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Share Your User Manual

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Three years ago I posted my user manual on the Taproot Foundation blog. Inspired by an article by Ben Dattner in Business Week, it has been a wonderful way to help Roots (i.e. our staff) understand my flavor of craziness.

I just updated my manual with the latest insights on how I work -- which I'd encourage everyone to do. As we kick off the New Year, this is a great way to both self-reflect and create a valuable tool to help you and your team start out on the right foot.

User's Manual: Aaron Hurst

My Style
I get energy from exploring ideas and creating opportunities. I am constantly gathering information and design ideas, tossing them around in my head until something pops. Once the idea is there, I quickly want to work with folks who can partner with me to prototype and pilot it. I have very little patience for sitting too long in analysis -- most learning happens in the field.

When to Approach Me
I like to solve problems and remove barriers. I love being able to help others move the ball forward. Approach me just about any time -- I'll let you know if I'm busy.

What I Value
My grandfather always said "keep exhilaration in front of exhaustion" and that really aligns with how I approach work and what I expect from those around me. I an inspired by potential and expect everyone to show initiative. I deeply value resourcefulness and am frustrated by cheapness. I highly value trust. Finally, I take everything seriously (life is precious) and nothing seriously (we are all going to die) at the same time.

Communicating with Me
Be crisp about what you need and articulate whether you are looking for my input or a decision. If I say something you disagree with -- tell me! I do not like second guessing.

How I Make Decisions
I make decisions quickly, seeing them as part of an iterative design process with values, logic and data as the inputs. I respect everyone and appreciate honest feedback. If anyone gives me solid logic or better data that clearly points in another direction, I'll make rapid course corrections. I frequently speak with conviction, which some people assume means I'm set in my thinking, but I'm actually "opinionated but open-minded," as Jack Knight put it.

How to Help Me
I move quickly and have a terrible eye for detail (but I highly value having details addressed). Therefore, help me make sure the details are covered and don't assume I know which details need attention.

For similar reasons, I am great at starting projects but need partners to ensure they are brought to completion. If you are taking over one of my initiatives, be aggressive about getting the information you need to be set up for success.

What I Will Not Tolerate
Like Reagan, I trust and then verify. If I find a reason not to trust you, it is hard to rebuild my confidence. Easy ways to lose my trust: not admitting mistakes, giving me misleading information, negative surprises, misrepresenting the Taproot Foundation, treating other people poorly and being too hierarchical.

Be Proactive!
Proactive communication about the skills you want to develop and how you want to develop them is vital, and then I'll do my best to help clear the way. I believe in giving people opportunities to grow, and pushing them beyond their comfort level.

I also realize that my mentoring style isn't right for everyone. I'm more than willing to leverage my network to help people find the right mentor -- but I'm unlikely to do this unless you show initiative.