A version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter a couple weeks back. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.
Earlier this year, I took a notecard from my desk and I wrote a short sentence.
It was a reminder, something I look at nearly everyday. This sentence was what I was working toward, in the simplest, most distilled form I could manage then. I then started telling my coworkers what that sentence was, so they knew my motivation, what I stood for.
From my teenage years, I’ve always written these sorts of things, quotes and priorities and reminders. Some are high-minded (I’ve had a Lao Tzu quote in my wallet since undergrad) and others are about working smarter (Your Email Inbox is Not Your To-Do List). I cherish these things. I find they do help transform my mood and habits. They are genuinely for me but, of course, they’re acts of signaling too. I am saying to the world (and therefore reinforcing for me), “Hey, These are my priorities, World!” This comforts me. I have a plan to cope.
Continue reading What are you working toward?
You know startups. You know exits.
Most of the work of business takes place somewhere in between the very start and the very end. Yet a lot of media attention focuses on those two iconic poles. So you might know a lot less about the space between the two poles.
We need more guidance on the work stage. That’s the approach in The Messy Middle, a new book published late last year from Scott Belsky. He founded Behance, which sold in 2012 to Adobe for $150 million, and has been an active investor.
Continue reading Lessons on “The Messy Middle” of business from Scott Belsky
I’ve started to replace a common question with something a bit different.
I love making decisions informed by consensus. As I’ve gotten older and taken on different roles, I’ve made it a point to be more decisive and clear in being responsible for the final decision. But perhaps from my journalism roots, I commonly want to get other people’s opinions on a matter.
It’s important to understand their vantage point: in a leadership function, you are responsible for having a wider understanding of a situation. But with the right balance, knowing more focused opinions are crucial.
But I think there’s a better question than simply: “what’s your opinion on this?”
Continue reading This is a better question for getting perspective to make a decision
When you say you’re the “idea guy,” I really hear you saying you’re the “I don’t wanna do any real work guy.”
Continue reading Don’t be the ‘idea guy’
One effective way to divide the kind of criticism you’ll get for your work is to split the feedback between that which comes from someone who has done the work you’re doing and that which comes from someone else.
It doesn’t necessarily mean one category will always be effective or helpful or productive or not. Those are further distinctions. But when I’m receiving critical feedback — on something I’ve written or presented or shared — often the first check I make is that one.
Continue reading You’re going to get criticized. Learn when to listen.
Typically, hiring managers use the phrase “passive jobseekers” to mean people happily employed elsewhere whom they chase down because they have the right credentials.
Since these people don’t quite want the job, most of the research about these kinds of candidates shows they’re crummy: when approached by recruiters, they ask for don’t stay long and ask for too much money and, after all, they’re so hard to find they’re costly. Plus, most of this is happening on an ever more crowded LinkedIn.
But as we at Technical.ly have done more reporting and, actually, more work for clients on talent sourcing, I’ve found the established talent acquisition industry has a pretty rotten definition. It’s way too limited and that leads to limited strategies. That was the focus of a five-minute lightning talk I gave in October to more than 300 HR professionals at a DisruptHR event.
Continue reading What is your passive jobseeker hiring strategy? [DisruptHR]
I’m not a procrastinator, which is no small feat, considering my father and my sister both are.
I take a lot of pride in planning ahead on challenges or opportunities. Sometimes that runs counter to others, who are more to sitting on deadlines. Of course crashing into a deadline happens to us all but the reliance on them concerns me.
That’s because, as I’ve been thinking lately, if you wait for something to have to be solved, then it’s often too late. You can’t creatively or find opportunities for efficiencies. Once the deadline is here, it’s broken and you aren’t going to be able to fix it.
So? Change what a deadline means to you. If something is due on the 15th, your deadline must be the 10th and so you better get started on the 5th. Then you can be the person you say you are.
For every project you take on, any commitment you make, you’re agreeing to a longterm relationship. Other people will depend on you, habits will form and roles will shape.
It’s like adopting a pet, as a colleague and I say to each other sometimes. Are you willing to walk the dog? To feed it and give it water and be willing to spend the energy, time and money if it gets sick?
I say that to myself when I want to start something new, and I find it helps influence my thinking. If I think of the longterm requirements and still want to move forward, then I will. If not, well, there’s no use to start at all. (One way I’m working to say no more often).
A version of this essay was published as part of my twice-monthly newsletter several weeks ago. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.
Someone asked me recently what was the biggest motivator for me to start a company, and I told him it was fear.
That’s true, if still somewhat self-deprecating.
Continue reading I am motivated by fear