Visionaries vs. Integrators: a crucial distinction in work relationships
Also some stuff about Green Day and Bono. Don't @ me.
Ok, I’ll keep my Twitter-related content to a bare minimum today, since I’m sure you’re getting enough of it from everywhere else. So, just this:
Now that we’ve got that taken care of. Today I’d like to touch on two types of roles we can play in work relationships. The thought was sparked by Ken Norton’s CEOs and Product Leaders, which is a must-read for all leaders:
The CEO and CPO need an open, honest, and frequent rapport for a product to stand the best chance of success. This candor must be present from the start; there should be no withholding or reluctance to share information. You must both be able to voice your opinions in the knowledge that there is mutual respect, safety, and trust. Like any relationship, this one requires constant nurturing.
I experienced this first-hand when I was hired as the first product manager at Postmark. The founder/CTO is an incredibly strong product person, so “letting go” of a bunch of product things was a constant discussion between us. The only reason it worked was that we had each other’s trust and respect, and we had time to go slow and feel out the best path.
I realized a few years later that one of the big reasons the partnership worked so well is that he is a “Visionary”, and I am an “Integrator”:
A Visionary often is the person who conceived the company, who had the original great idea and who continues to have ideas about how to expand the business and make it all he ever conceived it would be. Visionaries often focus on the big picture, culture, client relationships. An Integrator is the person who thrives on creating order out of chaos. She is the person who is naturally suited to setting priorities, solving conflicts, removing obstacles, getting the company from point A to point B.
The book Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business goes into great depth on the visionary/integrator relationship. I’ve found it really helpful to frame working relationships in this way.
I will also say—in case anyone else is in the same boat—it was an enormous relief to me when I read the book and realized that I am an Integrator, and that the Integrator role is not inferior to the Visionary role. We need both to be successful. It’s ok not to be “the one with all the big ideas.” Those big ideas would go nowhere without a good Integrator.
Some music reading
A few music-related articles caught my eye over the past week. First, Maggie Wang conducted a fascinating (but disturbing) interview with musicologist Lily E. Hirsch in Anne Helen Peterson’s newsletter: When Music is Torture. One example of how music can be used as torture:
One example from the War on Terror is Barney’s “I Love You.” It’s very repetitive: an earworm that begins to fire on repeat. People talk about it as funny, but it can interrupt thought and interrupt a person’s connection with the self, which is already under threat when you’re under someone else’s control. That emotional impact, that interruption of thought, can be just as destructive as a physical response like loud music hurting the eardrum and interrupting sleep.
Lily’s new book looks really interesting as well: Can't Stop the Grrrls: Confronting Sexist Labels in Music from Ariana Grande to Yoko Ono.
And then, for any fellow #TeamGreenDay people out there… “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and the Vindication of Green Day is such a wonderful essay:
In the weeks and months following Nimrod’s release in the fall of 1997, “Good Riddance” didn’t quite go no. 1—it peaked at no. 11—but it resonated with listeners in a way that transcends the pop charts, becoming a permanent fixture in fans’ lives. It soundtracked episodes of ER and Friends, the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the PGA Tour, the Chicago Bulls’ 1999 banner ceremony, MTV’s 1998 New Year’s Eve telecast—a drunk Armstrong performed “Good Riddance” as the last song of the night, and he fucked it up, but for the moment, the fuck-up also made it somehow perfect—and the final episode of Seinfeld, which was viewed by some 58 million people. “Good Riddance” also graced an untold number of funerals, graduation ceremonies, prom dances, and, inappropriately, given the song’s subject matter, weddings. The song became so big that a good number of the people who heard it—while watching golf or suffering through a sibling’s middle school graduation ceremony—didn’t even know it was a Green Day song. It escaped its context.
I don’t think I’ll be able to get away with too much Green Day content in this newsletter, so while we’re here, allow me to share this wonderful live performance:
Ok, we also have to talk about Bono and his new book Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story. It’s easy to make fun of the guy, but I am still a huge U2 fan (Achtung Baby even over The Joshua Tree), and David Brooks’s The Too-Muchness of Bono is a fantastic profile:
I tell you all of this because there is something about him I’m trying to understand—I’ll call it his “muchness.” There is just a lot to the guy—so much driven intensity; so much sensitivity, anger, joy, and propulsive energy. If you watch U2 perform, you see three guys playing their instruments in a cool, understated way, and then this short, crazy Irishman climbing frantically around the stage. Spend any time with him offstage, and he is fantastically entertaining, filling every room with stories and argument. He’s a maximalist at nearly everything he does.
Some stray links
🤑 This piece on The Rise of the Millionaire LinkedIn Influencer is absolutely wild. “Today, Welsh is a full-blown LinkedIn influencer who teaches other people to use the platform as well as he does, and his one-man LinkedIn-focused business now brings in nearly $2 million annually, he said.”
🧮 Here’s one for the math nerds. It's impossible to draw a triangle with all 90 degree angles… Or is it? Find out in What is a square?
👽 Great article on William Gibson’s work: How William Gibson’s Cyberpunk Radically Changed Science Fiction. Also, we’re all watching The Peripheral, right? Right!?
That’s it for today. I am going to be in Chicago for work this week so I wanted to get a newsletter out before I leave. At some point there will hopefully be a more predictable schedule…
Have a good week, friends 💛
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