Tips for Effective 1-1’s

I’ve been really digging the information that Lighthouse has been putting out on their blog and the discussions they’ve started on their Twitter account. Recently, they posted this piece on having effective 1-1 meetings with your manager.

Regular 1-1’s are incredibly important, but far too often, I think they’re scheduled out of necessity (“I guess we have to do it”). Instead, they should be something you look forward to in your week, a discussion about career goals, team dynamics, and big picture items.

Regardless of whether you lead a team, I would recommend giving this a read and implementing the various points. One thing I’ve recently tried to implement—avoiding status updates:

When a manager or team member says they don’t see the value of 1 on 1 meetings, it’s a virtual certainty they spend most of the meeting talking about projects and status updates. That’s a huge waste.

Hungry for more? Here’s how I run 1-1’s.

Brené Brown on Empathy

Rarely, if ever, does an empathic response begin with “At least”…Someone just shared something with us that’s incredibly painful and we’re trying to silverlining it.

Brené Brown discussing how to create a genuine empathic connection. (h/t Mercer)

Building Team Camaraderie in a Remote Environment

A picture of Sparta, the team I work on at Automattic

I’m fortunate to work with a bunch of kickass individuals on a team at Automattic called Sparta. It’s semi-mandatory to own traditional Spartan garb; we pass around “This is Sparta” GIFs constantly; and we play the best game of Two Truths and a Lie you’ve ever heard.

We’ve been together in-person a total of two times since the team formed a year and a half ago in July 2015.

When we get together for a meetup, we get along. We laugh with one another. We have inside jokes. It’s hilariously fun.

When it’s time to work, we get stuff done. We share workloads across the team. We cover for one another. We have serious conversations. We agree. We disagree.

A colleague recently asked me how you build this kind of relationship remotely, one where everyone on the team supports one another and rows in the same direction. I don’t have the answer, but I can share how we’ve tried to go about it on Sparta from the start.

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Highs & Lows of Leading a Team

“I have up and down weeks. This week, I feel like I’m doing pretty shitty.”

I recently had a 1-1 call with another lead from Automattic. We routinely pair up with other leads for several weeks at a time to learn and share with one another. In this particular call, we were talking about the emotional rollercoaster of leading a team.

One week, you’re crushing it. Goals are moving in the right direction, and everyone on your team is rockin’ and rollin’.

A few short days, hours, or even minutes later? You’re failing miserably, and the sky is falling.

I often oscillate somewhere between feeling like I’m crushing life and feeling completely incompetent.

A graph depicting the highs and lows of leadership

The highs and lows of leadership depicted in graphical form!

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Shawn Blanc on Content Strategy

First and foremost: your content strategy should be focused on serving your audience.

Does your content strategy have only the best in mind for your audience?

Consider if your content strategy does the following…?

  1. Does it provide value at all times…?
  2. Is it relevant at the readers’ time of need…?
  3. Does it serve your business goals…?

Shawn Blanc has been making a living from his blog and various products for the past five years. He recently put out a three-part series on content strategy that is worth a read if you’re serious about making a living from your writing (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). Shawn draws from real expertise built up over years of doing the work.

I wasted 4 years of my life doing this

The traditional model of university education is broken. You jam four years of knowledge into your head and hope you can retrieve it later when you need it. (Even worse, it will cost you at least $40,000 by the time you’re done).

There’s a better way.

Instead of getting a big education and trying to build a big product, it’s better to get a small education and launch something small.

Justin Jackson in his piece on Medium, which was a really solid read detailing his background in marketing. He just launched a course Marketing for Developers that’s now available.

Marketing involves far more than running social media ads and Buffer-ing a stream of tweets. It involves psychology, pricing, landing pages, etc. If you’re interested in learning more about these things, Justin seems to be figuring it out.

Cal Newport—Quit Social Media

Cal Newport is one of my favorite authors. In particular, his book Deep Work is one of my favorites.

I was already aware of Cal’s stance on social media, but I thought his TED talk broke down his main arguments against social media in a pretty succinct way. I’m not saying everyone should quit social media just that more individuals should think about it.

I particularly enjoyed his quote pertaining to creating things that are rare and valuable:

Social media use is the epitome of an easy to replicate activity that does not produce a lot of value. It’s something that any 16-year-old with a smartphone can do. By definition, the market is not going to give a lot of value to those behaviors.

Two Leadership Lessons From Bill Walsh


Bill Walsh is the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and a Pro Football Hall of Fame member. When he took over the 49ers, they were without a doubt one of the worst teams in the NFL. In just three short seasons, he took them to a Super Bowl championship. In fact, during his time in SF, he won three Super Bowls and popularized a new type of offense—the West Coast offense.

I recently finished reading his book The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy on Leadership. Overall, I thought the book was okay—definitely worth a read but not a book I’ll re-read again down the line (full recap coming soon). However, two distinct points did stand out—how Walsh introduced a standard of performance and engineered a “team first” atmosphere.

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The Problem with “Constructive Feedback”

It’s hard to sound or be humble when saying, “I’ve got some constructive feedback for you.” This sounds like you’re saying that you know a truth that the other person doesn’t know, and you’re going to tell them this truth. It’s sort of like saying, “You have a problem, I’m going to tell you what it is, and you’re going to fix it. And moreover, you’re gonna like fixing it.”

Kim Scott writes about the problems with “Constructive Feedback.” (h/t Simon).

If you’re looking for a follow-up read, this piece about giving high performers feedback has been helpful.

This is How I Work


I’m a huge fan of the Lifehacker series “How I Work.” They interview everyone from photographers to entrepreneurs to chefs and beyond looking at their workspace, favorite apps, etc.

It’s highly unlikely that they ever come to me asking for an interview so I thought I would borrow their format and complete my own “How I Work” interview. Here it goes!

I would love to read yours. If you write your own, can you drop a comment here on this post so I can read it? Or, tweet at me (@jeremeyd).

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