Henry Unite

Working Hard

The topics in this article are tangential to each other. But I just wanted to write down some concepts around my work ethic that I’ve learned over the years.

I might spin some of these topics out into their own article in the future.

I used to be the kind of person who would work all day and all night out of “survival”, or at least that is what I would convince myself. It was a mentality that if I wasn’t coding, I could lose it all at any moment.

Impostor Syndrome

One of the reasons I felt the need to work at every waking minute, was because I never finished a traditional four-year degree. I convinced myself that because my peers had a degree in computer science, I would have to work twice as hard to prove that I belonged at whatever job I was working at.

It wasn’t until five years into my career that I realized degrees, universities, and the companies you used to work at don’t matter. The only thing that matters is if you have the skills to make a big impact and deliver value.

All that matters is if you can move the needle.

Focus On Moving The Needle

I have three principles that help guide me in making sure that I’m “moving the needle.”

Pick Up The Phone

You should always be talking to your customers. A customer can be more than just an end user; they could be a stakeholder, an engineer, or a product manager.

This guiding principle is used to ensure that you are always working on the right thing. Don’t wait for answers, or make assumptions; pick up the phone, and call the person who is expecting the deliverable you’re working on.

The skill here is not talking to customers. It is the ability to delete requirements.

Make An Impact

The goal here is to always make sure you’re working on the right thing, and then actually doing the thing (aka writing code).

How do you know if you’re working on the right thing? Pick up the phone and ask your customer!

You should only be working on things that make an impact.

Deliver Value

High impact, high value; when you actually put the final product in the customer’s hands, measure the value it delivers.

There are two reasons why you want to do this:

When you deliver value, the needle moves.

Zoom Out

I used to think everything had to be done in a single day. What I’ve learned is that it’s important to set milestones.

Instead of tunnel visioning and heads down coding, set a goal like: “by the end of the week, we will have this one thing done.” It is the typical “under promise, over deliver.” But I treat it as room to maneuver. It doesn’t matter how I get there, as long as I deliver it by the time all the stakeholders agreed upon.

This is a tool to help me focus on moving the needle.

In-Person Work

The way I look at in-person work, especially when it comes to startups, is that if you’re going to build something that is going to make an impact in the world, it’s not going to happen over a zoom call.

My opinion: the iPhone could not of been built over a zoom call.

It’s not about being able to get more work done. Yes, you’re likely to get more work done in the isolation of your home.

It’s about ensuring that you’re always working on the right thing. When people are working in a room together, it’s much easier to talk about what everyone is working on and requirements that can be deleted!

It gives you the ability to always be asking: are we working on the right thing?

Waking Up Early vs Staying Up Late

TLDR; whatever works for you.

If you feel like it’s easier to stay up late and be productive, do that. If you find yourself tired the next day because you decided to stay up late, cool; you can just get even better sleep the following night!

If you feel like waking up early makes you more productive, do that.

Again, all that matters is that you focus on moving the needle.