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I love the idea of writing a user manual for yourself and your optimal functionality, the way that Jay Desai and others have done. The goal: sum up the way you prefer to work and key facts for others to know. Here’s mine in 10 quick points.

1. Be authentic

I don’t do well with bullshit artists or salespeople or politicians. I know you want something — I’m sure I do too — so just tell me what it is so we don’t both sit here wasting each other’s time. I love people who are uniquely themselves, faults and all. Your weirdness is what makes you interesting. Let’s talk about who you are and what you like, not just the business part of your life. For those of you who are familiar with the Enneagram personality system, I’m an 8 with a 9 wing; that sums up a lot of my draw to authenticity.

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

2. I’m an introvert

What this means:

  • I recharge my energy from being alone. Do not be offended; this is not about you. Actually maybe it’s about you. Some people are exhausting.
  • Meetings generally tire me out. Some meetings and people are energizing, but I’ve had back-to-back meetings all day I’m probably a walking corpse.
  • The more people in a meeting, the more I will fade into the background.
  • I dislike interrupting people and will try to find a natural break to talk.
  • I only talk when I have something important to say (and get annoyed with people who talk for the sake of talking). If you are the proverbial “loudest voice in the room,” you probably irritate me 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • I like being around people without the pressure or requirement to talk. E.g., multiple people working at a coffee shop or on someone’s couch.
  • I like to think about scenarios or problems before coming up with my position on them. Thus it’s better to give me materials and facts in advance and let me synthesize an opinion. Asking me on the spot freaks me out and doesn’t produce a thoughtful result.
  • I dislike when people walk into my office when I’m in the middle of something, expect me to always pick up calls, or want me to do spur-of-the-moment social things. (See #5 below: “I like plans”)

What this does not mean:

  • I am antisocial
  • I have low EQ or empathy

3. I’m not going to hire you as a VC or meet with you on that

See this article with my best advice on it and know that it’s not advantageous for us to meet or talk about this, ever. Here’s a version for college students. Here’s a version for lawyers.

4. Small talk is awful

Get to the point. I am not good at small talk and it’s not a skill I want to cultivate. You probably don’t care what I’ve been up to this summer or this weekend and I probably don’t either, so let’s just skip it and focus on why we’re both here. That’s what’s interesting.

5. I like plans

I don’t like plans for arbitrary reasons, but once I get it in my head that something will be a certain way, I get really thrown off if it’s not. Flexibility is something I need to work on 🙄 Please don’t change plans. Or if you have to, give me ample heads up.

6. Experts are the best

I love people who know their shit. There is nothing more interesting to me than an expert who really gets something and can go deep in that subject. This can be your job, sure, but also a subreddit you moderate or a movie genre you’re obsessed with or a trend you know way too much about.

This also includes being an expert on yourself. Be autonomous. Know who you are, what you need, and what you’re doing. I can’t solve these things for you and I’d be terrible at it if I tried.

7. Meetings: purposeful and short

Keep them as short as possible. Set an agenda and goal if you’re the one making the meeting. Be prepared to justify why every person invited is essential to the meeting, not just nice to have. If a meeting is going amazingly well, let’s go over time. If we’ve reached the point, let’s end it early. Arbitrariness sucks.

In the hierarchy of meeting formats, I pretty much always want to move lower in this list:

[More effort to schedule/more exhausting for introverts]

  • In person
  • Video call
  • Audio call
  • Email
  • Text

[Less effort to schedule/less exhausting for introverts]

If you try to move up the list, I will not be pleased unless there’s a really good reason for it. Don’t be that guy who’s always trying to “jump on a call” when a single text can accomplish whatever it is.

8. Grammar and spelling matter

I can’t help but be super attuned to it. “They’re” =/= “their” =/= “there.” It doesn’t have to be perfect, but when it gets in the way of what you’re communicating, I fixate on it.

9. I am not polished

I drop F-bombs. I go to meetings in workout clothes. I don’t follow rules that are stupid. I don’t mind if you do these things. I will probably like you more if you do.

10. Engage me on things that matter

I feel like my purpose on this earth is to reduce chaos and make things better for humanity via the interactions I have with people and the companies that I help come into existence more quickly. In every transaction I have, I’m looking to tip the scales in favor of utility, efficiency, and goodness. I love working on projects and with people who make this connection clear from the beginning. Justice, freedom of speech, meritocracy, and autonomy mean a lot to me.

As you can see if you made it this far, I really like efficiency. Thus I wish everyone had a user guide. If you do and we work together currently, we did in the past, or we may in the future, send me yours: I’m sarah(at)accomplice(dot)co.

Written by

Operating Partner at Accomplice. Formerly of Ovuline & Abine. I’m an angel investor, writer, lawyer, gamer, & liker of sci-fi & the Enneagram.

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