#14 The new job + life outside of work 🏜🏝

Some thought about onboarding as a product manager at Facebook, life outside of work with Carole and George, TV shows I liked, a book I'm reading and a podcast I enjoyed.

It doesn’t feel like two full months have gone by since my last post but apparently that’s the truth. Time is absolutely zooming by.

Today, I’ll share a little update on what I’ve been up to and some content I’ve been enjoying. Hope you’re healthy and well!

The new job

I’ve been spending most of my time ramping up with my new job at Facebook and haven’t had much time to write.

When I’m in sponge mode, I’m entirely focused on absorbing. Which is a different mode of being than the one I have when I’m writing. Writing is almost like squeezing the sponge after it’s been filled up.

While I’m still absorbing a ton, I’m feeling some space to write today. So excuse the lack of polish but I don’t want another month to go by before I publish something.

So what’s taking up my time with the new job?

A product manager in a place like Facebook carries most of the responsibility for setting the strategic direction and focus for their team. My team is quite large so the investment is substantial. Our focus areas typically break down by short-term (next six months), medium-term (next year) and long-term (next two years).

FB is a bottoms-up culture so there’s nobody telling me what to do. Managers at Facebook are expected to truly support their direct reports and help them make decisions. It’s hard for my manager to support me if I don’t know what I need, so I’ve been working to develop an opinion.

The balancing act is that I don’t want to simply inherit the opinions of those who were there before me, but I also don’t have enough context yet to have my own informed opinions. So my strategy has been to ask people very basic questions around what they think our team’s highest impact levers are, and why. By having this conversation with about 30 people so far, I’ve been able to identify some first principles that resonate and some opinions that are more based in people’s desired future. I’ve been prioritizing understanding the former.

I can’t argue with how things are today, I can only understand. As far as where we should go from here, that’s where I’m expected to form my own conviction. As you might imagine, this takes up a lot of my thinking. It’s like a puzzle that exists only in my head. And the pieces are continuously evolving because things change very rapidly at FB.

There’s something exciting about building a perspective that nobody else has, from scratch. And then continuously updating it.

That’s the main overview. Plenty of detail I could go into but I doubt you’d find it interesting. I’m enjoying myself and feeling challenged, which is a good spot for me.

Life outside of work 🏜🏝

Having a new job has definitely forced me to change some of my routines outside of work. For one, my morning walks with George are shorter than they were during my job search phase (ah, how I miss those 2 hour morning walks). It’s closer to 30-45 minutes each morning which feels short.

Carole usually joins me for the after-work walks and sometimes she even walks George without me while I work a bit later. I don’t like to let work eat into my personal time too much, but I’m giving it more space during my ramp up since I view the first 3-6 months as a critical window for setting myself up for long-term success.

Dining is another highlight of life outside of work these days.

One benefit that this COVID period has brought to SF is the emergence of outdoor dining spaces. We’ve been enjoying these with friends on the weekends and sometimes during the week. . It used to be impossible for us to bring George with us for meals because everything was indoors. Now he can join us, which makes everything better. This is us enjoying a Bufalina pizza and Aperol Spritz during a rare 90 degree summer evening this past Friday in SF’s Little Italy neighborhood. For a moment, we felt like we were back in Italy.

Aside from these occasional outings, we’re mostly eating at home during the week.

During the day, bread is the primary base for all my food. My breakfasts are usually toasts with butter and jam, lunches are usually avocado toasts with feta, lemon juice, olive oil, truffle salt and pepper. My go-to snack throughout the day is a toast with almond butter, banana, honey and some salt. Sometimes, it’s nice to have an almond butter toast with jam and a bit of salt.

For dinner, we mix between salads, pastas, veggie burgers and sausages, rice and other healthy options.

As you can tell, we have a very carb-heavy diet but what is life without pasta and bread?

Lastly, Carole & I have a couple trips over the next couple of months: the first trip is to Sedona later in August and the second is to Tulum in September for Carole’s birthday. I’m looking forward to the chance to get out of the city and reflect on the last few months together while hiking, swimming and enjoying the sun.

TV 📺

  • The English Game - I’ve been playing soccer my whole life. This Netflix original series dives into some of the characters during the period at the end of the 19th century when English Football transitioned from a game reserved for elite hobbyists into a professional sport for men from the working class. The acting, score, and production are fantastic.

  • Dark - I watched an episode of this German sci-fi original from Netflix last year, but it didn’t hook me. Carole & I recently gave it another try after strong recommendations from some friends and this time it grabbed me. Just started Season 3 (there are only 3 seasons so far) so I’m hoping it doesn’t disappoint but I highly recommend seasons 1 & 2. It’s an indulgence for anyone who enjoys time travel storylines.

  • The Last Dance - Earlier this year I heard a lot of people talking about the ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the 1990’s Chicago Bulls. I don’t have ESPN so when Netflix made it available recently, I binged the whole miniseries. As a fan of sports and competition, I loved it. It’s an upbeat, polished story composed of many hours of behind-the-scenes footage from the Bulls’ 6th championship run in the 1997/1998 season.

  • Hunters - We took a while to finally give this Amazon original series a shot but were not disappointed. Starring Al Pacino and set in the 70’s, it’s a stylish story about a post-WWII underground war happening between Jews and Nazis in the U.S. It has a wonderful mix of action, comedy, mystery and seriousness.

Movie 🎞

Before Sunrise - If you like movies with great dialogue, this is a film for you. I heard good things over the years about this 1995 movie from Richard Linklater but it wasn’t until last week that I finally had a chance to watch it. The main characters are an American guy and a French woman so Carole and I appreciated the conversation a lot. I’ve never been to Vienna but it’s a beautiful backdrop.

“A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together.”

Book 📚

The Overstory - I’m about a third through Richard Powers’ Pulitzer winner for fiction from 2018 about nine characters’ overlapping stories, heavily interwoven with trees and forests. It starts with establishing the backstories of the main characters and then transitions into something else. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Podcast 🎙

Tim Ferriss interviews Hugh Jackman - I’m always a little bit skeptical about interviews with Hollywood actors because most of them are underwhelming when they’re not acting from a script. That said, Tim Ferriss is a world-class interviewer so I gave a listen to his interview with Hugh Jackman and wasn’t disappointed. Jackman’s backstory into theater, singing and acting was different than what I expected. He’s very into meditation, and has a zen calmness about him. I felt relaxed by listening to it, so if you’re feeling on edge you might want to check this one out.