CEO Preferences

Intro

This page is intended to be helpful, feel free to deviate from it and update this page if you think it makes sense. If there are things that might seem pretentious or overbearing please raise them so we can remove or adapt them. Many items further down this page are a guideline for our the Executive Assistants (EAs).

Flaws

Transparency and directness are part of our values and I want to live them by sharing the flaws I know I have. I'm fully responsible for improving the things below, listing them is no excuse. They are listed here so people know it is not them and that I appreciate people speaking up about them.

  1. I look serious all the time, it is OK to say 'maybe you can smile more'.
  2. I love debating, it is OK to say 'please stop debating and start collaborating'.
  3. My English pronunciation, choice of words, and grammar are not great. I'm taking lessons but I welcome corrections when we're having a 1:1 conversation and/or when it might confuse people.
  4. When in a rush I will jump to conclusions, it is OK to ask 'can we take more time to discuss this'.
  5. I sometimes make reports feel like I'm scolding them, as in being angry for a percieved fault. It is OK to say, I don't mind you making that point but your tone doesn't make me feel respected.

If you speak up about them I should thank you for it, it is OK to say 'this was on your list of flaws so I kinda expected a thank you'. I'm sure I have more flaws that affect my professional life. Feel free to send a merge request to add them or communicate them anonymously to People Operations so they can send a merge request.

Communication

Thanks to Mårten Mickos for the inspiration for this section. All good idea's are his, all bad ones mine.

I am a visual person much more than auditory, and I am a top-down person much more than bottom-up. This means that I love written communication: issues, email, Google Docs, and chat. Feel free to send me as many emails and chat messages as you like, and about whatever topics you like.

If you have a great new idea or suggestion for me, I appreciate if you can convey it in a picture or in written words, because I learn by seeing more than I learn by hearing. I don't mind if you send me or point me to plans that are in draft mode or not ready. I am happy if I can give useful feedback early. It doesn’t have to be perfect and polished when presented to me.

In written communication, I appreciate the top-down approach. Set the subject header to something descriptive. Start the email by telling me what the email is about. Only then go into details. Don't mix separate topics in the same email, it is perfectly fine to send two emails at almost the same time. Try to have a concrete proposal so I can just reply with OK if that is possible.

I get many email on which I am only cc'd on, I would very much appreciate if you started emails intended specifically for me with "Sid," or some other salutation that makes it clear that the message is for me.

I have accounts on LinkedIn and Facebook. I will not send invites to team members on those networks since as the CEO I don't want to impose myself on anyone. But I would love to connect and I will happily accept your LinkedIn and Facebook friend request. You can also find me on Twitter as @sytses.

Pick your brain meetings

If people want advice on open source, remote work, or other things related to GitLab we'll consider that. If Sid approves of the request we send the following email:

We would love to help but we want to make sure the content is radiated as wide as possible. Can we do the following?

  1. We schedule a 50 minute Zoom video call that is recorded by us, uploaded to Youtube as a private video, and shared with you.
  2. You write up a draft post within 48 hours after the interview in a Google Doc and share that with us with suggestion or edit rights for us.
  3. You can redact anything you don't want to publish.
  4. Our marketing department will work to publish the post.
  5. A great examples of this in action are the first two times we did this https://about.gitlab.com/2016/07/14/building-an-open-source-company-interview-with-gitlabs-ceo/ and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12615723. Both got to nr. 1 on Hacker News.

The EA should follow up to make sure the draft post is submitted.

Email

Scheduling

For meetings or lunch/dinner appointments, always make sure to add the address in the invite of the location where it’s scheduled and make sure to plan travel time (in a separate calendar item, just for Sid) before and after the meeting in case another meeting or call should follow. Favorite restaurants of Sids are: Basil Thai in SoMa for lunch, Heirloom Cafe for dinner and Odd Job for drinks.

Hiring process

Travel

EA does research for the best option for a flight and propose this to Sid before booking. Current preferences for flights are:

Mail

Expensify