My user manual: How to work with me

This page is inspired by Manual of Me, and aims to be a user guide about me. It captures my guiding values and how I work as a human. This is a living document, and it will continue to grow and change as I grow and change in the future.

For a more general overview, see my about page, or if you are interested in hiring me, see the pages Hire me.

Table Of Contents

If I came with a warning label, it would say

He may look grumpy, but he means no harm; that’s just his normal resting face.

How I add value

I’m a strategic and critical hacker and thinker. My job is to find solutions to complex problems in your infrastructure, operational bottlenecks, individual or overall productivity. I am highly autodidactic and will be able to understand even complex structures quickly to get hands-on as fast as possible. Even though I prefer to find the right solution, I understand the complexities of entrepreneurship and favor pragmatism over perfection while still considering the big picture.

I work best when

I have high expectations for my team, but they can and should demand those things from me as well. I assume the following things to be true if we work together:

Let’s continually learn new things and improve our skills and the way we work by thinking critically and self-reflecting. “Because we’ve always done it this way” is not a work culture.

My working hours

Unless there is an emergency, I will not be available/work outside office hours, and I don’t expect that from anyone else.

Monday   08:00 - 17:00
Tuesday  08:00 - 17:00
Thursday 08:00 - 17:00
Friday   08:00 - 17:00

Europe/Berlin (CEST or UTC +02:00)

Structure of my day

I prefer having a standup between 09:00 and 11:00 so that I have time to check messages and see whether things have progressed and production is not in flames. Furthermore, I like to put my focus hours in the morning.

My lunchtime varies from day to day, which allows me some flexibility to plan my rest of the day, but I like to prevent any meetings after 15:00 as I am not as productive in the late afternoon.

My preferred channels of communication are

In priority order:

Slack/instant messaging: I’m almost always here, and you will most likely get an answer within a few minutes, but there are some requirements:

Video/Voice Chat: Sometimes topics are too complex to explain them via text or are prone to misinterpretation. If we find we have trouble communicating, let’s hop on a call and sort things out. Personally, I prefer voice-only calls, but I will turn on my camera if this is easier for you. If we already chat synchronously, we may as well call, as it may be quicker. If we do, I like to write a small summary at the end and post it in our chat so that we don’t lose any results we may have worked on during our call.

Email: For more official or external communication, email is sufficient, but don’t expect any quick reactions. If possible, let’s try to bring external people into Slack.

Phone: Please don’t call me. My phone is not intended for regular work-related communication. Only use it as a last resort if no other person is available.

In general, I prefer asynchronous, clear, and transparent communication. Do you need additional information from me? Is something blocking your work? I prefer to know about these things sooner rather than later. There is no reason to wait for the next meeting. Moreover, I favor long-form text over fancy PowerPoint slides. By writing long-form text, we are forced to clarify our thinking and expose the most common fallacies. As a side effect, we automatically document our communication and results.

A word on meetings

Decisions can be reached without everyone in the same room. Even though I try to avoid meetings, there are valid reasons for them. In such a case, I expect the meeting to be run efficiently and respectful of everyone’s time and contributions. If a meeting has no agenda, I probably won’t even attend or ask for permission to leave if I feel that I do not bring any value to it.

Feedback is best given

One-on-one, direct, candid, and written, based on objective observations. Ideally, right after you have seen something you did not appreciate, or at short and regular intervals. Even better, if you provide suggestions on how I could improve.

For more complex/interpersonal feedback, let’s discuss it in person and document our results afterward.

What motivates me, or how to get me on board

If you want someone who just works through a given list of to-dos without asking any questions, I am not your guy.

Some other things you should know

Tea or coffee? Coffee rather than tea, but for me, coffee is something special, and I prefer to reserve this for social events. More likely, you will see me with some kind of sweet energy drink. I know it’s bad, but we all have our weaknesses.

Sometimes, my energy comes in bursts. On some days, I will do the work of multiple days within a few hours; on other days, I am less productive.

Let’s agree that work is important, but there’s life beyond work as well. We have obligations and the occasional unexpected challenge. And sometimes, we need to prioritize those. I will always give my best and expect it from others as well. On the other side, I understand when someone needs to come later, leave early, or take a day off. Coming to work when you are sick or sleep-deprived does not help anyone. We can only give our best at work if everything else is well.

This page is heavily inspired by Jamie’s Manual of Me and Niklaus Gerber’s README.