What You Say vs. What They Hear

communication

Communication is super important within any organization, but it’s particularly vital in remote work. At Automattic, we use the phrase “Communication is oxygen.”

The take-home message—building something amazing is impossible if everyone isn’t on the same page.

Any communication is better than silence, but aspects like clarity, actionable next steps, and an understanding of how everything “fits” can take a message from mediocre to “Hell yeah…let’s do this!”

A few weeks back, I was able to catch dinner with my buddy Chuck, and we were chatting about leadership and communication. I mentioned one communication error in particular that I was trying to address—reconciling what you’re saying with what “they” are hearing. This harmony is imperative for great communication, but I/we so often walk away from a conversation thinking “Oh yeah, made that totally clear” only to revisit the same idea two weeks later and find out we’re on different pages.

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Monthly Review: February 2016

photo-1449182325215-d517de72c42d-1

I publish a monthly review of habits, work, etc. You’ll be able to find them all here.

February was a fun month for several reasons. Multiple good friends came out to visit. My wife and I got several days of skiing in. We joined a CrossFit gym, which has been amazing. I was able to tackle some difficult code problems and gain confidence working in React. Drink for Pink was approved as a 501(c)3 nonprofit by the IRS. All great stuff! Full recap of goals, books, habits, etc below.

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Developing a Process for Better One on Ones

A picture detailing two people talking in a one on one conversation

As a team lead at Automattic, I have a weekly one on one meeting with everyone on my team. We’re a small team (seven total people), but it’s the top priority in my week. After all, my main responsibility is to help the team function better. A natural first step is to meet with those individuals on a regular basis and ask things like “How can I best help you?”

Initially, the chats had very little structure. As the team was first getting started, I setup 30 minute slots with everyone, and we just talked (mostly work, but anything really). Through much trial and error and after learning from colleagues, the process has evolved. Here are some of the approaches that have had the biggest impact.

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Static is the Worst Place to Be

Static

I’ve been diving into quite a pile of personal growth books over the past few weeks. The goal was to help answer the question “How can I excel professionally?”

I’m planning on compiling a master list of everything I’ve read thus far, but one commonality I’ve noticed is the emphasis on remaining fluid. I discussed my thoughts on this briefly in describing how I think about my career, but I feel it’s so darn important that I want to expound on those thoughts even further becuase of three specific reasons.

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What I Mean When I Say “I Don’t Have Time”

What I Mean When I Say I Don't Have Time

I have three habits I’m focused on right now – reading, meditating, and stretching.

I’ve been knocking it out of the park on the first two (roughly 85% or higher completion rate). The stretching? Well, I’ve done that once in 24 days for an abysmal 4% completion rate.

The actual habit isn’t that difficult. Every night I want to spend five minutes total stretching my hip flexors and upper back. I can do it while watching TV and even drink wine in between (or during!). Still, I fail every single night. If you were to ask me about it, I would probably create some excuse centered around not having enough time and being so busy with chores, which would be a lie.

“I don’t have time” is never the real reason.

If I think a bit deeper, I’m normally saying one of the following.

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Deep Work in Practice – Applying Cal’s Concepts

How I'm Putting Deep Work Into Practice

One of my goals in 2016 was to work less while, somewhat paradoxically, accomplishing more. I knew I could squeak more out of my day if I just put some better systems in place. As part of that process, I recently finished reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. Cal is a fantastic writer (I’m a huge fan of his blog Study Hacks), and he thinks deeply about the benefits and how-to’s behind working deeply, which he defines as follows:

Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push you cognitive capacities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

Applying the principles that Cal lays out in the book is a perfect first step towards my goal.

I’ve been applying those principles for three weeks now (admittedly a short timeframe), and it’s been working really well. I finish my day by 4:30pm every night. I enjoy an hour of reading time every day. I haven’t touched my computer on the weekends. Success.

Here’s exactly what I’m doing and what those principles look like in practice.
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Edison, Light Bulbs, and Idea Collision

ideas

Quick note: I started sharing a quick email every two weeks with interesting articles, videos, and books I stumble across. It’s quickly becoming my favorite thing to write. You can check it out here!

Who invented the light bulb?

I would say Thomas Edison. You probably would to.

In history books, Edison often gets the attribution when the dust settles, but a bit of digging reveals that he was far from the sole inventor. Edison’s main contribution was the use of a bamboo filament that lasted longer and cost less than competitors.

History includes thousands of these types of inventors – solopreneurs that took an idea from start to market without help from anyone else. When you take a closer look, you find that, like Edison, that’s only part of the story.

Monthly Review: December 2015

holly

I publish a monthly review of habits, work, etc. You’ll be able to find them all here.

December was a really amazing month. I wrapped up a freelance project that I was working on for quite awhile. I was able to spend some time offline with my wife and friends. We went skiing for the first time this year. And, of course, we celebrated Christmas (although not really on Christmas Day). It was an amazing finish to an unbelievable year. I’ll be posting a reflection on that in a few days, but for right now, here is my December review.

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