John Apostol

lifelong learner

😁 Hello there, I’m John!

🙇🏽 I’m happy to be working with you, as your manager.

I wanted to give you a headstart on who I am and how I manage. This page isn’t meant to replace our future conversations.

We’ll talk — a lot — and we’ll learn a lot more about each other as we work together to build things. I genuinely look forward to discovering our differences and similarities.

I encourage you to read this page fully and come to me with questions or concerns. It’s better to ask than to wonder.

What are my principles?

I’ve found mutual success working with..

  • 👩‍🔬 Curious learners
  • 🤝🏽 Thoughtful collaborators
  • 🦺 Responsible people

How do I define these things? That’s worth a discussion so please bring it up in one of our 1:1 meetings. I’d be very happy to explain.

Some examples that come to mind; developers who proactively review code for their own benefit. Teammates who believe that quality is owned by everyone, especially themselves. Colleagues who respect their own time as well as others.

Being a developer, not an engineer

Early in my career, I coveted the ‘engineer’ title. I thought engineers were worth more. I thought it brought validation to what I was doing, what I was learning. Software engineering was a fancy way of referring to my craft.

Now, I understand that it was harmless vanity at best. At worst, it was gatekeeping. I think it distances the act of writing code from the value the code brings. I now prefer the title ‘developer’.

📈 Engineers/developers/coders/programmers should strive to create value. All of our work should create value. We should not build things just because they can be built. We should not build things just because they are hard to build or because they are fancy.

I strive for my team to build right-sized solutions — using small changes by default. Our code should be predictable and pragmatic to avoid headaches. We should be opportunistic in our solutions.

🙇🏽 Also, it’s totally fine if you don’t agree with me on the title thing.

What is my job?

My main job is to nurture and protect your talent.

We’re working together for a good reason. I sincerely believe we can build great things together. I’m investing in your success for both you and the team’s sake.

⚠️ If there’s anything putting you or our ability to retain you in danger, please let me know ASAP! This trumps all other priorities.

My second job is to make sure we’re working on the right things at the right time.

Other people will see this as my only job. I don’t want you to think that, though.

“The right things at the right time” is not possible to pin down. I’m just one human. I want your input and insight to help me get this right.

My third job is to look for opportunities on the horizon.

When I feel we are solid on the first two points, I’ll default to looking ahead for the benefit of our team, engineering, and the company as a whole. This can take a lot of different forms.

🌞 I would love to hear your ideas as you will undoubtedly find opportunities we should consider.

What you should expect from me

Regular 1:1s

🙌🏻 We will have regular 1:1s. These will be on our calendar at a cadence that’s comfortable for you. You own these meetings!

You dictate the cadence, the time of day, and even the location. Some people like to end their week with 1:1s. Some people like to have these in the morning, while we sip coffee or have tea.

I encourage you to have some topics in order get the most out of these meetings. I don’t want this to be a status update. That’s a disservice to your needs.

😅 Sometimes one of us needs to adjust the meeting so that we can accomodate another meeting. I’ll try not to do this, but you definitely can.

In our 1:1s. I will..

  • 🙇🏽 Be honest with you
  • 🙇🏽 Be as transparent as I should be
  • 🙇🏽 Ask for your feedback, continually

I’ve come to realize that 1:1 meetings recharge my battery. Know that I always look forward to talking with you each time we meet.

Communication style

I strive to be professional yet authentic to my self. I don’t like cursing, except for the occasional meek ‘shit’ when a project goes off the rails.

I tend to overcommunicate, especially on important things. I don’t like to leave information to chance. If I mean for you to know something, I’ll do my best to make sure you know it.

That said, I’ll try to accomodate your communication style. I don’t want to overwhelm you. I believe we all need space and time to work. Please help me understand when I’m bothering you.

I believe in asynchronous communication through technology. I treat email and Slack as asynchronous. For the most part, you don’t have to answer me immediately unless it’s a major emergency.

  • 📧 Email - I use email for announcements and non-urgent matters. I check my email twice a day. Please email me when you have questions or concerns that aren’t time sensitive.
  • 📝 Jira - I prioritize my attention on sensitive or urgent projects. At least once a week, I’ll go through my notifications to catch up on other matters. Please @ mention me in your tickets or projects as you like.
  • 🙋🏿‍♂️ Slack - I use Slack for more timely items. My Slack status reflects my working status. I respect and use the DND feature. Please feel free to Slack me at any time if you have urgent needs. I’ll actively tend to Slack during work hours.
  • In person or desk drop-by - I’m prone to inspiration. If you aren’t in deep focus or thought, I may ask for your opinion. Please stop me if you’re busy!

🙇🏽 Sorry if any of my tendencies leads to friction. Please bring those up to me. I’m confident we can course-correct.

Calendar usage

I have lots of meetings on my calendar. If you have any questions about a meeting, feel free to ask me. Every meeting should have an intended purpose.

One advantage you have over others at the company is that you can pull me aside for your undivided attention. If you urgently need to talk to me, you can schedule over any meeting I have. I’ll always prioritize you.

What I expect from you

There’s minimal nuance here.

  • You’re the expert at your job
  • You’re an active participant in your own growth
  • You’ll continually provide feedback to improve the team
  • You’ll help the team adapt to unplanned changes
  • Your calendar status and Slack status reflect your working status
  • You’ll not work on vacation

From time to time, I’ll inspect your calendar to make sure it isn’t too full of meetings. I believe you need focus time to do your best work.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments about anything on this page, please let me know. I welcome discussion and all feedback. I expect to grow in my role like anyone else in theirs.

🥂 Thank you for your attention. I’m ultra excited to build things with you!