Rebuttal to “Feelings aren’t all for feeling”

Everyone seemed to disagree with yesterday’s post. I got one particularly thoughtful email reply from David Fisher, who agreed to let me copy/paste it here. I think it’s a fair and compelling rebuttal.

Graph all the things

Next time you see a spreadsheet without a graph, fix that.

Stay new, Ponyboy

I’ve joined a lot of new teams in my career. A lot lot.

Just do things

Don’t ask for permission to do things. Don’t wait for the right time. Don’t document a plan. Don’t weigh the pros and cons. Don’t beg for feedback on your idea.

The case for minimalism

I heard a defense of a minimalist lifestyle recently that I liked.

Chesterton’s Fence vs. The Five Monkeys

So Chesterton’s Fence says that you shouldn’t change things unless you understand them. And the Five Monkeys Experiment says that you shouldn’t avoid changing things just because you can’t understand them. They’re at odds, yeah?

Would you say yes to that thing if it was happening tomorrow?

It’s easy to commit to something that’s months away. You won’t be as busy by then, clearly! That’s a problem for future you to deal with.

But ask yourself, if that thing was tomorrow, would you still say yes? If it’s a no for tomorrow then it’s a no, period.

Sell your RSUs immediately upon vesting

Imagine that the company gave you cash instead of RSUs. Would you use that cash to buy stock in your company? Because that’s what you’re doing by hanging onto those RSUs.

The four feedback gates

When you’re working on a project, here’s when you should get feedback from stakeholders…

Finding my baseline

“Sometimes unsolvable questions like “what is my purpose?” and “why should I exist?” lose their force upon lifestyle fixes. In other words, seeing friends regularly and getting enough sleep can go a long way to solving existentialism.”

Write a letter

Letter writing is a lost art. Instead of one long self contained letter, now we write each other 500 strung together texts.

Why do I get stressed about 1-1s?

I get nervous before 1-1s with anyone, not just my direct reports. Severity depends on the person, but almost all 1-1s carry some stress.

Employee calibration is broken

In theory, calibration ensures that everyone ends up with the rating they deserve based on the work they did. But in practice, calibration tests the managers more than the employees.

“I know what is expected of me at work.”

That is item one on Gallup’s Q12 survey of employee engagement. I know what is expected of me at work. The most foundational question, but only 50% of workers agree with it. Half of workers don’t know what’s expected of them.

The Q12 survey for employee engagement

Gallup studied almost 3 million people across 100k teams and identified these 12 questions to be “the most effective survey questions to measure employee engagement.”

My desk is only one option

After a decade of working remotely from my home office, I finally realized that’s only one option. So I’ve started working away from my desk as much as possible.

Bento boxing your time

Step 1: List all the activities you need or want to do in a given week…

The hidden cohorts

I once wrote and still kinda-sorta-maintain a browser extension for custom keyboard shortcuts called Shortkeys. I thought its users would mostly be productivity nerds and vim fans. Then I started getting a few random requests for a strangely specific feature…

Transfer the work, not the workers

Team A is underwater and team B has a lot of slack. The obvious solution is to move someone from team B to team A. That happens all the time in both large and small orgs.

Lightly, child, lightly.

“It’s dark because you’re trying too hard,” said Susila. “Dark because you want it to be light.”

Low quality fun, high quality fun

What does “low quality fun” or “high quality fun” really mean? Gotta look at both sides: how do I feel when I’m starting the activity, and how do I feel when it’s over.


We all know about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, Time-bound). But they’re missing the PIPE…

Stop asking for general solutions to specific problems

Engineering leaders often talk about “doing the work required to have an opinion.” This usually means asking questions before you give advice, or not giving advice at all.

But the onus should be on the asker, not the answerer.

Moral dumbfounding

Moral dumbfounding occurs when people stubbornly maintain a moral judgement, even though they can provide no reason to support their judgements.

Power in goofy hypotheticals

I love asking random hypothetical questions. They’re my go-to as meeting icebreakers or warmups. I also use them for lightening the mood when people are getting serious instead of sincere.

Decluttering via Craigslist

This month, I discovered that I can put anything on Craigslist for free and someone will take it. I’ve emptied out a whole garage full of old junk that way. And I thought I’d have to pay hundreds for a dumpster!

No sevens allowed

When asking someone for a one to ten rating of something, tell them sevens aren’t allowed. That forces them to choose between either a meh response (six) or a strong one (eight).

Never miss two days in a row

The “don’t break the chain” method (aka the Seinfeld Method) of productivity gets a lot of attention. But if you do break the chain (say you get sick or your power goes out) then you’re screwed. Nothing screams “Fail me with abandon! Bring on the shame!” like breaking that chain.

Change habits by changing friction

If you’re trying to do less or something, increase friction. Make it as annoying as possible.

If you’re trying to do more of something, decrease friction. Make it as easy as possible.

My favorite fidget thingies

I have to keep my hands busy while on video calls so I’ve tried out a lot of fidgety things. Here are the ones I like the most…


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