How I work

How I learn

Challenge: There’s a big difference between knowing the name of a concept and understanding it. And in order to understand it you need to be able to quickly retrieve it from memory. To do that I practice spaced repetition—flashcards that decrease their frequency based on how well you remember the answers to them.

  • I use Anki to create flashcards with concepts I want to be able to recall from memory. I review them daily. They involve everything from the right amount of vinegar for a vinaigrette to the name of the event that Google Analytics uses to store engagement time.
  • I source and refine the cards while reading books, essays or help sections to which I add as much marginalia as possible.

How I hire

Challenge: Figuring out how it will be to work with someone based on questions.

  • I write genuine job descriptions and do outreach through Linkedin, Angel List, and most importantly — niche communities.
  • During the interviews, I listen. The most effective way I found to focus is to take notes. In the past years, I’ve been more interested in behavioral questions instead of functional ones. Paid assignments and working through a case are better suited for assessing skill level.
  • What improved the quality of the discussions I have with candidates is the STAR method. It keeps both of us focused.
  • When I’m shortlisting candidates I keep a simple list of “Things I like” and “Possible Concerns” which helps me get back to the initial context before the interview.
  • I was part of hiring teams for diverse roles — engineering, product, HR, and marketing and these general rules helped me in every situation.

How I make team decisions

Challenge: Decisions that involve more than one person are hard.

  • Making decisions is a terrible responsibility. Most of the time I’m working with incomplete data and lots of concerns. But, we need to progress during a project.
  • I listen to all concerns, share my screen, and start writing them. Transforming problems into a text gives me time to understand them clearly. It does the same for the other participants.
  • The best advice I got was from John’s open decision-making framework.

How I choose and track KPIs

Challenge: Tech companies are data-rich. When you can track anything, you tend to overwhelm the company in complexity.

  • I use weekly reports.
  • I love anomalies. They create a strong motivation to find out the reason behind the change. I then compare the metrics that result in the KPI. In digital marketing, those are frequently related to geography.

How do I source ideas for content marketing?

  • I interview present and potential users of the product.
  • I ask about their current problems and what steps they went through to solve them. I look for strong signals of interest — like if they paid for a solution or hired a developer to try to solve it.
  • The outcome of these simple interviews are:
    1. I can better communicate the value of the product by using the language of the user.
    2. The topics of the articles I’m going to write are solutions to problems that they have — something I wouldn’t have necessarily gotten through keyword research alone.
    3. I quickly build a network that I can tap into.
  • The biggest inspiration for this is the Mom Test by Robert Fitzpatrick, especially the template for framing interviews.

How do I keep myself accountable?

  • I write a lot. Since discovering Roam, I’ve written even more because English is the second language I need to find the words that express what my mind is thinking.
  • I keep a log of everything I’ve been thinking about for each major project. This way I can switch contexts easier because I’ve eliminated the fear of forgetting the internal chatter.
  • The daily logs have one more important feature: they create a natural system for streaks.

How I manage complex projects

  • Challenge: Any project that takes more than a month will have new data while still working on it.
  • In order to focus I write a one-page description of the project. The one-pager’s value comes from helping me and my team makes decisions.
  • I usually use a Kanban board for keeping track of tasks. In the past it was Trello, but now I’m using Clickup.

How I give feedback

  • Challenge: Giving feedback is one of those things you do from the first day of your job, and after a decade or so you still learn new ways of improving.
  • I first look through the materials and write my notes.
  • I communicate my expectation that my feedback should be considered — instead of being implemented. I make that intention transparent from the beginning.

How I work with feedback

  • I let it sink in. Sometimes it’s so good I immediately want to implement it, other times it changes the scope of the project and I become anxious because of the uncertainty. During the feedback sessions, I try to understand exactly what the reviewers have in mind.

How do I sabotage myself?

  • My mind wonders and sometimes gets stuck on an idea thinking I have to do it ASAP. I’ve learned the hard way how unproductive changing focus is.
  • I forget or procrastinate on what I set out to do.