How I think, live, and work
In my post about the relaunch in December 2021 I gave you a little insight in how my thinking works. Around which principles it revolves and so on.
In this page, I want to dig deeper and go more into the details. This one is growing and changing over time, as I am doing.
For me, it's a reminder, for you, a way to better understand my reasoning. If you are working with me, this probably is also a kind of handbook on how to deal with me.
And yes, this page is inspired by Michael Lopps "How to Rands".
North Star Principles
These are the six principles that guide me in life. This is not the result of one session where I wanted to invent some values.
This is the result of reverse engineering decisions I made and my behavior.
Humans Always First
It's not that I'm not concerned with a good product, but let's face it, who builds products? Humans. And who builds great products? Motivated, skilled humans with a growth-oriented mindset. And that's what I am working on.
It's never about telling people what to do, it's making sure people know what to do.
Routines Over Everything
Go small, go every day. It's nice to have great ambitions and goals. But what makes the difference are the things that you do every single day.
Routines are what advances your life. Reading 10 minutes every day, work out 10 minutes every day, and your life can change in a year. Don't do it, and your life will change as well, but in another direction.
Think in Systems
I am a massive fan of Jurgen Appelo and Management 3.0. From him, I got the quote "Manage the system, not the people". You cannot change people, you can only change the environment they are in.
The whole systems theory gave me another view of our world. Everything is a system. And when you change one part of the system, be it a social group, a city, whatever, you change the entire system.
Communication moves Mountains
Most of the problems that we have in our daily life could be solved with by sitting together and talking about it.
Talk about expectations, about interpretations, about emotions, communicate with each other. Often I see people angry with someone, in personal and professional setting because they expect a certain behavior, but haven't addressed it before.
And don't forget, you are never not communicating. Even if you are sitting in a meeting and raising an eyebrow – that's communication.
Trust and Respect Everyone
Unlike with any other people, with me, you start with a full trust battery. I assume the best in people, and their best intentions. So, if I hired you, or let you into my house, you have earned my trust.
This approach saves me a lot of time, I don't need to pretend to first have to build trust. And it also never failed me.
Just to avoid confusion, I am not naive. I just think I have a good insight into human nature.
Lead Yourself First
The most controversial one.
Fairly simple question: How can we expect others to work on theirselves, if we are not willing to work on our own? So, you need to lead yourself first. That happens by reviewing your behavior, and reflecting on your actions. Every single day.
That may mean something different for me than for you, but a basic question to ask yourself is, "What would the best version of myself do?"
Above is what drives me, now let's talk about how I steer my everyday work and life.
Forty percent of our day is driven by habits, good or bad. And it's simple to influence them in both directions.
Through habits and routines, I try to automate good decision-making and avoid bad behavior. For example, while preparing coffee in the morning, I will have my protein shake instead of forgetting it. Or by having a 30 minute 1on1 with my teammates, I avoid things piling up and escalating.
Our human brain is to have thoughts, not to hold them. What you call common-sense is not always common for someone else.
That's why I like to have written processes and plans for many tasks. They help to pay attention to the details, but also to focus on the important parts.
Plus, if we fail a good habit, it's easier to get back. That's why I write those plans for idiots. I am an idiot when I fail, and I need quick help.
Just the act of documenting the process, makes you more resilient in case of failure.
Processes (or plans) are not set in stone. It's crucial to break the rules from time to time, and to question if the plan is still working.
When I think about the next day, I see a calendar in my head. Not a metaphor, I literally see a calendar in front of me.
If something is not there, it won't happen. If you want to have a meeting with me next Monday and you don't see it in my calendar, better send me an invitation.
My calendar is always up-to-date and if there's a free slot this week, you are free to schedule a meeting. Not before 10 AM, not after 5 PM, not back to back. I am a human, I need to go to the bathroom, I need to get fresh coffee, I need to mentally end the meeting before. Leave 10 minutes, better 15 minutes margin.
If you made it into my calendar, great, it will happen. I don't cancel any meetings except there is a good reason for it.
Besides the written word, my other favorite way of communication is visual. I am understanding complex things better with a picture. Drag me in front of a whiteboard, virtual or physical. That's not only the case for me, I am sure there are study which support my words here.
If you have something to look at and to draw on, it's easier to find a common understanding. Solving complex issues is easier when we can draw arrows, boxes, and shapes around it.
Next to a text editor, there is always some diagram tool like Miro or Lucid Chart open on my desktop.
I don't expect slides or nicely made drawings, the simpler, the better. It's a tool to work with, not art. But every so often it becomes art, its own kinda whiteboard art.
Do we need this? This question you will hear from me frequently. Especially in a big international setting, obligations and tools pile up quickly. You suddenly find yourself in tons of meetings and have tons of stuff to do every day.
The same goes for literal stuff in your life. We always get more and more. I am considering myself as a minimalist, so I am triaging everything in my life, if I require it or not.
This doesn't only happen for stuff that exists already, also for new stuff. Do I/we really need this? It's not about depriving myself of something. It's about making sure I focus my time and energy on the right things.
Bing, Ring, Plop, Bling… (You should watch my face while writing this). These are the annoying sounds devices make when they arrive with default settings.
I never go with a default setting. My phone is always in silent mode, there are no notifications. I am hard to reach on purpose.
The phone is a kind of metaphor. Our defaults as humans are mostly set by our environment, people close to us, our parents for example. They are good or bad examples for us.
Question those defaults, don't accept blindly. Do it often. Ask yourself why things are as they are.
Why do I do this, why do I do that? Is there a better way to do it?
I hope this little insight into my brain was worthwhile for you.
If you are interested in more frequent updates, you should follow me on Twitter.