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Hi, welcome to Convertium.

I’m glad you’re here.

It’s going to take a while to figure this place out. I understand the importance of first impressions, and I know you want to score an extra point in the win column, but this is a complex place full of equally complex humans. Take your time, meet everyone, attend meetings and briefings, write/type things down, and ask all the questions – especially about all those baffling acronyms and abbreviations.

One of the working relationships we need to define is ours. The following is a user guide on me and how I work. It captures what you can expect out of the average week working with me, how I like to work, my north star principles, and some of my, uh, nuances. My intent is to accelerate our working relationship with this document.

Our Average Week

We’ll have a 1:1 once a month for at least 30 minutes except during WAR ROOM situations (See below). This meeting discusses topics of substance, not updates. I’ve created a private Notion page for us to capture future topics for our 1:1s as well as to provide a handy historic record of what we’ve discussed. When you or I think of a topic, we dump it on that page.

We’ll have a staff meeting with your peers and colleagues in the Web Operations team every week for 30–60 minutes no matter what. Unlike 1:1s, we have a shared document that captures agenda topics for the entire team. Similar to 1:1s, we aren’t discussing status at this meeting, but issues of substance that affect the whole team.

You can send me a message on Workplace Chat anytime you need, including after hours. I respond fairly quickly unless I’m asleep.

If I am going to be unavailable, I will give you notice in advance. All our meetings still occur unless otherwise rescheduled in advance.

I work a bit on the weekends. This is my choice. I do not expect that you are going to work on the weekend. I might send you messages on Workplace, but unless the thing says URGENT, it can always wait until work begins for you on Monday. For truly urgent items, I will probably reach out to you via WhatsApp or give you a call directly.

I take vacations. You should, too. Disconnected from work is when I do some of my best work.

North Star Principles

Humans first. I believe that happy, informed, and productive humans build fantastic products. I optimize for humans. Other leaders will maximize the business, the technology, or any other number of important facets. Ideological diversity is key to an effective team. All perspectives are relevant, and we need all these leaders, but my bias is toward building productive humans.

Leadership comes from everywhere. I’ve hated meetings for the first ten years of my professional career. I’ve wasted a lot of time in poorly run meetings by bad managers. I remain skeptical of managers even as a manager. While I believe managers are an essential part of a scaling organization, I don’t believe they have a monopoly on leadership, and I work hard to build other constructs and opportunities in our teams for non-managers to effectively lead.

I see things as systems. I reduce all complex things (including humans) into systems. I think in flowcharts. I take great joy in attempting to understand how these systems and flowcharts all fit together. When I see large or small inefficiencies in systems, I’d like to fix them with your help.

It is important to me that humans are treated fairly. I believe that most humans are trying to do the right thing, but unconscious bias leads them astray. I work hard to understand and address my biases because I understand their ability to create inequity.

I am heavily biased toward action. Long meetings where we are endlessly debating potential directions are often valuable, but I believe starting is the best way to begin learning and making progress. This is not always the correct strategy. This strategy annoys those who like to debate.

I default to delegation. I believe the delegation of increasingly large, complex, and high-risk projects to my team is the correct way to build trust and grow the team. If you feel a thing I’ve delegated to you is too large, complex, or risky, you should tell me and I will help. You should know that I would not make this delegation choice if I did not believe you to be able to carry it out successfully.

I believe in the compounding awesomeness of continually fixing small things. I believe quality assurance is everyone’s responsibility and there are bugs to be fixed everywhere… all the time.

I start with an assumption of positive intent for all involved. This has worked out well for me over my career.

I need you to know that sometimes we are on HIGH ALERT and things will get strange. There is an exception to many of my practices and principles and that is when we are in a WAR ROOM situation. WAR ROOM conditions usually involve existential threats to our product, team, and/or company. During this time, my usual people, process, and product protocols are secondary to countering this threat. If it is not obvious, I will alert you that I am in this state along with my best guess of when we’ll be done. If I am constantly in this state, something is fundamentally wrong. You should tell me this. I might be so busy that I need the reminder.

Meeting Protocol

I go to a lot of meetings. My definition of a meeting includes an agenda and/or intended purpose, the appropriate amount of productive attendees, and a responsible party running the meeting to a schedule. If it’s not clear to me why I am in a meeting, I will ask for clarification on my attendance.

If the meeting is a stand-up, I expect everyone to come prepared. I find people who attend stand-ups who then proceed to hum and haw during their turn to be very disrespectful of other people’s time. Stand-ups are not brainstorming sessions.

If you send me a presentation deck a reasonable amount of time before a meeting, I will read it before the meeting and will have my questions ready. If I haven’t read the deck, I will tell you.

If a meeting completes its intended purpose before it’s scheduled to end, let’s give the time back to everyone. If it’s clear the intended goal won’t be achieved in the allotted time, let’s stop the meeting before time is up and determine how to effectively finish the meeting later.

Nuance and Errata

I am an introvert and that means that prolonged exposure to humans is exhausting for me. Weird, huh? Meetings with three of us are perfect, three to eight are ok, and more than eight you will find that I am strangely quiet. Do not confuse my quiet with a lack of engagement.

When the 1:1 feels over, and there is remaining time I always have a couple of meaty topics to discuss. This is brainstorming, and the issues are usually front-of-mind hard topics that I am processing. It might feel like we’re shooting the shit, but we’re doing real work.

When I ask you to do something that feels poorly defined you should ask me for clarification and a specific call on importance. I might still be brainstorming. Your clarifications can save many people a lot of time.

Ask assertively versus tell assertively. When you need to ask me to do something, ask me. I respond incredibly well to asking assertiveness (“Alson, can you help with X?”). I respond poorly to being told what to do (“Alson, do X.”) I have been this way since I was a kid and I probably need therapy.

I can be hyperbolic but it’s almost always because I am excited about the topic. I also swear sometimes. Sorry.

I love to start new things but I often lose interest when I can mentally see how the thing is going to finish which might be weeks or months before the thing is done. Sorry. I’m working on this.

If I am on my phone during a meeting for more than 30 seconds, say something. My attention wanders.

Humans stating opinions as facts are a trigger for me. I will often unexpectedly jump into a conversation when I hear this to clarify opinions and facts.

Humans who gossip for sport are a trigger for me. Gossip is inevitable in large groups of humans, but that doesn’t make it ok or useful.

This document is a living breathing thing and likely incomplete. I update it frequently and would appreciate your feedback.

Last updated: 19th Feb, 2024

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