Management Searching for task list zero

The Seven Dispositions of Task Management

I am DONE with this task. I finished. Good job. Victory. Next.

I am STILL THINKING about this task. I might need more time to complete it or be thinking about an appropriate approach. Going to just leave it here for now, but I will make a choice regarding this task (and all tasks) by the end of day.

I am RESCHEDULING this task to a realistic date and time when I can complete it. The most common reschedules targets are: the next working day, home-based tasks to the evening, or the following Saturday morning. Reschedules to the distant future are either external deadlines or wishful thinking.

I am making INCREMENTAL PROGRESS, but not completing this task. Incremental progress might mean updating the task name to make it more actionable, creating additional tasks to support this task, or doing some minor work on it. If this is the 18th time I’ve made incremental progress, this is ignoring the task.

I am making MEANINGFUL PROGRESS, but not completing the task. It is intriguing that I made meaningful progress but still need to complete it. Is this task too large? I wonder.

I am IGNORING this task, and this probably isn’t the first time, either. I can’t yet admit that I will not complete this task. I can tell I’m ignoring this task by how quickly I get it out of my field of view LA LA LA LA LA DOING SOMETHING ELSE NOW.

I am DELETING this task without completion. The horror. The shame, but I can finally move on now.

Management I am here to do one thing

Your Best Work

I’ve received some of the best advice from folks I’m trying to forget.

It’s usually past mediocre managers. Average folks doing the job, but in an uninspired fashion, in over their heads, or just coasting for reasons I never understood.

Every so often. They land an idea. Maybe I don’t hear it at the time because I’m actively trying not to interact with them, or perhaps I’m not ready to hear the advice because I foolishly believe that because they don’t inspire me, they can’t teach me.

Let’s call my manager, Zack. He’s been hands-off for my first six months on the gig. I think it’s because I am so obviously crushing it, but I quickly learn that Zack is hands-off on everything. No one is sure what Zack is doing. He’s in the office daily and attending exec meetings, but 1:1s are vapid “How are you doing?” affairs and project managers drive the products.

Zack has one move, which is when something goes exceptionally sideways. Zack has a nose for potentially publicly visible imminent disaster, so he schedules a meeting with me; we start by comparing notes, and then he says it. The line I can’t forget years and years later.

Zack says, “I’m going to give you the gift of focus.”

Happy New Year

After weeks and weeks of holiday, we’re tired of family, we’ve overeaten, and BAM, it’s a whole new year. Most of the resolutions are gone by late February. The complex machinations of humans doing things en masse pull us back to the familiar medians of getting stuff done. What a great time to reimagine your life, reevaluate your goals, and resolve to improve.

My experience is that a resolution you can use daily will stick with you. My experience is the smaller and simpler the resolution, the more likely I can transform a New Year’s aspiration into a lifelong habit. My experience is the more the resolution appeals to you, the more likely you will even consider it.

This year, I am going to give you the gift of focus. Too many words. How about just:

Focus.

Focus. When Sarah walks into your office for the 1:1, you spin to face her and give her your full attention. Doesn’t matter what you were doing; what you are doing is giving this co-worker your full attention.

Focus. When Terrance walks through the presentation with a room full of people, you lean forward on the desk on your elbows and listen to every word he says. When you have a question, you write it down immediately. When it’s time to ask the question, you ask, but more importantly, you fully hear his answers.

Focus. Even when you don’t have to. Video conference call. 20 people. Ten who don’t need to be there. You aren’t a part of the conversation; you aren’t going to say a word, but your eyes are on the grid of faces, hearing and understanding every word.

The Entirety of Your Attention

This is the 500th word of this article. How many times have you been interrupted while reading this piece? How many times have you stopped… just because?

Our devices are full of needy applications and services. Our planet is full of media outlets desperate for our attention. Our politics are orchestrated as entertainment. Combine this with the fact that we’ve spent two years plus working in a distributed fashion where every needy application and delectable headline is sitting in a window directly next to your meeting.

Just a glimpse. Don’t worry. No one will know.

Maybe this is easy for you, but two years plus of video conferencing and my already focus-impaired brain needs a profound cleansing reminder. Focus is the entirety of my attention focused on one thing. This person, this meeting, this design.

But what about this other semi-related thing? Let’s wander in that mental direction for a bit…

No, all I am doing is this.

But you’re the people person. Read the room, Rands! What is the intriguing political dynamic of this particular group of humans? I wonder…

No, I am here to do one thing. The reason why I was invited was to participate.

But I’ve heard his story before, and he’s going to be talk talk talking for the next five minutes, so you know what I’m going to do? Just check Mastodon real quick. No one will know.

They won’t, but I will.

Thanks, Zack

There is a time and place where your primary job as a leader is sustained acquisition, synthesis, and redistribution of information. This practice is likely the majority of your career as a leader. More confusing, it’s a learned skill diametrically opposed to the skills you were rewarded for as an individual contributor.

But here’s why we must thank the hapless Zack for our gift — this douche who was nesting and vesting rather than building a team.

Focus, the pure focus on the task in front of you, is when you do your best work. The important achievements of information management are essential but immeasurable. When you focus, intensely focus, you can see the one thing that must be said, to discover the critical assumption that transforms good design to great and to most efficiently transform your years of experience into small, understandable, and unintentional lessons for those sitting right there… focusing with you.

Hollywood It is all connected sensibly

The Feige Rules

As a Henry Cavill super fan, I was extra crushed when I read that reports of his return to the role of Superman were no longer true. After much consideration, I am here to tell you why this is good news.

But let’s start with the bad news.

The DC Movie Universe is Garbage Fire Presently

It’s fashionable to rip on DC because it’s been a holistic cinematic disaster for, well, ever. There have been stunning individual movies over the years, but unlike the competition, the DC movie universe is a confusing mess, and DC has legendary characters.

You have the infinitely reinterpretable Batman. You have one of the earliest female superheroes in Wonder Woman. And you have the movie that kicked off that whole craze with Christopher Reeve’s Superman.

With all of these compelling assets, the DC movie universe is much less than the sum of its parts.

What’s the problem?

The Feige Rules

The moment I knew the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”) was taking it to the next level was in April 2014. Agents of Shield was on TV and drafting on the impressive success of the first Avengers movie. The Winter Soldier (Best MCU movie ever? Discuss) was released on April 4, 2014 date. In the following Agents of Shield episode, they incorporated Winter Soldier’s events into the TV series.

The marketing campaign at the time. “It’s all connected.” We’d never seen anything like it.

The DC movie universe is a disaster because they have not followed all of the Feige rules. They read:

For the good of all movies, you shall:

  • Honor the source material, but don’t be beholden to it.
  • Find new voices who bring new perspectives.
  • Always remember it’s all connected sensibly.

Kevin Feige (pronounced: FY-ghee) is a producer for Marvel. Well, he’s the producer for Marvel and has overseen all five phases of the MCU, including the first three phases, which are called “The Infinity Saga,” and the last two called the “Multiverse Saga.”

For the Infinity Saga, the Feige rules have been held. The first Thor is a wildly different movie than the first Iron Man. Different directors with diverse perspectives, but in each film, there was a reminder — usually a post-credit scene — that this universe was connected and was narratively rowing in the same direction.

The intense joy of the final Avengers Assemble scene at the end of End Game is a byproduct of firm adherence to the Feige Rules. As each character appears, we remember our unique relationship with them from their unique film, but the feeling is intensely multiplied by the fact they are here… together.

It’s all connected.

Back to the Garbage Fire

DC movies have spectacle. DC movies honor source material and also riff on the material. The most recent Robert Pattison Batman was a work of art. Emo Batman FTW! Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker sets itself apart and is barely a superhero movie. Attempts to stitch Joker into a larger universe felt forced and contrary to the film’s intent.

Before that, you have the masterwork of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, the fresh perspective and historically compelling Wonder Woman (the first one, the second one was a disaster), and the goofy brutishness of an Aquaman who was no longer the butt of every DC superhero joke. (Aside: Do you want to see quality DC content? Check out the animation. Just wow.)

These movies stand independently, but the proper application of the Feige Rules have demonstrated to us that the audience can expect more. A meta-story with an eventual massive payoff where the final reveal is… everything together all at once.

Zach Snyder was tasked with this important work which eventually gave us The Justice League, but Snyder cares more about spectacle than narrative coherency. Also, he was the Director of many of these films, and an important part of the Feige Rules is they must be applied by an external human who is not motivated by one film but all of them. Bonus points if that human has little difficulty landing a coherent narrative. Watchmen? Dr. Manhattan is the villain? WTF?

The final nail in this narrative mess was the incessant demand for the Snyder Cut. The Whedon Cut was so stunningly unsatisfying we demanded a re-do. And they did it — only adding the narrative confusion.

This isn’t a narrative; this is a garbage fire burning from some of my favorite superheroes.

Firing Henry Cavill, Again & A Warning

Smart and influential people care deeply about the DC universe, including The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. His belief? Start by bringing Superman back to this universe in his best form. It is reported that he and his team pushed hard to get Cavill back to DCU. You first saw it at the end of DC League of Super-Pets (meh) with the cameo of Black Adam, followed quickly by Cavill’s surprise cameo at the end of Black Adam (phenomenal) wearing the Man of Steel suit, sporting the spit curl, and PLAYING THE CHRISTOPHER REEVE SUPERMAN THEME OMFG LOSING MY MIND.

It was a scene designed to call back to everything I loved about Superman, but I am OK with Cavill getting fired… again. Why? It’s reported the Gunn-penned Superman movie will focus on the early years of Superman, so Cavill doesn’t make for good casting for a young Supes. More importantly, it’s a strong sign of what the new regime of James Gunn and Peter Safran is willing to sacrifice to uphold the essential Feige rule:

For the good of all movies, you shall remember that it is all connected sensibly.1


  1. You’re right to be worried about the Multiverse Saga. It’s not following all of the Feige rules. 
Management Wondering why we are here

The Seven Circles of Meeting Hell

First Circle: THE SLOPPY AND THE UNPREPARED Meetings start late and run over. Attendees have not read the pre-supplied material, so we spend most of the time answering questions we had already answered elsewhere.

Second Circle: THE DISTRACTED Meetings where attendees are not paying attention to the meeting. They sit there on their phones and computers, working elsewhere. No one is clear about why they are here, but they don’t really care because they’re busy doing something else.

Third Circle: THE ONE MORE THINGERS The humans who wait until the meeting is over to raise a trivial issue because they feel they need to be heard and why not – sure – let’s fill the time with uselessness because you like to be heard and/or must have the last word.

Fourth Circle: THE RELITIGATORS Decisions already made are randomly reintroduced and relitigated because the seven hours we already spent litigating this decision clearly were not enough. They think the value is the debate and not forward progress.

Fifth Circle: THE EXPLAINERS A handful of humans lecture endlessly. We listen, wondering when we’ll be able to add to the conversation, which is a time that will never arrive because lecturers don’t listen.

Sixth Circle: THE ALL THE TIMERS We meet all the time. Daily. Because the belief is that progress can only be made via the very same meeting. This is literally their only leadership move.

Seventh Circle: THE FOREVER ENDLESS EMPTINESS ETERNALS Endless debate with no decisions. The reason why we showed up to meet is never addressed. We talk in circles. Forever.

Rands Every single day

10 Things I Love & Why

  1. AirPods Pro. First, I told myself I’d only include one Apple product on this list, and this is it. Here’s how to sell this product to your friends. First, show them how to properly insert them in their ears (many folks do this incorrectly) and then have them turn on noise cancellation. Boom.
  2. Rapha Merino Longsleeve. I’m a biased biker, and yes, Rapha is not the cheapest Merino you can purchase, but these intensely breathable shirts are my go-to base layer during the cold winter months.
  3. Field Notes Book Darts. The stack of books beside my desk is a calm anchor in a world of Elon-nonsense and failing democracies. Field Note’s Book Darts is ‘”[T]he fusion of a bookmark and a paperclip” and one of my favorite discoveries of the year.
  4. The Overstory. Simply the best fictional book on trees you’ll find. Soon to be a Netflix series from, uh, David Benioff and DB Weiss. Ignore that last part; buy the book and read it.
  5. Studio Hinrichs Typography Calendar. This has been on the list for over a decade because learning about typography is forever.
  6. Orange Mint Lifesavers. Trust me.
  7. Plae shoes. Specifically the Marten Anatese. I’m trying to remove all socks from my life, and these shoes are helping. Also, tying shoes is boring.
  8. Fenix Flashlight. This flashlight fits in your pocket and has three brightness settings: bright, brighter, and unholy bright. I purchased three and use them all time.
  9. Melin baseball cap. Aside from good design, my primary requirement for a hat is, “I AM NOT PAYING YOU TO ADVERTISE YOUR PRODUCT.” Melin does have lightweight branding on its popular tops, but it’s subtle.
  10. Anker USB C 120W Charger Port. Grab your MacBook, plug it into the 100W port and watch. Turns out all these extra watts are important. Must have travel accessory.

(Note: some of the sites listed above provide me a kickback. I’ll be donating all kickbacks to charity — specifically the National Alliance on Mental Illness.)

Rands It's all very human

The Quest for Interesting X

The almost immediate challenge with the introduction of the Internet presented was, “How do I find X?” Now, the actual first challenge was, “I wonder if X exists in this new world,” but that’s still “How do I find X?”

This quest made search services the killer app of the Internet. AltaVista was a thing for a bit, and then Yahoo’s curated list was the cool, but Google won. This is why you now ask, “Did you Google it?”

Google’s dominance has been challenged, but I’d argue Google is still king of the hill when it comes to “How do I find X?” Thing is, there is so much X out there; the challenge evolved. It was no longer, “How do I find X?” it became something like, “How do I find the best X?” or perhaps, “How do I find the X that most appeals to me?”

The evolution of the challenge created an opportunity for a new kind of service. It wasn’t where to find the people; it was where to find the people who knew about the stuff. Yes, it is nice to find people you knew in the real world, but it was also beneficial to find newly aligned humans who shared your interests. Together, we collectively did the hard work of finding new interesting stuff and sharing it hither and fro.

And this is when it went sideways.

The issue is one of incentives.

You are incentivized to find like humans. You are willing to spend time sharing interesting things with these humans. You’re usually equally glad to see what they find. You share thoughts, hopes, and dreams, and it’s all very human.

Services were designed to facilitate this discovery and sharing. Lots of them. I signed up for most of them, and I’d first explore the question, “Are my humans here?” If I get a hint of a yes, I remain and invest. If it felt empty, I’d pat myself on the back for grabbing my handle and never log in again.

Infrequently, a service checked all the boxes. Yes, my people are here. Yes, they are active. Yes, I’m also learning new things at scale and sharing them. In these rare situations, it appeared to be a positive feedback loop because the more we believed our people were there, the more people showed up, and the more we believed, “Well, everyone is now here.”

The content, the interesting things, flowed. It was a wonderful time.

The issue is one of incentives.

The services providing these connections and content quickly acquire high costs. They are businesses, and businesses must prove they can grow, like, forever. So it begins: they need money, so they advertise. Why don’t they charge for access to service? It’s because more people would leave if they charged than if they started to advertise. It’s because “free” feels better than paid. It’s because advertising can be framed in the same way as the reason you came to the service, “Because we know who you like, we can share goods and services that we know you’ll like.”

Sounds too good to be true, right? It is. You’re soaking in it.

So, forever growth must be proven, advertising must fund forever growth, so advertising must continually increase. This means you, the person just looking for Interesting X, must be incentivized to see and click on more relevant advertisements. The services need more data to provide more relevant advertisements and fund forever growth. These services require you to engage more.

They’ve already helped you find your people, and you’ve already helped them out by providing your social graph and high-affinity content for this graph, but they need more because of forever growth. You already see ads, and perhaps you’ve clicked on some of them, but now you start seeing “content we think you’ll like.”

Suppose I had to pick a feature in social networks that represented the downfall of social networks — this is it. I arrived because I believed my aligned humans were here. I stayed because I found them, and we began the process of mutually beneficial sharing of interesting things. The service needed to prove forever growth, so they started providing ads, and when that wasn’t enough, they showed You-Might-Like content.

The issue is one of incentives.

You-Might-Like content is not content I discovered or my network discovered; it is content designed by robots to get me to engage. When I don’t engage, the robots notice and find something else. When I engage, the robots notice, and they find more content. It’s a feedback loop that incentives the robots to find ever increased engaging content, and, you guessed it, the content I’ll engage with most is the content that angers me the most. And what happens when I engage? The robots find me more, and I become more angry.

There is a lot to like about robot-generated content. When I’m shopping on Amazon, I’m A-OK with the robots alerting me to other flavors of Lifesavers. Thanks. Orange Mint Lifesavers were a real find. When I’m wandering the thoughts and dreams of my trusted humans, I don’t need the robots. Ever.

This issue is one of choice.

I’ve been a fan of Twitter since the early days: November 2006. Unlike Facebook, which I left a couple of years ago for the reasons described above, I’ve remained on Twitter. This is partially because I don’t avidly read Twitter much except, you know, during insurrections and other world-changing events. I dabble and find bits now and then, but Twitter hasn’t been where I find the most interesting things.

My primary interesting things sources are:

  • A handful of channels on the Rands Leadership Slack and a private Mac Nerd Slack
  • Three Messages groups with close friends
  • RSS feeds I peruse on Feedly

Another reason I’ve stayed is that I mostly use a legacy version of Tweetdeck, and for reasons I don’t understand, there have never been ads there. There are no robots. This means my feeds are exclusively humans and the institutions I’ve chosen to follow. Conversely, I have a moderately sized following where I can share my thoughts and things I’ve written and built.

I’ve been trying to reverse engineer the intent of Twitter’s new leadership, and the kindest way I can describe it is chaos because chaos is engaging. It’s like a soap opera except with… people’s livelihoods on the line. I’m sure Twitter engagement is through the roof, but that’s because the building’s on fire and who doesn’t like spectating a disaster in progress?

Twitter’s not going anywhere. As with every company, a handful of quiet, unassuming, and talented humans keep it running. I’m not deleting my account, but I’m removing Twitter from the cycle of things I check for interesting things. I’ve dusted off my Mastodon account (@[email protected]), and I’m doing what I always do: finding my people because…

The killer app is the list of humans you choose to trust.

Rands A worthy cause

The Goldberg

The Rands “R” started many years ago as this:

I’ve been toying with branding, design, color, and other marketing elements for the site for years. I remember spending a couple of weekends trying to get a good picture of the weave of my favorite beanie as background for the site. That’d didn’t go well.

I don’t recall why Cyan caught my attention, but it became the glyph for the site. Many years later, Gruber commented, “It’s you. It reminds me of a slightly untucked dress shirt.”

High praise.

As I wrote about over four years ago, I updated the R with the help of the design skills of Collin Roe-Raymond, a former co-worker and always fantastic designer. He built what we now call Super Cyan and some other variants.

I thought about the new R as I thought about this year’s charity shirt. I was also thinking about what has been the most successful shirt in the growing catalog of Rands t-shirts which is: The Zone

We combined the Super Cyan R with the Flow ascetic into a design we dubbed Goldberg (See: Rube Golderberg). Look closely at Goldberg; many Rands greatest hits are hidden amongst the intricate design.

As with all shirts, all profits for this shirt go to National Alliance for Mental Illness. Between now and the end of the year, I’ll 2x match all profits for all shirts for this worthy cause.

Have a great holiday season.

Tech Life Work hours versus life hours

The Seven Levels of Busy

Level 1: NOT BUSY My schedule is wide open. I can choose infinite paths. Zero commitments. The weekend. I sleep like a baby. Life is good, but am I living my best life?

Level 2: STUFF TO DO I have a few commitments wandering around my brain. They are reasonable, knowable, and not deadline-based. I can keep track of everything in my head.

Level 3: SIGNIFICANT COMMITMENTS I have enough commitments that I need to keep track of them in a tool because I can no longer organically triage. My calendar is a thing I check infrequently, but I do check it to remind myself of the flavor of this particular day.

Level 4: AT CAPACITY My to-do and my calendar are full. I frequently have to make “What is more important?” decisions to help me figure out where to invest my time. There is no unscheduled time, but I continue to feel on top of things. Inbox zero maintained.

Level 5: CRACKS IN THE FACADE I tell myself I’m on top of all the things, but there are early signs of excessive work. This is when Inbox Zero fails. I know daily surprises could be avoided if I had… just a bit more time. I start saying “I’m sorry” a lot. Stuff isn’t getting dropped, but execution becomes sloppy.

Level 6: CRUSHING COMMITMENTS The incoming amount of things are beyond my ability to triage them. Change is constant. Just saying “No” to inbound things is not enough. Stuff is falling on the floor, and I’m not noticing. Work hours spill into life hours. Tired.

Level 7: UNSUSTAINABLE I live minute to minute. Eating and other necessities are shoved in-between things, but eating and other necessities are frequently neglected. To-do lists do not help me here because I do not have time to maintain them. My calendar changes from hour to hour. It is clear by how I walk how busy I am. I get a lot of unintentional “He’s screwed” looks. Zero work-life balance. This is not sustainable.

Management It just feels fair

Better, Faster, and More

I’m rewriting The Business for the next book. This piece is almost 15 years old, much has changed in negotiating an offer letter, and I have more advice on how to analyze those offers. So much advice that I am idea paralyzed™ trying to rewrite this piece.

So, this is just a section of the update to The Business, which I’ll be grafting onto the new version. Given this approach, there’s an entire introduction that I’m assuming you’ve read, but here’s your cheat sheet for now: you’ve just received an offer from my hypothetical company.

And scene.

And then we have the conversation. It’s either you and I or you and the recruiter. We present the offer’s details and explain each part of your compensation package. When we’re done, there is a short pause because that was a lot of information. You might take a moment, take a day, but you eventually come back and say something like, “I’d like more base salary.”

No problem. Of course, we’re expecting negotiation. Of course. We don’t know which part of the package you’ll want to negotiate, but unless we’ve pre-negotiated the offer as part of the interview process (it happens), we always expect a response. However, your response will always receive a response. We are going to ask some form of “Why do you want a higher base salary?”

“It just feels fair.”

If you’ve been a hiring manager and received this type of justification, I want you first to take a deep breath. It does read… unhelpful, but there is a signal there, and it’s not the word you think. More on this shortly.

Let’s start with one word: fair. What might this mean? Fair could mean “fair compared to other similar companies with similar job levels.”

Right, so you know that the job of Engineer 3 at my Company is the same as a Senior Engineer at Company XYZ. Furthermore, you know the salary ranges for Engineer 3 and Senior Engineer are roughly equivalent. Finally, you have a friend who recently received an offer at Company XYZ for Senior Engineer, and you believe that you and your friend have the same experience.

First, I want to acknowledge that you’ve done this research, and having this data at the ready is a good thing. I want you to do more of this work because that is the entire point of this chapter, but right now, I want to talk about your single data point and how little it tells you in this scenario.

  • Are these job levels the same? What does that even mean? Are you saying these two companies value precisely the same skills and experience in the same way? That seems unlikely. But, ok…
  • Are you suggesting the salary ranges for these jobs are the same in different companies? There are companies out there who do market research to determine how much companies are paying individuals at different levels, and this is interesting data, but how do these research levels apply to the levels at my company? Also, how much time had passed between when this research was done and manifested in the salary range for this level? High-tech hires aggressively, and salary ranges are often adjusted to make Company A more attractive than Company B. But, ok…
  • How big is your friend’s company? Is it big? Is your data point from precisely the same team? No? Is it a different team? Are they beholden to the same salary guidelines and philosophy as your offer? Are you sure? The bigger the company, the more different executives land different compensation philosophies. Some teams are eager to hire and increase offers to make them more attractive. Other teams recognize that varying compensation philosophies are fundamentally unfair and go to extreme lengths to ensure all candidates receive the same offer for the same job for candidates with the same experience. But, ok…
  • Is your data point from your friend’s company at a different growth stage? How do you even compare your big company offer, primarily stock, to a big public company offer, which is a knowable blend of base salary, bonus, and publicly traded stock, to a start-up where the stock is a mostly unknown quantity, and they’re trying to conserve cash?

Your single data point tells you the data from one other talented individual and how one other company values their ability. Unless your offer is from the same company for the same role on the same team, deltas just in base salary aren’t anything other than expected. Big deltas. Thousands of dollars deltas. Single data points are not apple-to-apple comparisons.

My point of this breakdown is to give you context. The factors that go into the construction of an offer are many. Some of these are easy to discern, and some are tucked away in the values of biases of a company.

But fair isn’t really what I see in “It just feels fair.” What I read is, “But I want more.” More is good. Who doesn’t want more? I sure do. It’s not your best work, but there is a glimmer of a goal in this awkwardly simple sentence. It would be best if you were striving for more in your new role, but I think your job goals needs more definition, so I’ll tell you mine…

Better, Faster, and More

I want a better job. I want a role providing me with challenges I have not seen before. I want to work with a diverse and talented team that, by just existing, teaches me new ideas and makes me better. I want a better company that has figured itself out and is heading, no, charging towards building the next thing.

I want to move faster in my career. I have been doing the same thing for the last three years, and I feel my career is decelerating because my daily learnings are decreasing over time. I always have the next goal for my career, and I want to have a job accelerating me towards that goal by providing me with new opportunities with new humans on different products. The speed with which I’m heading toward the next goal should be… breathtaking.

I want more. More accountability means more potential for the products I’ll be building. More visibility into how the product is built and how the company is shaped to support building the product. More features that help more humans.

You will note that nothing I listed under my Better, Faster, and More job goals mentions compensation. This is not because compensation isn’t essential; it’s because the things that will matter most in your next job have very little to do with how you are paid. We gravitate towards compensation as the measure for the next gig because it’s so wonderfully measurable and comparable. However, who you work with, how you build, and what you build are aspects of the job you should be assessing.

But how? There are no structured rubrics for evaluating and comparing people, processes, and products. This is why the best word in your response is “feel”. I know your feelings about the compensation, but how do you feel about the humans you will be working with? How do feel about how they work together? How do you feel about what they build and where they are going?

Feelings are observations collected, compiled into opinions, and finally transformed into an emotion. I want you to feel your offer is fair, but I want you to feel this is a fantastic opportunity for you to grow.