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Doing weeknotes

"Weeknotes are well suited to teams that want to communicate about their work to colleagues or management. But they’re useful in other circumstances, too, such as individuals communicating to the teams they’re part of, or leaders communicating to the people they lead."

This is a pretty great introduction to weeknotes - something that I have to admit I've implemented only sporadically at work, and never on my own site. This page has me reconsidering and thinking about buckling down.

There's a ton of value in both reflecting on and communicating what happened over the last week. Some of my favorite product managers I've worked with, in particular, have done this very well, and it was always a level-setter for the whole team's knowledge.

Something to consider?

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Drop In Venture Funding To Black-Founded Startups Greatly Outpaces Market Decline

"The decline in capital to Black-founded companies greatly outpaces the overall decline in startup funding. While total venture dollars in the U.S. fell 37% last year, funding to Black-founded startups dropped a staggering 71%, according to Crunchbase data."

As the piece points out, this may in part be because venture funds are abandoning diversity initiatives. Because so much of venture is based on networks - you usually need a warm introduction to get funded, and some partners pattern-match with founders they've backed before - people from a certain demographic are more likely to be funded.

There was a time when I thought startups were meritocratic; in reality, it tends to be rich, white people funding people from similarly rich, white backgrounds.

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RTO doesn’t improve company value, but does make employees miserable: Study

"Overall, the analysis found that RTO mandates did not improve a firm's financial metrics, but they did decrease employee satisfaction."

The finding is unsurprising, but good to have data. It goes on:

"Specifically, after an RTO mandate, employees' ratings significantly declined on overall job satisfaction, work-life balance, senior management, and corporate culture. But their ratings of factors unrelated to RTO did not change, indicating that the RTO mandate was driving dissatisfaction."

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Boeing Max 9s start flying again after door panel blowout

"“I would tell my family to avoid the Max. I would tell everyone, really,” said Joe Jacobsen, a former engineer at Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration." And so I shall.

This is going to be a textbook example of how moving to a sales-led rather than engineering-led culture can be incredibly harmful. Clearly Boeing is feeling stress from its competition, but rushing planes out the door has hurt its standing rather than helped it. This ongoing incident makes me incredibly reluctant to fly on any Boeing plane at all.

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Why You’ve Never Been In A Plane Crash

A really great piece about blameless postmortems and how the psychological safety to tell the truth leads to fewer mistakes and - in the case of the aviation industry - fewer lives lost.

"It’s often much more productive to ask why than to ask who. [...] A just organizational culture recognizes that a high level of operational safety can be achieved only when the root causes of human error are examined; who made a mistake is far less important than why it was made."


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Introducing our Open Salary System: Reflecting on a Decade of Transparent Salaries at Buffer

"What we’re sharing today is the result of applying our lessons learned from running a company with transparent salaries for a decade." I've been following Buffer's open salaries initiative since the beginning; this is a great update.

An open salary system is smart for all the reasons listed here: most importantly, it eliminates person-by-person bias.

Systemic inequalities between certain job functions, particularly with respect to gendered work, aren't completely addressed here given the system's reliance on market salaries, but I liked the way they adjusted their customer service salaries when they realized how important they were to the business.

The initiative is also a great way to signal an open culture to the world, and this post is thoughtful and thorough. I wish it was more standard.

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Why return-to-office mandates fail

"My advice to business leaders is this: If your “personal belief” tells you that in-office work is better, approach the question analytically. What actual, measurable problems related to your business objectives will be solved by a return to the office?"

This is the crux for me: there are very few actual problems that are solved by returning to the office. Instead, it's often a feeling - a return to the past. I would argue that looking backwards is never a good way to think; it's better to consider what you need to do in order to truly adapt to the future.

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An Unreasonable Investment

"Your career is not your job. It’s the humans you help along the way."

I feel this in my bones. The people who have helped me in my career have made an outsize difference to my life, and I hope to make the same kind of difference in other peoples'.

The best kind of leadership is servant leadership, which is what I try to embody in my roles: not just to the people who report to me, but the people around me. I want to be helpful. I want to push great people along. And I'm eternally grateful to the people who did that for me.

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Remote Work Hurts Innovation Among Work Teams Massive New Study Finds

Interesting study. Although I think there are enormous incentives for people to report this way, I'm sure there's a lot of truth to it.

It sounds like the big issue is the kind of informal ideation and conversation that happens really easily when you're in a room with someone but is rarely raised in a remote environment. It's not that ideas, reflections, and back-and-forth can't happen - it's that there's no really great medium for them to happen on. Slack doesn't capture it; emails and documents are too formal. And a brainstorm is an event rather than a whim.

I don't think people stop thinking creatively when they're at home. But there isn't a great forum for them to raise those creative ideas. That's both frustrating for the person and counter-productive for the organization.

So what does a better medium for this look like? I have some thoughts.

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Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty on all seven counts

Unsurprising. Which is the word I will also use for his inevitable early release.

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Failing Without Knowing Why: The Tragedy Of Performative Content

Thought-provoking for me: particularly as someone who thinks through ideas through writing. But perhaps that writing doesn't need to be in public, in front of an audience.

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Hustle culture is over-rated

“When hustle culture is glorified, it incentivizes people to work longer hours, not because it’s a good way to get the work done, but because they want to be perceived as working long hours.”

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Online Ads Are Serving Us Lousy, Overpriced Goods

“The products shown in targeted ads were, on average, roughly 10 percent more expensive than what users could find by searching online. And the products were more than twice as likely to be sold by lower-quality vendors as measured by their ratings by the Better Business Bureau.”

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The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank hit women- and minority-owned start-ups the hardest

“Silicon Valley Bank was one of the few that would give venture-backed start-ups led by women, people of color and LGBTQ+ people a line of credit. After the bank’s collapse, they are now being hit the hardest.”

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Americans are increasingly disgruntled at work

“Of note: Workers who were in jobs that could be done remotely, but were forced to work on-site saw an increase of 7 points in active disengagement.”

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Macroeconomic Changes Have Made It Impossible for Me to Want to Pay You

“There’s no easy way to say this: I have made the difficult decision to lay off over six thousand of you. In the past two years, we have achieved huge wins together. But unfortunately, the macroeconomic environment has shifted in ways none of us could have foreseen, from an economy in which I did feel like paying you, to one in which I’d rather not.”

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Extreme questions to trigger new, better ideas

“The following prompts jostle you out of tiny thinking. Each stretches some dimension of reality to an extreme. So extreme that it is nearly nonsense. But dramatically different perspectives can reveal distinctly new ideas. An idea that would be a 60% solution in an extreme hypothetical case, could be a 2x or even a 10x idea in reality.”

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What explains recent tech layoffs, and why should we be worried?

“Layoffs often do not cut costs, as there are many instances of laid-off employees being hired back as contractors, with companies paying the contracting firm. Layoffs often do not increase stock prices, in part because layoffs can signal that a company is having difficulty. Layoffs do not increase productivity. Layoffs do not solve what is often the underlying problem, which is often an ineffective strategy, a loss of market share, or too little revenue. Layoffs are basically a bad decision.”

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Your Coworkers Are Less Ambitious; Bosses Adjust to the New Order

“Many white-collar workers say the events of the past three years have reordered their priorities and showed them what they were missing when they were spending so much time at the office. Now that normalcy is returning, even some of the workers who used to be always on and always striving say they find themselves eyeing the clock as the day winds down, saying no to overtime work or even taking pay cuts for better work-life balance.” Good!

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Big Changes to 401(k) Retirement Plans Move Ahead in Congress

“Some lawmakers, academics and policy analysts have criticized some of the provisions, including the move to raise the age of required retirement account distributions to 75. They argue much of the legislation benefits the wealthy and the financial-services industry.” I agree and would prefer to see welfare and social security improvements instead.

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Be Wary of Imitating High-Status People Who Can Afford to Countersignal

“Successful people can afford to engage in countersignaling—doing things that signal high status because they are associated with low status. It is a form of self-handicapping, signaling that one is so well off that they can afford to engage in activities and behaviors that people typically associated with low status.”

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1 in 4 hiring managers say they are less likely to move forward with Jewish applicants

“26% of hiring managers say they are less likely to move forward with Jewish applicants; the top reason for negative bias is belief Jews have too much power and control […] Respondents also wrote in a number of derogatory comments regarding how they identify an individual as Jewish. These write-in responses included: “voice,” “mannerisms,” and “they are very frugal.”” Horrifying.

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Is Elon Musk a bad boss? Ask Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter workers

“But there’s plenty in the public record. Personal attacks. Union busting. A casual attitude toward factory floor injuries and other health concerns. A dismissive approach to workplace racism. And an allegation involving a horse and sexual favors.”

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Legal right to request remote working to be delivered by end of the year (in Ireland)

“An amendment to the bill is now expected that will allow all workers to request remote working.” In Ireland right now but expect it everywhere soon.

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Venture Capital Isn’t the Problem—It’s Venture Capitalists

“Investors are more likely to place their bets on companies led by founders with elite educational backgrounds and stacked resumes, when business-related factors such as the market sector the company belongs to have a much larger effect on its financial future.”

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