User Guide 📜
The User Guide is a doc for learning what makes someone tick. Useful for new intros and icebreakers. Here's mine.
Inspired by Jay Desai's "CEO User Guide."
First published: 2/4/2020 || Last updated: 4/3/2021
Hard work is necessary because the mission is important.
I don't work hard for the sake of working hard. If I didn't believe in the mission I wouldn't work hard on it. I work hard because the mission is important and valued. I work hard because I love my work and would have it no other way. Others say to relax and slow down because they have never felt this combined clarity of purpose and enjoyment.
Different is interesting. Conformity is boring. Conformity is oftentimes correlated with mediocrity and a lack of creativity. Be different.
Full of energy.
I focus on eating well, exercising often, and getting a regular 6 hours of sleep. I owe it to both myself and others to always be alert and full of energy each and every day. To maximize this I must really go all-in on my own health.
I also avoid selfish actions that will drain my energy. I understand that an extra hour or two working into the night may feel good in the moment, but unless it's a truly magical idea, that extra hour or two will negatively impact energy levels tomorrow.
I've always subscribed to a theory I call the dart board theory, or the idea that I can create my own serendipity. Throw enough darts and eventually one will stick. Make sure your pockets are full of darts so when one misses you're ready to throw another.
That said, you need to throw focused darts. 1,000 lazy tosses might never stick. 1,000 focused darts and you've built Rome.
The dart board theory has landed me dream gigs and internships, led to chance encounters with mentors, lifelong friends, landed me a book deal, and so much more. Throw darts.
Regardless of my pre-conceived ideas, I'm always open to hearing a new perspective. As long as you're learning you're growing. As long as you're growing you're becoming a better version of yourself. Be open to new ideas and always be willing to change your world view when a better idea presents itself.
Be open to new ideas, but always be critical. Engage critically with all ideas in pursuit of the truth. Understand that not all questions have clear answers. And not all answers are as clear as they may seem. Comb for correlation, but understand correlation rarely leads to causation.
My inbox is always open for a chat, introduction, or lens into environments I've navigated. However, all of our bandwidth is limited. If we only support others we don't have time for ourselves. And we can't help others if we're not helping ourselves.
We can expect that if someone reaches out for help they've done the initial research. This goes both ways. If I'm reaching out for help or confiding in a mentor, they can be certain I've gone to lengths to get to the answer myself. And they can also be sure when I'm taking their time that I've come thoroughly prepared and am 110% engaged in the conversation.
Mentors don't exist to provide quick facts. They exist to help guide you to your goals, to act as guard rails as necessary, to add jet fuel when needed, or even sometimes a slap on the wrist when you're getting distracted. Email me any time. If it's clear you've done your background work you can be certain I'll respond quickly and engage earnestly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Diversity is an advantage.
Our products are better, our messaging is clearer, and our sales are higher when we build a team that is more diverse.
Let's build the future together.
Think fast, move faster.
Ideas come and go, execution lasts. The longer a feature stays on the roadmap the longer it will stay there into the future. That's just an unfortunate fact of development. Momentum is the driver of progress. Without momentum we are slow and soulless. Nothing kills momentum like thinking quick but moving slow.
Moving fast and being patient are not mutually exclusive.
Move fast but don't expect success overnight. Success is a slow grind. Move fast and live in the present. Love every moment of the journey.
I have broad interests but love to go deep.
My core competencies are in engineering, product development, and getting deep into the inner workings of an industry. However, I'm happy to play across design, marketing, biz dev, human resources, talent dev, etc. As a founder it's worth my time to understand a little bit of everything, but I understand my core competencies and delegate my weaknesses as much as I can.
Keep it fresh.
I love a change of scenery and am constantly moving, both mentally and physically. Need to schedule an hour meeting to align priorities? Let's go for a scenic walk with pen and notebook. Want to ideate? Let's switch it up and go to a different floor of your office. Keep it moving. Keep it fresh. It's no surprise that new scenery creates new ideas. It shouldn't surprise you that neuroscience and psychology play a role in architecture. Same principles apply here for creativity.
There's nothing uninteresting about passion.
I'm quick to get bored of dispassionate conversations. If neither of us are particularly interested in the topic, I'm quick to run for the nearest exit. However, if you're super passionate I'm all ears and stoked to have the conversation. Even if I'm not generally interested or informed on the topic, I will absolutely love to have the conversation and learn more about your ideas if it's what makes you tick. These sorts of convos are almost always worth engaging in, no matter how out of my depth I may be. Please share your passions; I'm all ears.
Have good friends.
Creativity is what makes you unique.
Your skills do not make you unique. For every programmer there's 1,000 others waiting outside. For every marketer there's another one waiting to take your spot. Creativity is what makes you unique and determines your value. However this best manifests for you, let it happen. Write that book, play that guitar, sing that song. Be creative. And if you can't express your creativity in your work, you might be in the wrong profession.
No one is so busy that they have to be late or have to cancel on you. Identify your priorities and execute on them. Don't let anyone try to tell you your priorities. Your time is your most valued asset. Identify your priorities and go after them aggressively. But also be kind and let those you don't prioritize down gracefully and honestly; don't lead others on. And don't be afraid to answer honestly when it's not the right fit. People appreciate honesty when delivered with humility.
In an age of hysteria, don't get caught in the surf. Always stay calm and collected. Be open and critical. Exit gracefully before engaging hysterically. Be cool, and always remember... Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. - Luke from Cool Hand Luke
Don't waste someone else's time. If I'm late it's because something went wrong, Zoom isn't working, or I got pulled over. Maybe it's because of a military father, but this rings true with me: "Early is on time, on time is late." If you're going to be late, communicate.
Build and operate on the bleeding edge, hang out at the fringe.
The bleeding edge is where new advances in underlying technology enable new applications and value. The bleeding edge is new enough to possess massive risk for the unprepared but mature enough to have building blocks needed to create tangible value.
The fringe is where things get a little spicier. The fringe is where wild ideas are born out of passion or necessity, and world-changing ideas are discussed. Bleeding edge ideas are born from the fringe. Examples of the fringe: 90s cypherpunks and 2009 Bitcoin, early-90s internet, and hip-hop in the 70s.
It's not enough to spot a trend. Dig in to your findings and curate meaningful conversations around the topic. Find the experts and get their view while crafting your own. Be able to filter signal from noise, and understand when an expert's advice is meaningful or a product of "we've done it this way for 3 decades, why change?" When you hear that phrase, consider whether there's a real opportunity for disruption. You'll find it's sometimes a product of an arbitrary decision or outdated regulation - think gas vs electric cars, industrial automation vs line interventions, etc.
Foster magical moments.
We all have magical moments from our past that we remember fondly. Fishing on a summer afternoon, sipping hot chocolate by the fire with a lover in the dead of winter, these are magical moments. My childhood is full of magical moments in tech - dial-up days, early bulletin boards, Warcraft 2, and the early days of Ethereum will stick with me for the rest of my life. How can we foster magical moments in the lives of others? Solve that question and the world is your oyster.
Figure out what makes people tick.
Everyone's got something. Not everyone is born to be passionate 24/7 and be bouncing off the walls with energy. Don't write people off too quickly before giving them a chance to let you know what really makes them tick. Find that passion and spend as much time learning that passion from them as it takes. They'll have a blast sharing their passion, and you'll get to learn from an expert and share in what makes them tick. Win, win.
Business outcomes are like compounding interest.
If you spend a focused hour every day learning a language, practicing an instrument, or practicing whatever else you want to practice, you'll achieve amazing results in just a few weeks or months. Now imagine instead of 1 hour you spent 4 focused hours. How about 6? 8? 12? That's the power of startups, a small group of passionate builders committing each day to focus their attention on building the future. And in cases where it's a fit, outcomes look a lot like compounding interest.
Solve one problem every day and watch the results compound.
Prefer a monopoly, but love competition.
I would prefer to operate without threat of competition. But when competition arrives we cherish the opportunity to compete.
Be honest and kind.
My grandma grew up telling my mother that the two most important traits one can have are to be humble and kind. I've never disagreed more. To go out of your way to be humble is to avoid spreading your wings. To be blindly loyal is to put your eggs in one basket and live a life of regret.
The two most important traits are to be honest and to be kind. To be honest is to respect yourself and others, while always valuing pursuit of truth. To be kind is to respect others and yourself, while favoring happy thoughts. I've got my money on people who are honest and kind.
This guide is ever-evolving, just like me. Thanks for reading.
You can email me at: luke [at] spawner [dot] ai