User manual for Slav Stankov
OK, so you want to know more about me. Here is a manual on how to work with me. Keep reading.
Random things about me
- I answer to Stanislav, Slav preferred, the occasional Slava, "hey you", or any other nickname you see fit.
- My family is my wife Simona, and my girl - Anika (born in 2018) and Monika (born 2021).
- If I had nothing to do, I would spend my time sailing with a boat or building children tree houses.
- I went to University to become a software engineer, but after 5-6 years into it, I saw that project management is way more exciting. I guess I did not have the nerve to sit and code all day long anymore. However, during working on my Startup Rush, I eventually code for 2 years, becoming a product architect. Life is funny!
- I worked remotely since 2005, and it significantly shaped they way I work.
- I’m focused on results, and most of the time it is a messy process, so I might not always seem a well-organized manager.
- I’m more of a picture person - I like to draw and create mindmaps (Miro) for myself to help me out, but I’m not a word person. Sometimes when I’m in heist, it is not easy to be communicated with me. I’m aware and I try to keep it in check.
- I’m focused more on that 80% that gets done with 20% of effort, rather than always being 100% perfect
- I value the relationship with my team, and I always look to grow people with me or to grow with them.
Being located in Europe, I usually start work around 7:00 AM UTC (9:00 AM), and stop work around 3:00 PM UTC. I’m always unavailable from 3:00 PM to 6:30 PM as this is the time I have dinner with my family and play with the kids.
I am also generally online all the time, so I do not mind getting notifications and messages. I answer them as soon as I’m available. I also prefer to have Friday free of meetings, as usually I try to get more work done or wrap up/prepare for the next week.
I follow a set of rules in life, as well as in work, that help me grow, and expand, but also help me set expectations early on.
- Be brutally honest
- Start with the end in mind
- Success is measurable, no guessing allowed
- Know your funnel inside out and never stop optimizing it
- Iterate on it until you get it right
- Track, track, track! Data is king
- Done is better than perfect
- 80/20 Rule
When there is a complex problem, I try to simplify it first - break it down it multiple sub-items. In case smaller problems can be clearly defined, are worth solving, and we have enough data to back us I move forward with problem-solving.
I also understand that there are cases, where data cannot be collected or is biased. For those cases, I prefer to move forward with a quick decision targeting solving the immediate problem while providing more input. In the next iteration armed with a deeper problem understanding, a better fix can be applied.
Before we address any problem, I want to better understand if it is worth solving. This means for all problems should be related to any business metrics, or goals. And be prioritized based on those. Any feature launch should include also a plan on how to measure success.
I would almost most cases prefer to launch a series of hypothesis tests, to validate it, before a solid solution.
What I value
- Good strategy - starting with the problem and having a logical, simple possible solution or test to validate it.
- Responsibility - jumping in and owning a problem (whether or not it falls strictly in your area), and shepherding it through to the right people to solve it.
- Reliability - being trustworthy when it comes to communication and delivery of what has been asked of you. I can toss you something and trust that you've got it and that you will tell me if you need help.
- Efficiency - using the time of the team wisely
- Collaboration - working with teams in a way that takes advantage of everyone's strengths to get to the best conclusion.
- Growth mindset - learning from failure, being open to feedback, being introspective, and keeping an eye out for ways to improve versus waiting for feedback.
What I don't have much patience for
- Prioritizing individual goals over business or team goals
- Ego (Manifested as the inability to consider the proposals, perspectives, or goals of others. Confidence is great)
- Working with people that are all talk and no action
- Unnecessary churn, wasting the team's time, creating discomfort
- Having others represent me or my team without my knowledge or input
- Myself, when I don't have a solid handle on what's happening
- Generally, I have a lot of patience, so this is not really a section to focus on
I'm always usually on Slack and try to be responsive in that format to anyone that needs me. I will send emails/Google Docs for complex topics or where more documentation (i.e. communication of decisions) is necessary. For things that require a response, my response speed (as well as my expectations of response speed from others) correlates with the following: Call —› Text —› Slack —› Email —› Google doc comment. If you need an answer and I haven't responded, ping me again.
I prefer to be pinged immediately in whatever way is convenient when I can speed something up, remove a roadblock, provide a tie-breaking vote, or some knowledge from past research/features that might be helpful, etc. I bounce back from interruptions quickly and provide the most value when removing obstacles for my team as efficiently as possible. My favorite type of 1:1s are those that let us bang out a set of decisions or topics in a short timeframe where covering them individually would be less efficient. I don't need to know the topics in advance unless you want me to think about them more deeply before the meeting, and I am fine with just a bulleted list without a ton of detail - the whole point is to move things along. I also get value from periodic "check-in" meetings to find out what is going well and not so well for my team so that we can adjust our work styles to help everyone be happy and productive. I love to help people and will find a way to meet with anyone anytime that could be useful.
For group meetings, I believe that having some people co-located and others not in any meeting is harmful to productivity. If possible, I prefer everyone to join remotely if key players are remote, but recognize that that is generally not possible in the offices. I am somewhat dismissive of the idea that we must meet in person frequently to be effective and will never say no to a request to be remote for pretty much any reason. I expect that people will maximize the value of times when we can be together in person by using that time strategically. I consider periodic whole-remote-team meetups to be critical to the success of the company for retention and engagement.
The larger the meeting, the more important I feel it is to have a set agenda, game plan, and expected outcomes. I am fine if that is not shared in advance, as long as it exists and can be clearly communicated in the meeting, and followed up on.