Ben.README

Talk with me anytime!

People start to think I'm always busy and talk less to me. However, I consider it my top priority to communicate with any team members. So you're always welcome to interrupt me and discuss anything with me, or if you need some help or advice on anything. If I'm busy I will ask for scheduling a time; If you can't find me in office just leave me a message at Slack Direct Message or Basecamp.

If you need clarification on something, blocked by something, or heard a rumour (btw I hate office gossip), please let me know asap, don't wait till next meeting or office hour, it is very important for us to act quick so I will move things around for helping you.

Feel safe debating with me, and sometimes I play as the devil's advocate, other time I think disagreeing and discuss logically yield the best result, people who work with me long enough know I enjoy heated intellectual debate; 

I hate gossip, sarcastic, any sign of concern about job levels / not-my-responsibility / rules-say-no kind of things.

How to assign tasks to me

  1. Create a todo in Basecamp and assign me.
  2. Send an email to task.for.ben@oursky.com; the subject should be the task summary; the body should contain the link to the Basecamp message (if any), details of the task, deadline, and links/references about the task.

My Usual Work Week

My usual schedule is something like this:
  • Monday: Full of Meetings; 1:1s, Team Meetings
  • Tue - Fri Morning: Meetings
  • Fri 5pm - 7pm: Product Meetings
You're most welcomed to schedule meetings with me according to the schedule above, I try to keep afternoon so I can focus at work / writing.

How to communicate remotely with me

  • If you need a quick respond: Slack me during office hour, or telegram me off the hours.
  • If you want me to read something or do not need a quick respond: Email me at bencheng@oursky.com or write a Basecamp Message and mention me.
  • I might email you or message you off work, I DO NOT EXPECT YOU TO WORK ON THE WEEKEND, so email and Slack can always wait til workday. If there is something really urgent off work, I will telegram or call.

Meeting Protocol

I prefer meeting with prepared Agenda, and the Agenda should contain everything we want to communicate in points form or slides so we don't waste time on “reporting” (and also serve as a written record for people to reference later/async). For items need discussions/brainstorm, they should be highlighted in the agenda. The meeting should be Silent Start so everyone could read the “report” part of the agenda and prepare for discussions.

How can we help each other?

It seems I'm most effective at helping with:
  • Provide context — across functional teams, fellows, company direction, previous experience of how we solve some problems
  • Provide another perspective / put things into a framework — my nature is to understand problems and try to systemise it, so maybe it is helpful some time
  • Firefight / get help
You could really help me with:
  • Remind me to cheer you / others up — I'm not good at being cheerful, and unlike most business people I'm not even optimistic on anything, I know I should be given my role in Oursky now, so help me.
  • Disagree with me — Yea I really feel excited when people can debate with me or challenge my idea with the goal of coming up with the best solution.
  • Tell me if I screw up

Something “weird” about how I work

Here is a list of things that I find myself always explain to others, people find weird, or might trigger me, just in case if you're interested...
  • I always divide projects into tasks, and each task < 2h. This is something I learnt from software engineering, in a project we always don't know what we don't know, hence it makes things really hard to estimate (both time and resources). By trying to divide project into tasks < 2h each, we can estimate how much time a (personal) project would need — or if you don't know, timebox 1 - 2 hours just for research, reading, and planning. Sometime after 2 hours of research you realize there is a much more easier approach — just like writing software lol. 2 hours is good because personally I can't time box anything beyond 2 hours — I just start losing focus these days if I'm in front of computer over 2 hours...
  • Invest time in personal productivity — since I was a teenager, I have difficulties in being discipline. For example, I find it really hard to use time tracker, todo list, expense tracker etc. Turns out I learnt that I'm very sensitive to cost of doing something — if I can't track time with 1 click and a few keystrokes, I won't use the software, so I spent a lot of time to develop my own Alfred plugins, find the right software etc to make sure I save time and make myself discipline at work.
  • I hate messages that start with “Hi”, “Do you have a minute?”, always prefer to come with 1-liner of why we need to chat.
  • When something screws up, I expect people to come up with solutions to make sure it won't happen again. It triggers me when people explain why it happens without solutions to avoid it next time or tell me it is not “you/someone” responsibility. I built up a habit of not caring what happened in the past after all these years already, but I'm still working on how to coach people think about improvement more.