What makes for great reporting? The key is integrity. Without integrity, you can’t be objective, and you’ll wind up reporting on opinions instead of facts. Mike Haney, editorial director at Levels, has spent his life in this world of publications, of media, and reporting as a journalist. In this episode, Ben Grynol interviewed Mike about his background in the world of journalism, the beauty of asynchronous work, and why it’s important to give yourself space to make good decisions.
05:05 – Be willing to try new things
In an early stage startup, everyone’s still learning what the rules are. So you have to be open to try new things so you can figure out what works.
In a small, early stage startup, in which you are all learning and trying to figure out what works, you have to have more openness to trying things. It’s just sort of a necessary part of the playbook because there’s no playbook. Because we just don’t know, so we have to be open to trying things. So a skepticism that’s centered on thinking you might know a better way to do it or that some other way you’ve done things in the past is certainly not a useful skepticism at all, you just have to be open to the experimentation. The other side of it that I think is a little bit more uniquely Levels, at least in my experience of working at other companies, even other tech companies is, we are a relentlessly positive, optimistic, supportive group. And that was true when I joined with 13, 14 people, it’s true today with 60 people. I suspect it will be true when there’s a thousand people here. Even as we all acknowledge, it get’s more and more challenging in some ways as you grow to keep that up. And I’ve been struck by the success we’ve had in keeping that tone up.
14:01 – Understand the stakes
It’s easier to make good decisions when the stakes are low and one wrong decision isn’t the end of the world.
I didn’t need that self-protective mechanism of being skeptical for the sake of sort of covering my butt. If something goes wrong, that there wasn’t going to be those kinds of consequences, which gives you a freedom to go like, no, no, you can try this. We use this example all the time, but I don’t have to fight to the death, Ben’s idea about how to do a podcast. Like I might have a different opinion and it’s based on legitimate experience, but there’s no consequence to me. I’m not going to get fired if it turns out that I go along with an idea that’s being suggested, I do everything I can to help it succeed and it fails, I’m not going to get fired over that. Company’s not going to go out of business. So understanding stakes, I think part of that for me anyway, that’s just something that’s taken age and experience to get better at.
15:41 – Don’t start with cynicism
If you think something terrible is going to happen and it does, you don’t win. So save your energy and approach life with optimism.
You might be wrong, the world’s full of crappy things, but start from the place of optimism and then be proven wrong. You don’t get anything by walking around being cynically, but when you turn out to be right, it doesn’t make things better. If you think something terrible is going to happen and then it happens, a terrible thing has still happened, you don’t win. So, instead save all that energy, walk around assuming that things are going to be okay, don’t be blind to things that aren’t okay, whether that’s at work or in the world or anywhere else. Have your opinions, voice them, bring skepticism. I waited on a thread this week about some new product feature with some, I think healthy sort of skepticism or some thoughts about like, “Oh, I see we’re thinking about doing this. Here’s some experience I’ve had and some things I think we need to be careful about if we go down this direction.” But try to frame it in an absolutely constructive way.
19:21 – Take advantage of your time
Levels is a unique environment, so Mike is trying to take advantage of the time he has now, because it’s unlikely another company will have the same environment.
It is such a unique environment that we are in. And I say all the time, how lucky I feel to have landed here, not just because I get to do the kind of work I really want to do and that I think belongs in the world in terms of science and health reporting, but also just to work in this environment. And the thing I think about is, for probably all of us, this won’t be our last job. Just the way life works. Like at some point, whether we’re here a year or five years or 10 years, we’ll probably move on to other places. And those environments will probably be different because most environments are not like Levels. So to your point, I think a lot about trying to take advantage of this time.
22:02 – Trust the transparency
Levels truly wants the best for its employees. Mike encourages new hires to take advantage of that mindset and dive in.
I say this a lot to new employees, lean into it, trust that we mean what we say that this environment is what we purport it to be and figure out, try to find what that means for you and how that can make your life better. Whether that’s a work life balance thing that you can take up a hobby you wouldn’t otherwise have time to do. Whether it’s the opportunity to learn new things here because you’ve got the freedom and we all have short toes and you can dive into engineering, even if you’re in support. Or whatever it might be, whatever sort of way you want to take advantage of it. Take advantage of the time you have here, because this is unique.
26:25 – Give yourself space
With the asynchronous environment of Levels, employees have time to breathe before they respond to messages. This helps people give a more measured response.
The benefit of being async is, and I do this all the time. I’ll read a thread, I’ll catch myself having that kind of reaction. Sometimes you feel a physical result of it, sometimes you just catch yourself mentally going, get up. Get up and walk around, go pet my dog. Just like get away from it. And again, because we’re not expected to respond right away, it’s not a Slack cursor blinking at you. You’ve got time to take it in. And I still have to watch this. But literally last night I got a piece of feedback, I had a feeling of feeling a little bit threatened by it. I recorded a Loom response, and then I threw it away. And I went and did something else, and then I came back a half hour later and I recorded the new Loom response. And the new Loom response was decidedly less defensive than the first one. Because I had taken that break. So I think that’s part of what helps here is just taking advantage of the async non-fire drill kind of environment that we live in to just give yourself space.
30:34 – Give yourself space to make decisions
Mike explains the benefits of the 10-10-10 framework: 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. That mindset makes it easier to weigh in on decisions.
What I like about 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years is that each one of those kind of has its own utility. If you wait 10 minutes, the lens you can sort of put that pause through is the personal interaction that you are engaging in. Is the Loom or the reply that I’m going to send back potentially going to damage the relationship with this person in some way, undermine trust, or show them an ugly side of myself or whatever. The 10 month window is sort of like, will this matter for the company. The decision that I’m weighing in on, or the thing that we’re talking about, how important will this be to the company or the project or whatever in 10 months? It’s enough of a window to where like, does this have long term consequences? And maybe it does. And if so you wait a little longer and if it doesn’t you go like right, in 10 months, nobody’s going to care about this conversation. It will not have impacted the company at all. And 10 years is kind of the window of, when you’re in your deathbed and you’re looking back, will this matter at all? And I think that’s also a useful lens and something that I’ve tried to get better as I get older is just to go, most things are not life or death. Most things in the long run are just not worth the amount of worry.
37:06 – Distance is great
Async makes it easier to maintain some distance from colleagues. You don’t have to be in each other’s business all the time.
I think that is a huge advantage of remote work and why I think there should be a lot more of it. We shouldn’t have to be so up in the grill of the people we work with, like family, you have to do it with. Like with your wife, with your kids, with your parents, you have to figure out a way to tolerate those things that annoy you about them to work through it and to just learn to let. And that’s hard enough with people that you love. You shouldn’t also have to do that with people who you had no control over their hiring and they’re, you’re suddenly all stuck together in an office.
47:11 – The importance of transparency
Transparency is one of the hallmarks of Levels. But the best part of Levels’ transparency is that while information is available for anyone and at any time, it’s also optional to consume.
One of the things we talk about here a lot is the transparency of this company, which is fantastic. I can dip into any department, I can follow along memos or Loom calls that don’t have anything to do with my department that maybe are about top levels of leadership and that’s all great. But I get to control what I jump into. I’m glad that I don’t have to observe every conversation that happens among all of my coworkers or that I’m not aware if a particular department’s having a tough week.
Mike Haney (00:06):
It’s just sort of better and easier to be optimistic. And you might be wrong, like the world’s full of crappy things, but start from the place of optimism and then be proven wrong. Like you don’t get anything by walking around being cynically, but when you turn out to be right, it doesn’t make things better. If you think something terrible’s going to happen and then it happens, a terrible thing has still happened. You don’t win.
Ben Grynol (00:32):
I’m Ben Grynol, part of the early startup team here at Levels. We’re building tech that helps people to understand their metabolic health. And this is your front row seat to everything we do. This is A Whole New Level.
Ben Grynol (00:58):
What makes for great reporting? This idea of integrity, that being journalistic integrity. When it comes to editorial and documentary content creation, integrity is key. Without it you’re not really reporting on the facts, you’re not digging into things with scrutiny. This takes a lot of skill, a lot of practice, and a lot of ingenuity to constantly question things. But, there’s a fine line with being a great journalist where you can be skeptical and you can be overly optimistic. You have to find the middle ground to do great reporting. You can tell all sides to a story, and you never really want to pick a side. You want to present the information in a way that it is factual. And so for Mike Haney editorial director at Levels, many of you know him as Haney by now, Haney has spent his life in this world of publications, of media and reporting as a journalist.
Ben Grynol (01:57):
And so Haney spent the majority of his career out in New York. Eventually he moved to the West Coast a few years ago and he started to change his lens on the way that he thought about maybe being less skeptical about things, maybe more open-minded about the world. When he joined Levels, he very much felt that this was a continued journey in the way that he would change his lens and start to trust some of the ambiguity and some of the process that we were implementing as a company. Haney has worked very hard on this idea of going from no to yes. So he’s not questioning everything, but he’s still questioning it enough to be amazing at his job, yet open-minded enough that we can try all these things, swing the bat as a startup fail and know that it’s not that big of a deal. It’s all part of the process.
Ben Grynol (02:45):
And so Haney and I sat down and we did an episode on this idea of no to yes. What were some of the things that he did to start to change his lens and be more open-minded, yet it’s still maintain this idea of journalistic integrity. It’s always fun jamming with Haney and here’s where we kick things off.
Ben Grynol (03:08):
So I thought this one will be good to jump into this idea of from no to yes. And so we know that you’ve got a background in journalism and part of being an incredible journalist is having this ability to question everything and to try to uncover truth, or try to always sort of have differing views. So you’re trying to play all sides of it. And so this creates this dichotomy between being skeptical and buying into things because you get caught in between. And so that led to, when you and I have talked about this before, it led to this idea of, well, I don’t know if that’s going to work, whether it’s culture related or whether it’s like running some experiment.
Ben Grynol (03:49):
And then one day you literally flipped the switch and you’re like, “I’m just going to say yes to things.” And so it’s been so interesting to watch how you’ve maintained this lens of integrity from a journalistic perspective, but you’ve managed to divorce your brain of that when it comes to other things that you’re like, yeah, let’s do it. So I thought it’d be good to go into this idea from no to yes where the default used to be “No, I don’t know that’s going to work.” To, “Let’s do everything.”
Mike Haney (04:21):
Yeah. It’s overcoming my inherent skepticism. And I think you’re right that or at least this is the story I tell myself that I center this very much in this sort of journalistic training and operating within media environments where generally there’s a more cynical and skeptic tone. And I think part of that is a story journalist tell themselves, I think there’s probably all kinds of other reasons like damaged people tend to go into comedy. I think probably cynical, skeptical people tend to go into journalism. So how much of it is like us fulfilling a mission versus, this is just the kind of people that are attracted to this field, I’m not sure. And I think there’s a couple things that come into play when we talk about Levels. One is that idea that in a small, early stage startup, in which you are all learning and trying to figure out what works, you have to have more openness to trying things, right? It’s just sort of a necessary part of the playbook because there’s no playbook, right? Because we just don’t know, so we have to be open to trying things.
Mike Haney (05:21):
So a skepticism that’s centered on thinking you might know a better way to do it or that some other way you’ve done things in the past is certainly not a useful skepticism at all, you just have to be open to the experimentation. The other side of it that I think is a little bit more uniquely Levels, at least in my experience of working at other companies, even other tech companies is, we are a relentlessly positive, optimistic, supportive group. And that was true when I joined with 13, 14 people, it’s true today with 60 people. I suspect it will be true when there’s a thousand people here. Even as we all acknowledge, it get’s more and more challenging in some ways as you grow to keep that up.
Mike Haney (06:00):
And I’ve been struck by the success we’ve had in keeping that tone up, but that’s not the tone everywhere. A lot of offices are for all kinds of dysfunctional reasons, have a much more, whether it’s political or whether it’s political in the sense of office politics or whether it’s a kind of sense of divide between the people who run the company and the sort of worker bees or competition among employees, or just maybe the industry itself, again journalism tends to be this way. Journalism is this way in part, because it’s kind of a dying organization or kind of a dying field. So there’s a kind of Paul that hangs over, at least in the last 15 years, the entire industries they’re like, “Are we closing today?” And Levels just isn’t that.
Mike Haney (06:47):
And so that was the other piece of it I think that took me a little time to really integrate in how I operate was to default, not just default yes, in terms of being open to trying things, but default positive, optimistic, supportive, not of coworkers, right? We’re all decent human beings, but of ideas and of initiatives and going, like, “I don’t know let’s go ahead and try it.” And I would say the third thing that I think is worth us, probably diving into a little bit, because again, I think it’s unique here is trying to get in touch with, well, what would cause me to not be open to something? Right? Is it because I want to sound smart, because I want to sort of prove my colleagues that I know a better way to do it or I have experience or do I want to be the [inaudible 00:07:34] one? I want to be able to say like, “I’m the one who told you that wasn’t going to work and look at how smart I am.”
Mike Haney (07:39):
Is it a fear of consequences? Right? Is it like, “Well, what if I try this and it doesn’t work and then I look like the idiot?” Or what if this reflects poorly on my part of the company? What if we do something and it makes content or editorial look bad to say, I’m going to come at me about why aren’t you doing your job? And again, I think part of the learning of working here was understanding it like, that’s just not the environment here and that’s maybe speaks back to the experimentation side, but the freedom we have to work here without the fear of those kinds of consequences and then training yourself to get out of that mindset, to really sort of examine like, “Wait, why am I saying no here? What am I afraid of? What is the place of fear?” Or whatever the emotion is, it’s driving this kind of default response. What can get me from that no to that yes in a comfortable way.
Mike Haney (08:26):
Because you can do it in an uncomfortable way. Right? You can just go like, “All right, I guess I’ll try it.” But if you’re still apprehensive, if you’re still skeptical, then it’s not going to work, because you’re not going to bring all of yourself to it, right? You’re not going to try to make the ideas succeed. You got to be willing to sort of buy in and go like, this might fail and if it does, we’ll all fail together, but we have to know that we tried our best. And I think I’ll stop there, but those are some of the things that go through my head when I think about just my journey of, I like the way you framed it, getting from no to yes.
Ben Grynol (08:55):
Yeah. Do you think some of it’s driven from… So there’s like a couple things to touch on. One is, the world is large, there are lots of people so this has to be true in some sense. But I don’t think let’s like loosely generalize and say, I don’t think you could be a good journalist if you’re overly gullible and overly optimistic. Because the second part of it is, you’ll likely get the story wrong. And if you’re trying to tell a story with integrity and you’re trying to get the facts right, and all of the inputs. If you do that, once you do that twice, you do that three times and it’s wrong. You objectively tell the wrong story, you provide the wrong facts, it kind of makes you like, not a very good journalist. So it’s like, that’s why you need the lens of integrity and the lens of continuing to question, even when the facts are, “Nope, they’re true, they’re entirely true.”
Ben Grynol (09:52):
It’s like, you’re still going that layer deeper and the layer after that. To really make sure that you’re… I mean, there’s been, I’m positive you’ve seen it in your career where it’s like a story is wrong and it comes out. But there have been big stories that have come out on different NPR programs and they’re doing pretty significant reporting on other major companies and they just get the story wrong because they got duped by somebody who convinced them of some fictitious story. And so it’s like, I can see where it comes from where, maybe it’s you’re right. Maybe there’s some self-fulfilling prophecy of, we are this way so we’re drawn to this career path. Or you train your brain, maybe it’s a little bit that way, but you really train your brain to always default to that. And so it’s like undoing all of the things that make you amazing at your job becomes a complete juxtaposition between, yes, let’s do it and let’s evolve and let’s change our thoughts.
Ben Grynol (10:49):
So it’s exactly what you said where it’s like, if you say, I guess we’ll try it. It’s not really disagree and commit where you wholeheartedly invest yourself in that thing. And you’re like, we might get this wrong, but I’m there. I’m trying this. I can imagine, it’s a hard thing to balance between those two different mindsets when you’re trying to hold them as opposing views in your day to day work. It’s not like that used to be my thing and now my work is this way. It’s like, this is your day to day, hour to hour you have to sort of bounce between these two opposing mindsets. So it’s interesting to hear how you’ve… We should dive more into like, were there strategies that you used? Or what was it that… When you sort of had like, we’ll call it the first six or eight months that you were on the team, you held this viewpoint in one day, it was like you snapped your fingers.
Ben Grynol (11:40):
What sort of were the strategies? Or was it feedback process with team members? What was the catalyst that really made you go? “I’m just not going to think this way anymore, and we’ll see what happens with this new way of thinking.”
Mike Haney (11:53):
I think it was a number of things happening cumulatively. Part of it was feedback, I mean, and I say this a lot that I spent the first six months here. Even though when I was hired, I was told by everybody and I interviewed with all the founders that, “We’re committed to doing editorial content, it’s not marketing, we want you to do reporting. Even if it turns out that you’re going to say something that is like not supportive of what we have said in the past, if you’ve uncovered new research that says as much, we want you to say it.” And I went, “That’s great. That’s why I came to work here.” And then I spent six months going like, but do you really mean it? Like do you really mean it? And sort of poking at those assumptions. And so it was a little bit of the accumulative effect of having monthly calls with Sam, which I asked that question in various ways.
Mike Haney (12:34):
And I continued to get the response, or I just got the real time feedback of him sending me feedback on articles that was like, “Hey, how about we start to put a section at the bottom of articles that says what we don’t know, or what would change our minds? Or where might we be wrong?” Adding on to that idea of, no, no, we should continue to maintain that skeptical [inaudible 00:12:57] approach to the content that we’re making. And you’re right that, that is still a space that I 100% live in when I have my editorial hat on. And particularly, I think it’s really important in health and science reporting to have that because research is fuzzy, it’s hard to figure out there’s almost never absolutes. All of the reasons we can get into about nutrition and health research.
Mike Haney (13:17):
But in terms of understanding or coming to realize that you don’t have to apply that lens to work environment, part of it’s that the place is infectious. We jump on, we have our Friday all hands calls. Everybody comments on this when they start to experience it, you kind of can’t come out of those all hands calls without feeling optimistic and positive and supportive, because it’s just such a lovely environment from jokes that happen in the chat to the positive comments in the chat to just people’s general attitude to the share, all of that I think is good. Memo culture is the same internal communications culture is the same. It really does pervade here in a remarkably consistent way. And so a part of that I think is infecting it and part of it was intentional of realizing that the stakes were low, that I didn’t need that self-protective mechanism of being skeptical for the sake of sort of covering my butt.
Mike Haney (14:08):
If something goes wrong, that there wasn’t going to be those kinds of consequences, which gives you a freedom to go like, no, no, you can try this. We use this example all the time, but I don’t have to fight to the death, Ben’s idea about how to do a podcast. Like I might have a different opinion and it’s based on legitimate experience, but there’s no consequence to me. I’m not going to get fired if it turns out that I go along with an idea that’s being suggested, I do everything I can to help it succeed and it fails, I’m not going to get fired over that. Company’s not going to go out of business. So understanding stakes, I think part of that for me anyway, that’s just something that’s taken age and experience to get better at. When I was 25, every day at work was like the end of the world. It was absolutely critical and it’s just taken me a long time to get distance family, all that stuff I think helps.
Mike Haney (14:53):
Part of it I got to be honest was moving to California. When I moved out here, which three years ago, even before I started working at Levels, I remember a moment in which something happened and I had an optimistic response to it. And I caught myself realizing that it was an authentically optimistic take. Like I really stopped and went like, oh, maybe it’ll all work out. And then it struck me because like, that’s not what I say. Like I could make myself say that I can pretend to be optimistic, but I’ve never been legitimately optimistic in my life. What the hell is California doing to me? And it struck me to the… What I came away from that experience with, and I still employ is, just reminding myself that it’s just sort of better and easier to be optimistic.
Mike Haney (15:40):
And you might be wrong, the world’s full of crappy things, but start from the place of optimism and then be proven wrong. You don’t get anything by walking around being cynically, but when you turn out to be right, it doesn’t make things better. Right? If you think something terrible is going to happen and then it happens, a terrible thing has still happened, you don’t win. So, instead save all that energy, walk around assuming that things are going to be okay, don’t be blind to things that aren’t okay, whether that’s at work or in the world or anywhere else. Have your opinions, voice them, bring skepticism. I waited on a thread this week about some new product feature with some, I think healthy sort of skepticism or some thoughts about like, “Oh, I see we’re thinking about doing this. Here’s some experience I’ve had and some things I think we need to be careful about if we go down this direction.”
Mike Haney (16:27):
But try to frame it in an absolutely constructive way. It wasn’t from a place of fear of if you guys do this and I didn’t weigh in like the company’s going to sink or whatever, it was just, here’s some feedback on it. So that’s been sort of it’s been a cumulative process to get to try to just live in a more optimistic and positive way without sacrificing that skepticism when it is necessary, right? When I’m doing actual reporting and I’m reading a study and saying, okay, let’s look at the methods in this, the methodology. Let’s look at the funding of the study. Let’s look at the effect. Let’s look at what else is out there that might counter this. That we absolutely continue to do, but that has its, to your point, that’s a space where that’s necessary that doesn’t have to carry over into like how we run the podcast at Levels. I don’t need to bring that level of scrutiny and skepticism to business projects.
Ben Grynol (17:17):
Mm-hmm. I’d imagine that if the environment was much different, so you decide to flip your lens, right? It kind of like you had that revelation three years ago where you were like, that’s not the Haney I know it’s like ghost dad looking at himself in some future state. But, if the environment was the opposite of what it is, where it’s very supportive and very risk seeking, if you want to call it that, where it’s like, no, try it. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen. It doesn’t work out, if it was the opposite, where there was a lens of scrutiny and people are always saying like, “Hey, this didn’t work out.” And we’re sort of poking holes in things, I would imagine that it would be harder to maintain this new mental state, if you want to call it that. Where you’re saying, I’m trying to get to this place where I’m willing to test things. And even exploring different types of content, you would almost, maybe it would go back to this idea of “Do they really want me to do product marketing and they’re just saying editorial?”
Ben Grynol (18:18):
It’s almost like you’re waiting for the reveal of, or you bring it forward where you’re like, “Hey, I really think we should do product marketing.” And everyone’s like, “Yeah, we were just waiting for you to say that the whole time.” Then you sort of play these mental games with yourself and you’re like, “How do they want me to be?” But do you find that, from a person, let’s not say professional, because we’re all getting exposed to things professionally, but from a personal perspective, you can almost be on this new evolution or this journey where you rediscover another phase or another chapter of yourself, because you’re allowed to have such a wide purview of, it’s almost like, you can’t do wrong in the way you think. Do you ever find that here where you’re like, “I can kind of explore in any way possible and it allows me to feel more free?” Do you have this like open mindset because the environment’s so supportive?
Mike Haney (19:12):
A hundred percent. Yeah. I think about this a lot, actually that without this sounding too sort of rah-rah levels, but it’s hard to get away from it, that it is such a unique environment that we are in. And I say all the time, how lucky I feel to have landed here, not just because I get to do the kind of work I really want to do and that I think belongs in the world in terms of science and health reporting, but also just to work in this environment. And the thing I think about is, for probably all of us, this won’t be our last job. Just the way life works, right? Like at some point whether we’re here a year or five years or 10 years, we’ll probably move on to other places. And those environments will probably be different because most environments are not like Levels.
Mike Haney (19:49):
So to your point, I think a lot about trying to take advantage of this time. And sometimes it’s almost stressful. I mean, I’ve made the comment before that, one of the things that’s a little tricky about here is that, if you find yourself getting really anxious about work, you kind of can’t blame work. It’s sort of on you to figure it out because we do everything we can to create an environment that doesn’t drive that anxiety. You can’t complain about your boss for the most part. I hope any way most people feel that way here, I certainly do. Or you can’t say like, ah, they’re throwing more crap at me or ah, they change directions again or this place or all the kind of eye rolling and blaming that you can do at most organizations, like here, you have to go like, why am I not managing my day?
Mike Haney (20:25):
Like, what am I not taking advantage of that is offered to me here in terms of work life balance or working on the things we’re really passionate about or outsourcing things to our EA service that we don’t want to do over and over again. Or whatever the many tools we have to have a positive working environment here, to minimize that anxiety, to take advantage of that experimentation mindset, to try things, we have the opportunity to do all that and that’s unique. And so, yeah, I try really hard to think about taking advantage of this period of my life.
Mike Haney (20:59):
However long it turns out to be when I’m in this environment and I don’t have that layer of stress and hassle and politics and all the things that we’ve been talking about that you often have to deal with to both feed the way you interact professionally, but then also yeah, to sort of affect your life positively elsewhere because it… I’m curious if you found the same thing, because you’ve been in some different environments as well, that it’s pretty hard to separate the environment and the culture at work from your mindset out of work. I think particularly for the kinds of jobs we have where they bleed together, right? You’re answering emails at night, you’re thinking about work on the weekends. If you work in a pretty toxic place, you’re probably just… It’s hard to be a super happy, positive, optimistic person outside of that environment.
Mike Haney (21:45):
And Dr. Casey would probably say like, right. And it’s also happening at your cellular level, right? Like the stress is literally causing you oxidative stress, which is affecting your body, which is impacting your mood, et cetera. Here, where you have that you just don’t have to worry about it. I think it’s a huge opportunity for all of us. And I say this a lot to new employees, lean into it, trust that we mean what we say that this environment is what we purport it to be and figure out, try to find what that means for you and how that can make your life better. Whether that’s a work life balance thing that you can take up a hobby you wouldn’t otherwise have time to do. Whether it’s the opportunity to learn new things here because you’ve got the freedom and we all short toes and you can dive into engineering, even if you’re in support. Or whatever it might be, whatever sort of way you want to take advantage of it. Take advantage of the time you have here, because this is unique.
Ben Grynol (22:35):
Yeah. It’s the autonomy and that autonomy allows you to have mental clarity because you’ve got agency over your time in every way, shape or form. Like you really do with asynchronous communications and being remote. So there’s no expectation of where’s Haney? We don’t have Slack, so there’s no green dot. There’s not this like, hey we do this, but there’s the optics or the visibility of, there’s Haney’s cursor typing. It’s like none of that exists luckily because of the tooling that we use. But it gets back to what you’re saying. As far as you have to question or ask yourself, if you fall into this, we’ll call it the old way of thinking. Where you’re like, well, why? You can only look back in the accountability mirror and be like, well, why is my day not feeling productive? Why am I stressed about this thing?
Ben Grynol (23:26):
Like you ask yourself all these things, but the question becomes the mind, no matter how stoic it is, is very inefficient. We are very good as human beings at tricking ourselves into disconnecting our mind from a certain way of being. So if you have a very stoic mindset and you’re neutral and outlook, and you’re able to sort of manage these feelings, manage your stress levels in the cortisol and all these things, there’s still this like devil on the shoulder, this like irrational mind that can go, oh, it starts to slip. So how do you maintain that outlook of, it’s on me, I’m in control when the mind can trick itself? And it doesn’t take a lot, as soon as it’s like a light switch, as soon as it flips. It could be a slippery slope or it just goes down like this negative self talk where you manufacture all these feelings and emotions of like, Haney, you’re not doing a good job. Or, there’s more expected of you.
Ben Grynol (24:22):
You can just get into these downward spirals and you’re like, why am I doing that to myself? So like how do you stop yourself when the positive and the optimistic outlook feel so good in this like sense of self discovery, which you said where you’re just trying to lean into it right now and go, this is a very absurd period in my life where I’m allowed some pretty good runway to explore. How do you stop yourself from ever having those mental slipups, if you want to call them that?
Mike Haney (24:56):
I mean, I would say for me, I don’t, I still have them all the time. It happens several times a week that I catch myself being annoyed at something that happens. Or I catch myself feeling bad about some piece of feedback that I got or some response or even some idea that comes in. And none of those things again, speaking to the culture here, no feedback that we get, no idea that comes from Sam or anybody else is ever meant here as an indictment of any work that I’ve been doing. But you’re right, our sort of mental model is, or it can be, I think, depending on whatever your own mental health and mental state is, it can be interpreted that way. Right? I mean, see, I think as humans, we tend to not hear the 400 compliments. We hear the one criticism and that’s the thing that we anchor on. I hear a lot of people talk about that.
Mike Haney (25:40):
So, I still experience it all the time. The thing that is unique here is that, I think in part, because we’re async, and I’m not in an office and I’m not being inundated with constant communications or constant interactions with people. When I was in an office, in a company that I helped run, we were like maybe similar size, 50, 60 people. You’re just having a hundred interactions a day of people coming into your cube or you’re in a meeting or you’re doing whatever. And so it’s not one time a day I’m getting annoyed or I’m feeling threatened or whatever it is. It’s a hundred times a day, there’s the million, these little micro moments, right? And it’s cumulative. And in that environment, it’s really difficult to maintain this more positive attitude.
Mike Haney (26:24):
The benefit of being async is, and I do this all the time. I’ll read a thread, I’ll catch myself having that kind of reaction. Sometimes you feel a physical result of it, sometimes you just catch yourself mentally going, get up. Get up and walk around, go pet my dog. Just like get away from it. And again, because we’re not expected to responder away, it’s not a Slack cursor blinking at you. You’ve got time to take it in. And I still have to watch this. But literally last night I got a piece of feedback, I had a feeling of feeling a little bit threatened by it. I recorded a loom response and then I threw it away. And I went and did something else, and then I came back a half hour later and I recorded the new loom response. And the new loom response was decidedly, less defensive than the first one. Because I had taken that break.
Mike Haney (27:11):
So I think that’s part of what helps here is just taking advantage of the async non-fire drill kind of environment that we live in to just give yourself space to, you have kids, I’m sure it’s the same way. Like we’re trying to teach our son now, it’s okay to feel feelings, like it’s okay to be angry. How you deal with that is what’s important. If you let it sit and dwell or if you break things because you’re angry, that’s not great. If you learn to walk outside and scream or stamp your feet or go for a run or pet the dog or do whatever and flush it out and then respond from a place of calm, life will work out better.
Ben Grynol (27:51):
Have you ever heard of, I can’t remember if it was Chip or Dan Heath. We’ll just call it the Heath brothers, because they probably both wrote this, but it’s the 10, 10, 10. It’s this idea of decision making they’ve got this, but it ties into the feedback. Right? So when you did that loom, they call it the 10, 10, 10 rule. And it’s, how would you ask yourself these questions? It’s like the Toyota ask why five times. So like really uncover what it is, but the 10, 10, 10 is, how would you feel if you reflected on this 10 minutes from now? So like you said, you record the loom and then you watched it 10 minutes from now, how would you feel? How would you feel 10 months from now? And how would you feel 10 years from now?
Ben Grynol (28:35):
And so by disconnecting, maybe you go rock climbing, maybe you go for a bike ride, maybe you go for a trail run. You do something that sort of resets, it recalibrates you to go, do I have full mental clarity at this moment to really think through what I want to say about this thing? And that might allow you to look back and you go, especially if it’s something that you disagree with, right? There’s still a cordial way of disagreeing with something. But you can look back in 10 minutes and you’re like, this was, and it’s not in a self-serving way where you pat yourself on the back. You’re like, I disagreed in a really objective way.
Ben Grynol (29:15):
It’s that you look back in 10 minutes and you’re like, “I think this was respectful, in 10 months, nope, I wasn’t defensive. 10 years, I’m proud of this.” Right? And so having this mental model of when disgruntled or when you disagree or when it’s hard to maybe give feedback or receive feedback and you needing to respond, it’s just like not responding right away, and this is the byproduct of not Slack. It allows you to think about things in such a better way. And then you feel better about it, because when you do something that maybe you’re stewing on something and then you respond, maybe it feels for five seconds, it feels really good. Like I got it out there. But then after you kind of almost feel like a bit of remorse where it’s like, maybe that was kind of too on the nose, the way that was done or maybe it was, right? And that’s like, it’s hard to undo those things because you can’t be like going to delete that loom now. Right?
Ben Grynol (30:15):
It’s something that is ongoing. And that I think having the ability to work in this way and to think, and to really like internalize some of these ways of working together, it’s really interesting.
Mike Haney (30:28):
Jump in on the 10, 10, 10 thing. Because the thing that occurs to me when you’re talking about that, I didn’t know that framework, but what I like about 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years is that each one of those kind of has its own utility, right? If you wait 10 minutes, the lens you can sort of put that pause through is the personal interaction that you are engaging in, right? Is the loom or the reply that I’m going to send back potentially going to damage the relationship with this person in some way, undermine, trust, or show them an ugly side of myself or whatever. The 10 month window is sort of like, will this matter for the company, right? The decision that I’m weighing in on, or the thing that we’re talking about, how important will this be to the company or the project or whatever in 10 months? It’s enough of a window to where like, does this have long term consequences?
Mike Haney (31:15):
And maybe it does. And if so you wait a little longer and if it doesn’t you go like right, in 10 months, nobody’s going to care about this conversation. It will not have impacted the company at all. And 10 years is kind of the window of right. When you’re in your deathbed and you’re looking back, will this matter at all? And I think that’s also a useful lens and something that I’ve tried to get better as I get older is just to go like, right? Like most things are not life or death. Most things in the long run are just not worth the amount of worry. And you hear this all the time that people, when they’re older say, what advice would you give your younger self? And it’s always like, relax. Don’t worry about it. It’s not as big a deal as you think it is. And I really like that 10, 10, 10 frame, and looking at things through different lenses, I feel like each one of those questions is useful to ask yourself in a particular moment of, on what time scale does this matter?
Ben Grynol (32:06):
Well, one of the things that would be interesting to dive into that you mentioned before was, the in person interactions. So there’s two sides to it, right? Like the one side, because we hear this all the time from whether it’s within our team or from people, maybe perspective team members who are thinking of joining levels or just people who have a lens on what we’re building in our journey. And they say, “Well, I just can’t imagine being able to truly build trust without those in person interactions.” That’s one side it and we can all sort of nod and agree and go, yeah, synchronous, you get to see somebody’s mannerisms and you see Haney joking around about the boy at the water cooler. We got to highlight the boy, that’s going to sound weird. The boy is Haney’s son.
Mike Haney (32:52):
Frank, my son. Yes.
Ben Grynol (32:53):
Yes, the boy. But then you get to really know someone’s personality. So it’s easy to rationalize that and be like, “Yeah, I can see it. Maybe we build more trust and rapport in person. But like what you said is also entirely true. And so it’s kind of like the downside to in person environments is that, if there’s something that annoys you, it doesn’t annoy you on 10 X, it annoys you on a hundred X because it happens so frequently. Assume that it’s and this so much deeper than just saying, let’s say somebody’s exhibiting something that’s not annoying, but it’s annoying an individual. I get it really annoyed by, Haney walks in and he waves at everyone and the more it’s like, that’s my issue, that’s not Hanye’s. But if you let that get to you, then your work isn’t as high quality and as productive, because you’re always stewing in these things. That’s a whole different issue, we’re not even going there.
Ben Grynol (33:46):
But the example is, assume that I’m an individual contributor, my work is really great in an independent environment, like a remote environment. Because all the stuff that annoys me, I don’t see this. Like I don’t see Haney just being nice and waving in the morning and all these things that sort of let you stew. So like some people might be way better in a remote environment because they don’t have these little things. And then there are these real interactions where it’s like, maybe there is somebody that’s a little bit on the nose or political or whatever it is like past work experience, right? And you go, “Yeah, I just don’t have to see…” That might happen here and there in a remote environment. But it’s like, I don’t have to see that every single day and deal with that or people that are, the reality is there are some people in some environments, we’re very lucky we don’t have this, but people that are very toxic, they don’t treat others in a respectful way.
Ben Grynol (34:41):
We’re very, very lucky that we don’t have that. But that can be a hard work environment to be in where it’s just somebody that’s toxic gets away with it. You hear this all the time, the top sales person, right? He, or she will not get, let go the top and it doesn’t matter the top editorial person, they don’t get let go, they’re disrespectful to others, everyone recognizes it. But because they’re the top performer sort of like, “Well, we can’t let Billy go because Billy’s putting points on the board,” and that’s a crappy thing. So it’s like bring it back to remote. Exactly what you said, where these things that would maybe annoy you in the past, you can calibrate now. No one sees your emotional response to these things. You can work through it different. So there’s always two sides to the story of is remote great?
Ben Grynol (35:32):
Because it is for some people maybe not for others, but I think what you highlighted a great example of how it allows you to really think through and almost become better, improve it. Like the way that you think through like bring it back to 10, 10, 10. Having these frameworks to use and you go, “I’m allowed to pet my dog, I’m allowed to do all these things.” So you can two X, the quality of your response where it’s like, now it’s really well received. So I don’t know, this is not good because I’m so bullish on remote, but like it’s not good coming for me because I’m just pontificating about remote. But I think it’s unbelievable for exactly what you said. Like being able to really discover these things and get better at your own work.
Mike Haney (36:15):
Yeah. It’s an aspect of remote that, I’ve done remote before, but it’s an aspect of remote I did not appreciate until I was here. And one of our colleagues said something to me when I had met him a year or so ago and I won’t throw him under the bus to say who it was, but it really resonated, which is he said, “I found that people like me a lot more in an async environment.” And I was like, that resonates. I know there are people that I’ve worked with in the past that would have some positive things to say about me, but definitely some negative things to say about me because I’m somebody who gets annoyed very easily and I’m sure that, that comes out and I’m sure that I have had not great responses to people in those moments, right? Or been sort of too negative in an environment or a meeting.
Mike Haney (36:55):
And in a remote environment, I can just be much more careful and curated about the person I’m putting out there, not in a false way, but in a, trying to be my best self way. And I think that is a huge advantage of remote work and why I think there should be a lot more of it. We shouldn’t have to be so up in the grill of the people we work with, like family, you have to do it with, right? Like with your wife, with your kids, with your parents, you have to figure out a way to tolerate those things that annoy you about them to work through it and to just learn to let. And that’s hard enough with people that you love. You shouldn’t also have to do that with people who you had no control over their hiring and they’re, you’re suddenly all stuck together in an office.
Mike Haney (37:39):
And now you have to deal with everybody’s own interpersonal stuff, which has huge roots in how they grew up and whatever they’re dealing with at home and their physical state and everything else. And it’s like now you also have to figure out how to be this Zen positive person at work. I think your point about it’s unique for everybody is 100%, right? I think there are people who thrive in that environment. I think there are people who are great and there are probably people who are wonderful shining beacons of light in that environment, who do bring a positivity and a calmness and a whatever to sort of high pressure in sync environment, I’m not one of those people. For me, it’s definitely an advantage to be remote and to be able to just be more, like I said, more careful and curated and intentional about the me I’m putting out there to interact with other people, whether that’s in a sync meeting or a chat or even on threads.
Mike Haney (38:32):
And I hope more companies go remote and I hope this just becomes a much more standard way of working. Because I just think for a much broader part of the population, we think not just grumpy old men like me, it’s a better way to be. I just think we shouldn’t have to spend so much time and mental energy dealing with interpersonal reactions at work. Just it’s not helping the work. In a best case scenario, maybe it’s a good place to practice being a better human being. But that’s really hard when you’re also trying to do your job. Let me practice being a better human being with my friends and with my family and do that personal journey there. And then at work, can I just focus on being a better editor or helping make people healthier in the world without also having to be like, am I being Zen and calm in every potential interaction and dealing with all these different personalities? I think it’s too much.
Ben Grynol (39:18):
Man. It’s so interesting you say that. Because having limited sync interactions, doing things through, like we still have loom, we still… But doing everything mostly through, I don’t want to say text, written communications on threads, supplementing it with Looms where needed, it allows you to see smaller sample sets of a person’s personality. So what you are saying of maybe having some cynicism or this outlook, because that’s what makes you a good journalist, we can look at that. What you look at as maybe being something that you try to manage or control in an in-person environment. Because you’re like, “Man, I don’t want everyone to just think I’m always Mr. No. Right? Because they see it in meetings and all these interactions. It’s like, we look at it and we’re like, “Man, that makes Haney so good at his job.”
Ben Grynol (40:16):
The thing that is a negative in an in-person environment turns into a positive where you can really lean into that. And you’re like, where people respect you for it. So it’s like, having this lens of integrity and they’re like, “Man Haney is so good at editorial because he relentlessly has this lens and is able to manage that. But is also super open minded in the in-person environment. It’s almost like you feel like you’re playing a character, right? You’re like, “I really want to be this way. But I know I can’t be this way because I have to put on a bit of a persona.” That’s why we get these like office voices that are weird. Like, “Hey Haney, how’s your day?” Like because it’s like, we assume in an office you can’t ever be like in an in-person environment. You can’t ever be, yeah, it’s okay. I’m like, it’s fine. Because people are like, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you not Mr. optimistic all the time?”
Ben Grynol (41:11):
And so it’s interesting that yeah, it really is true that you can almost like be more of yourself when you don’t ever have to put anything on. It’s just like, if you’re… What people see is really what it is. Whereas in the in-person environment, it can be like so many other factors. And maybe like you said, there are people that’s the right thing for them and it works really well. But I think we probably all have our things that make us work, not, I think I’m positive, we all have certain things that are our internal drive mechanisms and what can work really well in an in-person environment for some can be detrimental for others and vice versa, remote, same thing. Personally, I’ll be patient initially for like more interactions than are necessary. Call it 10. Like a lot of somebody tapping me on the shoulder constantly to be like, “Hey man, I’m just going to interrupt you here.” I don’t think this is like unique. I think a lot of people, if you’re like trying to really work, it’s like no one wants to be interrupted.
Ben Grynol (42:15):
But that happens over and over and over and you try to communicate, “Hey, this is the way it makes me feel when this happens. Like after a while I’m going to get really annoyed.” And that’s because it’s the in-person environment, but you can’t shelter yourself from that. So like remote, it’s just like, I don’t have to deal with that. And then people could be like, “Man, that guy’s cold.” That’s what comes across. But really you’re like, if this was a library and I’m trying to focus, no one would be having a megaphone being like, “Hey man, do you want to talk about the football game?” And like, “No, not at all. I really have no interest.”
Ben Grynol (42:47):
It’s sort of like, no one needs to know that what is really focus work. I always think of like, if somebody’s lifting weights in the gym, no one who’s doing that wants someone to come up in the middle of their set and be like, “Hey man, do you see the latest Star Wars movie?” You’re like, “I’m literally holding a bar over my chest and it’s going to fall.” Right? It really is like that. So surgeons that are doing surgery don’t want to be mentally interrupted. Like you are doing a thing. And so in a remote environment, you can avoid that, in an in-person environment you can’t, but it allows you back to this, from no to, yes. It’s like, you can take the things that make you really good at your job and you can flex those levers as needed. It’s a lot harder in the in-person environment to do that. Because you’re having to play a bit of a role.
Mike Haney (43:34):
Yeah. My wife just went through this learning experience because she worked in a synchronous environment than was out for a couple of years with COVID year and a half or whatever they were doing remote. And then went back and the things she realized when she went back and it was after a year and a half of not only being at home, but watching me work this job remotely. She came home was like, I forgot how much of the day you lose to people just wandering into your office. Or to just the casual conversations and like yeah, part of the sociality of that is nice and it’s good to see humans. And she legitimately liked her coworkers, but it was also like, “Man, this is distracting and it’s so hard to get back on task, especially if that conversation had any emotional component to it.” But even if it didn’t and to your point, it was just like talking about a movie or something. Now you’ve got to try to get back to what you’re doing.
Mike Haney (44:23):
And she was like, “It’s just so insanely inefficient.” And you don’t realize it normally because that’s just, well, that’s what work is. And it’s like, “No, it actually doesn’t have to be that way.” There’s other ways to work that actually I think make a lot more sense.
Ben Grynol (44:37):
Yeah. You put out one 10th of the output because the byproduct is, you can’t be completely catatonic. Like you can’t just, somebody comes up to you, you’re like, “Man, I don’t want to talk.” He’d be like, what is wrong with you?” Like that’s like sort of the grumpy thing so you engage. But maybe in your mind you’re like, “Okay, I’m down. Like let’s engage for 30 seconds. Maybe a minute. Let’s do the full minute.” Right? But in your mind, you’re like 10, 15 minutes and you can’t just stop the conversation. You sort of try to have the out. And then you leave and it get back to your desk and it’s almost like you have that disgruntled energy and you’re typing hard on the keyboard. Like “Man, I just lost 15 minutes and I got to get these things out right?” That is like such a unfortunate outcome of some of these interactions.
Ben Grynol (45:27):
And then it go to the meeting, go to the work, do all the things you do. It’s like maybe that skeptical outlook is amplified twice as much. Right? Where it’s like, man Haney’s really skeptical. Right? But it’s because you had like three negative interactions in the morning that just led you to be frustrated about all these other things. And so then you can’t really get away from it. And then you want to be open minded about something, but you’re already, it’s like the light switch was shut off so long ago that you’re just like, “No, we’re not doing that.” Like, no, no, that’s not going to work. You don’t ever allow your mind to explore these things because it’s almost like mental defense mode. Like you’re just always like, there’s this like guardrail up. It’s like mental defense, who’s going to come up now? What’s going to happen next?
Mike Haney (46:23):
Sorry. I was going to say it gets back to where we started this of thinking about what are the mental tricks that you employ or that I’ve tried to employ to maintain this more yes attitude. And I think it would be impossible to do that in a sink environment because of these, so just sort of natural social pressures that come up, that having the space to be able to step back to not feel that constant pressure, to not feel the politics, to not feel potential judgment. All of those things just naturally arise even in a, non-toxic, a positive sort of sync work environment. I think it’s just harder to avoid all that. Likely said, you can’t walk around with a force field around you and when you’re remote and Async, you kind of can.
Ben Grynol (47:06):
Mike Haney (47:07):
And just be more selective about even what you consume. Like one of the things we talk about here a lot is the transparency of this company, which is fantastic. I can dip into any department, I can follow along memos or Loom calls that don’t have anything to do with my department that maybe are about top levels of leadership and that’s all great. But I get to control what I jump into. I’m glad that I don’t have to observe every conversation that happens among all of my coworkers or that I’m not aware if a particular department’s having a tough week. I remember sitting next to the sales department and it was like, if sales is having a tough month, you’re really aware of it because they’re yelling at each other and it’s tense and that leaks then into the rest of the organization.
Mike Haney (47:50):
And it’s like, if support’s having a tough week here, I might hear about it on Friday in the forum. And if I really wanted to dive into their threads forum, I could know that, but it doesn’t have to affect me. And similarly, like if I’m swamped like that and having a rough week that doesn’t have to affect you. All of that gives you space and freedom to try to adopt these more sort of positive working mindsets, I think.
Ben Grynol (48:12):
Mm-hmm. And to manage your own cortisol in any way, exactly shape or form. Sounds like you’ve shared a couple personal strategies that being, whether or not they’re anecdotal or real, like you go pet the dog or you go for a walk or whatever it is. But are there things that you’d recommend to other people who might find it challenging to disagree and commit or they want to revert back to this behavior where maybe they’re not assuming positive intent or wanting to trust others or trust this process when it comes to exploring these new ideas or new ways of operating? Are there things that you can offer as strategies that others can try when thinking through like how you flip from no to yes. Because it’s also gradual. To be real, it’s gradual. It goes on in perpetuity. This is always, our mind is always evolving, changing, but what could you offer others for advice if they’re thinking through being more open minded about things and changing their mindset and just thinking of new ways of working.
Mike Haney (49:21):
I think that the first thing that comes to mind is just, and it’s probably the hardest advice is, try it and see what happens. Give yourself an experiment. And maybe it’s a low stakes thing, right? Like try to find some space that doesn’t directly affect your job or that won’t necessarily even if everything goes haywire, won’t make you look terrible. And just try it, just do the really uncomfortable thing and see what happens. Because that’s ultimately, what has helped me is just seeing the evidence over and over again of, I tried going along with something. I mean, we’ve talked about a number of examples that have come up just in the you and I working together where I’m skeptical about something, but we try something. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I haven’t been fired yet.
Mike Haney (50:05):
And like, even if something we try doesn’t work, it’s like, all right. But we learned something from it, it was all fine. Like I didn’t die and I didn’t get fired and you didn’t get fired and the company didn’t go under. And I feel like that for me, that kind of real life feedback mechanism of just seeing the evidence of what, if I try something different see if info works. I’ll share another, I like to share Bill Hater stories, because I’m a huge Bill Hater fan and I listen to a lot of podcasts with Bill Hater.
Ben Grynol (50:34):
Plus one on that.
Mike Haney (50:34):
But here’s another one I just listened to him talk about. He had crippling anxiety when he was at Saturday Night Live. And he said that, something that a therapist he worked with told him was, they were trying to unpack like why, what are you afraid of? And it’s like as one would expect when you’re on live TV and you’re carrying a sketch, the fear is that, well, what if something goes wrong? Like what if I’m the reason that this sketch goes terribly wrong and there’s millions of people watching. And so the strategy she gave him was, go out and when you first get out on stage flub something on purpose. Like if the cue card says this, just say a slightly different line. And he said it was enormously helpful because what would happen is, he would do that. He would see that the world didn’t end and it would immediately relax him and allow him to sort of go on in the sketch.
Mike Haney (51:18):
And I share that because I think it’s a similar thing that I’m trying to get at is like, try something that seems uncomfortable. Try going along with something you’re skeptical about try saying yes to something that you wouldn’t normally do or that you’re feeling defensive or scared about. And let the evidence of seeing that the world doesn’t end and it’ll probably work out and best case, you’ll find out that you were wrong and like it is a great idea or something super positive comes of it. And I think building that up over time, to me, that’s been the most helpful way to then consistently feel more comfortable just saying yes, when something comes up.