Stardate S01E19

Mood: 🤗. Lots of brain food to digest lately. And enjoying the company of others before the second peak, I suppose?

First Friday back at the (still practically empty) office! Last time here was nearly six months ago

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

Many connections renewed this week as I managed to get about London a little bit — including a nice Friday back in the office and seeing a few friendly faces (appropriately distanced!) again. Sharing the space led to a couple serendipitous moments, like a sneak peek at an upcoming whitepaper, that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. I’m still torn about whether that unstructured time can’t be recreated virtually these days, but enjoying it in the real world for an afternoon was certainly refreshing.

🌵 Where did I get stuck this week?

Funnily enough, being back in the office also came with a bit of a gut punch, following a team review and assessing our latest performance data from a conference room again rather than the usual comforts of home. I like to think my demeanor includes a proclivity not to overreact, but I started sharing the new information as I had it and this in turn led to several useful follow-ups that will undoubtedly continue next week. What’s weighing on the back of my mind is whether I should’ve reacted sooner with less complete information? Judgment calls are a tricky business, so I’m hoping this was the right path.

💡 What stuck with me this week?

I managed to drop into a few sessions of a virtual conference this week, Empower 2020. Though I still have a few recordings left to watch, some of the earlier ones left an impression:

This panel came with some practical examples, like if a manager tells you “I need you do better” your mind should jump to better how? Or when you say you need it, is my job on the line? Clarity in what you communicate can help prevent the multiple interpretations; save brevity for another time and place.

Another was what kind of manager you might want to be known as; one take shared was “I don’t give people the answers, I help them think.” For me, if I think about how I’d like to be perceived it’s definitely as the supporter and coach rather than ‘the boss’ — while reminds me of another old favorite, Coach Diplomat Advocate Architect.

Julie Zhuo was also excellent for her keynote, and I thought she framed the job of a manager very concisely:

📚 What did I discover this week?

Steve’s recent article on community management stuck out — the philosophy of always “taking it outside” could be seen as evasive, but his thorough analysis makes it clear it’s the most sustainable of a number of subpar options.

Lots of wisdom in this post from Kislay, framing autonomy as a customer-facing construct and arguing the two-pizza team isn’t valuable unless it is pointed in the direction of a two-pizza problem.

The success of a team can no longer guarantee the improvement of at least one business metric. Coordination is the arch-enemy of the autonomous team.

(I also quite enjoyed his book review of Thinking in Systems, it’s a nice refresher from my read a few months ago.)

Meanwhile, some life wisdom from Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

Look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life… If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions.

A nice simple find from Sam, shared on our Slack this week:

🌱 What am I looking forward to next week?

We have Stu joining the team officially from Monday, who I haven’t really worked together with since our time at the bank. It’ll be great to have him aboard and I know he’ll add a lot to our technical approach.

I’m unsure how the rest of the week will pan out, given the importance of the forward planning we still need to do — I’m trying to remind myself that being anxious and being excited are the same feeling.


Thursday the 10th was Jeûne genevois, an ordinary day for the UK but a work holiday for Lisa. I’m glad I took the afternoon off so we could get out and enjoy the fall weather; we ended up strolling through St. James Park all the way to Hyde Park and the Serpentine, stopping for a quick snack and again getting accosted by bees while we sat. They have seriously been onto me this year like never before.




Reflecting through #weeknotes. Learning what works.

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Sean K. Gabriel

Sean K. Gabriel

Kindness first. Lean product aficionado tweeting @skaulana, web @ Finds you interesting. (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ

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