Operating Ranges

Today I listened to the Bob Metcalfe episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast.  It’s a nice, wide-ranging conversation that covers some essential history of the Internet and some  thoughts on the management of companies that, for me, are keepers.

For example, Metcalfe talks about how employees’ “operating ranges” can be exposed by the rapid growth of companies.  According to Metcalfe, “The company can grow more rapidly than the people, and so you have to pay attention to which people are being left behind by your accelerating company . . . and, in some cases, you need to shift gears.”

Shifting gears, in Metcalfe’s world, often means either removing someone from the company or reassigning them.  He brings an engineer’s logic to the matter:  “If you look at different sizes of companies, [you see that] people have skills related to size, scale.”  Some people are very good at working at the level of startup chaos, where much is uncertain.  Some people are better at working in an established company that is already generating millions of dollars per month.  It’s a manager’s job to fit skills to scales and to understand what is needed as positions level up.  Or, again in Metcalfe’s words, “When you’re an engineer, you build things.  When you’re an engineering manager, you manage people who build things.  And when you’re a manager of managers, that’s a different task.”

Can I Interview You?

I’ll be giving two keynote addresses (so far) this summer.  One is about leadership and one is about innovation.

For the one about innovation I’m hoping to interview people using a simple set of questions:

  • Who is the most innovative person you know?
  • What makes him/her innovative?  (What does he/she produce/do/create and why do you consider it innovative?)
  • What is this person’s innovation recipe? (I’ll be looking to dial in on behaviors / habits / hacks / secrets.)
  • How do you feel when you’re working with this person or around this person?

So start looking around in your daily life and in your networks — and use this inbound contact form if you’d be willing to be interviewed.



Eric Hudson’s Top Ten

Generally, when Eric Hudson hits publish — regardless of the platform — I tune in.

Recently, via LinkedIn, he shared 10(ish) useful and timely tips for acing a video interview.

In my world, hiring season is heating up.  Hudson offers good reminders about what employers should be looking for, and seeing, from candidates.  And it’s also something I will share with the people in my network who are currently looking for jobs.

To The People Who Dropped-In to My Office Today

Thank you for telling me your particular stories, in your exact voices, based on the precise accumulation of your experiences.

Thank you for communicating so directly.

Thank you for trusting me to listen and for helping me to understand.

Thank you for telling me about why certain things matter so much to you.  Your stories are powerful.

Thank you for being fearless.  For being willing to show both the polished and the unpolished parts of your present and past.

Thank you, in other words, for bringing me closer to the work that I ought to be doing.  For working with me.  For pulling me away from scripts and maps and well worn paths.

Thank you for changing me and for believing I am worth changing.

Thank you for insisting I am worthy of certain struggles.

I started the day with a long list of to-do items.  I ended the day with the same list and the knowledge that much of what was written on it was not worth doing in the first place.

Thank you for being present for me in a way that asked me to be better.

Performative Risks

My favorite quote from the latest Klingbrief comes from a synopsis of a new book about embarrassment:

All learning demands that we take performative risks that leave us vulnerable to embarrassment, and in Newkirk’s own words, “any act of learning requires us to suspend a natural tendency to want to appear fully competent.” Newkirk unearths the fear of embarrassment underlying seemingly irrational choices that put up barriers to learning; he is particularly compelling on the ways that embarrassment hinders help-seeking.

This is the kind of insight — often just a hunch — that can spur action.  It might lead you to approach certain learners in a different way, ask different questions, add an extra inch to your teaching antenna, or take down your own barriers to learning.  Thanks to Kate Hewitt, from Far Brook School in New Jersey, for sharing that gem.