My sabbatical so far 🧘♂️ plus a book announcement 📢📘!
I'm looking for feedback and co-programming on a book called The Product Multipliers.
👋 Hey there! This is the 12-days-into-sabbatical Adam here. Read about my sabbatical plans and feel free to subscribe to Mind The Beet if this got forwarded to you (it’s free, we publish once a week on Sundays).
Other recent articles include: 🧘♂️ A Manager’s Pandemic Retro on Mental Health | 🔭 Finding Purpose in Tech Careers | 😍 Building critical habits | ⏰ How a product leader manages their time | 🤝 Building Strong Relationships at Work | 🎲 Our Top 5 Picks for Family Game Night
The Ancient Greeks had two concepts of time: Chronos and Kairos.Chronos is our ordinary concept of time – regimented and organized by a clock, it’s a linear progression. In Chronos time, the clock rules you. Kairos is about being in the moment and using judgment and awareness to not miss the most expedient course of action. It’s nonsequential and is more creative, engages more parts of the brain, and is more recharging. Kairos time seems plentiful; there is no hurry. Being in Kairos time is a way of fully enjoying a pause, being creative on a project, or reflecting. Other cultures have these dual concepts of time – Japanese culture has Ichi-go ichi-e (roughly translated as “being in the moment”) or conversely Kala is a Sanskrit word used to represent time as the unmovable destroyer of all things.
My best moments in the past 12 days have been Kairos time: my unbounded morning coffee and reading time when I no longer have a place to be next, being in the flow of writing such that I don’t know how long I’ve been doing it, or becoming totally present with my youngest daughter as I took her skiing instead of sending her to school. My number one pro-tip for an extended time off: don’t wear a watch. ⌚
I’ve taken to calling these first two weeks as my “stay-battical,” time spent at home focused on transitioning into recharge mode. It’s easy to have “junk food” recharges involving things that are mindless or cause more boredom than most would admit (e.g. Netflix binging). The working-Adam thought I’d crave that more, but instead I’ve slowed down in a way that feels highly “nutritious” on the recharge potential scale. There is a commonality between all the various methods of wellness, happiness, and recharging: the themes of savoring, gratitude, Flow, and being present are universal across the advice spectrum. I’ve championed these themes in my first two weeks, as I’ve picked up long-distance running, meditation, online classes on topics that spark my interest, creative writing, journaling, and finding moments of joy and deeper connection with my family.
It's also been fun to rediscover a love of learning that is intrinsically motivated – learning for learning’s sake, not for some external goal or career need. Trying new things – be it meditation, fiction writing, or straight razor shaves – has been hard and humbling. It reminds me what I miss most about work and will cherish upon return is the feeling of proficiency and aptitude that comes with experience and being part of a crew of professionals that is accomplishing something larger than I could on my own.
This love of learning is one of the top gifts that Helen and I hope to give our kids, and so it’s been fun to share with our kids my highlights of random things I’ve tried or tidbits I’ve learned from various online classes. My 8-year old has taken to calling me “Sabbatical Dad” and is eager to ask me about what I learned in my class today. Role reversal indeed.
Let’s anyone thinks I’m taking myself too seriously, channeling ancient Greek Gods and all, I’ll refer them to this conversation I had with my 4-year-old last week:
“Dad, so you can do anything you want on your sabbatical?”
“Yep, that’s right.”
“Even go to space?”
Touché. Just when you thought you had the perfect plan, the pre-K kid takes you down a notch.
Resources I’ve been using:
Yale Class on Happiness. Highly recommended course with 3.8M students completing it to date. An intro to Positive Psychology, i.e. how psychology can help high functioning people and not just pathological cases.
Chronos vs. Kairos. A brief overview.
How to Hide Your Clock in Windows. This is the number one thing I’ve done to get into the Flow. 🔪 to Chronos!
Netflix’s Headspace Guide to Meditation. Several people recommended this as the best intro guide to start with meditation and 2 weeks in, I agree.
Birch Bay 15K. I’m signed up for this race on April 2nd. Join me!
Notion: Journaling. Notion is my preferred journaling app. Great templates for this as well as a bunch of other personal goals.
Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It’s been fun getting back to history reading again. 50+ hours audiobook is my preferred choice for long runs. You can tune out for a bit and not miss much. As we see the rise of Great Power struggles happening again in our own time, I’ve found this drill-in very eye-opening.
The Ascent of Money. My next read. This comes recommended by a few folks as a great piece of context on the modern economy.
Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky. The sequel comes out later this Spring, so well-timed to read Part I. A solid space opera with a rag-tag group standing up to authority feel, with lots of cool world-building that merges science and magic.
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. Historical fiction – WWII Bletchley Park code breakers through the lens of 3 women working there.
Sneak Peek: My Next Steps as a Writer – And How You Can Co-Program With Me!
Namastes and Zen moments aside, balancing this recharge surge is also a decision that I wanted to push myself forward as an author during my sabbatical – both to have something to show for the time and because writing is a primary way I get into the Flow anyway.
One of my writing projects is to take the concepts of Mind The Beet and put them together into something atomic and coherent. Intuitively, I like the idea of a dedicated, purchasable book – I think it matches my writing style, which tends to intellectualize and frame in a way that lends itself to a book vs. socially-shared blog posts. I also wanted the project to be a collaborative effort and bring in diverse voices. After wrestling with the best framing to experiment with, I’ve landed on this:
I envision a book that answers the following question: What fundamentals are most important for your career if you want to grow to be fantastic at building tech products?
It’s not a manual on today’s latest trends in data-driven growth loops or novel design patterns. There are plenty of awesome resources for learning the latest mechanical skills of product management, design, user research, data science, and engineering management. However, there is something missing from a lot of this literature - something more human-centered on the wellness of you and your customers, more perennially useful for your entire 40+ year career, and more focused on amplifying the latest tactical skills with core fundamentals.
This book introduces three fundamental skills that stand the test of time for your career, along with a collection of essays that explore each one in more detail. Think of these as multipliers that create the fertile soil by which product impact can grow. The three big accelerators this book will explore are:
Finding Purpose: How you contribute to the well being of others, define what epic means, and build social proof and alignment
Managing Time: How you digest information, manage your schedule, and contribute to your wellbeing
Building Relationships: How you build a support network that accelerates your potential
Future posts will explore this in more detail. If you’d like to co-program on this project, including submitting essays on the above topics (could be existing posts you’d like more visibility on or originals), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Twitter. Or you can sign up to be a beta reader here: Product Multipliers Beta Readers Signup.
Credit on the Chronos and Kairos framing goes to my Pathwise Leadership Development training, something my work has provided for me these past two years and I’d highly recommend! Reach out if you want to learn more.