A Guide to Working with Max

Here are some honest, unfiltered things about me:

  • I have a high tolerance for conflict, and I’m not easily offended. You can say pretty much anything to me and I’ll take it in stride.
  • If I’m working with you, I hold you in the highest positive regard, always. I trust by default and I know I need to give you respect to get it back. At core, I deeply believe in you and your potential.
  • I’m driven primarily by growth and I’m obsessive about discovering things I could do better. I’m constantly thinking about my blind spots, and if you let me know about an area I could improve I’ll appreciate it (really!).
  • I grew up with three parental figures who were entrepreneurs and I started my own business early on in my career, so I value an enterprising, scrappy attitude in the people I work with.
  • I have a terrible memory that’s only supported by my rigorous list-keeping. If I forget something we’ve talked about, it’s likely because I didn’t write it down.
  • I have a weird/dark/sarcastic sense of humor, which can rub people the wrong way. If that’s not your thing, just let me know and I’ll turn it down.
  • Forgiveness is a core strength of mine. I’ll always forgive and legitimately assume the best intentions from people I work with.

What makes me grumpy:

  • I get grumpy when people I work with are indecisive for a long time. I’m deeply oriented around the question “what do we do now?” and I start to feel stuck if we can’t make forward progress after a while.
  • I get grumpy when someone I’m talking to has trouble going from abstract ideas to concrete actions for similar reasons. I’ll do my best to steer the conversation into next steps when this happens.
  • I hate being interrupted. It makes me feel like you don’t respect what I have to say and I shut down if it happens frequently.

What I’m working on:

  • I’m working on being more patient. I can get impatient sometimes, which usually gets triggered when I perceive there’s a risk to something I really care about. If you see me start to get impatient, please call me out on it and I’ll take a breath so we can refocus on solving the problem (saying something like “can we take a breath for a second?” usually helps a lot).
  • I’m working on getting better at taking complements. If you say something nice about me I’ll probably grimace, but I’ll feel good about it later.

I really appreciate it when my teammates do this:

  • Are open and honest with me about how you’re feeling. I see deep, two-way communication as the way we can learn to work together. Just try me.
  • If you hear me say something that sounds odd or wrong, give me the benefit of the doubt. Say, “When you say X, I hear Y. Is that what you meant to say?”. A lot of the time there’s a communication problem in a way I hadn’t anticipated and I’ll be able to rephrase in a better way.

Qualities I particularly value in people who work with me:

  • A deep commitment to openness and honesty in our work relationship.
  • The ability to break down large, ambiguous problems into chunks and display them visually. I’m a very visual person and this helps me understand solutions!
  • An entrepreneurial attitude of ownership of results, not just for your personal work or your team, but for the company’s success as a whole. The desire and ability to fix things when they’re wrong, even if it’s outside your normal work purview.

Some things that people might misunderstand about me that I should clarify:

  • I have an exploratory brainstorming style and I like to throw ideas out there and see what sticks. Sometimes people take these half-formed ideas as something I strongly believe in, but that’s usually not the case. I’m interested in your opinion and pushback regarding what I’m saying because I’m legitimately interested in working with you to find the best solution to whatever problem we’re discussing!

How I encourage people to do their best work and develop their talents:

  • I encourage ownership over all the results in your world.
  • I listen intently to where you want to grow and try my best to open up opportunities for you in those areas.
  • I try to strike the balance of getting you the right amount of ambiguity and autonomy for the things you work on. I want for you to feel challenged, creative, and empowered while we’re working together.

The best way to communicate with me:

  • I’m an extremely visual person. Charts, graphs, pictures, and lists are my preferred methods of communication. If we’re having trouble communicating, taking it to a whiteboard will help me a lot.

The best way to get to a shared understanding of something with me:

  • Start by listening to me and understanding where I’m coming from. Try to re-express my position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that I say, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.” I’ll do the same for you! (For more on this idea I’d recommend checking out Rappoport’s Rules)
  • I have a strong aversion to Arguments from Authority – if you take the time to walk me through your decision-making journey from start to finish I’m extremely likely to engage constructively with your idea!

How I like to give feedback:

  • I like to give feedback in-person and as soon as possible. I like to get your unfiltered reaction to what I’m saying because it’s my goal that feedback I give you shouldn’t be a surprise. If I’m surprising you with feedback then that’s a flag to me that I need to do a better job of being open and honest with you.

How I like to get feedback:

  • I like to get feedback in-person and as soon as possible. There’s one exception to this rule: if you don’t have time to dive into the feedback with me at the time, please wait until we have the time to break it down together.