Stardate S03E33

Mood: 😮‍💨. Remembering not to sail straight into the wind. You can zig through it, though.

The Molard balcony view from Rooftop 42

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

As news continued to trickle out last week, I was grateful to hear about the safety of everyone in my team. It’s been rough out in the wider world, with friends having lost their jobs with minimal warning* (in part from certain corporate overlords running amok…) but bigger picture for most tech folks, we’re privileged to live the lives we live. We’ll be okay in our own way.

PQ training this past week has focused on the sage perspective — that every problem can be turned into a gift and opportunity (something I remember from Tony as well). Whether it’s a metaphor of sailing into the wind or learning to surf the turbulent waves of the ocean, it feels extra relevant for the times we live in.

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

The days are getting shorter, and the sun barely comes out anymore. I wish I’d remembered to bring my winter light with me to Geneva. Getting out of the house isn’t much remedy to the limited vitamin D on offer.

It’s certainly great that nowadays you can be a homebody and still stay connected with others, even those far away. But I wonder if it’s left us all taking longer to respond, letting time pass, sitting with the blue ticks.

Truthfully, I’m still shy about doing cold outreach in my network.** Not sure if that will ever change. But the gift and opportunity comes from the delight of a response, or a reconnection. The hardest part is just to get started, and, as I recently relearned, we need to do the hard part first, and lean into discomfort. Outreach is also a form of shipping.

💡 What do I need to remember?

Whether it’s the networking game, the writing game, or those long squiggly ladders we call careers, I often lose sight of the head start others have had in honing their expertise. I doubt I’ll ever be as fast at generating insights as John or as articulate as Julie, both of whom I quite admire. Why am I always tempted to compare? We’re on different paths, and I need to embrace that difference. Even if means I’m still searching for whatever it is that sets me apart on mine.

We have that same lesson in product management as well. When you’re taking on the 800 lb. gorilla in your market, you’re not going to overtake them by playing the exact same game they are. They became giant for a reason. So we have to differentiate somehow. It could be answering a customer need better, or out-executing in a way that matters. Rather than cross their highly defensible moat, find a way to make their moat irrelevant.

You don’t need to beat market leaders at their own game. Change the game, pivot the worldview. Be different.

📚 What did I discover?

This great post from Emily shines a light on the sneaky antipattern of discipline-led silos. Funny how it’s always about the power games and who gets to lead and “-led” the others. You’d think corporate politics would change at some point, no? 😄

Tactic to try with your next big deliverable for your team: share it with others unfinished, as a prompt to get them to help you co-create (or is that co-finish?) it. Makes complete sense at some level — you’re teaching them learned helplessness if you always come to them with all the answers.

As good a primer of Basecamp’s Shape Up methodology I’ve seen since Aniko shared with our delivery community. The more I’m exposed to the framework, the more it intrigues me — what stuck out in this reading was the challenge to the orthodoxy of agile backlogs full of user stories. Let’s be honest, who actually believes those stories? A bet feels like a much more modern take on what it is we’re trying to build as a team.

And why am I still doing weeknotes? Basically this — to get thoughts out of my head each week in the hopes that I’ll find clarity, either now or when reviewing them in the future.

🏠 AOB

Other things I forgot to bring with me to Geneva: my thick winter coat, and something nicer to wear. The former I’ll probably need to cave for once we get into December. The latter I managed to cobble together with dark jeans and the old collared shirt/sweater combo for Friday’s rooftop shindig. I’m not sure why I resist detailed packing lists, but they’d probably save me from this mistake in the future.

*Remember that Anna Kendrick*** movie Up In The Air? The climax didn’t age well — we now live in a remote-first world where hiring and firing by video call is standard. Though I guess it’s aged a bit better than You’ve Got Mail, which is now more of a time capsule of our Web 1.0 way of living!

**The thing they always neglect to mention when it comes to networking: you want to move up and so does your network! It’s not static, you’re just likely to be out of sync with one other. Unless you’re an outlier (which you’re likely not), it’s likely the sea level rises for everyone in your cohort as with you. Almost like the concept of economic inflation? And the ongoing effort to keep your purchasing power ahead of it.

***Yes, Clooney was in it too, but I actually once saw her in New York! Although come to think of it… I saw him once in Helsinki. Stories for another time! 🙃

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

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Sean K. Gabriel

Aloha (🤙。◕‿‿◕。)🤙 big on building teams & lean products. Author @ aspiringpm.com. Thinking aloud with #weeknotes. Works best when caffeinated ☕️