A document that hopefully serves as a useful README for working together. Provided as a convenience and not any kind of expectation. This is the first version, and so it feels uncomfortably unrefined to share but like most times in product, it’s better to ship early and often…
What Motivates Me
Seeing the outcome & impact – Seeing the result of our hard work and how it moves the needle for our users and the business is what motivates me most. As a theme, I orient towards “seeing” in many cases.
Connecting the dots – I love having and seeing people have the “aha” moment when the dots connect in a novel way that solves a meaningful problem
Focus – I love being able to get deep into a problem space and really think it through and look under the proverbial rocks
Efficiency – Saving time and reducing waste is something I find more rewarding than most
What Demotivates Me
Lack of focus – The company and myself being spread too thin is something that takes the wind out of my sails. A product manager spread too thin becomes a project manager… and project management is neither my strength nor something I enjoy.
Moving targets – While I thrive in the startup context, there’s a limit to how rapidly changing I like things to be.
Learning – A love of learning is deeply ingrained in my personality, and probably my only authentically long-running hobby. Likewise, I value when others also hold learning in high regard. I find it hard to imagine a strong product career without an intrinsic desire to continuously learn.
Growth Mindset – I deeply believe that you can learn anything you want if you put in the work. While some people will find particular things harder than others, I value that if you want to learn it, you can. For example, learning music would be particularly challenging for me but I believe I could get half-decent if I put in the work.
Respecting personal time – While not always personal, I try to minimize out-of-hours messages/emails and actively avoid weekend communication. It’s easy for me to say I’m sending it but don’t expect a reply, so you’re welcome to ignore it, but I know firsthand that 1) that’s difficult to take at face value; and 2) If I inadvertently open slack/email on autopilot and see a message, I’m going to get drawn into thinking about it regardless of whether they wanted me to. Scheduling slack messages and emails to go out Monday works wonders.
Questions over Statements – While something I’ve been working on only more recently, I really value the impact of asking questions rather than making statements. It better conveys the willingness to discuss and explore opportunities and creates additional space for people to contribute that otherwise might feel like they can’t get their views heard or be influenced by groupthink.
Treating adults as adults – I really value being treated as an adult that will do the right thing by the company and others. I extend this to the people I work with as much as I can. I don’t want to be asked for permission to take PTO or end work early on Thursday so you can do something during work hours – I just want to be informed so I don’t go looking for you or book a meeting that clashes.
Slack over Email – for internal communication, I’ll primarily go to Slack over email. I’ll tend to use email for conversations that are going to be long-running and would likely get forgotten or drowned out in Slack. I’ll also opt for email when I know others strongly prefer it (common among execs/VPs who have to filter a lot of noise on Slack).
Async over Sync – for Slack conversations, I prefer people get right to their point rather than waiting for me to reply before providing the context. My days tend to be pretty busy, so if you provide all the context, it’s much more likely I can get back to you than if I have to engage in the conversation first. I appreciate the “how was your weekend?” but follow up with the main reason you’re reaching out rather than waiting.
Casual Writing over Formal Writing – I much prefer to write casually and like I talk, I really dislike consultant-speak – especially in marketing materials. You’ll see contractions everywhere and it’s a hill I’ll die on.
Problems, not just Solutions – I strongly oppose the adage “don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions”. I believe you should try and think of solutions, but you shouldn’t bury a problem that you don’t have a solution for. We’re a team, and it’s not on you to solve every problem yourself.
Something over Nothing – Outside of product, I generally find it easier to iterate on something than coming up with the initial idea.
External over Internal – while I often like to take time in isolation (when I can), if I could only think things through internally or externally, I’d choose the latter. Talking things through works well for me and I really enjoy it.
Visual over Written – For complex ideas, I’ll prefer to communicate and consume a visual representation. Charts, flowcharts, and sticky notes are a favorite of mine. I’m totally comfortable with a written format, but I’ll generally convert it to something visual in the process. If you’re hoping I’ll get my head around something quickly, a good visual will go a long way.
Decks over Docs – Similarly to the above, I work better with a deck than with a document. I like to bounding constraint of a single slide and the inherent focus that can provide for creating well-scoped ideas. I’m more than happy to consume a written doc, but I’ll often tend towards a deck.
Fast-Twitch over Slow-Twitch – Personally, I tend to do my best thinking on my feet (see “external over internal” thinking). Unless it feels like an affront, I’ll generally do my best thinking on the spot. I know this isn’t how many people do their best thinking, so I try to create space for that but it’s something I’m still working on doing better at.
Blind Spots / Things I’m Less Than Great At
Giving Feedback – I’m not as good at giving direct and timely feedback as I’d like, but it’s something I’m actively working on
Receiving Feedback – I don’t solicit feedback as much as I’d like, and coming from above, I can get a little defensive in the moment but I’m continuing to work hard on that.
Well-Placed Passion – I care a lot about what I do, my work is a big part of my identity and that shows in many ways (many good, but some not so much). Sometimes my “strong beliefs loosely held” aren’t as loosely held as I might like. Sometimes it’s better to go with the flow.
Meeting notes – While I strongly value good meeting notes, I’m not good at participating in the conversation and taking good notes at the same time. It’s something I’d like to be better at, but it’s not super high on my priority list of things to be better at.
Setting Structured Agendas – I tend to orient towards a single topic for a meeting rather than a more granular agenda. I certainly appreciate the value of a more granular agenda and certainly appreciate when others create one.
Not multi-tasking – I’ve built a deeply ingrained habit of multi-tasking, especially during group meetings. Originally this was out of necessity, but now it’s a habit I’m working to break.
Things I (Disproportionally) Care About
Copywriting – I care a lot about how things are worded, particularly when client/customer/market-facing. I’ve spent a lot of personal time studying copywriting over the years, so it’s an obscure passion of mine. Oddly, I care much less about the names of projects as I’ve somewhat internalized that good project names are few and far between.
Design & Data Viz – I’ll run through a design (whether product or slide) with a fine-tooth comb and care a lot about these things and believe we should be holding ourselves to a very high standard. I view good design as a hard-to-copy competitive advantage in B2B. It’s probably the area I’m most at risk of being “micro-managey”, so I try to keep it reined in and welcome feedback.
Productivity tools & hacks – I love spending a little extra time now to save recurring time later. I love software and tools that save me time and effort. 🙂
I generally believe Dark mode is almost certainly not worth building 😆
Afternoons over Mornings – I’m definitely not an Early Bird. The “5 am club” is kind of my worst nightmare… A first thing in the morning meeting (e.g. 8 am ET) won’t see my best input. Being on the East Coast of a bi-coastal company is very convenient! My peak productivity tends to be around lunchtime (11-2 ET)
Not letting people know that you’re not going to be at a meeting – just reply no on the calendar invite 🙂
Booking a meeting over another meeting without checking in first (unless I’m marked as optional). Most of the time, I’ll move the meeting in my calendar though, just ask — I’m on a LOT of meetings after all. This one irks me because it creates pressure to move my other meeting, and means that me saying I can’t move it is now going to impact everyone else on the invite list when I could have prevented that with a simple message.
I’ve wanted to create a document like this for years after an old colleague shared theirs with our team. This template and article were particularly helpful when finally drafting my own.