Weeknotes, 14-20 Oct 2019
Monday was Big Train Experiment Day. For the last 11 months I’d been waking up at 5:30am for a 7am train from York (where I live) to London (where I work), every Monday. I’d been sleeping on the train – or trying to – and often felt like I was playing catchup for the rest of the week.
Not so this Monday: my alarm went off at 6:45; I had a coffee; caught the bus; grabbed the 8:20 train. The difference was huge. I felt awake, productive and alive with the joys of life. I arrived in the office later (10:45am), but worked more hours overall and felt less tired. Experiment: successful.
Welcoming our first user researcher #
Later on Monday I had only my second 1:1 with our new user researcher, Clare Ridd. She’s Farewill’s first dedicated researcher, and it’s already abundantly clear how fantastic it will be to have her around. Clare’s my first direct report, i.e. the first person I’ve managed. It’s one of my career regrets that I haven’t had the opportunity to be a line manager until now. Supporting others and helping them be the best they can be is something I’m hugely excited about. One thing I’ve been doing to prepare is reading Julie Zhuo’s excellent Making of a Manager book, which I highly recommend. I’m sure I’ll make plenty of mistakes (and I hope Clare will tell me when I do) but I’m enjoying it so far, and Clare seems to be settling in brilliantly.
All Hands wobble #
Tuesday was an odd one. We had our weekly All Hands at 10:30 – where we all gather round in the office (or dial in, if remote) and run through company performance and news from different teams. I gave up an update for the Probate Product team, something I’d done many times before. This time, I was hit by a wave of minor panic – I felt vulnerable and self-conscious, and I could hear my voice wavering. Sometimes I can be relaxed and confident when speaking in front of others; other times not. It could simply be that the Farewill team is growing fast – now, an All Hands update means speaking in front of 40 people. Whatever the cause, this wobble has been on my mind for the last few days (without any helpful conclusions).
The joy of illustrations #
Farewill is rebranding and our probate website was updated this week. It’s been such a pleasure to work on. As always, I’ve tried to run things as collaboratively and openly, and we’ve had fantastic input from lots of the wider Farewill team. Not least from Anna Charity and Louis Buck who provided incredible illustrations which convey tricky concepts simply and visually. The illustration at the top of our ‘What is probate?’ page is wonderful (if you follow the link on mobile you might not see it).
I’m also in love with the brush strokes between sections on the home page (on larger screens), crafted by Emily Isacke. It’s the sort of detail that is easy not to bother with, but these things make a difference. Although it is such a designery thing to hone in on (sorry…).
The importance of a name #
Also this week I’ve been working on our blossoming internal sales and customer tool. As of yet it doesn’t have a name. Hardly the most important point you might think, but the lack of identity is beginning to cause confusion. It’s been variously described as our ‘call tool’, ‘ICT’ (Initial Call Tool / Internal Call Tool), ‘admin tool’, ‘customer admin tool’ and probably a dozen other things. That was fine for a while, but it needs clarifying.
So I sent round a survey for ideas. Some of the more questionable responses so far include Data Entry and Administration Database (it’s all about the acronym), Winternal Tool and Dan. The search continues…
Tomorrow (Sunday) I run the Yorkshire Marathon, my first ever marathon. Training has been a huge part of my year so far and it’s a peculiar thought that it’s in less than 24 hours. I’m excited and nervous – my longer training runs (about 34km) were incredibly hard, and I know the marathon (42km) will be even harder. Beyond that I don’t know what to expect, but whatever happens I’m glad I committed to it.