Work Principles

ahmedUncategorized1 Comment

I jotted down some of the work principles I live by. I’ve learned some of these through experience, and many of them through books and mentors. This will act as a reference for me, those who work with me, and others. It’s still a work in progress.

  • Don’t take your job for granted.
    • Do your best to earn your place every day. This goes to everyone, from janitor to CEO.
  • Work hard in silence. Period.
    • Don’t even anticipate success to make the noise. Don’t crave the noise or recognition.
    • Gain gratification and satisfaction intrinsically, not extrinsically.
    • Press and fame are vain.
    • Be in love with the process, not the results.

  • Always ask why.
    • Knowing why you’re doing something helps you do it tenfold better.
      • This goes for both your intrinsic motivation for doing things, as well as why you and your team are focusing on a certain task or project.
        • If the why isn’t convincing, reevaluate.
  • Be low on ego.
    • You will be wrong more times than you’ll be right. Accept that, take a punch, and get back in the game.
    • Getting offended says more about you than the person on the other side. Be objective. There’s always a reason why someone’s saying something.
      • If that reason turns out to be mere resentment or disrespect, you’re not in the right place.
    • It’s not enough to take feedback. Seek it. Ask for it. Embrace it.
  • It doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what the market wants.
    • Building a business is very humbling. It’s never about you. It’s always about who you’re serving.
    • You can have opinions and hypotheses. The market will tell you which ones are right. If you do good work, the market will reward you.
  • Embrace failure.
    • Don’t be afraid to fail. Be courageous to dream and experiment. Take studied risks and leaps of faith.
    • Don’t romanticize it. Failure sucks. But the recipe for success is made of different variations of the same ingredient: failure.
  • Grow slack.
    • Life is tough. Humans have problems. Unexpected things happen. Design everything with the ability to take a punch in the stomach.
    • The human body is designed this way. You have 2 kidneys. If you deadlift 100kgs, your body will adapt to handle 110. Build resilience and antifragility.
    • New products and experiments need to be lean since the likelihood for failure is high. Once they work, they need fat.
    • Don’t confuse this with complacency.
  • Be accountable.
    • Take ownership. If you can earn from the upside, you should also take risk on the downside.
    • If you’re not affected by the downside of a decision, then you shouldn’t be the decision maker.
  • Build models of carrots and sticks, for yourself and others.
    • Humans thrive on rewards, but can grow entitlement and become too comfortable with no downside.
    • The stick has to be there. Reward and punish. Any system without the carrot & the stick fails to thrive in the long run, as it promotes complacency while accountability disappears.
      • Deciding what’s the stick is challenging.
      • Remember that humans react to 3 types of incentives: economic, social, and moral. Economic incentives are the least effective the higher you go. Social incentives are powerful. Moral incentives are decided by your culture.
  • Make yourself obsolete. Build teams & a culture to replace you.
    • Culture is how your team makes decisions when you’re not there.
    • A manager’s output is the output of his/her team and the neighboring teams. Your individual efforts are important, but your success as a manager is tied to other people’s output.
      • That by definition makes you a coach.
    • Making oneself obsolete is a sign of maturity and confidence.
      • If you really become obsolete, a growing organization should have another challenge you can move to.
  • Being comfortable in one’s own skin is a key characteristic to becoming a team player.
    • Insecure employees will create toxic environments as they project their insecurities on others to comfort themselves. You must identify that and stop it immediately.
    • You can’t change people, but you can influence them and give them a chance.
    • Related to being low on ego; one can only be so if they can like themselves. Read The Courage to be Disliked.
  • Build feedback loops.
    • Every relationship can be looked at as a supplier-customer relationship. Supplier must always seek to hear customers’ feedback
      • Product Development is the customer of Operations. Consumer is the customer of Product Development. Employee is the customer of HR.
    • Bring things full circle by setting recurring feedback meetings. The newer the relationship/project, the more frequent these must be.
      • It’s not enough just to schedule them. Ask questions. Find your fault. Improve.
    • This is the golden rule of building new products: the Build > Measure > Learn cycle. It applies everywhere simply as Do > Gather Information > Learn.
      • The learning part is reflection. It’s best done alone through journaling.
  • Detach.
    • Every now and then, it’s very healthy to detach and spend time alone to reflect.
    • It’s easy to drown in the seemingly productive day to day. Don’t be stuck in the rat race. Take a step back and evaluate big picture decisions. Do this often.
  • Be honest and transparent with yourself and others.
    • More times than not, honesty is uncomfortable. If you think someone isn’t doing their job right, be sure to tell them.
      • If you don’t, then the company won’t make progress.
        • This wastes opportunity cost, which is immoral.
  • Be kind.
    • Life is hard on everyone. Make sure your presence brightens up the day for others.
  • Be reliable.
    • Not showing up on time, or not following through on a deadline shows disrespect and complacency.
      • Things don’t always go according to plan. That’s normal. Not communicating that before the ship sinks is unacceptable. It doesn’t matter how small or large the task is.
    • You can have a fun and friendly environment without compromising on this.

One Comment on ““Work Principles”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *