#4 Remote work, R&R, George-inspired tweets & books 👨‍💻⛰🦮📚

Remote work thoughts, Big Sur recs, tweets inspired by George and recapping my Dec book giveaway


2020 is off to a great start! I’m leading a team working on an exciting new initiative at Abstract, continuing my consulting work, running a monthly product manager peer group, and toying around with a new side project idea. I spent this past weekend with Carole and some of our friends in a cool Airbnb a couple hours north of SF (more on that in the next post).

It’s been tough to find time to write a lot but I’m determined to keep sending the newsletter with consistency to help cement the habit. Today’s newsletter includes thoughts about a new model for distributed teams, some George-inspired tweets, a couple recommendations near Big Sur, a funny meme, and a recap of my big book giveaway from December.

Wishing you all a great week, thanks for reading 🙏

Remote work thoughts 👨🏻‍💻

Remote work is still in its nascent stage so everyone’s pretty much figuring it out for themselves. My experience with it over the last year has shown me a lot of the pros and cons aka “the tradeoffs”.

My biggest pain point as a product manager with remote work has been the lack of time together in person during quarterly planning periods. This results in more drawn out planning phases with a lot of asynchronous feedback. One daylong planning meeting could accomplish what sometimes takes weeks of back and forth over documents and calls.

The biggest advantage of remote work has been the autonomy, productivity, and focus that come with the lack of distraction during long stretches of heads down execution. Offices tend to get in the way of productivity during execution phases.

I see a remote work model in the future where four times per year the product/eng/design people involved with planning spend a week together in person somewhere with the goal of planning the next quarter. When planning is complete, everyone returns to their various home bases and executes asynchronously for the duration of the quarter.

This is different than how remote companies plan in-person time together today; I mostly see companies bring their employees together once or twice a year for fun and team building. My sense is most companies don’t use this time to plan work.

The model I’m picturing would offer the best of both worlds for people like me who are deeply involved in planning. I recognize that it wouldn’t be cheap and some people couldn’t take 4 weeks of time away from their families. That said, I think there’s a there there. If a week of planning in person could replace 3-4 weeks of going back and forth remotely, it just might be worth it. Speed of decision making is essential in a startup.

The future of work is evolving and the marketplace of ideas will determine the best ways of operating remote companies in the years to come. It’ll be fun to observe and learn.

Some related tweets from the end of 2019:

Big Sur & Carmel Valley ⛰

Carole and I took a little trip down the coast the first weekend of the year to enjoy nature and relax a bit before the year officially kicked off with work for both of us.

We started the weekend at Refuge in Carmel Valley, where they offer day-long access to amenities like saunas, hot springs, cold pool, fireplaces and hammocks. We did a few cycles of their suggested thermal cycle: sauna (5-10 min), cold pool (10-60 seconds), relax time (15 min), hot spring (5-10 minutes). It’s first come first serve and costs around $50/person for the day. If you’re ever in the Carmel area and looking to relax for 3-4 hours, I highly recommend it.

The next day we hiked this trail just north of Big Sur. 5.5 miles with pretty steep elevation made it a bit challenging but the panoramic views were worth it. The California coastline never gets old.

This is from the top:

Tweets inspired by walks with George 🦮

Walking George for 10+ hours per week gets me thinking some odd thoughts 🤦🏻‍♂️

👇 deserves 👏🏻

Not a lot of memes actually make me laugh. This one did.

Book giveaway recap 📚

I did a book giveaway over Twitter at the end of last year which included brief commentary on each of the books I was giving away.

My coworkers were the only ones who ended up taking me up on the offer. They’re smart; it’s free books!

These are still available so lmk if you want any:

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  • Endurance

  • Seveneves

  • Sense of an Ending

  • Ready Player One

  • Brief History of Time

  • A Really Good Day

  • Stormlight Archive trilogy

There are a lot of tweets coming up next so you won’t be missing out on anything else if you don’t scroll down all the way… unless you want to see a cute picture of George with some books 😉

That’s it for this one - thanks for reading! Prior posts:

#3 💭 🎉 🔮 2020

#2 💫🌎🕵🏻‍♂️

#1 👋🏻

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