Working With Josh



I recently heard a podcast with Claire Hughes Johnson of Stripe.  When she started at Stripe, she wrote a document about how best to engage her in a professional setting. This is absolutely brilliant. And I am going to encourage all future employees of TheMissionZone to do the same. In fact, it should be the cover letter for every person that applies to join our team.  This is my own version, though I admit I borrowed several pieces of this from multiple blogs...

Principles that hold true

  • Sense of humor- I have a healthy sense of humor and I love joking around

  • Work:life blend - I call it a “blend” because I want to make it easier to have both throughout any given day.

  • Honesty - Please don’t bullshit me.  I would much rather the truth than blowing sunshine up my ass or holding back reality.

  • Humility - Please don’t fluff me.  I do some things well and I am horrible at other things.  I need a lot of support to get things done, but I will absolutely contribute what I do best to the team’s efforts.

  • Transparency - In reality, not much needs to be secret.  No one dies in our world because of a decision, so make sure that everything you do is clear to others.  Always share with me the “why” of something.

  • Respect - I will always respect your opinions as long as they are based on facts.  Facts are key.  If you have an opinion based on a fact but that “fact” proves to be incorrect, you better be flexible with your opinion as well.  When you cite an opinion, tell me all the relevant facts that led you to believe it and which facts you weigh more than others, including facts that might undermine your argument.

  • Feedback is your friend - No one is perfect.  We can all do better.  So when someone offers you feedback, you need to listen.  You might disagree.  But make sure you have reasons to disagree and have a discussion intellectually.  Do not make it personal and try to attack back.  It’s ok to refute feedback, but do it civilly.

  • Life is not zero sum - I believe that it is ok for two sides to both win, and for two sides to both lose.  It is not necessary for one side to lose if the other wins, in a two sided transaction.  This isn’t sports.

  • Everyone is part of making the world a better place - Do your part.  Set an example.  The outcome of something big is always the sum of many small things, contribute one of those small things.

  • Efficiency- I hate waste.  So thinking for efficiency is important in everything, don’t waste if it can be avoided.

  • Understand ”why” - I believe that knowing the “why” something is/happens/happened is critical to learning.

  • Strive to be smarter - You will never know everything and there is always someone who knows something you don’t.  Try to keep current.

  • Community - Everyone needs to be part of the team for it to succeed.

  • Be sheepdog strong.

 Approaching me

  • I have a system for organization, it’s not great, but it works for me.  Please respect that.

  • Please don’t be too formal.  Talk to me as if you were my friend.

  • Be bold and confident.   If you have an idea, argue your point, have facts to back it up.  If you just have ideas and opinions, be honest that they need proving, I will work with you if I know the purpose is to polish details.

  • I think big picture first and then fit details and examples into a model.

  • DRAW PICTURES.  I love whiteboards.

  • Know how to speak clearly and logically.   Whatever your native tongue, speak it well.  Use correct grammar.

  • If you work for me, you ARE doing something valuable to the company and the mission, if you feel you are not, help me eliminate that role and I guarantee we will find you a better job within the company.

  • Don’t be territorial or a tree hugger, know when to make decisions for the greater good.

  • I respect changing direction and new lines of thinking, but make a decision and commit.  Don’t hedge.

  • If you want to grow or go, tell me and we will work on it together.  Your success is my success.

  • Sometimes I need to be smacked in the face, do it, but be polite :)

Management style

  • I try to be hands off.  Please just do your job, and surprise me with your ingenuity, creativity and ambition.

  • Help me learn.  No one knows everything.  You know something that I don’t and vice versa.  Let’s work together.

  • Propose solutions and then let’s discuss. Never come to a meeting without a proposal to solve a problem.  Write out the broad strokes and then we can assess. 

  • NEVER HAVE A PRE-MEETING MEETING!!!  Don’t ever get a group together to discuss before a larger meeting, what a waste of time.

  • I shouldn't have to assign work.  If you know your job/goals and we defined your role, take it on and nail it.  Don’t make me chase you.

  • A crisis means all-hands, I don’t care where you work.  We are on the same team.

  • I like data and facts.  Be sure you have the correct metadata so we are using the same definitions for those facts.  Don’t play games by slicing some dataset to meet your pre-defined conclusions.

  • I like a plan that speculates on outcomes so we have a benchmark to make evaluations and changes against later.  Always keep track of the history of a project so we know how it is progressing.

  • Tell me about your life.

  • Communication Channels

    • Email - Longer than a thought, but not important enough to save as a document.  Company announcements are a good example.

    • Phone - When something is complex and requires back and forth.  If there are multiple back-and-forths trying to resolve a decision, get on a call.

    • Video - Should be the default for remote conversations.  We both deserve full attention.

    • Text - If you know I am out and asynchronous communication is ok.  Or if you know I need to be stealth.

    • Slack - For most company communications.

    • F2F - I like meeting face to face.  If possible, we should.

    • Meetings - If multiple people need to receive information (all-hands) or if multiple people need to weigh in on a decision. 

    • 1:1 meetings - Personal contact and feedback is important.

Stuff not to do

  • Play the blame game.  Take responsibility, learn a lesson, move forward.

  • Laziness, flakiness.  Come on, Do Your Job.

  • Not taking ownership.  Read Extreme Ownership.  Everyone should live this way.

  • Groupthink - Stand up and challenge a consensus.  The world needs more rebels.  Just do it with respect.

  • Throwing bombs or passive aggressiveness.

  • Screamers - If you have ever yelled at someone in the office, you will not work at TheMissionZone.

  • Insults - Nope, Never.  Everyone is a person and deserves respect...Except Trump.

  • Keep secrets.  Get everything out in the open.  Transparency is good, it helps us succeed.

  • Take a challenge or debate as personal.  We are discussing an idea.  Even if you are wrong, I could respect you more if you help fomulate the reasoning and are part of a discussion.  Just because I challenge you doesn’t mean that I don’t respect you.  If you help me think through an issue, I respect you more.

  • Be stubborn - Know when to stop.  There are times to give up on something, try to see it, or be open to others helping you see it.

To get to know me and the way I think, read my personal blog at