Startup Management Shuffle: Survival, Part 2

Startup Management Shuffle

Startup Management Shuffle

You’ve become known as the “organized one” at your startup, since you’ve started to take notes and call for meetings. People may be looking to you as someone to lead them out of the chaos and into the sunlight of a well-oiled machine. That might be a mixed metaphor, but you know what I’m getting at. What other ways can you use to help yourself survive and thrive in a management shuffle? Here are some ideas.

Be the Archivist

If you’re prepared with notes from past meetings, that will enormously help the entire team. You can use a footer to note the name of the document and whether it’s version 1, 2, 3, etc. Don’t forget to date the notes, too! If you send notes to your team, send a .pdf. In the olden days, this used to be called “version control.” You can change the version in the footer every time you make a change (and don’t let a bunch of people work on the same doc at once, unless you’re working in Google docs).

Manage Expectations

Every time there’s a new bunch of people in charge, you have to figure out what they expect from you and what you can expect from them. If you can quickly let go of past expectations that will help a lot. Learning to go with the quick change tide is what happens in a startup.

Figure out Your Job Duties

With new management, your job duties may suddenly change. You may suddenly have more or fewer duties, and those won’t always be communicated directly, so asking lots of questions can help. Your title may change as well.

Know When to Fold ‘Em

Know When To Fold 'Em

Know When To Fold ‘Em

Some degree of pushback is to be expected during any reorg. There may be a kerfuffle or two. Realize that you can have a resume ready to go in a couple of hours if you really need to bail. It’s so easy to think that where you work is the center of the universe, but there are other jobs, and many other good jobs.

What Strategies Have You Used?

If you’re at a startup, what are you doing to keep your sanity?

Startup Management Shuffle: 5 Ways to Survive

Management Shuffle Got You Down?

Management Shuffle Got You Down?

You just started working at a startup and you’ve already been through two CEOs, a rebranding, and three office changes. Things move fast at a startup! Maybe you already read about issues that can face startups, so you know at a high level, what the possible issues are. What can you do to survive those changes?

Hallway Talks

People won’t often commit to telling the truth online on social media or on email. The best way to get the scoop is to ask in the hallway or to grab a quick coffee. Once you ask someone face to face, you’ll have a better sense of what really happened, and be better prepared. You’ll also know who can be trusted to tell you the truth, since even small companies can be rife with politics.

Make an Organizational Chart

Chances are, if you don’t know what happened, someone else doesn’t know, either. So try making an org chart. Even if it’s just for you, it can give you a clear idea of the company hierarchy. Share it with others, and ask for their changes and clarifications. People love sharing their knowledge. I’ve found that people don’t mean to be confusing, but sometimes in their hurry to get things done, they don’t think about how their actions will affect others.

Be the One to Organize

Again, if you’re confused, others are, too. Show initiative and organize, take notes, and call for meetings to clarify what’s happening. Your language can say “I’m assuming…” so that others know that you don’t really have all the answers.

Take Notes

Hallway Talks Can Help Unravel Management Changes

Hallway Talks Can Help Unravel Management Changes

Make sure to date everything, so that later you can go back and unravel events if you need to. Meeting notes can remind you and others of what happened when and with whom. Who took that action item? Who promised to fix that bug in the software? Where’s the name of that consultant again? Put it in the notes, and create a folder of notes that everyone can access. I like to send notes to the whole team and ask them to read and make corrections.

Call for Meetings

A meeting can be just two people having coffee, or the entire team giving an update. If you set an agenda, people usually appreciate that. They may want to change it, so don’t be too attached to it.

Other Issues

There are obviously tons of other issues, but for now I’m going to get in my clown car and buzz off. Another post will follow.

What Helps You?

Have you gone through management changes at your startup? How did that feel and how did you deal with it?



6 Ways to Work From Home, Stay Sane, Part 2

Maybe you read my first post, 6 Ways to Work From Home and Stay Sane. Or maybe not. In any case, people asked me what other ideas I had for staying sane. So here are some ideas that you might find useful.

Unplug the Phone

If you’re like me, you have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all kinds of apps and texts (and phone calls!) all vying for your attention from your smart phone. To stay sane, put the phone away somewhere when you go to sleep. I leave the phone in another room (not the room where I sleep). Yes, I know you’re thinking you could never do that. But you really can! Think back a few years to when you either didn’t have a smart phone, or you didn’t have every app under the sun running on your phone. You can do it! It has helped me sleep better.

Get Fancy Sheets

You’ve read about how you spend one third of your life in bed, right? Well, how about getting yourself some really fantastic Bedding? For me, Garnet Hill‘s flannel sheets are fantastic! (No, I don’t work for them!) They’re really soft and cozy, especially in the wintertime. And they make me look forward to going to sleep. They seem to get softer the more I wash them. Or maybe you like 600 thread count European sheets. The point is to get bedding you really love. 


Exercise might seem like an obvious road to sanity, but so many people don’t exercise at all. When I started thinking of exercise as part of my job every single day, my sleep improved immensely, and my mood improved, too. Now I can’t imagine not exercising. For me, six days a week works. It’s one of those “simple-but-not-easy” routines. I love cycling, so I do some form of cycling or spin classes on most days, plus weight training and stretching. Pilates and yoga are in the schedule, too, twice a week. But I have to confess: that sixth day? I have to drag myself to the gym.

Reduce Visual Clutter

When there’s too much junk on my desk, I tend to get a little crazy. What about you? It’s like all those things have voices, and they’re all wanting my attention. So filing the paper or putting away the Post-it notes, the pens, the spare nickles and stuff, keeps me focused and sane.

Use a Timer

Some of my friends make fun of me for using an egg timer. Yes, it’s an actual egg timer that ticks. I set it for 5 or 10 minutes or whatever time I need to focus on something. The ticking keeps me focused, for some reason.

Keep a Daily To-Do List

Again, this is obvious. Eric Lofholm, the sales trainer, suggests using the 14-minute rule, and carving out time first thing in the morning (you can use the egg timer–exciting!) When I write my to-do list, the day goes a lot smoother. Everything is scheduled, prioritized, and more tends to get done than on the days when I don’t have a formal list.

What Helps You Maintain Sanity?

Do you work from home? Are you a social person? Let me know by leaving a comment!

6 Ways to Work from Home & Stay Sane

I’m a Social Media Strategist who works from home. While I love working in my pajamas and bathrobe, things can get a little, well, dicey if I never go outside and see that yellow orb they call the sun. Here are some things that have helped me to stay sane and still get my work done.

Keep a Strict Starting Time for Work.

For me, that means I have had my breakfast and am sitting at my desk by 8:00 a.m. Usually a little before. I can still have coffee, but the breakfast has been cooked, eaten, and the dishes are rinsed.

Don’t Be a Slave to the Phone.

This is a really tough one because people often think that if you work at home, your time is their time. Not so fast! If you don’t pick up that phone, the next time they go to call you, they might think twice. You can return those calls later when you have time.

Schedule Breaks.

Frankly, I’m not very good at following my own advice here. But every hour, you should get up and stretch. Some people say more often. On the days I take more breaks, I feel better and get more done.

Get out and See People.

Now if you’re at all introverted, you may be resistant to this piece of advice. Even so, I’ve noticed that I feel much more lighthearted if I see two people face-to-face every single day.  Sophia Dembling, author of “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy Word” agrees. A trip to the gym (if you actually talk to people there) counts. The other might be coffee or lunch date with another home-based friend. Maybe you’re fine with only one visit outside the office per day, but figuring out how much “face time” you need is the important take-away concept.

Know When to Fold ‘em.

That’s corny, but you do need to know when to quit. As in, before…

  • your fingers start bleeding from typing too much.
  • your eyes are crossed and your contact lenses are all dried out because you stopped blinking 3 hours ago.
  • you can’t finish a sentence because you’ve been working for too many hours.

You get the idea. If you work on or around social media, stopping is difficult because there’s always “one more tweet.” The Huffington Post article “Facebook Addiction” chronicles some of the telltale signs. Don’t be that person who loses sleep because you have to be social all the time. Go to sleep.

Own a Cat.

Or a dog. Or a tortoise. Or some little creature that makes you smile every once in awhile. My cat, Purrsilla, will dangle her paws onto my keyboard when I’ve done just about enough typing, thank you very much. Sometimes she’ll send me a message. It will say something like “[[[[[[[[[uuuuuuuuuu99999”. I’m pretty sure that means something in cat language. (Get up and feed me?)

What Helps You Keep Your Sanity?

Maybe you have something that helps you keep your sanity. If you do, I’d really like to know. No, really! I’m still trying to figure out how to work from home. And stay sane.

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