This is how to best work with me


(Based on Paloma Medina’s BICEPS)

  • Equality/fairness
    • Access to resources (including information) feels fair and equitable. But sometimes there’s externalities that prevents that, or even openness, from really happening, so we plan how to manage that amongst each other.
    • We support each other — critically at times but amicably — toward the shared vision and priorities. This includes holding each other accountable.
    • Decisions are made fairly based on and cooperatively with those affected. If facilitating, I default to consensus (not unanimous) styles of decision making, but sometimes an equitable majoritarian style is more appropriate.
  • Predictability
    • We share (tend toward oversharing) what we need and expect from each other
    • We clarify commitments with dates, dependencies, and acceptance criteria
    • Changes are expected, nothing is permanent, etc, and when it happens, it’s communicated explicitly and asap
    • All the above ultimately builds trust, which creates a positive feedback loop with predictability and fairness.

Receiving feedback & recognition

I like receiving both publicly and privately, up to you. Some nuances depending on context:

  • If it’s something to model to others, publicly is great, even if it’s negative, though I’d like the chance to own up to it myself rather than others point something out for me.
  • On that topic, if I did a Bad Thing, I’m really sorry and I’m quick and eager to change how I do things when it transgresses others. I’ll do the homework myself to better understand why I did The Thing and how to repair any damage, and then I’d appreciate it if you’d give me a chance to share what I learned and told me how we might get back to a good place.
  • If it’s something more technical, I like the “glows and grows” format for more structured/regular feedback (e.g. in peer reviews at work). For particular scenarios, I’d appreciate a curiosity-based approach, understanding why I might’ve done something and focusing the feedback more on the process that led to the output. That way, I know how to avoid/improve in the future, and then finally we can focus on the output itself to make the immediate situation better.
  • If I did something really good, or I seem to need a pick-me-up, I would happily accept gifts like plants, flowers, smoothies, juice, whole coffee beans, beer, or (if you’re feeling extra) a funky agricole or mezcal.

Work patterns

What hours do I usually work?

I’m online 9 to 5 local time, but I prefer to keep meetings 10 to 4. I also try to avoid working Fridays by working more Monday to Thursday, so please don’t schedule meetings on Friday. Please see my calendar for specific times.

When do I prefer to work alone, versus in groups? How do my energy levels fluctuate throughout the day?

It really depends on the task. I definitely need some alone time, especially the mornings, but I work well in groups too. In-person group meetings are usually most energizing, but all-day group events (in person or remote) are pretty draining. I usually start slow in the mornings with the lowest energy, so I stick to working alone for the first hour or two, and after that I’m pretty even.

Communication preferences

How to know I’ve gone to the dark side

When I don’t feel safe in a conversation, how does this manifest itself in my actions or affects?

First, my short-term memory (and live processing new information) can be pretty shit, and my best crutches for that are taking notes and rephrasing. For the latter, I try to avoid sounding like I’m hepeating you by immediately responding to you or citing you. I’ll do that a lot if I feel really lost/unsafe, but I always prepare for important conversations, so that’s rare.

If you’d like to help, I’d appreciate a follow-up message with just an outline of what you expect from me, and if you’re feeling generous an outline of what we discussed.

What about when I’m just not having an “on” or “good” day?

I’ll just be quieter and less enthusiastic, but I’m still engaged. It happens, and I always come out better the next day. If I go multiple days seeming off, then something’s definitely wrong.

If you’d like to help, I’d appreciate you noticing something’s off and telling me whether I’m giving you everything you need so that I can dedicate the rest of my energy to working on myself.

How will you know when I’m grumpy or frustrated?

Again, I’ll probably just be quiet and less enthusiastic, just trying to get through a local rough spot. It’s most likely that I’m not grumpy/frustrated at you, because (1) I’m not easy to frustrate and (2) I will tell you directly and very quickly.

If you’d like to help, misery loves company, so please tell me how frustrating the situation is so that I know we’re on the same page, or share why you don’t feel frustrated so I can at least read the room a little better. If you’ve somehow made me grumpy, I will work very hard to get to a better place with you and not hold grudges.

Me being me

Do I have any habits that can be easily misinterpreted?

I am sometimes too indirect, so if I seem to be avoiding direct confrontation with something, I’d appreciate a nudge in that direction. You might also notice—and can ignore—some facial tics due to Tourette syndrome.

Pet peeves

I don’t expect this list to change my actions—but it might help me better understand and empathize with your reactions.

I’m pretty hard to peeve, maybe to a fault, but what really peeves me is when someone forces their way without any transparency. I get it if things are too busy to explain fully and you have more data on a decision than I do, but I need to know that. Otherwise, because my confidence is interlocked with my teammates confidence, I will start feeling under-confident if I’m just relying on you based on opaque authority — in fact, I will start to doubt it and disconnect more and more over time.

I get by well on Q&A and testing things by a little bit of fire, and I do so very gently, but firmly, so please help me feel more confident in us by sharing the details, or just a commitment to do so when you’re able.

Areas for development

Soft skills

  • Breaking into new groups socially — this is something I’ve been working on the most over the last few years and I always appreciate a strong invitation to something
  • Being more direct and visible — I sometimes undersell my own work and let opportunities slip while balancing my team’s needs

Technical skills

  • Sales and growth engineering (prerequisite: the above soft skills)
  • Experience in technical lead roles — I’ve got the base skills, but I need more experience to build the glue/supportive skills. The muscles and bones are there, but I need to develop the tendons and ligaments to make them work together.

Ask me about

  • Workplace democracy
  • Accessibility
  • Design and research
  • Solarpunk/hopepunk
  • My DIY and FOSS projects

Resources and templates

Work With Me (what this is based on)

Heystacks example

The “How to Work with Me”​ Document

Explained: “How to work with me” manual (and why your company needs one)

How to Be a Better Leader: Create a Manager Manual