thank you marie

I never had a lot of friends in high school.

Senior year was somehow different. I don’t know why but by graduation I knew and was known by those I considered the “in” crowd.

I’m a believer in recognizing those who do good and as I read George Saunder’s convocation speech – and his realization that his life’s regrets were all failures of kindness – I was instantly brought back 22 years ago to my senior year and a very specific project I was working on with one classmate in particular.

I can’t at all remember what it was. It’s not important anymore. The thing that I still remember 22 years later, the thing that I still think about was how “Marie” treated me.

Marie and I were undoubtedly in many classes together. There just weren’t that many different AP classes to be in that didn’t overlap. But this was high school and “class distinctions” were a thing – cool kids didn’t spend time with the socially awkward nerds.

So while we knew each other we never spent any time with each other.

be-kindExcept for some class project or something senior year where she treated this shy, Myers & Briggs INTJ type as anyone else; as just a normal classmate & friend. And this was very meaningful to the person I was then.

We even kept in touch for a short time in college and reconnected through Facebook.

You showed me kindness in a way that has left an indelible mark on me. An impact that, 22 years later, I still often think about and have never forgotten.

Thank you Marie.

managing or leading?

“People want to be led by someone they know. Someone they trust.” ~ https://popforms.com/death-to-top-down-leadership/

More than five years ago I started managing a team. Five years later I wasn’t so much as managing a team of 60 as I was leading a team of 60.

There’s a big difference between the two words managing & leading. One is much harder than the other. One is tactical. A means to an end. Book knowledge.


Leader

lead·er [ˈlēdər]
noun: someone who knows where they’d like to go, but understands that they can’t get there without their tribe, without giving those they lead the tools to make something happen; takes responsibility

Manager

man·ag·er [ˈmanijər]
noun: someone who works to get their employees to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper; wants authority


The other is empowering. It is a way of mentoring and teaching. It is about inspiring others to follow into the unknown. To take risks. To accept failure. To require failure.

For those who on paper I manage, it is more than simply a means to an end.

It’s about me focusing on you – my tribe – and only on you.

It’s about me being authentic & vulnerable. It’s about me trusting you.

It’s me helping you grow. It’s you helping us grow.

And in the process we get stuff done.

books & summer vacation

I set a goal for myself during the past nineteen days while we were all on vacation: Read a bunch of books.

And while I didn’t hit my goal of 9, which, let’s be honest, was pretty aggressive, I did finish four books and am half way through Hemmingway.

Here’s a rundown of what I did read:

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brene Brown

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”

Life altering might be an over exaggeration but I was moved enough that I gifted copies of this book to several people.

I will continually ask myself, “What’s worth doing even if I fail?”

I will continually ask for the “courage to show up and let myself be seen.

Bossypants, Tina Fey

This has been on my list for some time and after my wife finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In“, we co-read Fey’s book.

Super simple read. I’ll leave with two highlights:

  1. “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”
  2. When dealing with people who are critical, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable“, Patrick M. Lencioni

This was as easy a read as “The Phoenix Project” was. Told in a narrative format, reading about how teams work or don’t work.

I fundamentally believe that at the root of everything must be trust. Trust and authenticity.  I was taken by this:

“trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group.”

and,

“By building trust, a team makes conflict possible because team members do not hesitate to engage in passionate and sometimes emotional debate, knowing that they will not be punished for saying something that might otherwise be interpreted as destructive or critical.”

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character“, Paul Tough

Through Year Up the biggest skills I see as important to tomorrow are the ability to learn, the ability to be more than you are today.

Paul calls this Grit.

“The problem, as Randolph has realized, is that the best way for a young person to build character is for him to attempt something where there is a real and serious possibility of failure.”

A Farewell to Arms“, Earnest Hemmingway

I’m not actually done with this but since I read it back in high school, I’ll count it.

This was my favorite book in high school, even better than Thomas Pynchon’s “Crying of Lot 49” but I can’t remember exactly why.

Figured a second read might be a good idea.

on leaving mozilla

Mozilla IT 2012

Mozilla IT 2012

Last Wednesday, July 31, I left Mozilla as a full time paid-staff.

Seven years at Mozilla has fundamentally changed how I operate. It’s redefined my values and helped define my personal mission & purpose.

The impact I had on Mozilla and on the Mozilla Project extended far outside Mozilla IT Operations and I hope to continue to be connected to the Mozilla Project (but more on that in another post).

For now I’ll simply share the note I sent to Everyone@Mozilla:

Adios, au revoir, sayonara

On March 15, 2006 I quietly joined Mozilla. Seven years and four months later, I quietly take my leave.  July 31 will be my last day here.

I had this moment of clarity awhile ago when I realized I have an awesome set of leaders under me and it was time, as Mitchell has said, to let them step into new roles and for me to step out.

To my Mozilla IT:

I have enjoyed being there for you.

I have enjoyed seeing you grow.

I have enjoyed seeing you handle some crazy, complicated challenges.

I will miss the camaraderie we developed and shared with each other.

I will miss the late nights working with you.

You always worked with me, never for me. And as much as I tried to help you, you helped me.

For this, and much much more, I thank you.

To my friends,

I made friends with people I worked with, people who are friends first and co-workers second.  I will miss seeing you every day. This is probably the hardest realization.

You have helped me grow and become who I am today.

To All@Mozilla,

In many ways, you, and this organization, have made an impact on me that cannot be undone.

My thoughts and actions have been shaped by what we have collectively been accomplishing and what we have set out to accomplish.

I could write much much more, of course so I’ll just leave with this:

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”