Personal User Manual

A while back, I heard about “personal user manuals” and decided to take the plunge myself, hoping it would help form strong relationships with new people. This document is intended to be useful, not self absorbed. If anything here seems pretentious or overbearing, please let me know so I can improve it.

Thinking style

Expressing > Contemplating

I tend to think out loud. By listening to myself try to explain things and integrate the points of view of others, my understanding of an issue develops on the fly through conversation.


Creative thought processes come naturally to me, but, even though I have an aptitude for quantitative reasoning, it isn’t my default thinking mode. Thank you for your patience as I dazzle you with visuals and then ask a couple of times if my numbers pass a gut check.


Promptness > Perfection

I like to use simple, prompt responses like “sounds good” and “got it” to acknowledge that I received another person’s message and put them at ease. Feel free to use the same technique when responding to me, especially if the alternative is to write a longer response at a later time.

IRL > Video > Chat > Phone > Email

This is my favored order of communication modes.

Being friends > Being right

Even though I’m very open to other viewpoints, when I’m passionate about something, I can come across as bossy. With that in mind, if you find yourself getting frustrated with my style, it would mean a lot to me if you could drop me a quick note or email letting me know.

In a situation where we can’t agree, it’s important to me that we agree to disagree and then commit to a way forward together, and try not to let lingering doubt about the decision color whatever we’re working on.


Personal motivation > Organizational goals

It’s a good idea to make me aware of your professional objectives, but I need to understand how each objective fits into the true aim of attaining something of personal importance to you. Your own set of personal motivations is unique – everyone is motivated by something. I want to know what makes you tick so that I’m better able to interpret your ideas and actions.

Medium = Message

My background in design has made me highly attuned to sensory inputs. When documents, demos, and even meeting rooms are well designed, it’s easy for me to concentrate on the content within them. If I need to spend cognitive resources ignoring static, it’s harder for me to absorb the message.

To me, function without form can come across as careless. My default assumption is that when an idea feels important to someone, they will make an effort to present in a way that is appealing and clear.

Action > Precision

I value resourcefulness and proactivity. If you don’t understand what’s expected of a work assignment, try to find a creative way to deliver something – anything – of value to the team, rather than getting stuck or continually seeking clarification. Sometimes, getting started is the best way to get unstuck.

When patience fades

I default to trust, but it’s difficult to restore once lost. Not delivering on commitments, avoidance behaviors, playing politics, and treating people with disrespect are all ways to lose my confidence.

I’m turned off by apathy, boredom, and coasting. If someone is asked to provide feedback on collaborative work and the response is “Looks good,” I get agitated because, even if it isn’t intended this way, it seems like a rubber stamp on what other team members have done.

My commitment to you

I try to live the Japanese value of kaizen, or continuous improvement, in all aspects of life – work, family, and independent study. To do that, I need honest feedback. I have taken some pretty rough feedback in my life, so it’s unlikely that you’re going to shock me with yours.

Because feedback is so valuable to me, I have enormous respect for others who actively seek it about themselves. If you ask me for feedback, I’m not going to bullshit you, but I promise to deliver it with sensitivity and respect.

A can-do attitude goes miles with me, and I’ll reflect it back to you with fiercely unwavering support.

And finally

Writing this manual has been an attempt to capture and explain the logic behind the actions and decisions you may encounter when working with me. The above is descriptive, not prescriptive. The way you choose to work with me will always be your own; I trust that whatever you decide works for you is right.

Things I’m curious about

  • What do you value most?
  • How do you signal to others that you need support?
  • What might others misunderstand about you?
  • How do you prefer to communicate? Medium, time of day, etc.
  • What’s your ethos on meetings?
  • What do you need to do your best work?
  • How do you like to give and receive feedback?
  • What’s the best way to get your buy-in?
  • What skills are you actively developing?
  • What are you currently learning?
  • What are your favorite sources of knowledge and news?
  • What is your bitcoin story?