- Experience, abilities and skills
- In practice
- Natural roles for me
- Reasons to not work with me
1. Experience, abilities and skills
- 2+ years as a COO in a small tech company, at one point responsible for all day-to-day except sales
- 3+ years as a product manager in small tech-companies (10-30 people, online marketplace, consumer apps)
- 3 years as a project lead in a web development agency
- One start as a co-founder, went bust in less than a year
- Minor advisory role in a Korean food startup, and member of the board in a Finnish recruiting company
Read more on LinkedIn
- Grasping new information and distilling it into actionable knowledge
- Thinking in and modelling systems
- Creating and testing mental models against the real world
- Communicating effectively across teams, functions and organizations
- Great written and spoken business communications
- Researching, designing, implementing and tweaking organizational structures (in small companies)
- Some coding (HMTL, CSS, Python, SQL)
- Rudimentary design with e.g. Sketch, Figma, pen and paper
- Stitching together 3rd party tools to automate work (think e.g. archiving invoices)
Being the most biased person when it comes to myself, I turned to a combination of personality tests (Briggs-Myers, Big 5, DISC, empathy quotient) to get a baseline for structured self-reflection. In the end, I found the following result from Briggs-Myers to be quite spot on:
INTJs have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. They have long-range vision and quickly find meaningful patterns in external events. They are independent, skeptical and critical and have high standards of competence and performance for themselves and others.
They value health, home, family, and achievement.
A couple of things to add:
- I have a low concern for others (I don’t do things to please anyone)
- Socialising takes a lot of energy from me, and I mostly prefer being on my own
Read more here.
4. In practice
I work office hours, don’t do overtime and am offline during my vacations.
- I work Mondays to Fridays between 09:00 and 17:00 CET
- I won’t read or respond to chat (Slack etc.) or email messages outside office hours
- I respond to messages usually within 24 hours – if you have something urgent, call me
- I have my phone on silent mode 24⁄7. When I don’t answer, leave me a message so I know that I should call back (otherwise I probably won’t)
- When I’m on vacation, there’s no way to reach me in work-related matters. That’s why I delegate my work well in advance and leave an easy-to-follow checklist for the delegated work. I don’t expect you to take on my work unless otherwise agreed upon. I expect people to work independently based on their best judgement – I will respect that and the decisions made by others while I’ve been away.
I value asynchronous and thoughtful written communications. And GIFs.
- I value high-quality written communications that showcase the thought-process and logic behind your argumentation/opinion/decision/proposal
- I don’t appreciate “thinking one line at a time” communication. In my experience it favours of shallow workers and information junkies, creating a positive feedback loop for low-value, high-frequency communications and fosters a culture of “always online”
- I don’t expect people to respond to me instantly. For short Q&A type convos I value people getting back to me within 24 hours. When people feel the need to craft a more thorough response (which I value) I appreciate “will get back to this on Thursday” type of read receipts so I know when to expect the response (helps me in planning my own time and attention)
- I have a habit of writing and sharing internal updates, announcements and documentation publicly within the team/company. I don’t expect everyone to read them, but I expect people to be aware that they exist
- I try to limit the quantity of topics I communicate at once (e.g. announcements, meeting materials), but sometimes I fail and leave people overwhelmed, making it hard to ask for clarification/have an opinion/etc. When this happens, please stop me and ask for more time to process the information before moving forward.
- I love sending gifs to make workdays more fun and build rapport with my teammates
The less meetings, the better.
- Rule of thumb: Very few meetings are really worth it
- I prefer to have my meetings in the afternoons
- Please ask me before blindly booking a meeting from my calendar
- Let me know the type (discovery, discussion, decision), the agenda and the goal of the meeting upon invitation
- Please reject my meeting invitation if you think there is no point having the meeting (no agenda, not the right person to be in the meeting etc.)
- I get easily frustrated when a meeting gets derailed (either from the agenda and/or the intended level of discussion – think going from prioritizing projects to talking about possible design tradeoffs in a specific project)
Planning and decision-making
Improving execution is a bigger leverage than perfect planning.
- 2-3 paragraphs should be enough to outline one’s long-term vision
- I’ve found planning for 6+ months into the future just guessing around
- Planning what to do (strategic and operational) should be human-sized: something the team in question can actually influence and work towards (and thus comprehend). In principle, the smaller the company, the shorter the time horizon for plans.
- Personally, I’ve never been able to plan more than 2 months ahead – and I liked it that way
- I find decision-action loops (decision - action - reflection) as the best way to improve execution (e.g. often time good outcome ≠ good decision, it could be instead bad decision -> luck -> good outcome, important to know the difference)
- For me, a decision is final – until a new decision is made (do what was decided, then reflect and change course if needed)
Me as a teammate
I’m happy to help you.
- I’m like a sponge sucking in information, so I’m usually a good person to ask for help in “how-to” related matters and a second opinion in general
- I have high standards for competence. Sometimes this leads me to not trust certain work for others to do, leading me to do work I shouldn’t (luckily, this has improved)
- I have immutable principles and strong opinions (loosely held), which sometimes leads to overly direct feedback towards you
- I respect your boundaries and try my best to keep in mind that we are different (e.g. working times, methods, ways to handle conflicts)
Me as a manager
My job is to help my team to be as good as they want – no more, no less. This boils down to three things: bringing clarity, enabling learning and resolving obstacles.
- I see my first priority as a manager to help people work as close to their potential as possible and get better over time
- I try to do this by creating structures on how to work (e.g. how to decide between projects), being less interested on what actually gets done (e.g. which project got selected). Day-to-day, I prefer to be quite hands off on other people’s projects (I want to have time to actually work myself as well)
- Equally important, it is my job to help you have clarity in your day-to-day work. This means e.g. communicating clearly what the company is after and why, what are the expectations towards you and your team right now, and why does wour work matter. If you don’t know this, it’s my fault
- Another part of manager’s job is to assess whether or not the job/role is a good match for the person and the company (actual vs. required level of performance, skills and abilities for the role, importance of the role in general). Regardless of this assessment, my first priority is to help everyone be the best they can
- I can help my teams most in giving perspective, resolving internal and external blockages and channeling the team’s energy to productive issues to solve (e.g. help in prioritization, scoping down projects, clarifying goals and decision-making)
- I’m not very good at pushing people to perfect details, or in solving conflicts
- I expect you to own your own domain, and as long as you conform to jointly agreed ways of working (e.g. documentation and development processes), you can do however you please
- If you don’t ask for help, I assume you don’t need it (not optimal, just being honest here)
- The more questions you ask, the better. It’s a sign of quick learning and eagerness to do so
- My written communications tend to be substance-heavy. If you don’t ask for clarification, I assume that you have understood everything I have communicated to you
- 1:1 meetings don’t come naturally to me, something I try to improve. Please say if 1:1 meetings don’t add any value to you, so we can figure out what to do
Me as a direct report
Not the easiest, but probably worth it.
- I demand a high level of integrity from my boss
- I have a hard time taking orders if I don’t understand the why behind them
- I can elevate my manager’s communications and decision-making capacity by reducing their workload, designing and implementing efficient internal work structures, and helping to make information actionable
- I can be a huge asset in fostering a work culture that represents the values of leadership
5. Natural roles for me
In tech / tech-enabled service companies:
- Operations lead
- Product manager
- Team lead
Read more about things I can help with and causes I care about.
6. Reasons to not work with me
- My personal values are miles apart from the values of the leadership and/or teammates
- Output-oriented working culture (in comparison to a more outcome-oriented one). Check this cartoon for explanation
- Mainly detail-oriented responsibilities: there are better people than me to look at the fine print
- Lack of transparency and integrity on decision-making
- No appreciation for great written communication and documentation (doesn’t need to be great, just as long as it is valued)