Balancing your inputs

As someone who is currently reading Slow Productivity and also watching Shōgun, I concur with this point from Austin Kleon:

During a recent phone call, my friend Matt Thomas told me he likes to take a high/low approach to balancing his input, which started when he was in grad school reading dense theoretical texts by day and chasing them with movies like Fast Five at night. I’ve currently got a good combo going: I’m reading Middlemarch and binge-watching Bridgerton. (As the poet Donald Hall wrote in Essays After Eighty, everybody who works with their brains all day needs to lighten up a bit at night: "Before Yeats went to sleep every night he read an American Western. When Eliot was done with poetry and editing, he read a mystery book.”)

Employers re-examine wellbeing strategies

You don’t say…

Before providing employees with solutions to manage their stress, Fleming recommends that employers do more to tackle the ways in which their business might be causing the stress. A Deloitte survey of US workers, in 2022, found three systemic factors had an “outsized impact” on wellbeing: leadership behaviour; job design; and organisational working practices. It prompted the researchers to conclude that “perks and programmes”, alone, achieve little.

No Wrong Channels

I really like this No Wrong Doors approach, and I think we can learn a lot from it in modern knowledge organizations:

Some governmental agencies have started to adopt No Wrong Door policies, which aim to provide help–often health or mental health services–to individuals even if they show up to the wrong agency to request help. The core insight is that the employees at those agencies are far better equipped to navigate their own bureaucracies than an individual who knows nothing about the bureaucracy’s internal function. […]

Something I’ve been thinking about recently is how engineering organizations can adopt a variant of the No Wrong Doors policy to directly connect folks with problems with the right team and information. Then the first contact point becomes a support system for navigating the bureaucracy successfully.

The Slackification of the workplace has, among other things, resulted in too many different places someone might be able to go for help. It’s frustrating to be sent from team to team, with no one really taking the time to understand and assist with the problem. What if we took a “No Wrong Channel” approach instead? I know it takes a bit of extra time, but I think it’s a worthy goal to become “a support system for navigating the bureaucracy successfully” when someone wanders into our team channel with a question that is not necessarily in our direct sphere of influence.

A few tips for job seekers

I am in the process of hiring for a couple of roles at Cloudflare, so I’ve been talking to a lot of candidates over the past few weeks. I noticed a few trends along the way, so I thought I’d share a quick list of tips for anyone who is currently in the job market. This is obviously just one hiring manager’s opinion, but hopefully there’s something helpful for folks here!

  • Fill out your LinkedIn profile. So many people have empty LinkedIn profiles that just show their roles with no other details. Even if there is detail in your resumé, the LinkedIn profile is often the first thing I look at. It’s an opportunity to get to know you a little bit more than the formality of a resumé usually requires. Make sure the details about your responsibilities—and some outcomes and achievements—are listed within each position.
  • Write a summary paragraph at the top of your resume. Possibly the most impactful resumé post I’ve read in recent years is Austin Belcak’s How To Write A Resume Summary That Works In 2024 . He explains in detail the importance of these 3–4 bullet points (he calls it a “highlight reel”) at the top of your resume—before you even get to the details of your previous roles.
  • Send a note to the hiring manager if you know who it is. This works, if you do it right (see the next tip…). I have over 2,000 applications across roles right now, so there is no way to look at every single resumé. If people reach out with a message about their interest it’s a good signal that it’s someone who is excited about the role, which is one of the big things I’m looking for.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, use ChatGPT to write your outreach or cover letter for you. This should go without saying by now, but so many letters and notes are clearly written by ChatGPT. If you read as many of these as some of us do it’s really easy to spot. It’s about the cadence and the words—so much “utilizing” and “enhancing”!—and the particular style of grammar. We want to get to know you. Use your own words.
  • Learn about the company and the hiring manager before your first chat. I want to work with people who are excited about the job. I want to know if this is one of a thousand applications, or something they are truly interested in. I know it’s not possible to spend hours on research for every single call. But a little bit goes a long way.
  • Answer questions succinctly, and then stop. I know interviewing is stressful, and sometimes it’s hard to come up with answers on the spot. But the strongest candidates are able to distill their thoughts into a few short sentences, clarify some things if they need to, and then let the answer rest. Don’t keep saying words just to fill the space. Rather ask a question back, or wait for the interviewer to finish their notes and ask the next question.

I also feel like it’s important to point out that I truly believe the hiring manager / candidate relationship should not be an adversarial one. Hiring managers want someone who will be great for the role just as much as candidates want a role they love. No one wants a mismatch that’s not going to work out. So we have to help each other out. As hiring manager I have to be transparent about the role, the team, and the process. And candidates can help by providing enough relevant information to help us figure out who would be good to explore that fit with.

Do we need to be honest about Fridays?

I’ve been very interested in the rise of the 4-day workweek (4DWW) ever since we adopted it in a previous company and saw the benefits and value it brought to our business. In Do we need to be honest about Fridays? Bruce Daisley makes an interesting observation about how the 4DWW might eventually sneak up on most businesses:

I’ve met several organizations who use Friday as a meeting-free day (to allow team members to chow down on emails and admin). Others tell me that their Fridays are a much slower pace, where meetings peter out mid-morning. […] So, let’s be real, is this how the reality of a four day week will take hold for most of us? That Friday will be kind of a catch-up day for those who need it but that many of us will work at half speed, casually ‘keeping an eye on things’.

Generative AI Is Totally Shameless. I Want to Be It.

Yes, I’m a relentless fanboy of whatever Paul Ford writes, but this is a truly wonderful post about what makes AI so addictive and impossible to look away from. He frames AI as a technology that truly has no shame because “it possesses an absolute willingness to spout foolishness, balanced only by its carefree attitude toward plagiarism.” And so:

By aggregating the world’s knowledge, chomping it into bits with GPUs, and emitting it as multi-gigabyte software that somehow knows what to say next, we’ve made the funniest parody of humanity ever. These models have all of our qualities, bad and good. Helpful, smart, know-it-alls with tendencies to prejudice, spewing statistics and bragging like salesmen at the bar. They mirror the arrogant, repetitive ramblings of our betters, the horrific confidence that keeps driving us over the same cliffs. That arrogance will be sculpted down and smoothed over, but it will have been the most accurate representation of who we truly are to exist so far, a real mirror of our folly, and I will miss it when it goes.

We Need To Rewild The Internet

I finally read this very long essay about Rewilding the Internet that’s been making the rounds. It’s about 30 mins of your time and in my opinion it’s time well spent.

It’s about what internet-builders can learn from the field of ecology, where the word “rewilding” has a very specific meaning. It’s essentially about systems thinking, which I know a lot of us care about deeply.

Rewilding the internet is not a nostalgia project for middle-aged nerds who miss IRC and Usenet. For many people across the generations today, platforms like Facebook or TikTok are the internet. They’ve long dwelled in walled gardens they think are the world. Concentrated digital power produces the same symptoms that command and control produces in biological ecosystems; acute distress punctuated by sudden collapses once tipping points are reached. Rewilding is a way to collectively see the counterintuitive truth; today’s internet isn’t too wild, even if it feels like that. It’s simply not wild enough.

In the end, I can’t help but think that though I love these ideas, it’s just… too late. I hope I’m wrong though.

The compounding, non-obvious value of doing exceptional work

In Crazy Charlie’s Window Michael Lopp says something that has stuck with me for a couple of weeks now (emphasis mine):

The reason, decades later, I frequently think of this unpaid weekend adventure sifting through a year of garbage, hardware, and knick-knacks is because it is when I discovered the compounding non-obvious value from doing exceptional work.

It’s a great story, well worth reading. Matthew Ström makes this point in a slightly different way in The polish paradox (again, emphasis mine):

The polish paradox is that the highest degrees of craft and quality are in the spaces we can’t see, the places we don’t necessarily look. Polish can’t be an afterthought. It must an integral part of the process, a commitment to excellence from the beginning. The unseen effort to perfect every hidden aspect elevates products from good to great.

Doing good work and getting the details right result in better outcomes, yes. But it’s about more than that. It’s not just about the job, it’s about us. The sense of accomplishment and purpose that comes from doing great work is an intrinsic reward that is life-giving far beyond the confines of our immediate job duties.


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