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.”

failure

“I’m not afraid to fall; it means i climbed up high
to fall is not to fail; you fail when you don’t try
~ Superchick “Get Up”

 In the middle of a long text message conversation on my way home on BART I made the comment, “Half the stuff I’m working on now I’ve never ever done. I picked it because I’m most likely to fail at it!

I blurted that out but was instantly reminded of something @MitchellBaker said (and I’m paraphrasing) ~ “If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you should probably do it.”

Stepping out

Over the past year I’ve spent a lot of time stepping outside my comfort zone. Way outside.

Each time is a total gamble.  Each time I risk failure, disgrace, embarrassment.

Because not doing so is absolute failure.

I fell. It hurt.

I understand that failure itself isn’t Failure.  “Failure is required” as @cookflix said.

It’s really no different than a child learning to walk.  You fall. You get up. You take a step and you fall again. You get up.  You keep at it, you keep at that which is important.

As a leader

Over the past year I’ve found myself developing my leadership style, my brand, my way of leading.  I’m honing in on who I am.  Who @mrz is.

I try very hard to empower others, to encourage, to aim to surround myself with people who can do a better job than I can.  People who can stand on my shoulders and do more than I could possibly do. In many ways, I try to delegate as much as I can, to hand off as much as I can.

And I’m more comfortable taking gambles. I know what matters to me (mission, empowerment). I know who matters to me (friends). And within those contexts I feel safe.

I take risks.  I put myself out there.  I iterate.  In the words of @msurman, Fuck it, ship it.”

You should too.

“Something comes from nothing if you’re willing to believe.”

~ Pillar, “Everything”

7 years @ Mozilla

A little more than 7 years ago today, I was at a park in Aliso Viejo with my then 2-year old son when @dan_portillo called. Mozilla was looking for a Network Engineer.

A little more than 7 years ago today I was interviewing in Mountain View. I carried a cell phone that could only make phone calls.

7 years ago today I walked into Mozilla’s Landings office and configured my own Thinkpad laptop by myself (we didn’t have Desktop Support).  

Two weeks later Mozilla’s company-wide All Hands fit in the back of Tied House. Two months later I moved my wife and two babies from Orange County to Northern California.

Along the way I bought a house and called this home.

7 years.

7 Years of Change

I’ve gone through 3 CEOs & 3 bosses. My team’s grown from 3 to 80. I manage an IT Operations team. I’m learning how to lead, how to lean into my strengths.

I’ve learned to delegate, to trust, to let go. And I’ve been surprised and impressed at every step by the caliber of people who chose to surround me.

I now have co-workers friends whose first names I don’t know and who I’ve only met in person less than a handful of times.

Before Mozilla I had only traveled internationally once. For my honeymoon.

I’ve been to Argentina (pictures) & China twice. Stepped foot in Peru. Been to Whistler twice. I’ve seen a bear eat out of a trash can and stood on top of a mountain in July. While it snowed.

I’ve been to Berlin, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Vancouver. Lost count how many times I’ve been to Toronto, to London, to Paris

I traveled to Nice and stayed with a fellow Mozillian. Half my twitter stream is in Spanish. My arguably best friend lives 8500 miles away.

Along the way I lost my passport.

7 years ago my first smartphone was a Palm Treo running Windows. I now carry three phones & a tablet and saw the future I want last year as Mozilla shifted to Firefox OS. I have — and want — the web in my pocket.

7 Years of Personal Change

My 9 month old daughter is now 7 (or 13, it’s really hard to tell). My son knows how to find my name in about:credits.

I’m deeply focused on being an advocate for Mozilla Webmakers. I care about eliminating the opportunity gap through Year Up. I’ve learned that a mission with purpose means more than profit.

7 years ago I was a shy introvert. I still am but you probably wouldn’t know it.  7 years ago I was a Windows user.

I’ve become a San Francisco Giants fan & saw my team win the World Series. Twice.

In the past 7 years I’ve made friends

Along the way I learned that without music life would be a waste

Celebrating 7 Years

I don’t want any gold watch.

I want to do the same thing I’ve done every day for the past 7 years. I’m going to go to work.  

I’m going to go and work with people who make Mozilla not just a job, who have made this my home for 7 years, and who are as passionate about Mozilla & the Open Web as I am.

barcelona. friends.

Last night in Barcelona and I find myself in El Argentino listening to a single saxophone, my second most favorite instrument after Spanish guitar.

Quite a spectacular way to end. It bookmarks two of the most amazing things I’ve ever done with Mozilla ~ one in Buenos Aires and one in Barcelona.  And magically I’ve been to both cities twice and each trip opened my eyes to new ways.

Feels fitting to sit in this restaurant. In this town.

This trip was unique for a number of reasons but it was the friendships that grew that mattered most to me.

I just re-read a text message I sent to someone before I left.

Would love nothing more than to hang out and get to know you better.

Friendship is an odd thing to me.  Perhaps it’s just something I reflect on more as I approach my 40th birthday. 

With the exception of the small circle of college friends whom I still keep in occasional contact with, most of the friends I’ve had in life disappear as life changes, as jobs change.

I want a change.  I spend an inordinate amount of time with friends I work with, the ones who make my job a fun place to go to everyday.  It is these people who I want to keep as friends outside of work.

On this trip I changed how I related to them.  It wasn’t really hard.  They probably don’t know it but I really like them.  They fascinate me, they interest me.  Each has differing shared experiences with me that no one else can relate to.  I moved outside my comfort zone.  I let them know I cared about each one.

Sometimes that meant waiting behind to escort a friend home.  Sometimes it meant skipping on plan A so a friend wouldn’t be left alone.

And then this thing happened.  New bonds were formed, barriers removed.  It felt entirely right to share meals with each other, to order a couple dishes and simply share (tapas certainly helps that but it was more than the style of food.). Felt good.

You saved a seat for me when I was running late.  I wanted to wait for you when you were running late.  You waited for me, you included me. You shared with me, I shared with you.  We explored together.

Is this what friendship is? 

To each of you who made my trip something I couldn’t have imagined otherwise, I love you all. Thank You.