“I’ve seen so many people thrust into management in high-growth companies with so little guidance. From now on, I will hand them this book. Its practical wisdom is immediately useful for the newly minted manager — and us old ones.”
— Ev Williams, CEO of Medium and Co-founder of Twitter
I’ve dreamed about publishing a book for years (I have four fiction manuscripts collecting electronic dusk deep in the murky depths of my file system.) This one wasn’t the one I thought I’d publish first — a nonfiction field guide to management — but here we are.
I’m not an expert manager. Most Friday afternoons I end up thinking of all the ways I wish I’d done better that week for my team — listened better, coached better, directed better, managed my own psyche better. I imagine I’ll look back in another ten or twenty years and shake my head at all the things that seem hard today.
But when Stephanie and Leah, editors extraordinaire from Penguin reached out to me about the idea of writing a book, they helped me realize something: that for a certain segment of managers — namely people thinking about management, or new to it, or still navigating their way to confidence in their first few years — the fact that I’m not an expert and still remember very clearly what it’s like to grapple with questions like “what’s the best way to deliver bad news?” or “how can I make my meetings suck less?” or “how can I improve my relationship with my report?” gave me half the reason that I should write this book now.
The other half is that while there are many great management books out there, there aren’t many written from a woman’s perspective and voice, let alone a minority woman. This was especially surprising when, through the course of my research, I learned that most new managers in the U.S. workforce since the 1980s are women. I thought, here I am, reading about the near-daily reminders of the inequitable playing field for my gender, from maternal bias to #metoo, and I have this chance to create a bit more representation in the voices talking about leadership? That was hugely motivating.
The past two years of drafting, researching, and editing was harder than I expected. Many weekends and nights were lost to this project, and I took more than a few swigs at the flask of self-doubt. But lots of folks helped me along the way (you know who you are!) And getting concepts down on paper was how I always clarified things for myself. Through this process of writing a book, I learned a ton. I’m better at my job. And I’m proud of the end result.
I joke that now feels like the beta period of shipping a product — it’s got a cover and a publication date, it’s starting to get read by a wider circle, and I’m still zealously tweaking details and fixing typos. Some people I really admire (like Ev Williams, Gretchen Rubin, Mike Krieger, Leila Janah, Sam Altman, Brit Morin, Nir Eyal and Michael Bungay Stanier) have said some very kind things about it so far.
“Julie Zhuo had to learn to be a manager fast, as her role kept expanding in the hyper-growth environment of a successful Silicon Valley start-up. In The Making of a Manager, she shares what she learned — often, the hard way. She combines cutting-edge analysis of how organizations work with engaging and accessible examples of how theory plays out in real life, with stories of what she did right and wrong.”
— Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project
This week, THE MAKING OF A MANAGER feels more real than ever because we have a cover (thanks to the talented Kimberly Glyder)! And a publication date of March 19th, 2019! And it’s available for pre-orders!
So if getting past the am-I-doing-it-wrong?’s of management is a topic of interest to you or someone you know, please help me spread the word.