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:
- I can better communicate the value of the product by using the language of the user.
- 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.
- 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.