Quirks.Ben

It's kinda like a Manager Readme, but not. As a manager I'm here for you, I care deeply about how you feel and work, and we should talk about anything at anytime. But this page is about my weirdness, so it's necessarily introspective and narcissistic. Hopefully though it helps you understand why I do dumb things.


He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?

He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
Maori proverb

He tangata. That's the first thing that comes into my head when thinking about most problems. How can we solve it with people, or in a personable way, or in a way that does the least harm?


I recognise my privilege. I didn't grow up super rich, but I am a cis hetero white dude which allows me a massive amount of leeway to say and do stupid things with little or no repercussion. That's mostly the reason I am where I am today. I genuinely encourage you to bring your full and best self to work, but I recognise that can be more difficult for people without my privilege. Call me out if I'm being normative.

In a similar vein, it can be bloody hard for under-represented individuals to make the changes they need to happen in a workplace. I'm here for you, and willing to spend my free karma on your behalf: either as a supporter on the sidelines, or a front row tackler to get the idiots out of your way.


Process is scar tissue from previous failure. Policies are codified overreactions to unlikely-to-happen-again situations.

Policies and processes are frequently overused - in a healthy environment I think that people (he tāngata) can sort things out from first-principles most of the time, but I also recognise that my preference for favouring experience & first-principles over process & policy can make it difficult to obtain consistency. This is because I'd prefer an inconsistent brilliant outcome to a consistently standard one.

If you think some process, tooling, or consistently applied policy would really help in a situation, please just ask me and/or don't let me stop you applying these.

First principles thinking is the act of boiling a process down to the fundamental parts that you know are true and building up from there. If I think you've skipped first principles, I might question you on them. Often cognitive biases (especially availability bias) can cause us to skip over first principles.


Besides feeding my family, the reason I work is to spend time solving interesting problems with great people. I'm invested in Vend, both emotionally and financially, and I truly believe that independent retail is vitally important for communities. But, if I won the lottery I'd still want to solve interesting problems with great people. In my opinion, the success of the team or the organisation is a means to an end: to make sure that we can continue to get paid to solve problems together, and get more great people to join us on the journey.


I enjoy levity, and try to create it when I can. I like to make up funny and slightly off-colour metaphors to explain the problem or situation we are discussing. Don't think that I'm not super serious about the issue. I just don't reckon we need to be strait-laced all day.

Levity. noun; the treatment of a serious matter with humour or lack of due respect.


Ana Wight (Vend's Chief Strategy Officer) asked a brilliant question in an interview we were sharing: "Do you think your way into a new way of acting, or act your way into a new way of thinking?" I'd love it if I could act my way into a new way of thinking, but I don't. I spend a lot of time in my head, often developing conclusions from multiple sources of information and internal processing, before sharing these as "ideas". This causes me to be pretty attached to my ideas, which is not great. Sorry.

However, when it comes to technology problems I categorically favour acting over thinking. Agile is of course, to be laughed at and derided because I'm much too cool for it (sarcasm): but what I've learned from Agile is a huge preference for action over contemplation. I get infinitely more comfort from seeing real errors and genuine user reaction than I do from imagining possible failure states.

If I see you over-contemplating something that can be solved by shipping, doing, experimentation, or discovery, I will say so.


I yawn a lot in meetings and 1:1s. This is seriously my most embarrassing quirk. I can sit writing or coding all day and not yawn once, then walk into a meeting and boom I'm yawning every 30 seconds. I'm not sure if it's physiological or psychological. My GP suggests it's a stress reaction, but I prefer the folk-wisdom that yawning is required to cool your brain down.

Either way, if you see me suppressing yawns, it's 99.95% likely that I'm neither tired, nor bored, and often the opposite of both.


If you can give me confidence that you've "got this", and demonstrate it with follow-through, I will hugely appreciate it. I've got a low tolerance for people saying they'll do a thing, then not doing it. I'm also a total hypocrite because stuff drops off my to-do list reasonably often.

I have a to-do list that I rely on heavily. You should ask me if that thing we just spoke about is on my to-do list, because if it's not it'll almost certainly drop out of my brain the instant we stop talking. It could be because I have a lot running through my head, but potentially I'm undiagnosed ADHD.


When working on a complex subject, my communication preference is: long-form written comms > in-person conversation > chat apps. Don't be offended if I ask you to change modes if things are getting complex in Slack. I don't make that request often, but I need to do it more - I reckon it would reduce uncertainty and shorten discussions.


I've got a little Luxafor indicator on my monitor. If it's red, I'm in DnD mode. If it's red and I've got headphones AND a hoodie up, then I'm in extreme-DnD mode. In all other cases, please come chat to me! Open offices ¯\_(ツ)_/¯