User Manual for Peter Zaballos



I am a fundamentally transparent person, and that cuts in all directions. I don’t’ have agendas or play games. And that also means when I have made a mistake I will own up to it, regardless of how embarrassing or unfortunate this may be,

I am generally patient, very much goal oriented, and a team player. I will do my best to recognize you for your contributions, and support you to the best of my abilities as you strive to do the best you can.

That said, I can be really impatient when someone doesn’t “get it” – do not take this personally, but use this as an opportunity to keep asking questions. I’m truly impatient only when a lack of understanding is produced by the absence of intellectual curiosity and/or an unwillingness to be open-minded.

Intellectual curiosity is a quality I prize above almost any, it drives my views about ego and plans below:

What we know about our business is that it will be evolving and changing, constantly. I try to remove ego from what I do and what we do. Ego is what inhibits adaptation and change – the more we cling to ideas because they are ours, the less successful we will be.

I do not micromanage. I will point you in a direction and trust you to develop the plan and rationale to accomplish your objectives. We’ll have an engaged review of your plan, and I’ll provide as much constructive feedback as possible, and then manage with a light hand.

And while I love having a plan, and love even more when you (or together we) determine it’s time to discard it to create a newer, more relevant plan. That’s most productively done where the assumptions that underpin and support the plan are clearly called out and tested with data.

I am a fan of failure (I own the domain and am a big believer especially in fast failure – the value of lots of inexpensive experiments. Failing is a critical component of finding success. A strong corollary is bad news should travel faster than good news.

Mistakes are not only to be expected, they’re the evidence that you are pushing yourself. As long as you make the same mistake just once.

I want you to say what you think, and be fearless in challenging the status quo – which on occasion is going to include me.

I welcome ideas, but appreciate ideas that you take full ownership of and are able and prepared to support with logic and data.

I can form strong opinions, and forcefully explain and support them. Do not confuse this for not seeking alternative views or an unwillingness to be challenged.

There are certain topics and areas where I will seek input, but where input should not be considered the same as a vote. There are times we will be participating in a democracy that will shift to a dictatorship.

I hate the conditional verb tense (should, could, would,…). It can produce a corrosive, unproductive framing of hindsight. If you find yourself using it, stop, then give yourself credit for the best job/choice/outcome given the circumstances. If there is a lesson there, learn it. And move on.

There will be periods of time when you can’t possibly accomplish everything you are asked to. Your job is to determine what cannot be done, what is not important, and focus on what can and needs to be done.

You may want to have kids one day or already have them, if you want to talk to me about work and family issues, my door is open and I’m here to support you.


5 Responses to “User Manual for Peter Zaballos”

  1. My User Manual | Open Ambition Says:

    […] By the time I got off the train I had a complete draft of my User Manual. Check it out, I’m on v2.1 […]


  2. snovalleycyclist Says:

    I like it. How have you revised it from 1.0? Do people give you things they see in you that are missing? Ask you questions about what you mean by something and you clarify based on that?

    Type-o “can’t possible accomplish”


    • Peter Zaballos Says:

      Thanks Jeff! The big version change came with the last item in the user manual, about being able to talk about family issues at work. In my next post I’m going to talk about that – it came from an interview with Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook – who I totally love, and how it’s more important than ever for especially women to have open conversations about their plans to have children, or anyone’s plans about family. It can have a huge impact on your career. And well over half the folks on my teams are women, I wanted them to know they could talk to me about this.

      And thanks for the typo highlight!


  3. Ian McKerlich Says:

    Pete, what a great leadership resource and a great example! Not only will this shorten a learning curve with new colleagues, I think it helps the author/leader make sure s/he is leading they way they intend to. Thanks for sharing! IM


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