Alexander's personal user guide

Alexander Klopping
Sep 6 '18 · 11 min read · 299 views
This guide
Times I like to work
  • I start my days late: Monday's often at 10:00. The rest of the week I start at around 09:30. Before that I'm spending time meditating or playing with my daughter.
  • I go home between 18:00 and 19:00, often doing some work or reading on the train. When I'm home I rarely work in the evenings.
  • On the weekends and during holidays I rarely work.
  • I work from home on Tuesdays. Working from home gives me a lot of focus, and makes it easier to spend the time on deep work being less distracted (this user guide was written on a Tuesday).
Best way to communicate with me
  • Most important: I live in my calendar. It tells me what to do. All the rest comes second.
  • Personal
    • I use email for work stuff.
    • I enjoy instant messaging a lot for personal stuff.
    • But when you try to make an appointment with me, I respond better to email (as it's going to be easier to turn it into a calendar event).
    • I enjoy calling to chat about nothing.
  • Work
    • Email me. It's the center of my communications. It's easy for me to turn emails in to-do's. I have (and need) a system for follow up reminders, otherwise I lose track of if I need a reply from someone. (One of the reasons I hate phone conversations or instant messaging about work).
    • I don't need acknowledgements of emails like "got it" or "on it". I expect you have read my email within a couple of days (except when you're on holiday).
    • Only contact me by phone or instant message (telegram, whatsapp, slack, sms) when it's urgent, work related stuff. If you call me, I'm going to assume it's an emercency. And if that's the case, by all means, feel free to call me.
    • I prefer to discuss things in real life, instead over email.
    • I like the direct approach. Give it to me straight.
    • I don't expect you to respond immediately when I send you something by email. Even when I send you the mail at night. However, I do expect you to close the loop on everything we open. I will do the same, but try to take things that are in your function off my plate and into your to do-list. I get frustrated when I have to ask about something twice.
    • Don't say "let's discuss" without a follow-up of when we'll discuss.
    • I'm super interested in why you believe what you believe. Help us build these contexts by over-communicating. Share your logic, particularly when we're building trust. It's even more important when we're just getting to know each other.
  • 1:1's and office hours
    • 1:1's and office hours are mostly your time. Spend them however you like. I can talk about anything to you, from questions about work, the company, it's strategy, your personal life, your personal development or your interests. I might take 10 minutes to talk about stuff that came up during the week.
    • I welcome you to take the time to plan (multiple) office hours with me (every Monday), even if it's to talk about nothing. If you feel like we don't talk enough, we don't talk enough. I'd love you to help us fix that.
    • For 1:1's: maintain a Google Doc that we collaborate on. It helps us to follow up.
  • Group meetings
    • I love it when most time is spent around discussing concrete proposals. Vague points on the agenda (like "discuss salary of X") often feel like a waste of time.
    • Be engaged, don't multi-task.
    • Let the group know if you're losing your energy. Just say it. We might need to change something to the structure or contents of the meeting. I welcome this change.
My character
  • I have character traits that have upsides and downsides. Here are some of them:
    • I'm a very, very curious person. I'm interested in ideas and abstract concepts. I enjoy being confronted with novel information, even when it is complex.
    • I tend to read idea-centered books (almost always non-fiction). I'm quite articulate and can formulate ideas clearly and quickly.
    • I'm very optimistic about the future.
    • I'm a risk taker. Career accomplishment is not my primary goal, I don't care for safety and security.
    • I'm very extravert. I'm very enthusiastic, talkative, assertive in social situations. I'm highly energized by social contact. Love talking on a stage.
    • I'm stubborn, dominant, harsh, skeptical and competitive. At the same time I'm straightforward and blunt (so you know where I stand).
    • I don't avoid discussions. On the contrary. I will happily sacrifice peace and harmony to make a point or to get things done. (Being a soft, patient, eternally-listening ear doesn't come as naturally. But I can do both.)
    • I often change opinion. This might be really annoying to you, but I'm very consequent in the underlying ideas. (If you feel like I'm changing my opinions, try to digg deeper until you get to the underlying principles.)
    • I'm not very flexible, gentle or patient. I can seem extremely demanding. When it annoys you, let me know. I appreciate it and I will try to tone it down. It's not always conscious.
    • I'm skeptical. It sometimes interferes with my ability to cooperate with others whose intentions are genuinely good. It also means that I can only function high in the hierarchy of power.
    • I'm not very good at voicing and truly understanding my own emotions. Although it's hard to guess what I'm thinking; I don't have feelings of resentment. I don't harbour hidden anger. If I'm angry, I'll tell you.
    • I'm very assertive. I can't help it to take charge in situations without clear leadership.
    • I'm not disturbed by mess, disorder and chaos. I simply don't notice such things (and often don't care). My schedules are loose, my time often unscheduled and I don't care for routine and predictability. But, often my job requires it. It doesn't come naturally though, and the only way to make it work for me is to live by my calendar. At the same time, when I take the time to be creative, I'm very welcoming of the chaos that accompanies creative endeavor. Also, I'm very good at it: I know I'm productive when I spend time being creative.
    • I'm, unfortunately, not very polite.
My drive
  • I have two goals in life. I want to be a great father and partner. And I want to make good information more accessible for more people. I know that last thing might sound super weird. But this is my professional purpose in life.
  • I'm driven by being intellectually challenged, a feeling of purpose and creativity. I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and daughter a lot. I enjoy spending time at Blendle with my colleagues. At the same time, I love spending time alone. Reading or just fucking around with my computer (probably being on Reddit, Twitter or YouTube).
How to deal with me
  • I'm extremely passionate about our mission. I might come off as combative because I will disagree and agree with you forcefully. Just in case it rubs you in the wrong way (which inevitably will happen), here are some possible expanations. Not all have to do with you.
    • A) I genuinely enjoy discussions. Even when things get heated. It is the way I form opinions and ideas. That's why I don't take disagreements personal -- I merely see it as a way to evolve ideas and opinions. It's a positive for me if a heated discussion led to a change in one of us.
    • B) You did something that I felt lacks the right priorities, was poorly constructed, imcomplete, inadequate or otherwise didn't meet my expectations. We all have triggers that cause us to look unfavorably on other people and these are mine:
      • You're coming to me with problems without thinking of proposals of how to fix it.
      • You aren’t connecting your work to impact on your OKRs. I love when you can exist at 10,000 and 10 feet and clearly organize your priorities. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.
      • You're not spending enough time thinking strategically. If you're too much in execution mode I'll get very frustrated.
      • You aren’t showing enough rigor. I love it when you intensely evaluate the evidence, integrate that information from a wide range of sources, and apply sound judgment to make solid, smart decisions rapidly.
      • You are shirking responsibility and not acting like an owner. Be an agent for the change you want to make at this company and show fearlessness. It’s ok to fail and take calculated risks. Speak your mind when something is broken and pair it with clever solutions.
      • You aren’t fostering collaboration and a positive, energetic environment. Know your strengths and weaknesses, understand different social styles, and show empathy, compassion and humanity.
      • You aren’t engaging in your own learning and teaching. A thread that binds us together is curiosity — about our industry, business, customers, function, and perhaps most importantly, about ourselves.
    • C) If I notice that you haven't met my expectations, I will share my observation of your action. I'll either do this immediately (if there is nobody else in the room) or during our next 1:1. Feel free to check with me if I'm frustrated by your actions, sometimes I'm not aware of my own frustration and it helps us both to check.
    • D) If you're sensing a lot of frustration from me, it's highly probable that parts of (B) happened multiple times. We should try to resolve by doing (C). You are in this position because you are highly capable and talented, but if the situation stays like this, we're just not a good match.
    • E) I'm not listening well. Maybe because I'm stressed, frustrated or scared about something unrelated to you. I may realize later and will apologize, particularly if you email me what you were saying. I might reply that I was the dummy and apologize. I respect you calling me out on this.
The way I work
  • I'm a hard worker. But I'm also very lazy. I like to do things in the minimal amount of time necessary. I have a low tolerance for chores and repetitive tasks.
  • I'm quite likely to procrastinate things that I don't like to do or are very complex.
  • I can focus on the task at hand when there are high levels of motivation, but often find myself distracted by something more entertaining, interesting or worrisome.
  • There's a good chance I'm late, even if there isn't much of a reason for it. I tend to find and deliver excuses for my failure under such circumstances.
  • I don't feel compelled to do things by the book. I love to engage in creative tasks, where rules must be broken for advancement to take place.
  • I'm trying to split my time at work in 2 parts: contact with others and deep thinking. I need both in equal amounts to feel (and be) productive.
  • I have the tendency to fix problems quickly and harshly. I immediately go into problem fixing mode, even while people might just want a listening ear.
  • When I'm unsure of something, I'll arrange people around me with opposing ideas. After the debate(s) I can make a decision.
First 6 months
  • Ask plenty of questions. If you stop asking questions, I will see that as a red flag.
  • It's really helpful if you're proactive with your learning goals. I will help you with this. It's a lot of fun when we reach a point where information flows freely back and forth.
  • I appreciate it if you share what you're learning and what you still have to learn. Share your a-ha moments and outstanding questions.
  • It's impossible to over-communicate. Do not assume I know what you're up to. If you're ever debating including me on a communication, do it.
Feedback and celebrating success
  • Celebrating things is not part of my DNA. I'm not likely to celebrate things that go well, or reward good behavior. I don't hand out compliments easily. I know this is tough for some people, and I'm trying to get better at it.
  • I also don't give others a lot of feedback spontaniously. Another thing I'm trying to get better at.
  • I value feedback enormously. I value it in a one scentence email when I said something stupid or nice. I value it when you put a lot of time in it and give it to me in a more elaborate manner.
  • I value feedback from everyone at the company, but I'm also aware that I don't come across as somebody with a lot of patience. Yet, I still hope you will give me feedback.
  • I don't understand my own stress well. It's only after a stresful period that I can feel my body and mind being tired. I'm coming to better understand this by talking about it a lot. What I do know:
    • When I don't have options and have painted myself in a corner, I get very restless and stressed.
    • I have days where I'm quite depressed and rather not want to get out of bed. This is correlated with my stress levels. At those days I'm feeling unhappy, anxious and irritable. I'm quite good at keeping my head in a storm, but when I'm stressed it costs me a lot of energy.
    • I handle new, uncertain, unexpected, threatening or complex situations well. I don't withdraw in the face of the unknown. Except when I'm stressed.
Please let me know when you feel like I've missed things. There's a chance you know me better than I do :).

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