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Good Work Nº 50: Good work gives.

A hand-curated newsletter devoted to exploring how we choose to spend the 90,000 hours that will make up our careers.
Benjamin Reitzammer
▪︎ 5 minutes read time

🎶 For - Peter - Toilet Brushes - More, by Nils Frahm

This week’s Good Work is by Benjamin Reitzammer. Benjamin has been working in tech for so long that he really doesn’t know anymore what he’s doing. However, in his daily work as a freelance CTO he still somehow manages to help startups grow their tech teams and make their companies friendly, humane, and productive places to work.

Our brave hero prepares to face the world of work.

There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them.Henri Matisse, Jazz*

It took me 20 years of working life, through countless jobs and companies, to figure it out: work is good when you’re connected to other people. Human connection in our work can feel like magic, especially in today’s work environments, where we focus on what we can measure.

When I worked in the marketing industry, cranking out boring websites at agencies, I came across what today is considered Agile methodologies. It struck me how the Agile principles and practices, such as retrospectives, really put the human aspect back into work, instead of treating everyone only as a resource that can be squeezed dry like an orange. This led me to my first conferences, where I met lots of people who saw something similar in Agile and the communities that formed around it. From many of these people I learned loads about good work and what’s needed for it to happen. They introduced me to, or rather opened me up to, feminism by way of bell hooks, and Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication approach. Practicing NVC, starting with my kids, I experienced that to really hear what others are saying about what they need, and to let them hear me and my needs, I first have to be aware of what my needs are and the feelings they cause.

During my time as a manager in a startup, I learned how much this could affect my team. The most trusting relationships formed when I was able to share something meaningful with my colleagues, some difficulty I was having, something I was scared of. I didn’t realize it right away, but this trust was the basis of the good work we did together. Good work is thinking and creating with compassionate, thoughtful, and caring people. Good work is empowering.

Focusing on connecting with others is profound, but actually doing it can be simple. Checking in at the beginning of meetings and calls has transformed how fast and how deep I’ve formed connections. The simple act of sharing some part of your feelings, admitting that you’re currently struggling to focus, that your head is actually still in the previous meeting, all these tiny and simple things can bring the relationships to the people around you to a whole new level. If you let it happen. If you feel safe, and sometimes maybe bold, enough to trust whoever it is with you in meetings and calls. Being aware of yourself is the first step in sharing your needs and vulnerabilities with others, it’s the first step in trusting and being trusted. It took me a while to get here, but today I can let human connections form more easily. By focusing on where I am in the moment, I understand what I can give in order to receive.

This Week

  • The magic of remote is the result of many good work moments I recently shared with two humans, who are by now close to my heart. Together we want to bring more human connection to the realm of working remotely.
  • I organize #humansconf, a conference centered around the most important thing when it comes to impactful technology products: people and their interactions! It’s an Open Space, and it takes place in May 2020 in Germany.
  • Yes, I too publish a podcast. It’s called cto.coffee and each episode features a new guest with whom I explore the unknown depths of the human side of technology. Whatever that is.
  • Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Team, is one of the few I really listen to or read when it comes to leadership and management. Her article “How to build social connections on a remote team” is an absolute gem.
  • Richard Bartlett’s latest project, Microsolidarity, gives a name to something that has changed my professional life dramatically for the better. Go, and find yourself a Crew.

That’s Good Work for this week. Looking forward to what’s next.

Benjamin and the Holloway team

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