In search of clarity

The aim is that every member of the team knows: What you’re working towards and why What each person’s role is (in general terms) What their specific job is and why it’s important How to actually do their job (technical skill) Where they can get help What qualities they’re expected to bring to their work (kindness, enthusiasm, creativity, generosity, rigour,…

Making the call

In touch is better than out of touch. If you’re wondering if you should get in touch, you probably should. “How are you doing?” “What are you thinking about?” “Here’s what I’m thinking about.” “Do we understand each other?” If not – “Are our stories accurate?” Whether we do or not – “How can we fix it?” “Do we trust…

Our problem

They say a problem shared is a problem halved, but it gets better than that: some burdens feel much less than half as light when we carry them together. It might be that the greatest success you can have when sharing about a cause is to turn it from “my” problem or “your” problem into “our” problem.

Reserving judgement / planting seeds

In your lifetime you’ll read some brilliant books and hear some amazing talks, have some life-changing conversations. Some. You’ll read and hear more decent, solid books and talks, and have (I hope) a lot of good conversations. And far more often you’ll come across books, talks, films, music, people which seem to have nothing to say to you. Let’s face…

Resource: a16z podcast with Matt Abrahams on moderating talks, panels, meetings and more

This interview with Sonal Chokshi and Matt Abrahams is a useful listen. It’s loaded with specific techniques for presenting and for moderating discussions, whether in-person or online. They cover things like: Good meeting preparation and post-interview follow-up for different types of meeting; Thinking about the feelings you’re hoping to encourage in your audience as much as the information you’re hoping…

Neil Gaiman on character, motivation and plot

The next [building block of story] is the characters. Who are they? What do they want? I’m going to harp on a lot about what characters want. I’m going to harp on about what characters want because over and over again you’ll find that when you’re plotting, when you’re putting something together, it’s the only question that opens the door…

People stuff

It helps if you… Have a track record with someone Share goals Have a similar work ethic Have enough experience to have some perspective Are doing okay (aren’t desperate; can [let them] leave) Listen Always have something good to say Know who’s doing what Keep promises Share the assumption that you’re committed to the work, to doing it well, and…

Ben Dreyer on Good Writing and the Nonrules of English

Here’s rather a long extract – one I heartily agree with – to wet your whistle. Then go and get the book. I have nothing against rules. They’re indispensable when playing Monopoly or gin rummy, and their observance can go a long way toward improving a ride on the subway. The rule of law? Big fan. The English language, though,…

Seth Godin on difficult conversations

I highly recommend this week’s excellent episode of Akimbo about Difficult Conversations. Here’s my summary: There are lots of conversations that we think of as “difficult”: telling someone you manage that you’re not happy with their performance; complaining about customer service; asking a friend to change their behaviour. We often find having these conversations hard and even avoid having them…

When not to speak

Here’s a flow to help me with my “helpful contribution” problem:Is the priority of (this part of) the meeting to discuss things exhaustively, or to cover the essentials? If the purpose of the meeting is exhaustive discussion and there’s still time and attention available – go ahead and share your point. If the purpose of the meeting is to cover…