Erik Reinertsen     Blog     Research     Teaching     Tech     Talks

A user manual to working with me


Brad Feld posted a great idea: a “user manual to working with you”.

This is helpful to your mentors, mentees, colleagues, investors, etc.

The User Manual has two sets of questions. Here are my answers.

Still in progress…


The 1st set focuses on the individual person.

What are some honest, unfiltered things about you?

I strive to be focused, organized, and direct.

What drives you nuts?

  • Slow communication: we all have smartphones… there is no excuse.
  • Buzzwords: signals group-think or a lack of depth, e.g. “innovation center”.
  • Verbosity: wastes time.
  • Mandatory requirements: describes half of my PhD… when process trumps purpose, the process has failed.
  • Vagueness instead of “maybe” or “sometime”, just say what you mean to say.

What are your quirks?

What qualities do you particularly value in people who work with you?

  • Responsive: reply promptly.
  • Concise: say it in fewer words.
  • Competent: do it well.
  • Hustle: crush any obstacles.
  • Clear: no BS; say what you mean to say.
  • Selfless: put the team first.
  • Quantitative: measure what matters.
  • Time-aware: use agendas and respect when meetings start and end.

What are some things that people might misunderstand about you that you should clarify?


The 2nd set focuses on how you interact with others.

How do you coach people to do their best work and develop their talents?

What’s the best way to communicate with you?

  • If we work on the same team: Slack > email.
  • If you are reaching out: Twitter, which can convert to an email.
  • Personal: text message > Facebook.

What’s the best way to convince you to do something?

  • Do you truly need my help, or can anyone do it?
  • Does it benefit many people +/- me, or just yourself?
  • Is the deliverable, due date, and time commitment specific and clear?
  • Do I have bandwidth right now?

How do you like to give feedback?

Via constructive and action-oriented discussion.

Why did you do X? What did you hope to achieve? What worked well and not well? What would you do and measure next time?

How do you like to get feedback?

The same way as I like to give feedback.


The next step is to get feedback from people you work with:

  1. Are your answers correct?
  2. How can you improve?

From a friend after reading this:

In the future I’ll make sure to be slow and vague when communicating with you via your preferred method, Vine.