruiter! Thank you very much for your message and your consideration. In order for me to consider the role more fully and determine if a call is warranted, would you please provide more information? Please send over a JD/role description including the following: The specific company that is hiring How they see the role and its associated responsibilities fitting into the future of the company Composition, size, and working style of the current team Reporting line for the role (up to Board/investors and two levels down) Compensation details, including a breakdown between fixed/variable cash and options/equity/bonus, if any Any additional information that you think would be relevant in considering if the role is a good fit I’m happy to consider the above information and determine if the role is a good fit for me. [Read more]

Developing Your AI BS Detector

April 5, 2018

Introduction I gave a talk at MaRS on this topic. The event was put on by Steve O’Neil and his team, who all did an excellent job. The venue was packed to standing-room only with a fantastic audience of 300-400 people. The goal of the event was to have a discussion around “Rational AI in the Enterprise.” I think all of the speakers did a wonderful job of honoring the topic. [Read more]

Serverless with Lambda, API Gateway, and Go

February 11, 2018

Intro Some time ago I made TinySite and I wrote an article about building the Biggest Smallest Website. As part of that work, I also built CompressTest in order to provide some insight on size of data post-compression for a few of the compress methods in the Go standard library. Those services were running on EC2 instances via Elastic Beanstalk, and while the cost wasn’t great, I have other side projects which, like those, require few resources and therefore result in EC2 instances which are mostly idling. [Read more]

Writing the job description

January 22, 2018

Writing the job description Ahh, the job description. It is the face of your company on job search sites. It sets the tone for all the rest of the hiring process that follows. It has the power to make or break your hiring success. It’s a shame they’re so often badly written. A good job description isn’t so different from a bad one. Mostly, it just has some of the letters in different places. [Read more]

The biggest smallest website

October 29, 2017

Introduction I was surfing the web and, as is often the case, I stumbled upon a cool project: the FastestWebsiteEver. It’s “the greatest website to ever fit in a single TCP packet.” I had a think about that for a minute, and checked out the actual site, and noticed that it’s approximately 1130 bytes transferred. Now depending on how fresh you are on your OSI Model, you might remember that there are 7 layers. [Read more]