Library Podcasts

Ep. #56, How Much Work is Too Much Work?

In episode 56 of To Be Continuous, Paul and Edith discuss burnout and psychological safety in the workplace, as well as differing views on the amount of hours a person should work each week.


Show Notes

Transcript

00:00:00
00:00:00

Edith Harbaugh: Hey Paul.

Paul Biggar: Hello.

Edith: You're looking really well-rested.

Paul: Oh thank you, thank you.

Edith: How's work?

Paul: Work is good, I love work.

Edith: You love work?

Paul: Work is great.

Edith: When we started the podcast, you would not have said that.

Paul: Well yeah, I was burnt out.

Edith: Well how did you get over your burnout?

Paul: I took 18 months off.

Edith: How deep was the burnout that you needed 18 months?

Paul: Well I'd spent four years doing a startup.

Edith: I'm five and a half years in with LaunchDarkly.

Paul: Yeah, yeah.

But the burnout of finding your way out of a company is sort of different to the burnout of growing the company, I think.

Edith: Well thanks for wearing the shirt today from LD, I appreciate it.

Paul: Of course, of course.

Edith: So tell me about your burnout. Like how are you combating it now?

Paul: Well now I don't have burnout. The work is wonderful.

Edith: Wow.

Paul: Yeah.

I mean burnout isn't how much you work, burnout is how much you don't see the fruits of your labor.

I mean I don't know the exact mechanic behind this but you don't get burnt out from you probably get burnt out from working a hundred-hour-weeks, because you'd be tired and so on, but you can burnt out working 20-hour weeks.

Edith: Wow. So you don't think it's about the quantity but rather the quality?

Paul: It is whether you see positive outcomes of your work. I mean this is why people hate working for big companies, right?

Because you spend two years, and sure you have a 40-hour week or whatever, and then in two years, your future has gotten shelved three times, and you've had a corporate reshuffle six times, and you've had four new bosses, and that's where burnout comes from.

That's why people work for small companies, Edie.

Edith: You just described life as a Googler, right?

Paul: I did. I did, yeah, yeah. It was specifically Google, I was thinking of as I described it.

Edith: Yeah I had a discussion with a friend once about the idea of agency. Do you know agency?

Paul: Yes.

Edith: That you can be working a lot and hard but if you feel like you're in control it seems less like a chore.

Paul: Right, right. Yeah and it's the same thing.

If you're doing stuff and you're turning it into something then you have that sense of achievement.

And you don't want to be working yourself too ragged. There was all this stuff before Christmas about the what, people talking about 60 hours or 80 hours?

Where did that whole thing start?

Edith: You know, it periodically flares up on VC Twitter.

Paul: Right it's VCs--

Edith: Periodically flares up I think it was like 18 months ago the guy from Sequoia wrote this article about the Chinese startups are all working a hundred hours a week.

Paul: Oh, it's the nine-nine-six right? Nine to nine six days a week.

Edith: Yeah.

Paul: Yeah, I can't imagine the quality of work that they're getting accomplished.

Edith: Yeah. So I decided that time to just stay out of it because I don't see much personal ROI in getting dragged into long Tweets storms.

I remember in the early days when I was trying to get our seed together so we were four people, who really needed money.

And some VC asked me straight-faced, "How are you going to make sure everybody works 80, 90 hours a week?"

Paul: I see.

Edith: And in my head I was like I don't want people to work that hard.

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Was it a test? It probably wasn't a test. But sometimes these people ask you to put up tests.

Edith: No, the VC was very serious. They said how are you going to make sure that everybody works 80, 90 hours a week so that you get the stuff you need?

And I have worked 80, 90 hours a week. And you end up really cranky. And you end up making a ton of mistakes. It's not really productive hours.

Paul: So I'm not sure if I agree that 80-hour weeks automatically mean that you're making mistakes.

So I have a slightly more nuanced opinion here than 40 hours is the right, the right thing--

Edith: I don't know, I don't think 40 hours is necessarily right. I think that saying "80 hours every week without fail is right" also seems--

Paul: You know one of the things that you see VCs often promote is this sort of hustle porn.

Edith: Oh I don't like that.

Paul: Yeah.

Edith: Tell me more about what you mean by hustle porn.

Paul: Look at everyone in China working nine-nine-six.

Edith: Yeah, I thought that article was ridiculous.

Paul: There's a bunch of that going on.

And I think that there is a little bit of truth to it as well, like all things, that that, you can get more done in 60 hours than 40 hours.

You probably can't go much further than that without starting to make a lot more mistakes and seeing the trade-off.

But also it depends a lot on do you have environments that are conducive to getting shit done? Whether it's 20 hours or 40 hours or 60 hours.

You can't just have the hustle porn of work yourselves to the bone and that's going to solve all your problems because that's like, that is not going to solve all your problems.

Edith: And also sometimes it leads to this perversion of face time.

Paul: Yep, yep. Butts in seats are the thing that's required.

Edith: Yeah. And then people find ways around that. You know the, well I'm going to be out the office for 60 hours but three of that is playing foosball. And I mean three a day.

Paul: Yeah, no. I understand.

Edith: Yeah so like a-- I'm there but three hours a day of foosball another hour of lunch, another hour of dinner, and it's like okay you're there but you're not actually getting anything done and wouldn't it be better just for the company to say get your stuff done and then go home?

Paul: How do you feel about the work life inclusion?

Edith: Tell me more.

Paul: Maybe work life integration is the thing. Lot of people want to have--

Edith: You mean if you live and work in the same place?

Paul: No, no, that wasn't specifically what I was referring to, thanks Edie--

Edith: Because how's that working out?

Paul: Yeah. We have an office.

Edith: Oh, separate from your house?

Paul: We've like ten people now. Yeah, we're--

Edith: And they're not in your home?

Paul: They're not in my home anymore. Not for like a year now.

I don't know how long it's been though since we've done a podcast. But that has changed.

Do you remember we were in Heavybit for a while? Maybe you don't remember that.

Edith: I remember that.

Paul: Oh, that was, we moved them outta my house.

Edith: Ah, so work life inclusion?

Paul: Yeah, so I mean, a lot of people value work life separation, correctly. There are people who really enjoy work life integration.

You know a common thing is that you hear about people in their early 20s who are like, they want to go to work and make friends with everyone there and play foosball together and eat three meals there and get a massage there.

I don't know what else what else goes on, and--

Edith: Haircuts.

Paul: Haircuts, there we go, and the Googles. So there's people who want that and who enjoy that and I think it is fine that that exists. But it is not fine that that's a requirement.

Edith: Yeah, so we my co-founder and I started the company when we were in our 30s. And our first engineer had a kid when he joined. So we didn't really do stuff at night.

Paul: Right.

Edith: Sometimes we were like hey you want to do a happy hour? And they're like I want to go home and see my kids.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. That's a thing that I hear people want to do when they have kids.

Edith: Yeah, so, like, our culture kind of formed around we would go out to lunch together.

We still have lunch brought in every day. We're a lunch company, we're a coffee company.

But we never had a culture of Thursdays are Taco Thursday, or something.

Versus when I was in my 20s, I was very much all my friends were at work and vice versa. So I don't know if it's just an age thing.

Paul: It's certainly related to being an age thing.

I think it's also related to being a remote company. If you're remote then you don't go to bars with your colleagues afterwards, because they live in different cities, or whatever--

Edith: Can you do like, some non-weird FaceTime thing though? At a bar?

Paul: I don't think you can do a FaceTime thing that's not weird. I think all--

Edith: At a, particularly at a happy hour at a bar.

Paul: Yeah, could you imagine? I mean that would be so Silicon Valley.

Edith: Particularly if one person was in San Jose and the other in Lafayette or something.

Paul: And they both ride their what are those things called? The sticks with heads?

Edith: The scooter that you wheeled in today?

Paul: No, no. The Telepresence.

Edith: Oh yeah.

Paul: That's a Telepresence whereabouts.

Edith: That just sounds so creepy.

Paul: It is, I mean, I guess they didn't really go anywhere.

Edith: Yeah so our culture just because our early team had kids was very much like we will hang out during the day but nights are kid time.

To this day, we went to see the Star Wars premiere we did that as an afternoon activity. 'Cause we wanted people to see the movie at a matinee and then go home.

Paul: Right. We have people who are mostly in San Francisco. So actually, two companies.

Circle was largely remote, certainly engineering was nearly all remote. Lot of people in their 30s, kids, that sort of thing from the very start.

But there was also a couple of people who were younger and who actually did work all the hours of the day.

Edith: So one correction.

Paul: Yeah?

Edith: We work all the hours of day, it's just like.

Paul: Sorry I meant all the hours of the actual day not just the work day.

Edith: Yeah, like, a really common pattern was the people with kids, they go home, they put the kids down, and then they get back on.

Paul: Oh so you're saying that they're working a lot more than the 40 hours a week?

Edith: We don't want to encourage people to work crazy hours. But people do space them out.

Like you know they'll be like hey, I'll be in the office at this time, and then I want to have this three to four hour block to get my kid, feed him or her, put them down, and then I'll be back online.

And it doesn't have to be hey, I'm in the office for that.

Paul: Right, right, right. We were very focused on getting people uninterrupted time.

And I think that's one of the important things about having successfully using the time you have.

Edith: Yes. That's, yeah.

Paul: You can't engineer things at 20 minutes at a time.

Edith: No. So it's like the time you have shouldn't be chunked up by like "hey I need to go play foosball right now."

Paul: Yeah, yeah. And I think that, one of the things you hear about people's kids is that they that they get very good at using their time better.

Like suddenly they're not wasting hours on Hacker News or Twitter, or whatever else.

Edith: That's what my co-founder certainly said. He's like the time I spend, I want to make sure I'm spending it well.

Paul: Right, right.

Edith: How is it working out to have everybody here this time?

Paul: So we don't have everyone here. There's one person who's remote. He's in Florida. And then there is nine in the office here.

Edith: Oh fun!

Paul: It is fun, but I mean it's also the office is a place where people get things done quietly for the most part.

And I do enjoy having a little more office banter than we had at Circle. And I think people are quite social and enjoy being social.

We also have most people go home. Some people you occasionally see them working late.

But they're employees and our job is to get the most out of them which means not the most time but the most outcomes.

And the most outcomes require that people get a good night sleep. And are happy in their lives.

And all that shit, and that's how people get really good work done.

Edith: I have been really focusing on psychological safety lately.

Which is just this idea that if you feel that you are safe you do a much better job.

Paul: Sure. Say more about that.

Edith: Well it's funny that you have to do studies to make it sound obvious before I made fun of Google, but they're actually really good about data-driven management.

So they did a lot of surveys with their different teams about which were the most successful.

And the teams they found were the most successful were the ones where they felt like people had the freedom to make mistakes.

Paul: That's funny. I saw some discussion of this on Twitter that had some other thoughts on the matter.

Edith: Go ahead!

Paul: I think it said something like, I'm going to get this wrong, so the teams that had the most psychological safety were the teams with the least diversity.

And that there was something along the lines of it was not okay for under-represented people to make mistakes in the way that it was for over-represented people to make mistakes.

Yeah, so it starts to get a lot more complicated. It doesn't sound so good anymore does it?

Edith: No. I mean, the hope is that you create it and this is what I tell our team, is that we're a start-up, we're doing the first thing.

Paul: Yeah. Well and to be clear, psychological safety, good. Just making sure that everyone gets the psychological safety.

Edith: Yes, yes. And also to put the guardrails in place, so people aren't making crazy mistakes.

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean one of the things that that as we grew, and I'm sure you've seen the same thing and every company sees the same thing, that you hit an inflection point where the old processes don't work.

Edith: Oh gosh, every six months.

Paul: Yeah. And the thing that has made it really successful for us is being proactive at figuring out what the guardrails are.

Edith: Yeah. So we've been basically doubling or tripling our team for the last three years.

Paul: Yeah. Once a year you double?

Edith: Basically once a year.

Paul: How many people are you now?

Edith: We're 160. So what I tell the team is that the stuff that worked last year is not going to work now. And we don't know what stuff is not going to work.

Like some of it is going to work some of it is not and it's fine.

Paul: Do you prep for what's not going to work? Or do you just run it until it no longer works and just keep an eye out for it?

Edith: There's stuff we know isn't going to work and then there is the stuff you don't know is broken until it breaks.

Like there's some stuff where you're like okay the way we ran performance reviews in order eight people does not work when you're over a hundred.

So let's put some process of place. And have some stuff. There's other stuff where you're like oh shoot this just doesn't work anymore.

And then there's stuff that's just like a gradual evolution. Like we had our all-hands today.

And I'm a big believer in all-hands. I started them when I was at Tripit out of my own frustration. We never had an all-hands and I was always like, " who joined, what's happening?"

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Edith: So I started a program of doing a monthly we call them town halls there. And when we're four, eight people at Heavybit, we didn't need an all-hands.

Paul: No. Everyone knows everything.

Edith: Yeah. I mean everybody knows everything instantly because we all sat like.

But when we got to 20 I started doing all-hands and they were pretty informal.

Like I would just stand in front of the company and say this is what's going on.

And people would raise their hand and ask questions. Or ask me questions without raising their hands.

Paul: This was a thing that I did very badly at in the early days of Circle.

So when we transitioned from small enough to not need an all-hands to larger where you need more coordination I wasn't very good at adding in that coordination.

With the fear that meetings are bad, sort of thing.

But what we ended up with instead is that everyone had to spend all this overhead trying to figure out what was going on and trying to figure out what to work on and trying to figure out what was important and that kind of thing.

So yeah. I totally see what you're saying.

Edith: Yeah it was a management by osmosis.

Paul: Yeah, and turns out that's expensive.

Edith: And also very error-prone.

Paul: Both of these things, yes. Yes.

When you don't have an explicit process that is setting some sort of direction then people will pick their own direction.

Edith: Or have this ladder of well I thought I was supposed to do this because this person told me this and then now I feel hurt because--

Paul: Oh yeah. Bad in many ways.

Edith: Yeah so.

Paul: If anyone's listened to this who's still doing the flat company thing, stop it. (laughing)

Edith: So our all-hands have gotten to be more and more of a production over time.

Paul: Of course, yeah, yeah.

Edith: Like now, like in the early days, it was just basically ask-me-anything style.

Paul: How remote are you?

Edith: We're about 15 percent remote.

Paul: 15?

Edith: Yeah.

Paul: And are they in US time zones, or what's the? How do the remote people show up for the all-hands?

Edith: Yeah and I'm less and less fond of the word remote to be honest. 'Cause we have a New York office.

Paul: Distributed?

Edith: Global.

Paul: So I was asking, how do the people who are not in the San Francisco office?

Edith: Oakland.

Paul: Ah, for fuck's sake. (laughing)

Edith: You just lost our clean rating by the way.

Paul: Yeah, goddammit. (laughing) Oakland.

Edith: Now we have to put explicit on this episode.

Paul: Really? For saying fuck? (laughing)

Edith: You're just doubling down.

Paul: Surely we have to put explicit on every single episode that I've been involved in.

Edith: Unless they edit this one out, yeah.

Paul: Right. I remember, I went to I was on some podcast where someone asked me to not say fuck as much. Oh! It was... (laughing) It wasn't a pod--

Edith: Clearly left a great impression.

Paul: It wasn't a podcast. It was a conference in Salt Lake City.

Edith: Oh nice.

Paul: There was like a note in the speaker thing being like you know we have a lot of people who don't enjoy profanity. Immediately forgot

Edith: My mother listened to one of our podcasts about halfway through and she's like, it would be a good podcast if you two didn't swear so much.

Paul: Oh.

Edith: My mother also asked, bless her heart, she doesn't listen to the podcast.

So she's on a bunch of standard boards for DevOps, and one of her questions to me was "I can't seem to find any good documentation on how to do open-source management."

Paul: What is open-source management?

Edith: Like management of open-source projects.

Paul: Oh yeah, 'cause none of them do any management.

Edith: Yeah! (laughing)

Paul: So it's a complete fucking shit-show.

Edith: She's like I'm trying to do a standard for how to manage open-source projects. And I'm like--

Paul: Oh, well if any of them had management, (laughing) then--

Edith: So I'm trying to avoid the word remote because that implies that Oakland is the only place. I'm trying to use the word global because we have--

Paul: Global.

Edith: We have a New York team.

Paul: Some nice double-speak there.

Edith: We have a New York team, we have people in London, we're about to put people in Sydney.

Paul: What time is your all-hands?

Edith: 11 a.m. Pacific Standard.

Paul: So if you're in London, that's seven p.m. That's not the worst.

Edith: Yeah, so like.

Paul: On a Thursday. Okay. I'm sure people don't go out on Thursdays in London.

Edith: When I was in Sydney for work, I called into the all-hands and it was eight a.m.

Paul: Yeah we were hiring people and we put on our website that within four hours of San Francisco not realizing that that included New Zealand.

Edith: Oh my. Yeah.

Paul: Yeah. New Zealand is four hours from San Francisco. Who knew?

Edith: Yeah, New Zealand's a great place.

Paul: Yeah, I've never been. Yeah. But we were actually trying to keep it within a you know everyone within a four-hour window not, we wrote the wrong thing on the website basically.

Edith: A four hour window of?

Paul: Of San Francisco.

Edith : Oh flying? Not of time zone?

Paul: We were trying to keep everyone within a four-hour window.

Edith: But they are.

Paul: Not four hours each way. That would be an eight-hour window.

Edith: Oh! The wheel kind of turned just enough right now.

Paul: Yeah and so San Francisco is one end of the window. No, Brazil or Argentina or something is the other end of the window.

Edith: Yeah. So our all-hands have gotten more and more, and you realize why big companies act the way they do.

Before it was more ask me anything, now we have people put in their slides ahead of time.

Beause we need to look at the over-all length and make sure that it's not--

Paul: You don't have ten hauls where you can be asked anything?

Edith: We did that in the early days. We still now we have an anonymous question forum. Where people can ask anonymous questions.

Paul: Oo, does everyone get to see the anonymous questions?

Edith: No, we screen them--

Paul: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Edith: We did this at Tripit and we screen them. Just because they can be incredibly personal or rude sometimes. Like they can be at the point of there's no need to say this.

Paul: Some sort of Google memo thing going on?

Edith: Oh just really mean stuff like why is so-and-so--

Paul: Wow! Like calling out someone by name? And do you read that and think, "why is so-and-so doing that?"

Edith: Yeah but I mean, at least at Tripit you want to have some sort of behind-the-scenes counseling of like, okay what's going on? Let's go talk to so-and-so, let's figure out what.

Paul: There's some dispute here that needs to be resolved.

Edith: Yeah but that does not need to be--

Paul: That's not an all-hands thing.

Edith: No.

Paul: Yeah.

Edith: It's not a live Tweet.

Paul: I've seen someone read out things that were not vetted. And it went predictably.

Edith: So now we're much more big-company style like people have to submit their slides in advance, and everybody's like why do we have to submit my slides in advance?

Can't I just walk up and plug in my computer when it's my turn to go? And it's like, well no, 'cause then we spend the entire all-hands--

Paul: Figuring out your computer.

Edith: Yeah. If we have seven presenters, we don't have time for everybody to plug in--

Paul: And that'll take the whole 40 hours that they're supposed to be there, to figure out the projector.

Edith: Yeah, my joke is that the AV is the hardest part of any presentation. It's not a joke.

Paul: It's not, it's not humorous. So.

Edith: Just literally like, oh what's the password for the Wi-Fi? How do I get this on the screen in the right aspect ratio?

Paul: How many hours do you work Edie?

Edith: It depends on the week. I'd say between 50 to 70.

Paul: 50 to 70. And how much of that would you say is like high-quality work?

Edith: It depends on the week. I actually, it's funny, we just we're just past New Years and I really liked this past week before, because a lot of people were on holiday. And my joke was--

Paul: You get so much done.

Edith: I could get so much done.

Paul: Yeah, it's so good.

Edith: But on the other hand, I'm the CEO, like, my job is all the stuff that has to happen when people are here.

Paul: Yeah, oh I see.

Edith: And like oh, I don't have any one-on-ones, well I had far less one-on-ones 'cause a lot of people were on vacation.

Paul: So did you take the time to think more and plan and that sort of thing?

Edith: Yeah. Think, catch up, I mean like do basic paperwork, and now it's kind of back in it. But like, that's my job.

Paul: So my job is sort of, it's sort of odd.

But it's sort of like part CTO, part coding, part management, part co-founder, part product direction, it's a lot of things.

But a lot of it is just like code review and pairing with people and sort of spreading the knowledge of the code base or the product around.

So I don't get very good blocks of coding during the work week. So at Christmas.

Suddenly there's no one to manage, there's no one-on-ones.

I deleted six thousand lines of code at Christmas week. It was fucking wonderful.

Edith: Yeah! I worked on a blog I'd been sitting on for forever. Which I sent to you for feedback.

Paul: Oh yeah, that was really good.

Edith: Yeah. So like there's all this stuff you know what I've realized?

It's about five and a half years in, is there were many tasks where you're like oh this is just a 45-minute, hour task.

But yet. It's really hard to get to them.

Paul: You need to find time to get those tasks done. Like I, my email is my task that I don't get to.

And I try to like put an hour or two at the end of the week to like keep my email vaguely under control.

Edith: I stay on top of email. I mean the stuff that slipped over the past year, to be honest, was like the podcast.

Paul: Yeah. People write us and they're like we want more podcasts.

Edith: Oh my gosh! Yeah, it's hard. I mean I'll say, I love doing them but they are, I have to find a time that works for both of us. And then we have to coordinate with Heavybit.

And then there's the actual getting here because I don't sit outside anymore.

Paul: Right. And then there's the editing.

Edith: Yeah, so.

Paul: I appreciate that you do all that work and that I just show up.

Edith: Well I appreciate you coming. It is time, and it's just, when I get really busy at work, just slides off the table. Because the travel, just traveling a lot makes it hard.

Paul: Oh yeah, shit. I mean, you do a lot of travel, right?

You're the CEO who like, shows up to sell. That was never the CEO that I was.

Edith: You never sold up to sell?

Paul: I never showed up .

Edith: Like period?

Paul: I mean, like, three times, to places in San Francisco.

Edith: What?

Paul: Yeah, no. The Circle was very bottom-up.

Edith: Oh my gosh.

Paul: And you know obviously once they hired sales people things got a lot better, but.

But we had million dollar contracts for people that were on a credit card and that we did not show up to do the selling.

Edith: Well kudos to you to pulling that off.

Paul: Yeah, no, that was great. Happened multiple times.

Edith: Kudos to you. I mean. We're big enough now that it's not just me.

I mean it's not like the early days so Circle was one of our first ten customers. I remember my co-founder and I going to sell.

Paul: Aww!

Edith: Memories!

Paul: Yeah.

Edith: And that was after we'd done the podcast for a while.

Paul: Who were you selling to?

Edith: Jim Rose and Zuber, and Travis.

Paul: And did they buy?

Edith: Yeah. I mean, Circle's been a customer for years now.

Paul: Nice, nice.

Edith: You know this.

Paul: I mean I was aware of it but I wasn't clear at what stage it was brought in.

Edith: Oh yeah. Circle I think was a very early customer.

Paul: One of the first. We've been talking about getting LaunchDarkly in recently.

We have a couple of home-grown feature flags in various places that were, especially in our client that we're looking to--

Edith: Well if you sign up I'll get you a new t-shirt.

Paul: Oh wonderful, thank you. It needs a refresh. It's looking' very tattered from wearing it every day for the last four years.

Edith: Yeah, man. You know. But you travel now as your CTO.

Paul: I do the occasional conference. But I try not to I really don't like travel.

It's like, the stage that we're at as a company, travel, and I would argue that for the vast majority of start-ups anything that involves travel is probably not beneficial and the only things where I'd say it is beneficial are where you're doing top-ten sales, founder-led top-ten sales.

And where conferences or events form an important part o' your marketing.

But I think a lot of people do conferences that are not an important part of their marketing.

Edith: Yeah. I mean I was about to disagree with you but then you just said all my points.

If you're doing some sort of category creation, I think conferences are incredibly important.

Paul: Was LaunchDarkly during category creation?

Edith: Yes.

Paul: Right.

Edith: There was two questions when we started. Do you think feature flagging is useful at all?

And it seems really obvious now but like six years ago a lot of people said no.

And if you feel feature flagging is useful at all, do you want to purchase it from us?

So there was a ton of education in the market.

Paul: I see. With Circle, CI the CI market existed, or there's a CI-shaped hole in the market.

And so it didn't really need all that much education but I think it's now gotten to the size where education is important.

But with Dark there's a lot of I guess you'd call it category creation, we don't have a good name for the category.

We're kind of going with the playlist a little bit.

But you know what is this thing that we are building and why do you need it?

Edith: Yes.

Paul: Is a thing that we have, that we spend quite a lot of time doing.

Edith: Yeah. Do you need this, and why us?

Paul: Yeah.

Edith: I can look back at different conferences and trace back, we got this customer, we got this employee from it.

Paul: Yeah, we've a lot of similar things.

Edith: Well, I think we kind of spun back around because the beginning I said, don't work too hard and then, I think you need to work hard enough and smart enough.

Paul: I mean, I think the major thing I would say around it is that like founders do need to work quite hard.

Edith: Oh yes.

Paul: But it isn't fair to apply the same standards to your employees.

You're employees are not 30 percent owners in the business. It's not the same at all.

Edith: Yeah and I'll ad two more nuances I remember in the early days of LaunchDarkly once, I was a little frustrated I was like, nobody seems to care as much as me!

Paul: Yeah.

Edith: And then I was like well wait a second.

Paul: Imagine if they did. You would be under-caring.

Edith: Yeah of course I need to, of course John and my co-founder need to care more than anybody.

Paul: Yeah. We had a weird moment. I was dialed into a conference to our daily standup yesterday.

From home, and someone said Paul, is that like an air-on? Did you buy that yourself? And I was like yeah, for my home office.

And then I showed them my home office and it's an exact replica of my work office.

It's like same desk, same monitor, same, same everything, because like, it's nice to come home, I have the exact same setup.

Edith: Paul. That makes me kind of sad.

Paul: Why? So just as you come into my house though, I live with Ellen, and her desk and my desk are just in the little nook as you walk in and it's great, it's wonderful.

I want to work a weekend, great. I have a perfect setup, I don't need to go into the office for it.

Edith: The other nuance is I think you can work too hard and burn out and that's incredibly dangerous.

Paul: I think so.

Edith: And you made a good point, it's not necessarily about hours.

Paul: It's not about hours. It's about making sure that you have good outcomes.

And I think the most important part of it is recognizing when you're doing work that's not productive and stopping.

So like if you find yourself opening Twitter when you think that you're working, just take a break, you're clearly distracted.

You're not getting your best time and you will do better by going to sleep or just sitting and reading a book or taking a walk or whatever.

Edith: Yeah. And then the third is that about ten years ago this guy came up with this book the 4-Hour Workweek.

Paul: Oh yeah! Tim Ferriss.

Edith: Yeah.

Paul: Yeah.

Edith: It's just this idea that you could just do absolutely nothing and get everything done.

Paul: I mean it was all like outsourcing out to other places and someone was putting in 40 hours it just, it wasn't you.

Edith: Yeah.

Paul: Yeah.

Edith: And I think the thing is, you should outsource what you can.

Paul: Sure, I mean, don't do low-value work or work that you can pay someone else to do.

Edith: Yeah but at some point you need to do some work.

Paul: So in the old days, people had assistants. Do you have an assistant?

Edith: I do.

Paul: Okay. So nowadays, maybe, CEOs have assistants, sometimes executives have assistants. But it used to be that like, the engineers had an assistant. You know there was maybe one assistant for three engineers, and there was like a secretarial pool.

Edith: I resisted having an assistant for a long time. 'Cause I saw it as an elitist thing.

Paul: Yeah, same.

Edith: And finally what happen was the team said hey please get one. And so John, my co-founder, and I share one.

It's really hard to schedule stuff with you because we'll send you an email asking for a meeting and then you try to get to it.

Paul: Yeah and then it just never happens.

Edith: Yeah, so--

Paul: So was it mostly scheduling that was needed?

Edith: Scheduling, travel plans, helping with all-hands, and just basic stuff like I would book us restaurants for off-cites, because I'm like oh it's just 15 minutes.

And the team's like, we want you to go answer my sales email, or do this, and not mess around with booking a restaurant.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. The very first role that we hired both at Circle and at Dark was, I guess it wasn't quite assistant, but in the early days the administrator person you hire has overlap, between assistant and office manager.

And that was wonderful in both cases. It was a thing that we never spent time setting up payroll.

Edith: Oh, I did that.

Paul: Yeah.

Edith: I did the payroll--

Paul: Finding offices--

Edith: I did all that--

Paul: All this stuff is like, stuff that you can leverage better as a founder.

Edith: I remember going down to city hall to file our DBA.

Paul: Okay I think I did that one.

Edith: Yeah. Like it's really neat 'cause it's right next to in San Francisco.

We had to get a DBA because we were trying to get healthcare and they were like okay the name, don't match.

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Edith: DBA in San Francisco is right next to the marriages.

Paul: Oh that's right, yeah. Yeah, I know where you're talking' about.

Edith: And so city hall in San Francisco, in case you don't know, has this beautiful building where a lot of people actually go to get married there.

Paul: It's pretty, yeah.

Edith: It's not just like your dumpy city hall.

Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Edith: So it was actually really cool because I was sitting there trying to form the business and when you're getting married I think is one o' the happiest moments of your life.

There's all these kind of giddy couples and their families, sitting there waiting too.

Want developer focused content in your inbox?

Join our mailing list to receive the latest Library updates. After subscribing, tell us your preferences to receive only the email you want.

Thanks for subscribing, check your inbox to confirm and choose preferences!

You've been here a while...

Are you learning something? Share it with your friends!