When you steal an idea and have the time and good taste to make it your own, it grows into something different, hopefully something greater. But as you borrow more and more from other products, there’s less and less of you in the result. Less to be proud of, less to own.

2023 Annual Shareholder Letter →

Joel Gascoigne · ·

Interesting, in-depth look at Buffer’s business provided by the CEO — looks like something he’s been doing for a while. Count Buffer a company I’m going to start following.

Dear Buffer shareholders and community,

2023 was a turnaround year for Buffer by a variety of measures. This is something the team has worked tirelessly towards, and it is wonderful to see the positive shifts take place in our metrics and the culture and energy around the company.

We’ve spent the past few years clarifying our strategy and the principles by which we operate, and being diligent in our execution in alignment with that path.

I’d love to walk you through our results for 2023 and share insights into how we’re approaching building a long-term business.

KPBS today carried a story about Port of San Diego president, CEO Joe Stuyvesant, resigning. They included some or all of his statement. I really like the way he closed his resignation statement:

It is with gratitude to the Board of Port Commissioners that I close the chapter on my leadership at the Port of San Diego. Without the dedicated staff of professional public servants, there is no port. I look back to my service at the port with a sense of pride in what we accomplished under the leadership of the Board of Port Commissioners and the entire port team. While I will miss being part of the port team, new opportunities have recently presented themselves, and I am excited to pursue them.

I’ve enjoyed watching Tim Cook lead Apple over the past nearly 13 years. Something he seems to have thought a lot about during his tenure is succession planning for his role as CEO. That thread continues as Apple’s Board of Directors notes that they have updated the CEO’s retirement vesting policy. “The time‐based RSUs awarded to Mr. Cook in 2023 provide for pro‐rata instead of full vesting in the event of retirement during the term of the award and only if retirement occurs on or after the first anniversary of the grant date. The People and Compensation Committee intends to maintain this same structure for future years.”

Tim, thank you for your continued leadership at Apple. When the times comes to say goodbye and welcome a new CEO, I want to thank you for all the thought you’ve put into succession planning at Apple for not only your role, but across the leadership team.

Succession Planning Quotes in the News

In October 2017 with BuzzFeed News, Tim said: “I see my role as CEO to prepare as many people as I can to be CEO, and that’s what I’m doing. And then the board makes a decision at that point in time.”

In 2018 at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, Bloomberg News reported that Tim Cook addressed succession planning “saying that eventually ‘passing the baton’ properly is one of his most important roles.

Most recently, in November 2023 with Dua Lipa’s At Your Service podcast, Tim reflected on his time at Apple: “I love it, I can’t envision my life without being there, so I’ll be there for a while.” Then, asked if there was a succession plan at Apple, he continued:

“We’re a company that believes in working on succession plans, so we have very detailed succession plans. Because something unpredictable can always happen. I could step off the wrong curb tomorrow. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, I pray that it doesn’t.”

Dua Lipa: “Are you able to say who is in line for succession?”

“I can’t say that, but I would say that my job is to prepare several people for the ability to succeed, and I really want the person to come from within Apple, the next CEO. So that’s my role: That there’s several for the board to pick from.”

Interesting →

Avery Pennarun · apenwarr · ·

Like many young naïve nerds, when I first heard of the idea of “strong opinions held weakly,” I thought it was a pretty good idea…

The real competitor to strong opinions held weakly is, of course, strong opinions held strongly. We’ve all met those people. They are supremely confident and inspiring, until they inspire everyone to jump off a cliff with them.

Strong opinions held weakly, on the other hand, is really an invitation to debate. If you disagree with me, why not try to convince me otherwise? Let the best idea win.

After some decades of experience with this approach, however, I eventually learned that the problem with this framing is the word “debate.” Everyone has a mental model, but not everyone wants to debate it. And if you’re really good at debating — the thing they teach you to be, in debate club or whatever — then you learn how to “win” debates without uncovering actual truth.

Some days it feels like most of the Internet today is people “debating” their weakly-held strong beliefs and pulling out every rhetorical trick they can find, in order to “win” some kind of low-stakes war of opinion where there was no right answer in the first place.

Anyway, I don’t recommend it, it’s kind of a waste of time. The people who want to hang out with you at the debate club are the people who already, secretly, have the same mental models as you in all the ways that matter.

What’s really useful, and way harder, is to find the people who are not interested in debating you at all, and figure out why.

Technology Assessment Rubric →

Ben Werdmuller · ·

I’ve written and open sourced a rubric for assessing new technologies as part of your organization. It’s written for use in non-technical organizations in particular, but it might be useful everywhere. The idea is to pose questions that are worth asking when you’re selecting a vendor, or choosing an API or software library to incorporate into your own product.

A fun read digging into an infrastructure project — in this case, a pedestrian bridge in Bloomfield,, Minneapolis — and asking “why is this here?”.

Justin O’Beirne also does some interesting work comparing Google and Apple maps products with commentary on how maps tell the story of the place.

I asked Tatis recently why he plays the way he does — valuing defense so much, stealing bases, rounding first on most singles as if he fully intends to go to second, using his finely tuned instincts in so many situations — when he could still be thought of as an excellent player and still make millions based solely on his power.

“I feel like that wouldn’t be fair to my dad and the people that would have wasted their time with me, training me, teaching me this game, giving me these things that helped me,” he said. “And to God that gave me the talent. It wouldn’t be fair to everybody to not be doing everything that I’m capable of.”

I was recently part of a tech layoff — my previous employer, Houzz, laid off 98 employees in mid-December. The most recent hires were let go (LIFO). As I’m applying to new position, I received this prompt today from Patagonia: “Tell me about the most exciting product launch of your career. What was your role? Describe the experience step by step.”

My response: The most exciting product launch of my career was the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which launched from French Guiana on December 25, 2022. I started as an intern in Systems Engineering, Mass Properties, on JWST in the summer of 2009. I was hired full time after graduating the following winter and became the lead Mass Properties engineer. I was responsible for maintaining a database of the mass of the spacecraft and its center of gravity as well as an inventory of the mass of each component part (to achieve orbit, a rocket can only lift so much mass). From there, I worked on the Alignments and Sunshield teams and the program for four years. We worked our way through challenges (too much mass in certain components, manufacturing tolerances that were too loose, and a deployments system that was high risk) as well as many successes (successful critical design reviews, prototype tests, and trade studies). I left Northrop Grumman to pursue a career in technology — I’ve loved building websites since I built my first in 2004, running for student government at UC San Diego. My father, also a Northrop Grumman, JWST team member, was in the launch control room supporting the deployments team when the rocket launched. He stayed in on Baltimore, Maryland until all the deployments were complete. So far in my career, my small contributions to that program will make the biggest differenece in human history.

Reentry →

Mandy Brown · A Working Library · ·

Writing about re-entering work after some time away (whether it be a week’s vacation or something longer).

She writes that we often come back to work with clearer eyes, a fresh perspective on our work and our workplace after time away.

…[P]art of what a lengthy break can do is rid you of the fog you summoned to blunt your peripheral vision, so you can now see clearly what’s missing or what’s broken.

It can be uncomfortable, that clearing away. It can be deeply unpleasant. But it’s also useful. It’s a sign of what you need to change. What I found was that when I gave myself permission to really feel that unpleasantness, when I didn’t try to get comfortable with it or avoid it, I opened some space to move: towards a reconfiguration or revision or reimagining of what my work was. Sometimes that meant laying tracks for a new role, sometimes it meant reshaping the role I was in; often it was something very small, a choice about which problems were mine to attend to and which belonged to someone else. Always it made a difference.

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