A few months ago, I started a new adventure at WeMaintain (WM). You might remember this post about it:

Time for a new adventure, my start at WeMaintain
This week, I joined WeMaintain, where I was entrusted with the VP of Engineering role. I am now in Paris, on an onboarding spree. But wait, how did we get there? 3500 days ago, I joined an agency of 25 employees, consulting & contracting in Enterprise-Java. Ten years later, MATHEMA

One of the things I did early in my onboarding was to write a "How to" about working with me. Here's (almost) a verbatim copy of it. I'd encourage you to do the same. It triggered many discussions, and the introspection is worth as much as the result itself.

Timothée (Tim) Bourguignon, VP of Engineering, based in Nuremberg, Germany. The same latitude as Paris. Same Timezone (GMT+1) but with almost 45 min "sun difference".

☎️ Contact information

📧 Email, 🐦 Twitter: @timothep, 🔗 LinkedIn 📲 RedactedPhoneNumber😜

📅 Working schedule

  • 08:00 - 13:00 → Work
  • 13:15 ∼ 14:00 → 🍽 Lunch (German kids only go to schools in the mornings and come back around that time)
  • 14:00 - 17:30 → Work
  • 17:30 - 21:00 → 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Family-Time
  • 21:00+ → Work again, either on my DevJourney podcast, various other projects, or WM if necessary

Info: Fridays from 14:00 to 18:00, I take the kids to the French school. Depending on how it goes with the little ones, I might have to stay there... or be able to work. But it's rarely something I can plan!

👨🏼‍💻 Working Habits, what it's like to work with me

  1. I love asynchronous communication. I do my best to answer within 1/2 a day. If something is urgent, ping me on Slack, giving me a deadline. And last resort, call me!
  2. I prefer Slack over Emails, and I love to answer in threads. I like to decompose my messages for better threading.
  3. For asynchronous communication to work, we need to provide context and information beforehand. Would you please add a few sentences to your meeting invitations? What can I help you with? Why is this important or even urgent? What is the deadline? And last of all, why me / which Tim-flavor do you want me to bring with me to this meeting?
  4. I like taking notes. So you might hear me typing while we speak. I moved away from mechanical keyboards to dampen the sound. If it's too much clicking for you anyway, let me know, I can always go back to paper!
  5. If it's not on my calendar, I'll probably miss it. Please invite me! Bear in mind that -as described in this blog post- I have a love-hate relationship with meeting invitations out of the blue. If we didn't already agree that we should meet, please ping me first on Slack and suggest a few slots that you know would work (our calendars are entirely open). Then, to reduce the cognitive load, please also make clear if we meet on Discord or GoogleMeet. And finally, please refer to point three here above.
  6. I usually record my podcast episodes in the evenings. Sometimes I schedule a recording slot during the day to accommodate a guest's schedule. A recording slot is 90 min long, but the recording is usually done after 70-80 min. I will make it transparent in my calendar. During that time, I will shut down all notifications, including my phone, and check my notifications right after the recording is done. The same goes for my workout slots. I try to (hum) place a few slots to work out during the week and will be more or less unreachable during that time and will follow the same procedure.
  7. I have worked as a coach for years, and as such, I often answer questions with other questions. This is a powerful lever, but I know it is sometimes not what you need, and it can be annoying. I usually have a pretty good radar, but if I do it anyway and fail to notice smoke coming out of your ears (e.g., it bothers you), tell me that you don't need "Tim-the-coach" right now. I promise I won't be offended 😉
  8. I believe in the power of the first draft (I call it Draft-Zero) as a powerful means to center & drive discussion while preventing us from running in circles. I will never shy away from creating such a draft-zero (knowing that you will dismember it afterward and that it sometimes doesn't feel great), and I encourage you to do the same!
  9. I believe in gut feelings; sometimes, we know something is off, even if we can't verbalize it. I pay attention to that, but I also flag it as such. You've probably heard the following sentence before: "don't come to me with problems; come with solutions." While I love solutions, I also love problems or guts-feelings about issues. Please don't shy away from telling me what your guts are telling you!
  10. I want to help you with (but not limited to) the following:
  • Helping you make sense of difficult situations and helping you sort out your thoughts (guts, feelings, anyone?)
  • Finding where you want to go at WM, but also beside and beyond
  • Grow as a mentor and a leader
  • Step into public speaking, from speaking to a group of peers inside your squad to a conference stage!

👍🏻 I like

  • Disagree and commit.
  • Strong opinions, weakly held!
  • Systemic-consensing, the art of searching for the weakest resistance to an idea or an option instead of the most substantial buy-in!
  • I like to have my camera ON during meetings. I'd kindly ask you to do the same in 1-1s. During group calls, I recommend having the camera on at least at the beginning to connect.
  • Comic books (from 1999-2004, I administered Denis Bajram's Universal War 1's website). I am currently in love with the work of Mathieu Bablet.
  • Podcasts... → Tim is a podcasts junkie (internal link)
  • Geeking out about the paleo & ketogenic diets.
  • Endurance, trail (with elevation), and ultra-running (> 42 km)!

👎🏻 I don't like

  • When chats start with "hello" and then nothing, please follow the NoHello principle!
  • Meetings where we don't take notes and don't leave a trace of our thinking process.

👨🏻‍🎓 Stuff I need to re-learn

  • In Germany (or is it Bavaria? Or even Franconia? 🤔), we tend to say "hi" to whole groups, either by saying it out loud once with some hand gesture to englobe everyone or by knocking twice on the table 👊🏻. There is little hand-shaking, and we rarely go around the table to say "hi" to everyone personally. And this goes for saying goodbye as well. Please don't take it personally if I "forget" you or if I don't automatically go around shaking hands (or 🦠-fist-bumping). Oh, and by the way, knocking on the table is also a German alternative to applauding.
  • How to speak French. 😇. Believe it or not, but not speaking French daily for 15 years took a toll on my vocabulary. It's still enough for most conversations, but I miss some precise words here and there.