Monday Musings - Monday Musings (How We Work)

The Write of Passage approach to doing great work  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

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Hi friends,

Greetings from the Yucatán Peninsula.

I'm down here on an all-company retreat. Mornings are for work. Afternoons are for snorkeling, swimming, and exploring the nearby Aztec ruins.

This morning, I shared our codified ways of working with the Write of Passage team. I wanted each of them to be memorable enough to become repeated phrases inside the company. Directives like this always have tradeoffs. Amazon works in small and siloed two pizza teams, which allows them to move fast, but comes at the cost of product cohesion. Apple is different. Their collaborative culture is good for the kinds of tightly integrated products they want to build, but also means that people spend lots of time in meetings.

Ideally, values attract the right people and repel the wrong ones. Here's what I presented this morning:

  • We’re Flipping Tables: Writing education stinks. It reeks with complacency. We offer a radical new vision for how writing can be taught. We’re bold in our marketing and relentless in our pursuit of improvement. Critics may call us arrogant, but we’re not here to rearrange silverware. We’re clearing the slate and building something better.
  • Own It: High agency, high independence, high accountability. People can expect lots of autonomy and won’t be micromanaged. In return, we expect people to take initiative, be proactive, and produce excellent work.
  • Usain Bolt Mentality: We bring a jovial spirit to our work. We pair intense dedication with a sunny disposition. We embrace fun, but don’t let it get in the way of high standards. If the fastest runner on Earth can smash records with a dance and a smile, so can we.
  • Work as Soulcraft: We work like craftsmen. We care. We focus. We work with heart. We know that most details don’t matter, but obsess over the ones that do. Out of a relentless thirst for improvement, we stay close to the work and cultivate our taste.
  • Action Produces Information: When you’re stuck, get started. Don’t pontificate or wait until you have the perfect plan. Put one foot in front of the other by working at a fast tempo and embracing small experiments. As you learn, iterate.
  • Make the Flip: It’s human nature to communicate from your own perspective. But students come first. We constantly reframe our messaging to the student perspective. “We will offer” becomes “you will receive.” We build products based on what’s best for students. It’s not about us. It’s about them.
  • Radical Candor: We tell people to their faces what people at other companies would say behind their back. When we do, we communicate with high care, high empathy, and low emotion. We provide specific examples and concrete suggestions to help others improve.
  • Process Serves People: We don’t let our ways of working get in the way of the actual work. When it does, we tweak our processes to serve us better. We seek out ways to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. When we outgrow processes we refine them.
  • We Believe in Sticky Notes: Our products are never complete. We endlessly make improvements to better serve our students. We embrace new ideas – sticky notes help us brainstorm what could be and see beyond what already is. And while we take work seriously, we also approach it with humility and playfulness.
  • Meeting Skeptical: The biggest killer of productivity and joy at work is meeting for meeting’s sake. Meetings pull us from deep work and tether us to our screens. We want to avoid big, recurring meetings in particular. A one-hour meeting with six people is actually a six hour meeting. But when a meeting needs to happen, it needs to happen, and we make sure it happens well.
  • Write it Down: Writing preserves knowledge and guides future actions. Written agendas make meetings more efficient. Meeting notes make them productive. Long-form memos clarify our thinking and improve decisions. We don’t keep ideas in our head. We write them down and share them.

— —

Some Links for You

  1. Where It Happens Podcast Interview: Greg Isenberg interviewed me about learning, education, my admiration for Walt Disney, and what we're building at Write of Passage. Here's a clip about the economics of our business and another one about how many people waste their 20s away. (Listen here: Apple | Spotify | YouTube)
  2. The J.D. Martinez Guide to Learning: The Austin Scholar is one of my favorite up-and-coming education writers. She's a bright 16 year-old who hasn't had a teacher since the 4th grade. After she interviewed one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball, I helped her write a Twitter thread about it.
  3. Friday Finds Links: I've been collecting my favorite links on the Internet here for almost five years now. If you're looking for a reading recommendation, I guarantee something here will pique your interest.

Have a creative week,

David Perell Logo 2x

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