A lot of examples of growing to Staff are more oriented around less technical fundamental/soft skills, including the examples in Taro. However, I'm unsure how to find this scope in my team, and I don't think that kind of behavior works to get to Staff at Apple overall. I spend ~90% of my time coding, and the culture is more top-down at Apple compared to a company like Meta.
Given all that, how can it be possible for me to grow to Staff? Are there paths to Staff that are heavily technical?
There are definitely paths to Staff that are more technical, and given the top-down nature of Apple, it seems like there's a bias toward that archetype. Check out the archetypes from the StaffEng book. Perhaps the "solver" archetype is what Apple values from software engineers.
One thing that may be instructive is to look at existing Staff engineers in your team and org (I imagine you probably only have 1 staff eng on your immediate team). How do they spend their time, and what's the 1-liner for why they got promoted to that level?
You mention you spend 90% of your time coding, which is not inherently a bad thing, but I'd want to make sure that you also spend enough time ensuring that people within/outside your team are aware of your technical expertise in whatever it is you're doing. Similar to the other Staff engineers, would people be able to describe a 1-liner for what your most impactful work is?
Do you feel confident in being able to do that with the remaining 10%? It's possible, but I'm a bit skeptical given that you probably have team meetings, 1:1s, and general overhead around task management + reporting.
I recommend checking out this write-up of Meta's staff engineer archetypes.
There are 3 more technical archetypes that could fit here:
Lastly, I recommend this video about the difference between senior and staff from Airbnb's Head of Search Engineering, Rachel Zhao.