Category Archives: Lifestream

7 Ways Creators Can Overcome Their Fears

Don’t worry; we are all in the same boat.

Max Phillips
Apr 16 · 6 min read
Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

One year into my content creation journey, and I’m still facing fears.

It’s scary knowing your work is out there for the world to see. It’s yours, and you’re responsible for its quality.

But that’s the life you and I signed up for — to live, breathe, and face our fears on a near-daily basis. Here are some that spring to mind:

  • Never feeling good enough
  • Negative comments (‘haters’)
  • Confidence crisis
  • Fear of unoriginality
  • Fear of what people close to you will think

Left unchecked, these fears can derail your entire creative process. That costs valuable time and potential money.

I’ve faced all of them at some point in the past year, and I’m sure some will reappear. But I’m not trying to teach you how to make them disappear completely. That’s naive.

There are ways to overcome a content creator's fears, even if it’s for a short while. You just need to know where to look.

Never feel good enough? Chase inadequacy.

I’m in a Slack group with a bunch of incredibly talented writers. All of us have thousands of followers and articles in major publications, but each of us admitted to feeling like a fish out of water.

It was surprising to find that many other writers felt the same as I often do. But, as we reassured one another, that’s a good thing.

If you feel like your work isn’t good enough, then you’re always going to push toward a higher level.

One day you might write the best article you’ve ever written, but there will be another that smashes it out of the park.

The complete piece of content doesn’t exist. All that’s left is for you to keep pushing your abilities.

So, while some people may tell you to cut the self-doubting out, I say listen to it. Chase it. Beat it to a pulp. You’re in a battle against yourself, and there’s only one way you’re going to win.

Inadequacy may not feel good, but it’ll make you a more polished content creator.

Got your first haters? That means you’ve made it.

I don’t remember what my first hater said word for word, but he basically called my article garbage.

I was both disappointed, amused, and very close to replying. After much consideration, I decided to very sarcastically clap his response and hope he got the message.

Here’s the thing — while I was disappointed this random bloke hated my work, I soon realized the upside.

To have a stranger take the time out of their day to read, react, and passionately comment on your work shows they care. You’ve extracted emotion from your reader, which, even if it’s negative, is a sign you’re improving.

Top-quality content should make the reader feel something. It would be worse if your words bored them into amnesia as soon as they finish reading.

While it may be tempting to defend your work vehemently, do your best to laugh it off. Remember, they’ve still consumed your content.

You win.

Having a confidence crisis? Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

When I first started publishing my articles on Medium, I had no clue how vast the community is.

In my mind, writing was a lonely game — just me tapping away at my keyboard with no colleagues to confer with. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There are hundreds of publications, thousands of writers, and even more readers.

Your fellow content creators aren’t your competition, they are part of your community, and at some stage, they’ve had a crisis in confidence too.

I’m not saying your feelings are inadequate because everyone else has felt the same way at some point. Far from it. Instead, realizing that there are other creators out there you can reconcile with lifts a significant burden from your shoulders.

Sure, you can go to your family for reassurance. My nan will always praise my articles, but fellow creators can give a more accurate portrayal of my strengths and weaknesses. They can genuinely help.

Don’t be afraid to lean on the community.

Worried your work is unoriginal? Originality is overrated.

You might have read an article similar to this one before, and you might read another in the future. But you’ve never read one written by me.

Originality is rare, and while it’s refreshing to see a brand new take on something, it isn’t vital to your success. If you focus on it too much, then it may switch consumers off your work.

You see, when you chase originality, you try too hard to be clever. While it may feel good, content consumers just want something simple but helpful.

There’s a quote from Mark Twain which springs to mind:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

There is no such thing as a new idea. Accepting that is liberating, as even if you’ve had the same idea before; you can put a new spin on it and see where your mind takes you.

Worried about what your friends and family might think? It’s easy to find out.

After I graduated from university, I noticed nearly all of my friends dived into well-paid graduate schemes and full-time jobs. I was envious. My career was going nowhere; stuck in a retail job.

When I realized content creation was the path I wanted to go down, it frightened me. I didn’t know anyone on a similar path, so I thought what I was doing was wrong.

It made me nervous to tell people. I don’t usually care what others think, but this mattered. It was a big step in my life.

After explaining it to friends and family, I quickly understood who was who. Those who supported me asked lots of questions — they were genuinely interested. Those who nitpicked the viability of my plans weren’t.

I realized something: the people who pick holes in your process are likely secretly envious you’re putting yourself out there.

Content creation is scary, and most people are too frightened to take the leap. Take a minute to appreciate what you’re doing.

Want to improve in private? You can’t.

Nicholas Cole, one of the most prolific writers on the internet, often speaks about the importance of “practicing in public.” He claims you cannot hope to get better if you don’t put your work in front of a stranger’s eyes.

Thinking back, my early articles were a complete dumpster fire. It took me weeks to get curated on Medium, and there are only about two articles I’m proud of from my first few months.

I wouldn't have realized what works and what doesn’t if I wasn’t practicing in public.

Put differently: your mum will always love your work, but strangers on the internet will respond more honestly. Chase their opinion.

Obsessed with performance? Don’t look at your stats.

When I first started writing, I checked my stats multiple times a day. I’d see an article get a few dozen views, but when it slowed down, I began questioning whether it was all worth it.

That all changed when I stopped checking them as often. Now, I do it about twice a month, although most of the time, it’s a singular check at the month’s end.

It revolutionized the way I approach content creation.

Stats should be used as indicators of what’s going well, not a basis to judge your worth. If you rely on them, it can cripple your confidence, particularly in the early stages.

Zone in on the quality of your work, not how well an article is performing. Write, edit, publish, move on. Repeat.

Content creation is often daunting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s given me something to be proud of and many targets to work toward.

Wherever you’re at on your journey, there will be plenty of fears to overcome—some from this list, and perhaps not. The sooner you can identify them, the better.

But remember: it isn’t straightforward. In reality, your journey will be all over the place — that’s what makes it worthwhile.

As a content creator, productivity fears are real

Claim my free Productivity Enhancement Guide to overcome them.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

7 Ways Creators Can Overcome Their Fears

Don’t worry; we are all in the same boat.

Max Phillips
Apr 16 · 6 min read
Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

One year into my content creation journey, and I’m still facing fears.

It’s scary knowing your work is out there for the world to see. It’s yours, and you’re responsible for its quality.

But that’s the life you and I signed up for — to live, breathe, and face our fears on a near-daily basis. Here are some that spring to mind:

  • Never feeling good enough
  • Negative comments (‘haters’)
  • Confidence crisis
  • Fear of unoriginality
  • Fear of what people close to you will think

Left unchecked, these fears can derail your entire creative process. That costs valuable time and potential money.

I’ve faced all of them at some point in the past year, and I’m sure some will reappear. But I’m not trying to teach you how to make them disappear completely. That’s naive.

There are ways to overcome a content creator's fears, even if it’s for a short while. You just need to know where to look.

Never feel good enough? Chase inadequacy.

I’m in a Slack group with a bunch of incredibly talented writers. All of us have thousands of followers and articles in major publications, but each of us admitted to feeling like a fish out of water.

It was surprising to find that many other writers felt the same as I often do. But, as we reassured one another, that’s a good thing.

If you feel like your work isn’t good enough, then you’re always going to push toward a higher level.

One day you might write the best article you’ve ever written, but there will be another that smashes it out of the park.

The complete piece of content doesn’t exist. All that’s left is for you to keep pushing your abilities.

So, while some people may tell you to cut the self-doubting out, I say listen to it. Chase it. Beat it to a pulp. You’re in a battle against yourself, and there’s only one way you’re going to win.

Inadequacy may not feel good, but it’ll make you a more polished content creator.

Got your first haters? That means you’ve made it.

I don’t remember what my first hater said word for word, but he basically called my article garbage.

I was both disappointed, amused, and very close to replying. After much consideration, I decided to very sarcastically clap his response and hope he got the message.

Here’s the thing — while I was disappointed this random bloke hated my work, I soon realized the upside.

To have a stranger take the time out of their day to read, react, and passionately comment on your work shows they care. You’ve extracted emotion from your reader, which, even if it’s negative, is a sign you’re improving.

Top-quality content should make the reader feel something. It would be worse if your words bored them into amnesia as soon as they finish reading.

While it may be tempting to defend your work vehemently, do your best to laugh it off. Remember, they’ve still consumed your content.

You win.

Having a confidence crisis? Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

When I first started publishing my articles on Medium, I had no clue how vast the community is.

In my mind, writing was a lonely game — just me tapping away at my keyboard with no colleagues to confer with. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There are hundreds of publications, thousands of writers, and even more readers.

Your fellow content creators aren’t your competition, they are part of your community, and at some stage, they’ve had a crisis in confidence too.

I’m not saying your feelings are inadequate because everyone else has felt the same way at some point. Far from it. Instead, realizing that there are other creators out there you can reconcile with lifts a significant burden from your shoulders.

Sure, you can go to your family for reassurance. My nan will always praise my articles, but fellow creators can give a more accurate portrayal of my strengths and weaknesses. They can genuinely help.

Don’t be afraid to lean on the community.

Worried your work is unoriginal? Originality is overrated.

You might have read an article similar to this one before, and you might read another in the future. But you’ve never read one written by me.

Originality is rare, and while it’s refreshing to see a brand new take on something, it isn’t vital to your success. If you focus on it too much, then it may switch consumers off your work.

You see, when you chase originality, you try too hard to be clever. While it may feel good, content consumers just want something simple but helpful.

There’s a quote from Mark Twain which springs to mind:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

There is no such thing as a new idea. Accepting that is liberating, as even if you’ve had the same idea before; you can put a new spin on it and see where your mind takes you.

Worried about what your friends and family might think? It’s easy to find out.

After I graduated from university, I noticed nearly all of my friends dived into well-paid graduate schemes and full-time jobs. I was envious. My career was going nowhere; stuck in a retail job.

When I realized content creation was the path I wanted to go down, it frightened me. I didn’t know anyone on a similar path, so I thought what I was doing was wrong.

It made me nervous to tell people. I don’t usually care what others think, but this mattered. It was a big step in my life.

After explaining it to friends and family, I quickly understood who was who. Those who supported me asked lots of questions — they were genuinely interested. Those who nitpicked the viability of my plans weren’t.

I realized something: the people who pick holes in your process are likely secretly envious you’re putting yourself out there.

Content creation is scary, and most people are too frightened to take the leap. Take a minute to appreciate what you’re doing.

Want to improve in private? You can’t.

Nicholas Cole, one of the most prolific writers on the internet, often speaks about the importance of “practicing in public.” He claims you cannot hope to get better if you don’t put your work in front of a stranger’s eyes.

Thinking back, my early articles were a complete dumpster fire. It took me weeks to get curated on Medium, and there are only about two articles I’m proud of from my first few months.

I wouldn't have realized what works and what doesn’t if I wasn’t practicing in public.

Put differently: your mum will always love your work, but strangers on the internet will respond more honestly. Chase their opinion.

Obsessed with performance? Don’t look at your stats.

When I first started writing, I checked my stats multiple times a day. I’d see an article get a few dozen views, but when it slowed down, I began questioning whether it was all worth it.

That all changed when I stopped checking them as often. Now, I do it about twice a month, although most of the time, it’s a singular check at the month’s end.

It revolutionized the way I approach content creation.

Stats should be used as indicators of what’s going well, not a basis to judge your worth. If you rely on them, it can cripple your confidence, particularly in the early stages.

Zone in on the quality of your work, not how well an article is performing. Write, edit, publish, move on. Repeat.

Content creation is often daunting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s given me something to be proud of and many targets to work toward.

Wherever you’re at on your journey, there will be plenty of fears to overcome—some from this list, and perhaps not. The sooner you can identify them, the better.

But remember: it isn’t straightforward. In reality, your journey will be all over the place — that’s what makes it worthwhile.

As a content creator, productivity fears are real

Claim my free Productivity Enhancement Guide to overcome them.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

How to Get a Dysfunctional Team Back on Track

Maybe you’ve been part of a team that you’ve seen slowly slide into a rut. You didn’t notice it happen, but you’re now not shipping anything, no one’s talking to each other, and the management’s Eye of Sauron has cast its gaze upon you.

Maybe you’ve just joined a team that’s in the doldrums.

Maybe the people who used to oil the wheels that kept everyone together have moved on and you’re having to face facts—you all hate each other.

However you’ve ended up in this situation, the fact is that you’re now here and it’s up to someone to do something about it. And that person might be you.

You’re not alone

The first thing to understand is that you’re not the only person to ever encounter problems. Things like this happen all the time at work, but there are simple steps you can take and habits you can form to ease the situation and even dig yourself (and your team) out of the hole. I’ll share some techniques that have helped me, and maybe they can work for you, too.

So let me tell you a story about a hot mess I found myself in and how we turned it around. Names and details have been changed to protect the innocent.

It always starts out great

An engineer called Jen was working with me on a new feature on our product that lets people create new meal recipes themselves. I was the Project Manager. We were working in six-week cycles.

She had to rely on an API that was managed by Tom (who was in another team) to allow her to get and set the new recipe information on a central database. Before we kicked off, everyone knew the overall objective and everyone was all smiles and ready to go.

The system architecture was a legacy mishmash of different parts of local databases and API endpoints. And, no prizes for guessing what’s coming next, the API documentation was like Swiss cheese.

Two weeks into a six-week cycle, Jen hit Tom up with a list of her dream API calls that she wanted to use to build her feature. She asked him to confirm or deny they would work—or even if they existed at all—because once she started digging into the docs, it wasn’t clear to her if the API could support her plans.

However, Tom had form for sticking his head in the sand and not responding to requests he didn’t like. Tom went to ground and didn’t respond. Tom’s manager, Frankie, was stretched too thin, and hence wasn’t paying attention to this until I was persistently asking about it, in increasingly fraught tones.

In the meantime, Jen tried to do as much as she could. Every day she built a bit more based on her as-yet unapproved design, hoping it would all work out.

With two weeks left to go, Tom eventually responded with a short answer—which boiled down to “The API doesn’t support these calls and I don’t see why I should build something that does. Why don’t you get the data from the other part of the system? And by the way, if I’m forced to do this, it will take at least six weeks.”

And as we know, six weeks into two weeks doesn’t go. Problem.

How did we sort it?

Step 1 — Accept

When things go south, what do you do?

Accept it.

Acknowledge whatever has happened to get you into this predicament. Take some notes about it to use in team appraisals and retrospectives. Take a long hard look at yourself, too.

Write a concise, impersonal summary of where you are. Try not to write it from your point of view. Imagine that you’re in your boss’ seat and just give them the facts as they are. Don’t dress things up to make them sound better. Don’t over-exaggerate the bad. Leave the emotions to the side.

When you can see your situation clearly, you’ll make better decisions.

Now, pointing out the importance of taking some time to cool down and gather your thoughts seems obvious, but it’s based on the study of some of the most basic circuitry in our brains. Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, introduces the concept of emotional hijacking; the idea that the part of our brain that deals with emotion—the limbic system—can biologically interrupt rational thinking when it is overstimulated. For instance, experiments show that the angrier men get, the poorer are the decisions they make at the casino. And another study found that people in a negative emotional state are more likely to deviate from logical norms. To put it another way, if you’re pissed off, you can’t think straight.

So when you are facing up to the facts, avoid the temptation to keep it off-the-record and only discuss it on the telephone or in person with your colleagues. There’s nothing to be scared of by writing it down. If it turns out that you’re wrong about something, you can always admit it and update your notes. If you don’t write it down, then there’s always scope for misunderstanding or misremembering in future.

In our case, we summarized how we’d ended up at that juncture; the salient points were:

  • I hadn’t checked to ensure we had scoped it properly before committing to the work. It wasn’t a surprise that the API coverage was patchy, but I turned a blind eye because we were excited about the new feature.
  • Jen should have looked for the hard problem first rather than do a couple of weeks’ worth of nice, easy work around the edges. That’s why we lost two weeks off the top.
  • Tom and Frankie’s communication was poor. The reasons for that don’t form part of this discussion, but something wasn’t right in that team.

And that’s step one.

Step 2 — Rejoice

Few people like to make mistakes, but everyone will make one at some point in their life. Big ones, small ones, important ones, silly ones—we all do it. Don’t beat yourself up.

A Venn diagram with one circle showing the set of people who make mistakes. In a smaller circle completely inside the first is the set of people who think they don't make mistakes.

At the start of my career, I worked on a team whose manager had a very high opinion of himself. He was good, but what I learned from him was that he spread that confidence around the team. If something was looking shaky, he insisted that if we could “smell smoke,” that he had to be the first to know so he could do something about it. If we made a mistake, there was no hiding from it. We learned how to face up to it and accept responsibility, but what was more important was learning from him the feeling we were the best people to fix it.

There was no holding of grudges. What was done, was done. It was all about putting it behind us.

He would tell us that we were only in this team because he had handpicked us because we were the best and he only wanted the best around him. Now, that might all have been manipulative nonsense, but it worked.

The only thing you can control is what you do now, so try not to fret about what happened in the past or get anxious about what might happen in the future.

With that in mind, once you’ve written the summary of your sticky situation, set it aside!

I’ll let you in on a secret. No one else is interested in how you got here. They might be asking you about it (probably because they are scared that someone will ask them), but they’re always going to be more interested in how you’re going to sort the problem out.

So don’t waste time pointing fingers. Don’t prepare slide decks to throw someone under the bus. Tag that advice with a more general “don’t be an asshole” rule.

If you’re getting consistent heat about the past, it’s because you’re not doing a good enough job filling the bandwidth with a solid, robust, and realistic plan for getting out of the mess.

So focus on the future.

Sometimes it’s not easy to do that, but remember that none of this is permanent. Trust in the fact that if you pull it together, you’ll be in a much more powerful position to decide what to do next.

Maybe the team will hold together with a new culture or, if it is irretrievably broken, once you’re out of the hole then you can do something about it and switch teams or even switch jobs. But be the person who sorted it out, or at the very least, be part of the gang who sorted it out. That will be obvious to outsiders and makes for a much better interview question response.

In our story with Jen, we had a short ten-minute call with everyone involved on the line. We read out the summary and asked if anyone had anything to add.

Tom spoke up and said that he never gets time to update the API documentation because he always has to work on emergencies. We added that to our summary:

  • Tom has an ongoing time management problem. He doesn’t have enough time allocated to maintain and improve the API documentation.

After that was added, everyone agreed that the summary was accurate.

I explained that the worst thing that could now happen was that we had to report back to the wider business that we’d messed up and couldn’t hit our deadline.

If we did that, we’d lose face. There would be real financial consequences. It would show up on our appraisals. It wouldn’t be good. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it wasn’t something that we wanted. Everyone probably knew all that already, but there’s a power in saying it out loud. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so scary.

Jen spoke up to say that she was new here and really didn’t want to start out like this. There was some murmuring in general support. I wrapped up that part of the discussion.

I purposefully didn’t enter into a discussion about the solution yet. We had all come together to admit the circumstances we were in. We’d done that. It was enough for now.

Step 3 — Move on

Stepping back for a second, as the person who is going to lead the team out of the wilderness, you may want to start getting in everyone’s face. You’ll be tempted to rely on your unlimited reserves of personal charm or enthusiasm to vibe everyone up. Resist the urge! Don’t do it!

Your job is to give people the space to let them do their best work.

I learned this the hard way. I’m lucky enough that I can bounce back quickly, but when someone is under pressure, funnily enough, a super-positive person who wants to throw the curtains open and talk about what a wonderful day it is might not be the most motivational person to be around. I’ve unwittingly walked into some short-tempered conversations that way.

Don’t micromanage. In fact, scrap all of your management tricks. Your job is to listen to what people are telling you—even if they’re telling you things by not talking.

Reframe the current problem. Break it up into manageable chunks.

The first task to add to your list of things to do is simply to “Decide what we’re going to do about [the thing].”

It’s likely that there’s a nasty old JIRA ticket that everyone has been avoiding or has been bounced back and forth between different team members. Set that aside. There’s too much emotional content invested in that ticket now.

Create a new task that’s entirely centered on making a decision. Now, break it down into subtasks for each member of the team, like “Submit a proposal for what to do next.” Put your own suggestions in the mix but do your best to dissociate yourself from them.

Once you start getting some suggestions back and can tick those tasks off the list, you start to generate positive momentum. Nurture that.

If a plan emerges, champion it. Be wary of naysayers. Challenge them respectfully with “How do you think we should…?” questions. If they have a better idea, champion that instead; if they don’t respond at all, then gently suggest “Maybe we should go with this if no one else has a better idea.”

Avoid words like “need,” “just,” “one,” or “small.” Basically, anything that imposes a view of other people’s work. It seems trivial, but try to see it from the other side.

Saying, “I just need you to change that one small thing” hits the morale-killing jackpot. It unthinkingly diminishes someone else’s efforts. An engineer or a designer could reasonably react by thinking “What do you know about how to do this?!” Your job is to help everyone drop their guard and feel safe enough to contribute.

Instead, try “We’re all looking at you here because you’re good at this and this is a nasty problem. Maybe you know a way to make this part work?”

More often than not, people want to help.

So I asked Jen, Tom, and Frankie to submit their proposals for a way through the mess.

It wasn’t straightforward. Just because we’d all agreed how we got here didn’t just magically make all the problems disappear. Tom was still digging his heels in about not wanting to write more code, and kept pushing back on Jen.

There was a certain amount of back and forth. Although, with some constant reminders that we should maybe focus on what will move us forward, we eventually settled on a plan.

Like most compromises, it wasn’t pretty or simple. Jen was going to have to rely on using the local database for a certain amount of the lower-priority features. Tom was going to have to create some additional API functions and would end up with some unnecessary traffic that might create too much load on the API.

And even with the compromise, Tom wouldn’t be finished in time. He’d need another couple of weeks.

But it was a plan!

N.B. Estimating is a whole other subject that I won’t cover here. Check out the Shape Up process for some great advice on that.

Step 4 — Spread the word

Once you’ve got a plan, commit to it and tell everyone affected what’s going on.

When communicating with people who are depending on you, take the last line of your email, which usually contains the summary or the “ask,” and put it at the top. When your recipient reads the message, the opener is the meat. Good news or bad news, that’s what they’re interested in. They’ll read on if they want more.

If it’s bad news, set someone up for it with a simple “I’m sorry to say I’ve got bad news” before you break it to them. No matter who they are, kindly framing the conversation will help them digest it.

When discussing it with the team, put the plan somewhere everyone can see it. Transparency is key.

Don’t pull any moves—like publishing deadline dates to the team that are two weeks earlier than the date you’ve told the business. Teams aren’t stupid. They’ll know that’s what you do.

Publish the new deadlines in a place where everyone on the team can see them, and say we’re aiming for this date but we’re telling the business that we’ll definitely be done by that date.

In our case, I posted an update to the rest of the business as part of our normal weekly reporting cycle to announce we’d hit a bump that was going to affect our end date.

Here’s an extract:

Hi everyone,

Here’s the update for the week. I’m afraid there’s a bit of bad news to start but there is some good news too.

First:

We uncovered a misunderstanding between Jen and Tom this week. The outcome is that Tom has more API work to do than he anticipated. This affects the delivery date and means we’re now planning to finish 10 working days later on November 22.

**Expected completion date ** CHANGED ****
Original estimate: November 8
Current estimate: November 22

Second: 

We successfully released version 1.3 of the app into the App Store 🎉.

And so on...

That post was available for everyone within the team to see. Everyone knew what was to be done and what the target was.

I had to field some questions from above, but I was ready with my summary of what went wrong and what we’d all agreed to do as a course of action. All I had to do was refer to it. Then I could focus on sharing the plan.

And all manner of things shall be well

Now, I’d like to say that we then had tea and scones every day for the next month and it was all rather spiffing. But that would be a lie.

There was some more wailing and gnashing of teeth, but we all got through it and—even though we tried to finish early but failed—we did manage to finish by the November 22 date.

And then, after a bit of a tidy up, we all moved on to the next project, a bit older and a bit wiser. I hope that helps you if you’re in a similar scenario. Send me a tweet or email me at liam.nugent@hey.com with any questions or comments. I’d love to hear about your techniques and advice.

How to Get a Dysfunctional Team Back on Track

Maybe you’ve been part of a team that you’ve seen slowly slide into a rut. You didn’t notice it happen, but you’re now not shipping anything, no one’s talking to each other, and the management’s Eye of Sauron has cast its gaze upon you.

Maybe you’ve just joined a team that’s in the doldrums.

Maybe the people who used to oil the wheels that kept everyone together have moved on and you’re having to face facts—you all hate each other.

However you’ve ended up in this situation, the fact is that you’re now here and it’s up to someone to do something about it. And that person might be you.

You’re not alone

The first thing to understand is that you’re not the only person to ever encounter problems. Things like this happen all the time at work, but there are simple steps you can take and habits you can form to ease the situation and even dig yourself (and your team) out of the hole. I’ll share some techniques that have helped me, and maybe they can work for you, too.

So let me tell you a story about a hot mess I found myself in and how we turned it around. Names and details have been changed to protect the innocent.

It always starts out great

An engineer called Jen was working with me on a new feature on our product that lets people create new meal recipes themselves. I was the Project Manager. We were working in six-week cycles.

She had to rely on an API that was managed by Tom (who was in another team) to allow her to get and set the new recipe information on a central database. Before we kicked off, everyone knew the overall objective and everyone was all smiles and ready to go.

The system architecture was a legacy mishmash of different parts of local databases and API endpoints. And, no prizes for guessing what’s coming next, the API documentation was like Swiss cheese.

Two weeks into a six-week cycle, Jen hit Tom up with a list of her dream API calls that she wanted to use to build her feature. She asked him to confirm or deny they would work—or even if they existed at all—because once she started digging into the docs, it wasn’t clear to her if the API could support her plans.

However, Tom had form for sticking his head in the sand and not responding to requests he didn’t like. Tom went to ground and didn’t respond. Tom’s manager, Frankie, was stretched too thin, and hence wasn’t paying attention to this until I was persistently asking about it, in increasingly fraught tones.

In the meantime, Jen tried to do as much as she could. Every day she built a bit more based on her as-yet unapproved design, hoping it would all work out.

With two weeks left to go, Tom eventually responded with a short answer—which boiled down to “The API doesn’t support these calls and I don’t see why I should build something that does. Why don’t you get the data from the other part of the system? And by the way, if I’m forced to do this, it will take at least six weeks.”

And as we know, six weeks into two weeks doesn’t go. Problem.

How did we sort it?

Step 1 — Accept

When things go south, what do you do?

Accept it.

Acknowledge whatever has happened to get you into this predicament. Take some notes about it to use in team appraisals and retrospectives. Take a long hard look at yourself, too.

Write a concise, impersonal summary of where you are. Try not to write it from your point of view. Imagine that you’re in your boss’ seat and just give them the facts as they are. Don’t dress things up to make them sound better. Don’t over-exaggerate the bad. Leave the emotions to the side.

When you can see your situation clearly, you’ll make better decisions.

Now, pointing out the importance of taking some time to cool down and gather your thoughts seems obvious, but it’s based on the study of some of the most basic circuitry in our brains. Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, introduces the concept of emotional hijacking; the idea that the part of our brain that deals with emotion—the limbic system—can biologically interrupt rational thinking when it is overstimulated. For instance, experiments show that the angrier men get, the poorer are the decisions they make at the casino. And another study found that people in a negative emotional state are more likely to deviate from logical norms. To put it another way, if you’re pissed off, you can’t think straight.

So when you are facing up to the facts, avoid the temptation to keep it off-the-record and only discuss it on the telephone or in person with your colleagues. There’s nothing to be scared of by writing it down. If it turns out that you’re wrong about something, you can always admit it and update your notes. If you don’t write it down, then there’s always scope for misunderstanding or misremembering in future.

In our case, we summarized how we’d ended up at that juncture; the salient points were:

  • I hadn’t checked to ensure we had scoped it properly before committing to the work. It wasn’t a surprise that the API coverage was patchy, but I turned a blind eye because we were excited about the new feature.
  • Jen should have looked for the hard problem first rather than do a couple of weeks’ worth of nice, easy work around the edges. That’s why we lost two weeks off the top.
  • Tom and Frankie’s communication was poor. The reasons for that don’t form part of this discussion, but something wasn’t right in that team.

And that’s step one.

Step 2 — Rejoice

Few people like to make mistakes, but everyone will make one at some point in their life. Big ones, small ones, important ones, silly ones—we all do it. Don’t beat yourself up.

A Venn diagram with one circle showing the set of people who make mistakes. In a smaller circle completely inside the first is the set of people who think they don't make mistakes.

At the start of my career, I worked on a team whose manager had a very high opinion of himself. He was good, but what I learned from him was that he spread that confidence around the team. If something was looking shaky, he insisted that if we could “smell smoke,” that he had to be the first to know so he could do something about it. If we made a mistake, there was no hiding from it. We learned how to face up to it and accept responsibility, but what was more important was learning from him the feeling we were the best people to fix it.

There was no holding of grudges. What was done, was done. It was all about putting it behind us.

He would tell us that we were only in this team because he had handpicked us because we were the best and he only wanted the best around him. Now, that might all have been manipulative nonsense, but it worked.

The only thing you can control is what you do now, so try not to fret about what happened in the past or get anxious about what might happen in the future.

With that in mind, once you’ve written the summary of your sticky situation, set it aside!

I’ll let you in on a secret. No one else is interested in how you got here. They might be asking you about it (probably because they are scared that someone will ask them), but they’re always going to be more interested in how you’re going to sort the problem out.

So don’t waste time pointing fingers. Don’t prepare slide decks to throw someone under the bus. Tag that advice with a more general “don’t be an asshole” rule.

If you’re getting consistent heat about the past, it’s because you’re not doing a good enough job filling the bandwidth with a solid, robust, and realistic plan for getting out of the mess.

So focus on the future.

Sometimes it’s not easy to do that, but remember that none of this is permanent. Trust in the fact that if you pull it together, you’ll be in a much more powerful position to decide what to do next.

Maybe the team will hold together with a new culture or, if it is irretrievably broken, once you’re out of the hole then you can do something about it and switch teams or even switch jobs. But be the person who sorted it out, or at the very least, be part of the gang who sorted it out. That will be obvious to outsiders and makes for a much better interview question response.

In our story with Jen, we had a short ten-minute call with everyone involved on the line. We read out the summary and asked if anyone had anything to add.

Tom spoke up and said that he never gets time to update the API documentation because he always has to work on emergencies. We added that to our summary:

  • Tom has an ongoing time management problem. He doesn’t have enough time allocated to maintain and improve the API documentation.

After that was added, everyone agreed that the summary was accurate.

I explained that the worst thing that could now happen was that we had to report back to the wider business that we’d messed up and couldn’t hit our deadline.

If we did that, we’d lose face. There would be real financial consequences. It would show up on our appraisals. It wouldn’t be good. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it wasn’t something that we wanted. Everyone probably knew all that already, but there’s a power in saying it out loud. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so scary.

Jen spoke up to say that she was new here and really didn’t want to start out like this. There was some murmuring in general support. I wrapped up that part of the discussion.

I purposefully didn’t enter into a discussion about the solution yet. We had all come together to admit the circumstances we were in. We’d done that. It was enough for now.

Step 3 — Move on

Stepping back for a second, as the person who is going to lead the team out of the wilderness, you may want to start getting in everyone’s face. You’ll be tempted to rely on your unlimited reserves of personal charm or enthusiasm to vibe everyone up. Resist the urge! Don’t do it!

Your job is to give people the space to let them do their best work.

I learned this the hard way. I’m lucky enough that I can bounce back quickly, but when someone is under pressure, funnily enough, a super-positive person who wants to throw the curtains open and talk about what a wonderful day it is might not be the most motivational person to be around. I’ve unwittingly walked into some short-tempered conversations that way.

Don’t micromanage. In fact, scrap all of your management tricks. Your job is to listen to what people are telling you—even if they’re telling you things by not talking.

Reframe the current problem. Break it up into manageable chunks.

The first task to add to your list of things to do is simply to “Decide what we’re going to do about [the thing].”

It’s likely that there’s a nasty old JIRA ticket that everyone has been avoiding or has been bounced back and forth between different team members. Set that aside. There’s too much emotional content invested in that ticket now.

Create a new task that’s entirely centered on making a decision. Now, break it down into subtasks for each member of the team, like “Submit a proposal for what to do next.” Put your own suggestions in the mix but do your best to dissociate yourself from them.

Once you start getting some suggestions back and can tick those tasks off the list, you start to generate positive momentum. Nurture that.

If a plan emerges, champion it. Be wary of naysayers. Challenge them respectfully with “How do you think we should…?” questions. If they have a better idea, champion that instead; if they don’t respond at all, then gently suggest “Maybe we should go with this if no one else has a better idea.”

Avoid words like “need,” “just,” “one,” or “small.” Basically, anything that imposes a view of other people’s work. It seems trivial, but try to see it from the other side.

Saying, “I just need you to change that one small thing” hits the morale-killing jackpot. It unthinkingly diminishes someone else’s efforts. An engineer or a designer could reasonably react by thinking “What do you know about how to do this?!” Your job is to help everyone drop their guard and feel safe enough to contribute.

Instead, try “We’re all looking at you here because you’re good at this and this is a nasty problem. Maybe you know a way to make this part work?”

More often than not, people want to help.

So I asked Jen, Tom, and Frankie to submit their proposals for a way through the mess.

It wasn’t straightforward. Just because we’d all agreed how we got here didn’t just magically make all the problems disappear. Tom was still digging his heels in about not wanting to write more code, and kept pushing back on Jen.

There was a certain amount of back and forth. Although, with some constant reminders that we should maybe focus on what will move us forward, we eventually settled on a plan.

Like most compromises, it wasn’t pretty or simple. Jen was going to have to rely on using the local database for a certain amount of the lower-priority features. Tom was going to have to create some additional API functions and would end up with some unnecessary traffic that might create too much load on the API.

And even with the compromise, Tom wouldn’t be finished in time. He’d need another couple of weeks.

But it was a plan!

N.B. Estimating is a whole other subject that I won’t cover here. Check out the Shape Up process for some great advice on that.

Step 4 — Spread the word

Once you’ve got a plan, commit to it and tell everyone affected what’s going on.

When communicating with people who are depending on you, take the last line of your email, which usually contains the summary or the “ask,” and put it at the top. When your recipient reads the message, the opener is the meat. Good news or bad news, that’s what they’re interested in. They’ll read on if they want more.

If it’s bad news, set someone up for it with a simple “I’m sorry to say I’ve got bad news” before you break it to them. No matter who they are, kindly framing the conversation will help them digest it.

When discussing it with the team, put the plan somewhere everyone can see it. Transparency is key.

Don’t pull any moves—like publishing deadline dates to the team that are two weeks earlier than the date you’ve told the business. Teams aren’t stupid. They’ll know that’s what you do.

Publish the new deadlines in a place where everyone on the team can see them, and say we’re aiming for this date but we’re telling the business that we’ll definitely be done by that date.

In our case, I posted an update to the rest of the business as part of our normal weekly reporting cycle to announce we’d hit a bump that was going to affect our end date.

Here’s an extract:

Hi everyone,

Here’s the update for the week. I’m afraid there’s a bit of bad news to start but there is some good news too.

First:

We uncovered a misunderstanding between Jen and Tom this week. The outcome is that Tom has more API work to do than he anticipated. This affects the delivery date and means we’re now planning to finish 10 working days later on November 22.

**Expected completion date ** CHANGED ****
Original estimate: November 8
Current estimate: November 22

Second: 

We successfully released version 1.3 of the app into the App Store 🎉.

And so on...

That post was available for everyone within the team to see. Everyone knew what was to be done and what the target was.

I had to field some questions from above, but I was ready with my summary of what went wrong and what we’d all agreed to do as a course of action. All I had to do was refer to it. Then I could focus on sharing the plan.

And all manner of things shall be well

Now, I’d like to say that we then had tea and scones every day for the next month and it was all rather spiffing. But that would be a lie.

There was some more wailing and gnashing of teeth, but we all got through it and—even though we tried to finish early but failed—we did manage to finish by the November 22 date.

And then, after a bit of a tidy up, we all moved on to the next project, a bit older and a bit wiser. I hope that helps you if you’re in a similar scenario. Send me a tweet or email me at liam.nugent@hey.com with any questions or comments. I’d love to hear about your techniques and advice.

Forget to Remember

صبر کن
خاطره های شیرینت را جا گذاشتی
لای آن کتاب، لبه ی این فنجان،
زیر شاخه های کج کاج حیاط،
روی صافی تابلوهای نقاشی.
حالا که داری می روی
این ها را هم با خودت ببر.
هیچ چیز
به قساوت شیرینی یاد خاطره ها،
کام آدم را تلخ نمی کند.

Forget to Remember

صبر کن
خاطره های شیرینت را جا گذاشتی
لای آن کتاب، لبه ی این فنجان،
زیر شاخه های کج کاج حیاط،
روی صافی تابلوهای نقاشی.
حالا که داری می روی
این ها را هم با خودت ببر.
هیچ چیز
به قساوت شیرینی یاد خاطره ها،
کام آدم را تلخ نمی کند.

Nine ways being a product manager is just like being a parent

  1. You can’t control the outcome. You can lead and guide, and establish conditions and practices to influence — in fact, you must! But, you can’t know the software will ship in ‘tip-top’ on a specific date any more than you can know the kids will mature to become wonderful, ready-for-the-world human beings by age 18.
  2. You don’t have all the answers. If you pretend you do, your kids will openly call your bluff and quickly move on, with little harm done (so long as it’s not common). Your team may not. They’re more likely to determine that your input, designs or feature priorities are not credible. Be clear when you’re expressing an opinion vs. a fact, and where you have supporting data vs. not. Be clear when your ideas are intuition-based. Genuinely seek to understand the opinions and intuitions of others — yes, including your kids:-)
  3. In fact, be very open that you don’t have many answers. Both your kids and co-workers will find you more approachable and more credible. Ask straight-up, clarifying questions. Tell good stories of struggles and failures. Use those stories to guide thinking and decision-making — as a tool for influence, they’re far more powerful than demands or unilateral decisions.
  4. Give accountability. People are amazing, including and maybe especially young, little people! They’re capable of so damn much. But you’ll only ever know how much if you let them show you. I once heard a story of how Obama struggled earlier in his political career. His staff was there to passionately work with and for him, but because he was technically capable of doing each of this staffers’ jobs better than they were, he tried to do his job and all of theirs concurrently! He failed to scale, and the people working for him became increasingly frustrated — they wanted to do their job! The lesson is a simple one: let amazing people be amazing (regardless of whether they’re 10 or 40).
  5. All problems are people problems, all people problems are communication problems. Be a super proactive communicator — that should go without saying when it comes to raising kids or leading as a PM. ‘How’ you communicate is at least as important as ‘what’ you say. Your spirit and approach often matter more than your actual words. A little jois de vivre goes a long way.
  6. Worry never helps. Freneticism never helps. Anger never helps. Regardless the situation — be positive, be proactive. You can’t turn the clock back, so focus on always moving forward. Get positive, chill the hell out, enjoy the journey and help the people around you do the same.
  7. Know your stage, and plan and act accordingly. The challenges in parenting a 2-year old are really different than those of a 15 year old. Similarly, the challenges of a seed-stage startup are really different than those of a public company. Know your stage and its likely challenges. It’s natural for a 2-year old to have a wailing meltdown. And, it’s natural for an early-stage startup to do significant product re-design as it learns how to improve usability and searches for market fit. In either case, don’t get upset about it, just work through it proactively and positively. Different stages, different problems, different bag o’ tools required. Which is great, because you will have the opportunity to learn and grow, right along with your kids or your company. Always be learning!
  8. Support others’ interests. Harry Truman said: “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” Similarly, it’s important to support work that an engineer really wants to do, even if it’s hard to justify or prioritize in terms of imminent user impact. You can’t do this all the time, because customer impact is top priority, but never forget that people need to feel energized and motivated to be engaged and productive. Give a little discretion — sometimes more than a little — to really good and capable people. Like so many other things on this list, this is all ‘soft’ art and no science.
  9. There’s no one way. Every kid is unique — even in the same house, what works for one may be very different than what works for another. And, every product or company is unique. Whether working with your kids or your product team, play to the unique, intrinsic strengths and motivations. In leading a product team, this applies all the way down to tooling. JIRA or Pivotal? Crittercism or Crashlytics? Slack or HipChat? I don’t know. There’s no one tool, no one way — consider what will work best given how your team likes to work.

I hate to end this list with nine. Who has a #10?

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Nine ways being a product manager is just like being a parent

  1. You can’t control the outcome. You can lead and guide, and establish conditions and practices to influence — in fact, you must! But, you can’t know the software will ship in ‘tip-top’ on a specific date any more than you can know the kids will mature to become wonderful, ready-for-the-world human beings by age 18.
  2. You don’t have all the answers. If you pretend you do, your kids will openly call your bluff and quickly move on, with little harm done (so long as it’s not common). Your team may not. They’re more likely to determine that your input, designs or feature priorities are not credible. Be clear when you’re expressing an opinion vs. a fact, and where you have supporting data vs. not. Be clear when your ideas are intuition-based. Genuinely seek to understand the opinions and intuitions of others — yes, including your kids:-)
  3. In fact, be very open that you don’t have many answers. Both your kids and co-workers will find you more approachable and more credible. Ask straight-up, clarifying questions. Tell good stories of struggles and failures. Use those stories to guide thinking and decision-making — as a tool for influence, they’re far more powerful than demands or unilateral decisions.
  4. Give accountability. People are amazing, including and maybe especially young, little people! They’re capable of so damn much. But you’ll only ever know how much if you let them show you. I once heard a story of how Obama struggled earlier in his political career. His staff was there to passionately work with and for him, but because he was technically capable of doing each of this staffers’ jobs better than they were, he tried to do his job and all of theirs concurrently! He failed to scale, and the people working for him became increasingly frustrated — they wanted to do their job! The lesson is a simple one: let amazing people be amazing (regardless of whether they’re 10 or 40).
  5. All problems are people problems, all people problems are communication problems. Be a super proactive communicator — that should go without saying when it comes to raising kids or leading as a PM. ‘How’ you communicate is at least as important as ‘what’ you say. Your spirit and approach often matter more than your actual words. A little jois de vivre goes a long way.
  6. Worry never helps. Freneticism never helps. Anger never helps. Regardless the situation — be positive, be proactive. You can’t turn the clock back, so focus on always moving forward. Get positive, chill the hell out, enjoy the journey and help the people around you do the same.
  7. Know your stage, and plan and act accordingly. The challenges in parenting a 2-year old are really different than those of a 15 year old. Similarly, the challenges of a seed-stage startup are really different than those of a public company. Know your stage and its likely challenges. It’s natural for a 2-year old to have a wailing meltdown. And, it’s natural for an early-stage startup to do significant product re-design as it learns how to improve usability and searches for market fit. In either case, don’t get upset about it, just work through it proactively and positively. Different stages, different problems, different bag o’ tools required. Which is great, because you will have the opportunity to learn and grow, right along with your kids or your company. Always be learning!
  8. Support others’ interests. Harry Truman said: “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” Similarly, it’s important to support work that an engineer really wants to do, even if it’s hard to justify or prioritize in terms of imminent user impact. You can’t do this all the time, because customer impact is top priority, but never forget that people need to feel energized and motivated to be engaged and productive. Give a little discretion — sometimes more than a little — to really good and capable people. Like so many other things on this list, this is all ‘soft’ art and no science.
  9. There’s no one way. Every kid is unique — even in the same house, what works for one may be very different than what works for another. And, every product or company is unique. Whether working with your kids or your product team, play to the unique, intrinsic strengths and motivations. In leading a product team, this applies all the way down to tooling. JIRA or Pivotal? Crittercism or Crashlytics? Slack or HipChat? I don’t know. There’s no one tool, no one way — consider what will work best given how your team likes to work.

I hate to end this list with nine. Who has a #10?

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Starting and Running a Company are Completely Different

I don’t know what other startup founders experience along the way, but for me it’s been quite jarring.

For the longest time I felt like I was being unproductive whenever I wasn’t doing something in the first group. Things like email and meetings felt like they weren’t ‘real work’. And perhaps they weren’t. In the early days of Envato, the real work was … well, making Envato.

These days I have the opposite problem. When I sneakily open Photoshop, or make time to write, or chat on the forums, it feels suspiciously like I’m dodging the budget, avoiding my burgeoning inbox, or procrastinating on reading a tax report.

For Everything There is a Season

My mother says that in life there are seasons. She gave me this advice when our first son arrived. And like the first warm day of spring, or the initial chill of winter, his arrival was a definite shift in season!

Her words resonated with me, and I remember them whenever I reflect on what’s changed since I became a parent. Fatherhood has its ups and its downs, just like pre-parenthood had its fair share of good and bad. Neither is better than the other, they are just different.

In startup life too there are seasons. The beginning of a company’s life has some amazing bits to it. There’s the complete open world of possibility, the triumph of early wins, the excitement of creating something that wasn’t there before, and the fun of being the underdog. Balancing those are the money problems, the fear of failure, the difficulty of creating something that doesn’t yet exist, and all the lack of resources that come with being the underdog.

Some years ago, the season changed. Envato grew up and became a company. The number of people went from a handful to a few dozen, to a couple hundred. And with the new season came new positives and new challenges.

Today there is the magic of a great team, the satisfaction of watching a happy culture growing, the luxury of resources, and the confidence of achievement. But on the flip is the array of issues that come with a larger business, like the challenges of keeping culture healthy, the inertias of size, and the need to think about hairy stuff like cross-border tax landscapes!

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Starting and Running a Company are Completely Different

I don’t know what other startup founders experience along the way, but for me it’s been quite jarring.

For the longest time I felt like I was being unproductive whenever I wasn’t doing something in the first group. Things like email and meetings felt like they weren’t ‘real work’. And perhaps they weren’t. In the early days of Envato, the real work was … well, making Envato.

These days I have the opposite problem. When I sneakily open Photoshop, or make time to write, or chat on the forums, it feels suspiciously like I’m dodging the budget, avoiding my burgeoning inbox, or procrastinating on reading a tax report.

For Everything There is a Season

My mother says that in life there are seasons. She gave me this advice when our first son arrived. And like the first warm day of spring, or the initial chill of winter, his arrival was a definite shift in season!

Her words resonated with me, and I remember them whenever I reflect on what’s changed since I became a parent. Fatherhood has its ups and its downs, just like pre-parenthood had its fair share of good and bad. Neither is better than the other, they are just different.

In startup life too there are seasons. The beginning of a company’s life has some amazing bits to it. There’s the complete open world of possibility, the triumph of early wins, the excitement of creating something that wasn’t there before, and the fun of being the underdog. Balancing those are the money problems, the fear of failure, the difficulty of creating something that doesn’t yet exist, and all the lack of resources that come with being the underdog.

Some years ago, the season changed. Envato grew up and became a company. The number of people went from a handful to a few dozen, to a couple hundred. And with the new season came new positives and new challenges.

Today there is the magic of a great team, the satisfaction of watching a happy culture growing, the luxury of resources, and the confidence of achievement. But on the flip is the array of issues that come with a larger business, like the challenges of keeping culture healthy, the inertias of size, and the need to think about hairy stuff like cross-border tax landscapes!

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Pieces of Tissue Paper Clinging to Your Shirt

برای ثبت در حافظه‌ام، قلبم، روحم، بنویسم همین‌جا، در همین‌خانه‌ی امن همیشگی‌ام، که در آن غروبِ مخوفِ سیِ شهریور، ساعت هشت شب، میان انتخاب بین خفگی یا زار زدن، لابه‌لای ده‌ها نفر که دوستم دارند و دوست‌شان دارم، تنها تو انتخاب‌ام بودی که می‌دانستم می‌نویسی تا بیست‌دقیقه‌ی دیگر می‌رسی. و ای کاش، ای کاش، ای کاش که روزهای بعد، روزهای می‌دانم طولانیِ بعد، از همان مغازه‌ی معروف روبه‌رو به‌جبران این‌که دستم را گرفتی و قول دادی همه‌چیز درست می‌شود، [همه‌چیز درست می‌شود؟] برایت بستنی بخرم. برای ثبت در حافظه‌ام، قلبم، روحم در همین خانه‌ی امن همیشگی‌.


سیِ شهریور ۹۸

Pieces of Tissue Paper Clinging to Your Shirt

برای ثبت در حافظه‌ام، قلبم، روحم، بنویسم همین‌جا، در همین‌خانه‌ی امن همیشگی‌ام، که در آن غروبِ مخوفِ سیِ شهریور، ساعت هشت شب، میان انتخاب بین خفگی یا زار زدن، لابه‌لای ده‌ها نفر که دوستم دارند و دوست‌شان دارم، تنها تو انتخاب‌ام بودی که می‌دانستم می‌نویسی تا بیست‌دقیقه‌ی دیگر می‌رسی. و ای کاش، ای کاش، ای کاش که روزهای بعد، روزهای می‌دانم طولانیِ بعد، از همان مغازه‌ی معروف روبه‌رو به‌جبران این‌که دستم را گرفتی و قول دادی همه‌چیز درست می‌شود، [همه‌چیز درست می‌شود؟] برایت بستنی بخرم. برای ثبت در حافظه‌ام، قلبم، روحم در همین خانه‌ی امن همیشگی‌.


سیِ شهریور ۹۸