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Business Lessons I Learned in Office Quotes and Facebook Statuses

Linh Dao Smooke Hacker Noon profile picture

@linhLinh Dao Smooke

Hacker Noon Mama-in-Chief. But also like a real mom (to Norah).

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Why Micheal Scott, you ask? Apparently everything I learn in life & business I learn from the Office. Check out the FAQ of Noonies, our annual Hacker Noon awards if you don't believe me.

We survived (and

) yet another year at Hacker Noon! I had less time to write this year. And there's no really good reason for it except the cliche "I'm too busy." Like you know, managing a (low) 7 digit budget and hiring (and firing) more people than I'm used to.

But that excuse is less acceptable when you are running a publication whose currency is, literally,



By the way, our team has been really into this words association board game lately (highly recommend Code Names). I thought it's worth mentioning and totally appropriate for a company who publishes words.

So I pledge, like most other coworkers in my team after our year end evaluation, to write more in 2020. For the health of this business, and for my own sanity.

One. Exclamation Mark is the bane of my existence.


In the process of screenshooting this status, I debated multiple times whether or not to include the

metrics right below. Just like all the times I debated which exclamation points to include and which to leave out and replace with a full stop. Too many women apparently do the same thing. We want to sound assertive, but not arrogant. Friendly but not unprofessional. Ready-to-close-deals but also perfectly-willing-to-compromise-if-needed. Centuries of societal expectations and trained behaviors at its best, I guess 🤷‍♀️

Two: Think of Hiring as bets


Hiring is so, so, so hard. We learn that there's a

chance that we will make the right decision from actual experience, and confirmed by data.

I learn that you should think about hiring like how investors hedge bets: you just need only one person who performs at 10x capacity out of the 10 people you hire for you to break even. Look for that person and treasure them like a family member.

Three: Fire Fast


Okay, everybody knows that you should "hire slow, fire fast". But

meaning here is twofold.

  1. First, If you find yourself thinking about firing the person, it's already too late. Check your intuition and do it earlier than you would like. Don't wait until Halloween to fire the employee where you have the whole month of October to do so.
  2. And second, in the actual dreaded meeting, immediately tell the person that they are fired. Explain it in as simple and plain terms as possible. There's no point in dragging it out and softening the blow.

Four: Email lawyers instead of calling them


Why? I'll give you three reasons.

  • Legalese is impossible to understand when spoken to. Organize your thoughts and present your questions in an email.
  • Always have things on record, especially when it comes to legal stuff. Words don't lie.
  • Have you looked at the hourly rate of lawyers lately?

Five: do your books early & often


Accounting is like cleaning the house. Nobody LOVES doing it (unless you are Marie Kondo) but the more you put if off, the more clutter you have and the less productive you are. So, do all your books as regularly as possible.

One of my proudest milestone this year is to always have clean and presentable P&L, Balance Sheet and General Ledger ready to go whenever we need them, without any in-house accountant!

Six: pay people for lost time

If you pay someone late or show up late for an important meeting, send the person $$$ to make up for the lost time. Amount doesn't matter as much as the act itself.

I've done this a couple of times with our employees and I can testify that it improves morale greatly.

Seven: no one is above grunt work


Attention to detail is everything. No matter how trivial or unimportant.

Spot the slacker earlier who says no to grunt work. You can't manage if you don't know what you are managing and how.

David's first job out of college was to move stacks of newspapers from the printing press to the delivery vans. He worked his way up to reporter / page paginator (which started at a whopping $5.35/hour). Mine was to go through hundreds of hours of controlled interviews and enter them in a spreadsheet. I think those humbling jobs serve us well.

If you like this story, you can follow me on Facebook for more rants like this, because I'm apparently I'm a Facebook user that receives top badges for all the pages that I commented on once. The real reason I'm using Facebook so much is that I can follow all Favorite Office Superfan group anyway :)

Linh Dao Smooke Hacker Noon profile picture
by Linh Dao Smooke @linh. Hacker Noon Mama-in-Chief. But also like a real mom (to Norah). My Digital Home


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