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I’ve learned what I like, how I want to spend my energy,and how I want to be thinking about my life. I’ve learned my roles, reasonable expectations, and healthy ways to operate given my personality, behaviors, and frequently occurring situations. This post is a summary of those learnings - an operating manual if you will, reminding me how to think about, respond to and behave, so I can operate at maximum effectiveness and efficiency.


At the end of 2016, I joined Amazon to learn the business of software, to learn to write and to live by the leadership principles. This was an excellent choice and I love it. It’s tough though, and here are some things I frequently forget:

Individual Contributor

Functional Skills to develop

  • Business Writing
  • Design
  • Data Analysis
  • Service Oriented Architecture

Realistic expectations for a new leader

  • I don’t know how Amazon works - Duh, I was at my last job, Microsoft for 15 years, knew how everything worked, learned how everything evolved to where it was, and knew enough people to always be able to get done what I wanted.
  • Leaders take a while to ramp up - that’s why you end up with signing bonuses.
  • It’ll take a while to learn new skills
  • Amazon is a very different culture from Microsoft. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m swimming against the current.


Top priorities:

  • Hiring
  • Growing my people
  • Defining Success Qualitatively and Quantitatively.
  • Setting the vision for the team

My super powers


  • Investing time in relationships always pays out. It can feel expensive, but it’s always worth it.

My kryptonite

Bean counting

Committing and describing relative to ideal, not relative to reality.

Under estimating technical complexity


Health and habits

Health - physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual, is easy to understand but hard to maintain. My strategy to maintain health is habits, but thanks to the immutable laws of hard things, habits degrade without constant vigilance.

I spend lots of time thinking about how I should be working my habits, but often end up not doing them. In this case, the key is to stop moaning and restart ‘em.


My summary of physical health habits.



Think it through, write it out, read it again and again



I’ve already got enough hobbies - biking, magic, juggling. I get my biking fix no problem.







Triggers and Mental Quick Sand

Like most folks I have triggers and mental quick sand which I can get trapped in. Here’s some of mine, and things I need to remember.

Stress and Anxiety

Being human, I spend a bunch of time stressed and anxious. Here are some of my favorite sound bites on the topic:

  • Stress is the difference between expectations and reality
  • Laws of physics always win.
  • Anxiety is experiencing a possible failure in advance.
  • Worry is not preperation, nor does it make you better.

Financial Security and Retirement

The point of money

What would I do for less money