The Fred User Manual


Fred Perrotta

Inspired by this confusingly-titled LinkedIn post, I wrote the personal User Manual below for our team. The User Manual is meant to instruct people on "how to work with me." Read the original post for more context.

The User Manual is primarily meant for internal use at Tortuga, but I'm publishing it here to help spread the word about this useful exercise.


I am a first-time CEO with zero previous leadership experience. Tortuga is a different company each year, so I'm learning a new version of my job every 6 to 12 months. I will make mistakes, a lot of them.

I hope that this User Manual will make working with me easier and allow all of us to be more effective. I encourage you to write your own User Manual if you feel it would be useful. I'd love to read it.

Personal

What is your schedule?

I schedule my most important, brain-intensive work between 8am and noon local (usually Pacific) time. I handle external calls, emails, and other admin work in the afternoons. I usually break for lunch around noon or 1pm. On MWF, I go to the gym after lunch. On those days, I'll be back online around 3-4pm.

Because of this schedule, I will often not log into Slack until late morning. I also do not check my email until late morning or after lunch.

I will read and reply to important or time-sensitive emails and Slack messages the end of the day.

My current schedule includes writing from 8-10am on Mondays, Tuesdays, (some) Thursdays, and Fridays. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I spend most of my times in 1:1s and team meetings.

What drives you nuts?

Dropping the ball. If you say you will do something, do it. Use our systems, like Asana, and don't rely on yourself to remember everything. I expect it to be done. I cannot and will not remember it for you. I do not want to have to ask, "What about X?" or "What ever happened to Y?"

Problems without solutions. Most of my job is making decisions. I have to make a lot of decisions per day. Each one wears down my decision-making abilities.

Instead of presenting me with an open-ended problem, tell me the problem and what you plan to do. Saying "yes" is much easier than racking my brain for an answer from a universe of infinite possibilities.

What are your quirks?

When searching for the right wording, I may speak slowly, stutter, or stop talking entirely to find the words I need. I'm aiming for precision. Give me a second; I'll get there.

When thinking hard in conversation, I may not make eye contact. I don't mean to disconnect, but I can think better and focus more by minimizing visual input and focusing inward.

What are some things that people might misunderstand about you that you should clarify?

I (and Tortuga) will pursue growth not for its own sake or for financial gains but so that we can make more cool stuff that we believe should exist and to effect greater change in the world. If we focus on our mission, financial and other rewards will be a natural consequence.

I can be short by chat or email. I am trying to be efficient, not rude. Ask me if you're unclear about what I meant. If we need to work through a bigger question, let's do it on a call. Typing out a long, considered response is time consuming and open to misinterpretation. The short, typed answer is my quick "summary" response, not a way to cut off the conversation.

Teamwork

What’s the best way to communicate with you?

Clearly and directly by email (best) or Slack DM (may get lost). If you would rather talk through something, add it to your 1:1 agenda or schedule a separate call that week.

If you need me to complete a specific task, assign it to me in Asana with a due date, details, and anything I will need to complete the task. Asana is my to do list.

What’s the best way to convince you to do something?

Make a concise, data-driven case for why we should pursue this opportunity and why we should prioritize it over our current plans. New initiatives should reinforce or, in rare cases, shift our focus. New initiatives should never dilute our focus.

What qualities do you particularly value in people who work with you?

Honesty, humility, collaboration, and giving a damn.

The right ambition. Ambition for the company and for the team, not solely for yourself. When the team does well, you will do well. I aspire to greatness and want to work with other people who do.

Direct, timely, and actionable feedback. I'm new to this. Help me get better. Providing feedback will be rewarded, not punished.

How can I earn an extra gold star with you?

By making shit happen. Find a problem and fix it. Find an opportunity and run with it.

By taking big swings: calculated risks with high upside and manageable downside. Shoot for the moon but never bet the company on it.

By being responsible for your work. Step up and take responsibility for the good and the bad. Making mistakes is fine as long as you admit them and avoid repeating them. I have probably made bigger mistakes than you ever will.

Feedback

How do you like to give feedback?

Directly, privately, and ASAP. I will send a Slack message for small trifles and bring up anything else in your next 1:1.

How do you like to get feedback?

Directly, privately, and ASAP. Again, Slack is fine for small trifles. Anything more serious should be addressed on a call. "Fred, can I give you some feedback?"

I'm new to this. I need all the feedback I can get. Constructive feedback helps me, which then helps you.

How do you coach people to do their best work and develop their talents?

I will give you great latitude in your role but will ask a lot of questions and take the other side to help us work through ideas. I want to help you find the best solution, not tell you what it is. (I probably don't know what it is.)


What else should I add to my User Manual? Let me know on Twitter.