My User Manual

Hopefully this helps us work better together.

Why I come to work everyday:

  • To be engaged in discovering and solving problems.

  • To grow myself and those around me.

  • To add real value to my team and company. 

 

My personal code of ethics (for work):

  1. Be helpful: I will aim to help people solve their problems.

  2. Be proactive: I will bias towards action. I will take voluntary initiative. Let’s do it now.

  3. Be skeptical: I will never blindly accept the status quo, but reasonably question all proposed truth.

 

On growth:

I believe that real growth only comes from some form of pain. Whether that’s struggling to grasp a concept, making a mistake, being embarrassed, missing a goal, disagreeing with someone, or falling short in some way; these things hurt, but I’ve learned to embrace the hurt because it’s a sign that I’m growing.

 

On humor:

I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m always looking for an opportunity for a witty remark. I also appreciate others’ jokes. My delivery is usually dry and deadpan though, which can confuse people at times. 

 

On communication:

  • Too much is better than too little (but there is such a thing as too much.)

    • Written: this is the best way for me to communicate accurately. Sometimes I need to refine my words to be most effective.

    • Spoken: I love talking face-to-face, although it gets harder when the topic is serious or heated, I am getting better. Sometimes, after an emotional discussion, I need time to collect my thoughts and recalibrate and then maybe revisit the topic later.

  • Async vs live

    • Live is most efficient for me. It can be agonizing to wait till “next week” or have to put something on the calendar. If you need me, ping me. Let’s hop on a call. Let’s keep progressing. I strive to never be a blocker. 

  • Disagreements/misunderstandings

    • I believe there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved through good communication. 

 

On change:

If I see something that can be improved or optimized, I will want to do it. Now! If it’s broken, let’s fix it. If it’s not needed anymore, let’s drop it.

 

On feedback:

  • Giving

    • It’s not my default to offer feedback; solicited or otherwise. (I am naturally an introvert.) So if I do offer feedback, know that I am stepping out of my comfort zone. I will push myself to do it though, because of my strong belief in how it can help teams and individuals grow. I have studied how to give effective feedback and will always strive to follow those principles.

  • Receiving

    • Who doesn’t like positive feedback? I’ll take it anytime you have it, but it doesn’t have to be public. I don’t crave the spotlight, but I do need to know how I’m doing.

    • If it’s constructive (negative) feedback, I’d honestly rather hear it sooner than later. I’ve given up on being perfect and have just accepted that there will be some things I need to change. Please let me know. Yeah, it will hurt but I believe in the hurt. See On growth.

 

On collaboration:

  • I see the value in divergent thinking. If I suggest something that seems off the wall, it’s often to just get the team thinking from a different angle. I may not even believe that it is a good idea. I love and invite dissent. Diversity of thought will lead to better solutions.

  • I try to separate the idea from the person, both for myself and others. The best ideas win. But the best ideas can’t be based on gut feeling. I need reasons. But....

  • Every idea we come up with is a hypothesis. As product people, we truly don’t know unless we test it, either in a prototype or in the market.

  • Fail fast, fail cheap.

 

On personality:

  • Sometimes I’m misunderstood. I tend to come off as grumpy, terse, or withdrawn. You may even feel I don’t like you.

    • Part of the reason is that I am fairly reserved unless I know you well. The more I get to know you personally, and the more we work together, the better it will get.

    • The other part is that I tend to be very efficient in my language; letting the facts and statements stand on their own.

  • I’ve been aware of this for years and have taken steps to fix it. I’d like to think I’ve improved. Maybe you won’t notice at all. (I’m really a teddy bear at heart.)

 

On personal development:

  • I am naturally curious. I love to learn. I do most of my learning by reading lots of books. I also love learning from others. Don’t be surprised if I ask a lot of questions, even about things outside my field.

  • I’m more of a generalist than a specialist. That includes stuff inside and outside of work.

    • I dabble in just about everything; sports (playing/watching), food and drink (cooking and consuming, fine chocolate, obscure root beers), music (playing violin), mechanics (auto repair, tools, anything that breaks), music (listening / high-end audio equipment), DIY stuff (woodworking, plumbing, electric work, carpentry), bikes (riding/fixing), etymology (history of words), outdoors (camping/hiking/hunting/fishing), sewing (if I have to), computers (building/fixing/gaming), art (carving/painting/drawing/sculpting/appreciating), gadgets (phones/smart home stuff), finances (budgeting/investing), and more.

 

On punctuality:

  • It’s just one of those things that’s important to me. People’s time is valuable, my time is valuable. I don’t like to waste it. I was raised on “If you’re not early, you’re late.” But we’re all human, I’ve been late (or missed a meeting) before, it’ll probably happen again. But I strive for punctuality.

  • I feel the same way about commitments. If I say I’m going to do something, I will do everything I can to accomplish it.

On productivity

  • I try to work on Central Time (even though I’m in Mountain Time). I usually work about 8:30am-4:30pm CT. Because most meetings are usually in the morning, my best productivity times are between about 12pm-4pm CT. Most recurring meetings are best outside those times. For ad hoc meetings, since I assume that there’s a good reason for the meeting, throw it on my calendar any time.

 

On my role:

I’ve never limited myself to my title. I just try to do what needs to be done. It’s always served me well in the past, but if I step on toes, let me know. I’m probably not trying to cause problems, I just want to see the team win.

 

On design:

I think product design is the coolest job on earth (product management is a close second). I’ll likely stay in product the rest of my life.