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Data Slogs: Creating Alignment for Ops Teams

Data slog: The often grueling and mind-numbing process of cleaning and standardizing your data to ensure it is reliable enough to use for analysis

Data slog: A management tool for operationally oriented teams

In operations, no one is above a data slog.

That statement is core to the operations team I lead. And it’s not just because 75% of what we do depends on good data (the value of good data is generally obvious).

What’s seldom talked about is how orienting your team around thankless data projects contributes to both a better functioning system AND a better functioning team.


Tactical Tips for New Managers

When you become a manager what you do, how you spend your time, and how you are measured all changes. You rely on people more than ever. And they rely on you more too.

Managing is hard. And rewarding. And interesting. And occasionally frustrating.

It’s also a learned skill. Parts of it are a little unnatural. It will take time, especially if you are a star individual contributor, to adjust.


Firing my first person because of avoidable mistakes

The first time I fired someone was one of the hardest experiences of my life.

It didn’t make it easier that I had zero doubt that this was the best decision for the company and my team. It didn’t help that we had exhausted multiple measures to try and course correct.

Sometimes knowing something is right does nothing to make doing it easier.

So OK, it sucked. Obviously. You have to pretty messed up to not be affected by making this kind of decision.

But the emotional side isn’t really what I want to focus on here.

I think it’s probably more useful to walk you through the key mistakes I made during the entire three month process from making an offer to letting my team member go.


The Empty Parking Lot at the Synagogue

I walk into the Rosh Hashanah service. It’s the evening before, so admittedly not the high point of the High Holiday.

But the synagogue is mostly empty. The parking lot’s vast concrete scale a testament of a recent past, part I guess, a post-WWII resurgence of faith and community and part a remnant of a suburban growth that in this part of Baltimore County and for this community spoke of a kind of golden age.

Which is maybe the point. Suburban synagogues may physically be in the wrong place for a new generation.

Anyway, we’re here now.

So we enter the synagogue. Me a former outsider, likely to never be fully comfortable in this space, but surrounded by a family I love. My family.


Using Cognitive Dissonance to Hustle

If you’re in the startup world you’re probably familiar with the concept that ideas aren’t worth very much. Instead it’s all about execution.

You can dismiss the rhetoric as overly simplistic (and it is), but the basic idea that actions matter more than ideas has a lot going for it.

You see, it’s incredibly easy to dream about something and fall in love with the idea of doing it. Many people dream of being a professional athlete or of starting their own company. Few attempt it. Fewer still succeed.

Instead most of us focus too much on our internal conversations, finding ourselves locked inside a silent monologue about the countless what-ifs or should-haves in our lives. It’s a vicious spiral because the more we think like this, the less we actually do anything, and the more the what-ifs pile up.

You have to put ideas out there for them to gain substance, to get vetted, to attract energy.