In 2014 Adam Grant tweeted this:
And I thought. Damn, a manual to how to work with a manager is a GREAT idea. We all have our own nuances and ways we look at ourselves, but you need your team to feel emotionally safe to say stuff about working with you, or you’ll get flufy answers. So I recently asked my team to help come up with a manual for me (and I decided to add my own).
Without a manual your team will start from a blank slate and make it all up, so why not give them a head start? Here’s my head start on what it’s like to work with me.
If you are actually interested in what its like to work with me, the feedback came in from people who have worked with me for as long as 11 years and as little as 4 weeks.
You are going to find these things out about me eventually so I figured I’d give you a jump start! I got this by asking several people for their insights on working with me. TL:DR = See below.
Others View of Me
- It takes a while to trust that Wil can be taken at face value but once you do, it clicks. He’s explicit with the things he cares about and the company he wants to run. Trust his word, don’t waste time trying to read between the lines and reverse engineer his algorithm. At the end of the day: be good to your team, be good to your clients, live into our ETHIC values, be data driven.
- I’d add take it personally, your name is on every email, or deliverable, take pride in what you put your name on.
- The truth always
- Accepting of mistakes, but not of lies
- Fall on your sword when you need to, he’ll help you up and brainstorm how to move forward
- Use your best judgement — no red flags, just move vs. “ask permission” (but be ready to seek forgiveness in some cases — refer back to “fall on your sword”)
- Instead of asking for permission ask for forgiveness”- When working with Wil trust your gut and make decisions
- Bring ideas & questions to the table but always have state a clear ‘why’ & the data to back them up
- Wil Brings a ton of ideas to the table — dont be afraid to ask questions to understand importance & priority AND then RE-SET expectations clearly on what you will resources you will need or what you will need to DE-PRIORITIZE to get the ‘new’ idea done (**see section below on memory!)
- I place a ton of value in expectation setting and clear deadlines for a project. Want the key to my heart :)? Just deliver when you say you’re going to and you will build trust with me quickly.
- When you make a promise you build hope, when you follow through you build TRUST
- Ask yourself, if I was the client, how would I want to be treated.
- I start off trusting everyone 100% until they do something that diminishes trust. I believe instinctively in our gut we know the right thing to do in tough situations, we allow overthinking to prevent us from just doing the right thing.
- I like you to tell me what you intend to do, because that helps me determine your growth / alignment
- Trust keeps you moving, testing ,and without road blocks — this is 1 way to earn it
Don’t get it twisted:
Others View of Me
- Respect in, respect out. Don’t take his humility and enablement for a lack of confidence in his own opinions. It took me a while to realize but if you go head to head with Wil over something based in opinion, either he’ll drop it because he doesn’t care or you’ll bring data to change his mind. If it’s not something he can drop and you don’t have data, be prepared to take go his route, he’s where he is for a reason.
- With Wil the highs are higher and the lows are lower. If you do a great job at something, few bosses will hype you up more and put you on a high like Wil. You screw something up (something that he perceives violates his values), few bosses will make you feel worse. There’s definitely a guard you need to develop when you’re led by someone as passionate and emotional as Wil.
- (FYI, I thought this was the best characterization of me, I haven’t had someone nail my personality so well, I would have never thought of this myself, but when I did see it, it made 100% sense)
- Little patience for moving slow on things that could have real impact / are critically important because of making it perfect, figuring out all the details, being afraid to seek help (b/c maybe its something YOU can’t personally move forward), etc.;You should execute something you are proud of fast, set expectations you will iterate and improve over time.
- Once I label you as something it sticks for a while (good or bad), it is hard for me to shake that, so I recommend if you wanna shake my perceptions or prove to me my perception is wrong its best to send a doc that outlines what you are going to do, and start doing those things and hitting the dates you said you would, all the while keeping me in the loop. Do not go heads down for 3 months on something and THEN spring up, like look at what I did.
- You’d be surprised at how OK I am with you saying “I know I said friday but XYZ came up and its a more important goal, so I’m pushing you back 2 weeks”, what confuses me is when you create dates and don’t hit even know you missed them, I interpret that as a person who:
Doesn’t have a system to keep track of their promises
Over promises and under delivers, and is afraid to say I can’t get to it on X day, lets try Y
Breaks promises without thinking twice about it.
- I will always feel like I owe it to our clients to make sure they get all the value they can from working with us, I take their investment in Seer quite seriously! If I am ever checking in on a client data, assume its because I feel like I owe it to them. If it wasn’t for clients I would have nothing.
- I am likely to overreact to clients treating our team poorly, I just don’t tolerate that, as such make sure you are kicking ass & doing the best you can, so if I gotta come down on a client I got proof you’ve done all you could and that you’ve shown extreme care for them.
- Having me work on your clients can be a double edged sword, you’ll learn a ton on how I manage client issues and how I do search, you will learn a ton in a short time, but you might also catch a TON of flack from me if I felt your attitude was one of “I tried” vs “I am doing everything I can to help this client be successful, let me show you my 10 pivots, my data for those pivots, my team wide calls for help, etc etc”
- I’m a kind guy who spends time volunteering with youth, but I am also competitive AF and will work tirelessly to beat people. I will never say I’m the best, b/c there is no measure of that, but I will never stop trying to be better tomorrow than I was today.
- I understand that most people need to unplug and relax, I don’t — I get energy from working with and helping talented people do amazing work. That is how I regenerate / recharge. So every flight I take has wifi, every phone has international unlimited data, I want to be available to you if you need me, if I need to take a break or want to be present with my family for 2 hours, 2 days, or 2 weeks straight, it has nothing to do with my need to get away from the work, the people, and the clients, its more about something having a higher priority.
- If I sense you have my back (personally) there is NOTHING I won’t do to show you I have yours too. I’m insanely loyal.
- If you didn’t see something to completion, and want to tell me why, I see those details as an excuse 95% of the time. It’s ok but I don’t really care about why you didn’t get it done, you are better off saying I missed xyz and I’ll get it done by abc. Then spending that time explaining to me why it didn’t get done, because I see that as further wasting my time.
- Tell me what you want quickly. Don’t come to me with wishy washy asks, be clear and tell me what you need Vs softening me up….it might feel pushy to you, but I love being told what to do.
- Wil, you gotta get me this by XYZ or I won’t hit ABC deadline is how I love to be communicated with.
Sending things to wil (tactical)
Others View of Me
- Don’t worry about making sure something is polished to deliver to Wil. Just get it done, be concise, be purposeful.
- Find a way forward, even if it’s not through you. It’s better to acknowledge to Wil that you, personally, can’t do something rather than claim it can’t be done.
- Come to Wil with a proposed solution and rollout date by if no response.
- Use as many specifics and as much data as you can to make the decision a no brainer
- Don’t leave emails open ended, try ending them with I intend to
- If long email use a TLDR and put that at the top
- Be visual if possible..more graphs less numbers
- The best emails are the ones that show option a,b,c which allows wil to respond with a letter
- Whenever entering a meeting with Wil have a set goal / what you want to accomplish by the end of the meeting
- If I have to scroll at ton, or click on tabs, you’ve made me less likely to read your stuff
- Move me to BCC quickly, then bring me back when the details have been fleshed out
- Have a hypothesis, “I believe, let me show you my data which supports hat belief” is music to my ears
- I don’t care about how pretty your docs are, I care about how solid your assumptions are how you arrived at them, making it look on brand is a waste of time.
- I value speed, if you are going to go slow you better have a good reason for it, if you have good reason, I will listen, just ask Crystal 🙂
- Put a FUT in the CC of any email where you make a promise, in that way when it boomerangs back, you and I both know you gotta follow up today.
- I’m horrible at texting, if you IM me, I’ll forget everything in there, my inbox & calendar is how I live.
My biggest weakness = memory & being scatter brained
- I could ask you to do something and completely forget about it within 48 hours. It’s okay to remind me — I welcome/appreciate it. I’m human and involved in a million things… if I owe you something and forget — please don’t hesitate to follow-up.
- I’m pretty aware of my shortcomings, never be afraid to remind me of them.
- Never start an update on a status item assuming I what you are talking about, please remind me. The goal of this deliverable is X (you might have to tell me that every time we meet)
- Even better: hey wil do you know what this bullet point means? Odds are I’m going to say no.
- Start off a meeting reviewing what we talked about last meeting, it helps ground me.
- I take it VERY seriously when I set deadlines and forget or miss them, I feel those commitments are promises that I broke, don’t let me off the hook b/c I am “busy” hold me to high account to the things I say I will do, as I will be doing the same to you.
- I have such a shitty memory that I might ask you quite abruptly to slow down & let me process your good ideas or repeat it a couple times.
- When in deep thought I am highly likely to close my eyes (tightly) or look away, it’s the way I focus, block out the 100 ideas in my head and process the 1 in front of me.
- I will cut you off at times usually because I’m trying to get something out before I forget, not because I’m intentionally rude. I try not to though.
- Keep this in mind, as I might also says quite abruptly “This is too much detail” or “lets keep moving” it’s my way of saying I trust that you’ve got the details nailed. Lets keep things at the brainstorm level.
- Because I’m forgetful there’s a good chance I may tell you something this week and the opposite the next, just remind me, I wont be offended.
How I see my role at Seer
- Eliminate roadblocks — I move time and money (since we don’t have investors/partners, I don’t have to ask anyone to move money), so if you convince me something is worth while and we can’t find a way to get to it quickly. However I trust our exec team, so even though I do not HAVE to ask their permission to move money to speed something up, I highly value and rely on their counsel, we collaborate they make ideas better, more stable, more scalable.
- I’ll ask you to come to me for time or money convos, how can I move time or money to help us keep moving.
- Speed — keep us moving fast in spite of being “bigger”
- Impact your career — Create a platform for potentially career trajectory altering opportunities, its up to you to take advantage of that if that is what you want.
- Help you grow — Ensure having Seer Interactive on your resume opens doors for you
- Innovate — I never want to be caught flat footed, so I want to keep playing with pockets of the web to find the next big thing that we have that others don’t (that clients see value in).
- Keep us from doing it the same way we always did
- Fight being on the wrong side of disruption — I’m a wartime leader, I’m paranoid that someday this amazing ride will come to an end b/c I rested on my laurels, didn’t move fast enough, etc. So keep that in mind. I live in fear of getting lazy or complacent. I believe in pushing myself to the limit to remind myself I’m not taking it easy, I’ll hand wash dishes, I’ll go for a run in the rain or snow, I’ll get up at 4:30 am just to prove to myself I’m not getting lazy and I’m not allowing myself to listen to my own excuses.
- Much of this posts nails me (not all): https://a16z.com/2011/04/14/peacetime-ceowartime-ceo-2/
- You will commonly hear me say, “what do you think?” Never mistake it for me being challenging or to put you on the spot. I like to understand how people came to their conclusions and what data they are bringing to their statements. I also thoroughly enjoy seeing something through a new lens and learning from my peers.
- Don’t be afraid to take a chance and try something new, why even be here at Seer if you are playing it safe? If you come to me with a thought out plan, a hypothesis backed by data, and a clear timeline… I am always down to listen. I want people to disrupt shit and I’ll make the time to help you flesh out ideas.
- I thin slice your job performance
- Participate in things I might see, lists, groups, volunteer efforts, send reads that show how you manage, etc. In the absence of that I will always assume you aren’t doing those things.
- If you tell me you want something in your career and I dont get a regular update on your progress I will assume you don’t care enough to put in the work and I won’t put in the work either.
- Do not assume your wins are making it to me via your manager
- I Admire longevity people who stick with something week in and week out, and have sent updates every. freaking. week.
- Best example is Ryan F — who has sent what I am working on emails every week for 2 years straight, gonna miss you buddy!! Good luck in the new gig. Even if he’s going to be out he sends it on thursday (That’s follow through)
- Admire small things, sometimes I value more seeing you pick up garbage that isn’t yours, than crushing that client meeting.
- I’d rather build people up than tear people down, so I’m great at telling you “you killed it” not so great at critical feedback, my style is just to avoid it and usually just give up on someone than to keep at feedback over and over.
- I still have a lot to learn about myself, so if you have other ideas or things you’ve noticed, please let me know, this is a journey of self discovery and I’m still on it. This list is not all encompassing.
- I’m addicted to growth, so know I’m always seeking to make things better, the people we work with, the communities we work in, the clients we work with, and the people at Seer, I am not addicted to financial growth, I am addicted to impact growth.