Working with me
March 4th, 2023
Every few years, I update a document that lists my values, my modus operandi, and a few fun facts.
Here’s my latest, written at Vanta in March of 2023.
What I value
- Delivering customer value: Vanta exists because of its customers: they pay us to solve real problems for them, and they can just as easily take their business elsewhere if we’re not meeting their needs. In order to realize Vanta’s potential, we must deeply understand our customers’ needs and brutally prioritize what will deliver the most impact for them. In product development, this is everyone’s responsibility, not just the PM’s.
- Turning ideas into impact: In software, anything is possible – that’s why it’s such an exciting field! We must turn those ideas into tangible impact for our customers. We need clear next steps with dates/deadlines in our work as a forcing function to prioritize the right things and move them forward. While software development is a creative endeavor, teams benefit from clear direction and clear expectations as long as they understand the intent behind them and the impact they can deliver.
- Providing context: I default to sharing as much of what I’m seeing as I can with my team, and I expect that context to cascade down through the organization. Context is empowering and leads to better customer outcomes when given to smart people with experience in their specific focus areas. The same applies for questions via Q&A or office hours – I’m an open book, and if I can’t talk about something, I’ll say so.
- Realizing individual potential: I believe in hiring talented people that have a growth mindset and stretching them to help them realize their potential. In practice, I encourage my teammates to take on new responsibilities, give them feedback, and support them however I can. I’ve found that people often surprise themselves with how quickly they’re able to take on new responsibilities and deliver more impact. I also expect individuals to own their career growth – I will not be more invested in someone’s career than they are.
- Giving and getting feedback: I give direct feedback, I expect to receive direct feedback, and I encourage my teammates to do the same. It’s the fastest way to build trust and to get to better outcomes for our customers and for our business. Please don’t be shy.
- Surfacing the best ideas: I believe that incorporating a diverse set of perspectives into decision making leads to better products and better outcomes. It’s everyone’s responsibility, especially leaders’, to create an inclusive culture where people feel comfortable surfacing their ideas and know that their ideas will be heard.
- Bringing our best selves to work: We can’t control everything about our jobs, much less our lives, but we can control who shows up at our desk in the morning. Let’s bring a positive attitude, celebrate our teammates’ wins, help our teammates grow, work hard, push ourselves, and always be learning. In private, I’m always available to support my teammates in any way, professionally or personally.
How I work
- I believe that everything is a choice and that there are few truly immutable constraints. I operate best when discussing tradeoffs rather than the merits of a single idea. When reviewing proposals for larger decisions, I expect to see a framework to evaluate success and alternatives considered.
- I prefer to try new things and retrospect instead of finding ideal solutions, particularly for team processes. Our work environment changes frequently, and existing processes grow stale quickly. Let’s try new things and schedule time to reflect rather than seek perfection.
- I prefer to be overinformed, as long as it doesn’t create extra work. I like to lurk on noisy mailing lists and Slack channels, and I like to follow along with project plans. It’s an opportunity for me to build context.
- I have a family with small children, and I’ve found that I’m at my best both at work and at home when I compartmentalize my time to be present and focus 100% on whatever I’m doing. In practice, this means that I’m offline for dinner and kids’ bedtime and back online later in the evening, and I work in a couple of focused chunks on the weekend. This also means that I consume way more caffeine than I did a few years ago. Not a coincidence.
- I manage my own interrupts, and I want to know if something needs my attention. Please don’t be shy if you need my attention. I usually respond quickest to Slack, and I welcome a text or phone call if there’s a true emergency.
- 🌉 I grew up in San Francisco, lived in New York for ten years, and moved back in 2019.
- 👨👩👧👦 L and I have two little kids: L and F.
- 🗽 With a few others, I opened Dropbox NYC in 2014 and was its first site lead for five years.
- 🚴 I prefer to bicycle to work whenever I can.
- 🖖 Until I watched all of DS9, TNG was clearly the best Star Trek. Now I’m not so sure. I’m still working my way through Voyager, and some of the new Trek is quite good, too.
- 🎸 Performing l ive music is one of my favorite things to do, and I wish I could do it more often!
Note: I’m wearing a hat in these photos more than I normally do. Also, I swear that I have other hats.