User Manual for Peter Zaballos


My purpose is to create the conditions where you feel safe to voice your honest opinions, and the conditions where you feel you can take risks and do the best you can do. 

I am a fundamentally transparent person. I don’t have agendas or play games. 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, am very much goal oriented, and am a team player. I will do my best to recognize you for your contributions, and support you as you strive to do the best you can. 

That said, I can be really impatient when someone’s lack of understanding or progress 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. 

Let go of your ego and be someone who takes feedback well. Because people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly. That includes me.

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 occasionally 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 in the value of lots of inexpensive experiments. Failing is just data, and is a critical component of finding success. 

And because failure is data, bad news should travel faster than good news so we learn quickly.

I hate the conditional verb tense (should, could, would,…). It’s an 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. 

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 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. 

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

In high growth businesses you can’t possibly accomplish everything you are asked to. Your job is to determine the few critical uses of your time, and get good at saying “no” to the many worthy, less critical uses of your time.

You may want to have children 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. 

I am not perfect, there will be times when I do not live up to this User Manual. When that happens, call me out, and I will correct myself

6 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


  4. 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 v4.0 […]


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