Bullet book review: How Google Works

Just finished listening to this book on Audible (pro tip: Listen at 150% speed). Below are some bullets that really stood out to me.

  • Business plan – Google initially created a business plan that didn’t actually tie the engineers to anything. In hindsight this worked quite well in allowing them the freedom to be creative.
  • Obligated to dissent – By default every team member should be required to share their dissent on a subject.
  • Idea: Try art gallery Google, their open gallery project. Sounds pretty amazing!
  • If you want something done, give it to a busy person.
  • Knights and knaves – (Assholes and divas), keep your divas around, as long as their output is more beneficial then the cost to the company ,but get rid of assholes.
  • Say yes, that should be your default to a new idea.
  • Default to open, except when legally required to keep something closed
  • Don’t follow your competition. Don’t get into a siege mentally. However, don’t completely ignore your competition or you may get complacent.
  • Be proud of your enemy. Just don’t follow them
  • Focus on your product and platform
  • Slides kill discussion. Get input from everyone room. Then, iterate very very fast.
  • Be a learning animal, hire learning animals.
  • Hire brilliant generalists, if they’re learning animals they’ll catch on quick and they won’t be biased by preconceived notions of how something SHOULD work
  • When looking to hire, consider awards and patents, that shows a lot of effort and interest
  • Beware the opinion of the HiPPO, might stifle discussion
  • Big rewards should be given to people who are closest to the biggest products, the people building the thing. What counts is impact.
  • Learn big numbers, learn how data works, even if  you’re not a numbers guy, at least understand what to ask for so someone can help you
  • Know everything about the field you want to get into by reading, think like a CEO and read
  • Everyone’s voice should be heard in a meeting – throw out stupid softballs (I think we should all pour hydrochloric acid on ourselves, thoughts?)
  • Big decision and no agreement? Meet daily to rehash and set deadline
  • Every meeting needs hands on decision maker
  • No more than 8-10 people in a meeting
  • Attendance at meetings is not a badge of importance. Fewer people are almost always better
  • Start and end on time or early
  • Don’t multitask in meetings. If you’re doing something else you shouldn’t be there. Too many meetings? Rethink priorities.
  • Spend 80% of your time on 80% of your revenue
  • Find a coach
  • Be a router. Move info fast
  • Have company wide OKRs. Everyone’s should be shared.
  • Default to open
  • Repetition doesn’t spoil the prayer
  • Over communicate well: 20x. You’ll be ignored the first few times.
  • Email: clean out the parts people will skip when writing an email
  • Tip for a quick email response: got it, proceed
  • Processes shouldn’t be able to catchup with innovation.
  • When praise is deserved, don’t hold back
  • Ship and iterate
  • Release products, see if they gain momentum, and only then do a marketing push

Tomadoes

 

There’s some task managers out there, as well as information on productivity and task management systems, whether digital or something analog. I started thinking about what a task manager that works how I think, taking inspiration from all the things I’ve used over the years.

This conglomerate system I use helps me focus and get through my day, week, month, etc. The challenge is that I’m always fighting against the todo list, regardless of what software or system I’m using.

What if my system had built in constraints? This sketch proposes 4 basic sections to make up each day.

  • Daily habits – working to keep the chain going on the habits I do every day.
  • Deep work focusing on doing one thing – In any given day I should be trying to make a decent amount of effort against one project or goal.
  • Calendar and todos – Displaying any items in my calendar and any items I’ve added today or previously into today’s todo list, with built in constraints that call out when I’ve reached my max.

So how could I build in constraints? Using the idea of pomodoros, the one big thing deep work task takes up most of the mental energy of my day. The goal is to spend 5 pomodoros on it each day (25 minutes each).

Then, working off of an 8 hour day, I’d only have a certain amount of time left, so the app would subtract meeting time, along with time allotted to my one big thing, and only let me have remaining todos equivalent to the time left.

In theory this would help keep me from overcommitting and focusing on the things that are important. I’ll share updates as the idea progresses.

1% Better Every Day

Just finished watching an excellent video from James Clear on the small changes you can make in your life to improve over time. This lines up very closely with the daily habits I’ve been practicing last year. I highly recommend checking out this talk! Sharing my sketchnotes below:

iOS 11 – It’s the little things

Last week I installed the iOS 11 public beta on my phone. After playing with it on my iPad for a few months I figured it’d be safe enough to add to my daily driver.

It’s a new OS that adds features to a pretty established OS, no real surprise there as someone who uses Apple devices.

However, there are two features that make me happy.

Volume controls

Ok, this doesn’t seem to work everywhere yet, but the video player in iOS that shows up in Safari has been redone. Instead of a horrible volume control that takes over the entire middle of the screen, it’s moved off to the top right.

AirPod controls

There’s a setting to allow double tapping your AirPod to either change volume or skip to the next track. Since there are two of them you can set the left ear to one option and the right ear to another.

Contributing to WordPress Core as a non-developer

Contributing to WordPress Core as a non-developer

Sharing a post I wrote for XWP, where I work as a Product Owner / Designer.

Sketches: The Universal Language

I’ll be giving a talk at WordCamp Toronto and WordCamp Baltimore on sketching, wireframes, and prototypes.

In this talk you’ll learn some very simple steps to create sketches and wireframes that you can add to any development ticket or website related problem you’re discussing.

The intended audience is non-designers who are interested in learning how to use visual aids to convey ideas and explain problems.

Walking memories

While I’m busy building my life, working, learning, planning, and all around staying busy, I often catch glimpses of something far more important that’s quickly passing me by.

My son is 4 years old, and right now one of the highlights of his day, especially since it’s Summer time and he isn’t in preschool, is spending time with me.

We’ve recently started a couple of things together. We go for a short walk in the evenings before his bedtime, and we read a few short stories from his children’s Bible.

Sometimes these things can feel like they’re just getting in the way of all the things I want to do. But when I really think about it, they matter more than anything else. He’s growing fast, and someday he won’t be around to go on walks every day.

The thought feels painful and makes me wish he’d never grow up. But I know there’s joy in that as well! All that’s to say, I’m learning to appreciate the quiet and slow times with him.

Just today we went on a 1-2 mile walk around the neighborhood. We held hands the whole time; and he never stopped talking. He had questions about everything, his own version of stories to tell, and generally just found something to say every step of the way. And I loved it.

Here’s to living life in the moment and enjoying what we have!

One Small Thing – Running

As a teenager I tried running. Any attempts quickly ended in a fit of coughing with my lungs feeling ripped out. Finally around 19 a friend took me running for 2 miles. He kept us at a medium jogging pace, and at the end I didn’t feel like I had lost any major organs. Just slowing  the pace helped. It was the difference between trying to sprint and going for a slow run.

Later I picked up a good tip: if you can’t carry a conversation you’re probably running too fast. I’m guessing this only applies for people like me who are just running for basic exercise.

After that 2 mile run I realized this could be something I’d enjoy. 6 weeks later I ran my first half marathon. It was hard but fun!

Then I mostly tapered off of running for a few years. I’d get out every now and then for a few miles, but nothing consistent. Finally at 25 years old I decided to get serious again and trained 4 months for my first marathon. The consistency was amazing. I followed a guide that told me what to do each day; it didn’t require much thinking, just get out and run.

The next year I ran a marathon again, greatly improving my time. Then I stopped running (regularly at least) for a few more years.

The result has been, if I don’t have a race I’m training for, I don’t run consistently.

A few weeks ago I decided to try the smallest daily habit I could think of in regards to running. I committed to running 1 mile a day (except for Saturday, I use that as my rest day). The experience has been freeing. While I would like to find an event to commit to, I can always get my running shoes on and at least run a mile.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this small habit continues over the next few weeks, and if it builds into something long term.

One Small Thing

Push-ups

Can you do a push-up? Whether it’s from the knees or strict I’m sure you can. Go on, try one now.
That was pretty easy right?

Do you think you could do one more tomorrow when you wake up?

Earlier this year I was reading “Tools of Titans”, from Tim Ferriss and I was inspired by one of the examples he shared. No matter what I had going on, I could absolutely commit to doing 1 push-up a day.

So I did. For the past 5 months I’ve made sure to do at least 1 pushup every day. While it’s a very small thing that will not help me reach my long term interests for fitness, it is a step in the right direction.

Journaling

For years I tried journaling. I’d enthusiastically start writing one day and pour my thoughts onto the page; digital and analog. Sometimes I’d write a few sentences, and other times I could fill out a few paragraphs. However, the story was always the same. After a day, or two, or even a few weeks, I’d end up quitting.

At the start of this year I decided I would journal every single day. The trick this time was to only do one line of journaling every day, and then force myself to stop. Over 7 months later my journal the habit has become clearly established. I now have a log throughout the year sharing major things I did, and often how I felt on a given day.

Note: I did cheat on this one a bit and sometimes would come back to fill in 2-3 days, but ultimately I’ve kept it going so I call this one a win.

Bible

For a long time I’ve wanted to be more intentional about my personal devotional time. I wanted more consistency. So I made a commitment that I’d read 5 minutes from the Bible every day. Sometimes I would actually read and other times I’d listen to a narration of the Bible. The result has been that I haven’t missed a day in almost 10 months.

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What are some things you’ve been wanting to do? If you have tried to start a habit, only to break it a few days later, then you might want to give this a try.

What is something you want to start doing? Running, lifting weights, push-ups, journaling, reading, drawing, flossing?

Decide now what you really want and make the tiniest step toward that goal. Put it in writing and make sure you can see the words everyday.

Some tricks that have helped me are repeat reminders in a task manager, changing the wallpaper on my phone, or writing it up and sticking it on the wall right by my desk.

Push-ups, 1 line journaling, and 5 minutes of reading my Bible have now become habit for me. I don’t feel that my day is complete unless I can check them off.

Now I’m thinking about what my fourth habit could be. Running 1 mile a day?

My Favorite Noisemaker App

These two apps, Relax Melodies and Noisli, perfectly illustrate why a simpler, more focused, solution will often win out over one that tries to do everything.

For the past few years I’ve used Relax Melodies, the main function I use is the white noise sound. At one point I even considered making my own app that just has white noise and nothing else.

Relax Melodies is an example of an app that drives me nuts. First off there are ads, unless I opt in for a subscription. A description on a noise maker app? This is madness. I don’t want to pay $10/month for a glorified fan. And what else does that subscription give me? A bunch of fancy new noises?

Still, I held onto this app because it had a sound that I thought would be hard to replicate.

Then along came Noisli. It’s $1.99 to buy. This app is beautiful and simple. No ads, no upsells. When I open it all I see are a few simple icons that I can tap to start the noise. That’s it.

Lately I’ve grown accustomed to switching to the brown noise setting. It’s less sharp and feels a bit more relaxing.