To learn about personal user manuals for work, scroll to the end of this page.
Mission: Purpose, Passion, & Profession
My purpose is helping people live better lives using technology and social science. My passion is the nexus of digital brains (artificial intelligence) and human brains (social psychology). My profession is bringing technology and people together.
I’ve enjoyed computer programming since I was in 2nd grade. I learned to write software code in BASIC, Logo, and Pascal as a child. As a software engineer, I have had a lifelong passion for solving problems, which is both a strength and a weakness.
Over the years, my interests and experiences have grown to include product management, design, and data. I coined the term PDE to refer to these disciplines along with engineering and technology operations, which I advocate should function and collaborate as one department while also being aligned to each business line.
When my responsibilities included managing teams, I learned (sometimes the hard way) to resist the urge to micromanage and empower my teammates to do what I too enjoy doing hands-on. Sometimes, I still struggle with letting some things go.
From Management to Leadership
I care deeply about people. In a team, I think of myself as primarily a wireless battery charger and my teammates as the smartphones – i.e. I see my role as bringing out the best in people close to me, giving them energy, and enabling them to innovate and deliver great results.
I’m a connector. I prefer people to find common ground with each other. I work hard to make meaningful connections with people and between people because I firmly believe that for any organization to be successful, people need to be and feel in the same in-group.
I’m comfortable with friendly and constructive conflict with each other when I feel mutual trust and in-group kinship with someone. I’m still learning to be comfortable being in conflict with those who I do not already trust.
I’m pro-compassion, pro-sympathy, and against-empathy.
In my personal life and at work, I prefer hugs over handshakes, and 1:1 eye contact over video meetings. I enjoy walking meetings, which I find are conducive to resolving conflicts, bringing people together, and collaboratively coming up with solutions.
I describe the guiding principles for my life and work in my blog post titled My Personal and Professional Values: Keys to Collaborative Success.
I accept feedback with an open mind and without any ill feelings. I prefer both receiving and giving criticism 1:1 in private and praise in public.
Feedback is effective when given soon following the event; year-end reviews are ineffective, as evidenced by research. Basing pay raises on performance reviews is a misguided practice. There are people I respect who have views opposite to mine on these two topics. I’m open-minded, happy to constructively debate and commit to solutions together.
Consensus, Compromise, Commitment
When practical, I work towards team members coming to consensus or good compromise. Good compromise, as opposed to ‘weak compromise‘ is when the compromise combines good elements of opposing approaches and results in a better solution than any of the individual options. When neither agreement nor good compromise are suitable, I’m a proponent of the disagree and commit principle. Respectful disagreements when people are committed to shared goals, trust each other, and look out for each other lead to diversity of ideas, better teamwork, and greater results.
Known Bugs 🐛
- Sometimes (but not often) I slip, fall off the wagon and act contrary to who I am and the principles I deeply believe in. This usually happens if I have not had enough sleep or if I am exhausted. When this happens, please let me know.
- I am seen eating food or drinking protein shakes often, including during meetings.
- I rarely sit still. I often walk around during meetings. There are many reasons for this, including keeping up with my Apple Health stand goals so I can beat my colleague and friend Todd Haskell in our ongoing Apple Fitness competition.
- I have listed some of my weaknesses and areas for improvement on their own page.
I wrote this personal user manual on the suggestion of Nataliya Becker.
About Personal User Manuals
- How to create a personal user manual for work at Atlassian
- Fostering psychological safety with a personal user manual by Anne-Laure Le Cunff at Ness Labs
- Personal User Manuals: Good Examples and Tips for Making Yours by Chris at The Unconventional Route
- Personal User Manuals: Connecting with colleagues in a deep and meaningful way by Aidan Cammies at Open Practice Library
- Personal User Manuals — The Good, the Bad, and a Template by Camin McCluskey at Better Programming
- Communicating to yourself and others — Your Personal User Manual and other great tools by Tom Connor