Achieving one important thing a day is more than most people accomplish.

My usage of the word achieve is intentional. I don’t think achieving is about doing more. It’s about accomplishing a goal.

As a quick example, imagine you wanted to have a party at your house this weekend. You want to clean and tidy everything so that it looks nice.

You start at your bookshelves. You first categorize your books by genre. Then you sort them by color, so that you create a beautiful rainbow across each shelf. …


Management is not about assigning tasks, it’s about leading and growing other people.

A manager has a unique and powerful ability to influence the happiness and fulfillment of the people on their team. People don’t take or leave jobs, they take or leave managers. When people reflect on the best jobs they’ve ever had, it almost always comes back to having an excellent manager.

It’s a special gift to be able to positively influence others. Managers can help their team members improve their skills, get promoted, and provide support when it’s needed. …


Often, saying no is better than saying yes. In the long run, there’s serious value in doing fewer things.

The boss asks you just this one time to take on one extra project. Your entire team is pressed for time. You’d like to be a team player. So you say Yes.

I, on the other hand, did not say No to surfing.

Just this one time ends up becoming a regular thing. You find yourself working long hours and weekends to keep your head above water. The stress of long hours limits your time with family, tires you out, increases your anxiety. …


Ignoring your audience and their background. Advice from my interview experience at Amazon, Facebook, and Bezos Academy.

This is the third post in my “Interview Mistake” series.

Context is critical when being interviewed. Without it, you frustrate your interviewer, and waste everyone’s time.

Me: “To begin the interview, I’d like to hear more about your responsibilities in your last position.”

Candidate: “I reported to Irene, and I was responsible for the SQZ system, fullating the releases in the incoming pipeline, and refreshing the lists.”

That sentence meant nothing…


Everyone has a superpower. Recognize and utilize your co-workers superpowers.

Me, demonstrating excellence.

Life is much simpler when you can view it in black and white. Your political party is good, the other is evil. The referee in your soccer match is blind. The war hero on TV is a saint. Your co-worker is a jerk.

Viewing other people this way fits an easy narrative. You want the people you like to be faultless, and the people you don’t like to have no redeeming qualities.

In the workplace, it is tempting to treat your co-workers with the same lens. You have the smart…


You can build an accidental culture, or a purposeful culture. Take action to build a culture of empathy, and reap the rewards.

After a nice three day weekend, I’d like to ask a quick question. If you’ve had a job you really enjoyed, what was it about that position that made it so attractive? Many of us would rather not have a 9–5 commitment to an office, so what made that position memorable?

For most people, I believe the answer would be culture. The culture of a workplace can be a fantastic asset, or a liability. It can drive you…


Upwards feedback is a gift from an employee to a manager. How to politely give the gift of feedback to a manager, and as a manager, how to receive feedback gracefully.

Credit: Me

Managers do not receive much feedback. Most of the feedback they do receive is from their own manager, in regards to their upwards communication or their progress against their team’s goals.

A manager rarely gets feedback from their team members. It requires a trusting relationship for an employee to directly criticize a person who can heavily impact their career.


No manager wants to be a terrible boss. Yet even with the best of intentions, it’s hard to avoid being moderately incompetent.

If I asked you to name a comedy about the workplace, you’d most likely name Officespace. In that classic movie, managers are the brunt of most jokes. The main character (Peter) stops caring about his job, and as a consequence is recognized as a future leader. Peter’s boss drones on about paperwork, and is clearly not connecting with his employees. The popular Dilbert comic features a hilariously incompetent pointy-haired boss.

Your manager has a large impact on your…


Improving the imperfect system of choosing your next co-worker. The Bar Raiser process at Amazon scales one of the worlds most prolific hiring pipelines.

We are terrible at picking which people will become great co-workers in the long run. We review resumes and look for relevant experience, while combing through overstated or poorly explained projects. We attempt to test technical competence which took years to build through a few hours of observation. We ask for references, and pretend that feedback from specific named sources is remotely unbiased.

Beyond attempting to see if a candidate can accomplish tasks, we also need…


This is the second post in my “Interview Mistake” series. The first post can be found here.

Me: “So I see you’ve been at XYZ company for about 6 months now. Why are you thinking about leaving?”

Candidate: “Oh, because my boss is an idiot. This guy has no idea what he’s doing.”

Literally insulting past co-workers is too immature for most candidates. More often, candidates might put a spotlight on others failures.

Me: “How did you decide which project was more important?”

Candidate: “My leadership didn’t know how to prioritize. They could never decide what was important. They changed their minds every few days.

Other candidates try to raise themselves up by putting others down.

Me…

Dave Anderson

Former Head of Technology at Bezos Academy, Director/GM at Amazon. Husband, and Father. Find me at https://scarletink.com/

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