Brian Manning User Guide
I take my work extremely seriously. I put a ton of energy and time into my work. I’m extremely passionate about the problem we’re solving and committed to building an enormous, transformational company that will change the world.
I am obsessively focused on results. If we understand what we’re trying to accomplish I will obsess about accomplishing it. If we haven’t defined what we’re trying to accomplish or we can’t find a way to be transparent about what we’re trying to accomplish I will obsess about it until we can.
I always assume we’re not doing things the right way. I’m constantly looking to iterate, go faster, be better. With this in mind, I value learning as much as I value results. A good learning about how to do something faster or better is in many cases better than an individual win. I’m looking for scale.
I’m looking to cannibalize the work we’re doing. Let’s find ways to automate or delegate or not do many of the things we’re doing now. I have a laser focus on making sure people are doing high-value work.
Despite taking my work extremely seriously, I like to have fun. I often have a sarcastic tone and like to keep things light.
I’m an optimist. I will almost always take the positive side of a situation. Assume I am doing this and please challenge me on it when you think I’m seeing things through rose-colored glasses. Related to this, if we’re agreeing on everything our relationship is failing because we’re not telling one another the truth.
Context is crucial. If you think I’m making a terrible decision or I think you’re making a terrible decision it’s most likely because one of us is lacking context. Let’s always be aware that we may lack one another’s context and let’s call it out regularly.
There are two things I can’t stand among my direct reports: 1.) dishonesty and 2.) a lack of clarity in your communication that may unintentionally come off as dishonest. If you don’t know something tell me you don’t know. We’re trying to break new ground and we should expect that there are more things that we don’t know than there are things that we know. We have to go on this journey together and we’ll waste a ton of energy if we misrepresent what we know. This goes without saying but if you’re dishonest with me our relationship will fail very quickly and we won’t be able to work together.
I’m a sucker for people with a good attitude. It’s a drain to work with people with bad attitudes. I prefer people that focus aggressively on the things that they can control and deprioritize the things they can’t. That said, there’s a difficult and very important balance between staying in your lane and pointing out and fixing problems. Let’s work through this balance together.
Feedback from me to you:
I get extremely caught up in the work we’re doing and the results we’re chasing. Because I’m so passionate about what we do I don’t spend much time talking about personal matters (weekends, family stuff, etc.). As a result, it may appear that I don’t care a lot about you and your development. Please know that this is not the case. It’s simply my passion and my style. I care deeply about each of the people I work with and I want their experience with me and with this company to be the shining light in their career.
I consider it an obligation to help you make the most of your time here and to set you up for the next big thing — here or somewhere else. I want to help you grow and flourish as much as possible. And if your priorities change I want to help set you up to move to an opportunity that is a better fit. Please be open with me about this.
Human Resources will require certain development conversations but this should be a constant and open discussion between us. Don’t delegate your own development to me. Know where you’re going. Make it a partnership. My instinct will be to be more of a coach and less of a teacher. If you’re not feeling fulfilled or getting what you need or moving forward please tell me. I will reward this kind of transparency. We are lucky to have the resources and connections to make sure that you are developing at a fast pace.
Be clear with me about what you need on cash, equity, role, level, etc.
Feedback from you to me:
Giving feedback is difficult. Giving feedback to your boss is extremely difficult. I understand this and I want to create a relationship where you are free to say anything that you’re feeling and you’re free to tell me when I’m screwing up and what I need to improve. I view this kind of feedback as a gift. It’s a gift from you to me that is difficult for you to give. I want to make a commitment to my entire team to work towards creating a relationship where we can be completely candid with one another. This takes work from both sides. But know that in my interactions with you that that’s the dynamic I’m trying to create. You’ll find that I respond very well to feedback. If you’re telling me exactly what you think we’re in a good place.
How I work:
My typical day looks like this:
6:45am - 9am: Exercise/read/write: relevant news, blogs, research, podcasts, etc.
9am - 5/6pm: Calls/meetings
5/6pm - 7/8pm: Email, Slacks, catch up on projects, open items, etc.
I work at least a half day during the weekend (generally Saturday morning/early afternoon).
I generally will leave the office after my meetings are complete and find someplace quiet with no distractions to catch up on as many open items as I can (respond to emails and Slacks, follow-up from meetings, read contracts, close out task list, etc.) and will stop around 7-8pm. I also try to set blocks for larger projects and/or ‘thinking time’ during the day.
I’m available to you any time day or night. The way to reach me in order of least to most urgent is: email, Slack, text, phone call. If something is urgent please call me. If I’m not answering it’s because I’m running from meeting to meeting and losing track. Please put something on my schedule.
I understand and respect your work and personal schedule and I want you to work where and when you feel you can be most effective given your own circumstances and energy. If you’re more productive doing certain activities in a coffee shop do it there. If you need to be in the office for a meeting or to create connections internally then be in the office. You are in charge of your own work schedule. This goes without saying but please don’t abuse this flexibility.
Micro-management vs. Hands-off:
I definitely fall on the hands-off side of this spectrum. My high-level theory is that I try to hire superheroes that are going to figure out what needs to get done and will go get it done. When we aren’t hitting goals I will seek more information and transparency. There’s a see-saw dynamic here: good results means I need less information and transparency, poor results means I need more information and transparency. Understand this and manage to it. Get ahead of my concerns.
I don’t like micro-management and I don’t need all the detail. I’ll generally let you decide how much detail I need. I prefer that you consider me your thought partner and you should provide me with enough detail to do that. I don’t want to measure your inputs but I want to understand them.
Frameworks are very important to me. I’ll often be less interested in the decision you made and more interested in the framework you used to make the decision.
When you’re hiring people I will hold you to an enormously high standard. Hiring decisions are the most important decisions you will make. Regardless of role, I’ll push on the hire having grit, humility, adaptability, and curiosity.
I will almost always assume we’re not exiting low performers quickly enough (very few managers do) so expect me to push in this area as well. I expect you to manage these situations with elegance such that are no surprises for anyone but if we find that we have made a mistake let’s act quickly to resolve.
I will rarely interfere with the way you’re going about managing your team. This is an area where I will mostly delegate. Though I welcome and enjoy the opportunity to talk through challenging personnel issues.
Org chart is an area where I’ll want to be involved in thinking things through. These are your calls but I’ll be concerned if I haven’t been looped in on your thinking.
Be sure to close out open threads with your team. Particularly publically in Slack. If something warrants a response from you please do so within a reasonable amount of time.
I want you to have full access to other executives. Don’t hesitate to go to them directly for things you need, though try to keep me in the loop at a high-level on what you’re working on with them.
I want you to engage directly with our board but please always copy me on communications. It’s important that I’m in the loop if they ask me about something you’re working on.
I want you to have a ton of independence and access to other teams. If you find problems you are empowered to fix them. But don’t go rogue. Make sure you’re always conscious of the impact on other teams and you’re using the right channels to resolve.
Please close the loop on any open items. If there’s a long lead time on closing that loop let me know that.
Please add topics for discussion in our 1:1 to our direct Slack channel. I’ll do the same.
Our quarterly OKR creation and management processes are crucial (individual, team, and company). I know we’re running things well when we’re running OKRs well. Please take this seriously and keep it top of mind throughout each quarter.
I expect you to actively contribute to team meetings and offsites and the overall strategy of the team and the company. I very much enjoy strategy conversations and want to engage with you in that area. If you want to dig in on this kind of thing let’s find the time.