Stardate S02E39

Mood: 😋. Ate my heart out and it’s getting time to settle the bill.

Looking out from the Spanish Fortress in Hvar

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

I remember having a Pret in Terminal 2 on that Wednesday morning thinking, this all worked out marvelously.* If this is what commuting in looks like in the future, then sign me up for it.

Over a few short days in London, I’d managed to visit our office, see friendly faces, stay the weekend, commute to Oxford and back, make our Cell D team dinner and get back out to Heathrow in time to see the sun rising in front of my gate. I then met my lovely wife in Croatia, enjoyed our holiday and got back to Geneva in time for Monday meetings. All went much more smoothly with a bit more advance notice; much better than the impromptu trip I was once considering.

🍀 What surprised me this week?

Writing is hard. It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point, but that lesson keeps cropping up in unexpected ways.

We’ve embarked on a small side project to refresh our internal documentation for Red Badger’s product strategy offering, and at some point realized it would make a lot more sense to refactor longform explainers for activities and workshops out of the main playbook and into our wiki. It’s helped trim the playbook down nicely but we’re now working through a huge backlog of topics at various levels of completeness, and realizing again it’s not so easy to crystallize your working knowledge into a series of easy-to-digest reference guides aimed at new teammates. Doable, but time consuming, and definitely an endeavor I misestimated the ETA for from the outset.

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

Some sage advice from Blair in Pricing Creativity about not dancing around the subject:

The common mistake is to assume the convention around personal finance discussions applies to commercial conversations. It does not. In fact, the corollary of the personal finance discussion convention is that avoiding money discussions is considered a sign of poor business acumen.

I know I have this hesitation, and likely it’s been reinforced by previous clients where the money conversations have been difficult. But it’s fair feedback that I need to take on board, that I shouldn’t be shying away from fear of a bad outcome — in fact, it can be a bellwether for the health of one’s client relationship and better to get that clarity earlier than later.**

🔮 What do I still need to take care of?

Other than calibrations — which will be the bulk of leadership’s focus next week — taking baby steps to reach back out to the network. Building more momentum on playbook edits, and other writing to be done. And just more focus time for writing in general. I feel I’ve dropped the ball when it comes to article output lately; several drafts need dusting off.

💡 What do I need to remember?

Brad sparked some great thoughts at our last Masterclass club in sharing this video about the scout mindset. Definitely something to aspire to. It resonates with other perspectives I’ve heard such as the growth mindset, or thinking like a scientist — all of which share a common thread of embracing curiosity. And being intellectually humble.

There’s this lovely George Bernard Shaw quote that captures it, too:

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

📚 What did I discover?

Words to live by here: papertrails and curations form part of the value chain in an organization, one that’s so much more important in our remote-first, heavily-async ways of working. But that work has to be public (and discoverable!) to accrue value to others; notes in a paper notepad don’t go any further than the bearer. Which brings us back to that idea of sharing things before they’re fully baked, and not letting perfect be the enemy of good.

Here’s a real-life product challenge for product people to ponder. The end game for your product is effectively mind control, right? Today it’s about ads, subtle nudges and influencing users, but take it to an extreme and you can imagine why there would be calls to hold you legally liable for the ranking of feed content. How do you enforce this in practice, though?


Get a taste of it again, and you realize how much you miss traveling.

Clockwise from top left: the seed who lived; the path to Hvar harbor; Lavaux on the lake; Kasjuni Beach in Split

*This was before my arrival though — I was naive thinking that I’d be able to easily transit in Dusseldorf post-Brexit. Instead, I had to cross the border like everyone else on the flight, exit the country again and redo security*** all in the span of 45 minutes. I barely made it to my gate in time, having begged many confused Germans to let me cut ahead of them in lines and having darted between terminals due to security checkpoints getting closed on the fly, and some very suspicious signage. Best not to book such a short connection through the EU from London again!

**Or, never, from being too timid to press the issue.

***To add insult to injury, German security confiscated a delicious bottle of Biscoff spread from me as being too liquid, where UK security had let it through in carry-on without issue. I literally had no time to argue 😢.




Reflecting through #weeknotes. Learning what works. You’re welcome to read over my shoulder while I do.

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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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