User manual for Ben Richardson

I read an excellent article that alluded to the opportunity cost that comes with bringing onboard a person, and how that cost scales proportionally with seniority

This article also discussed a solution, which I've decided to implement across my startups, in some aspects of my personal life and at each new junction of my career. I've included my user manual below


My personal and professional life is becoming increasingly both complicated and demanding. To maintain an uncluttered mind and keep my creativity high I have a personal assistant (Pearl). If I put you in touch with Pearl to organise something, it’s not because you or the discussion topic is a low priority for me. It’s quite the opposite, ensuring that it will definitely happen

I try to be as responsive to emails and other communication methods as much as possible. However, some things just need a little more thought put to them than a quick response justifies. If you haven’t heard back from me within a couple of hours, it’s likely I'm putting that response on hold until I can dedicate the right amount of time to composing a response that your message deserves

I like to text and call. My calendar makes ad-hoc phone calls a little tough to reach me outside of an appointment, but overall I’m usually most responsive by phone. If you want a response from me quickly or want to have a chat about an idea or debrief on something, don’t hesitate to text or call me, even if it’s outside of works hours (although response likelihood dilutes from close of business)

My mind tends to not switch off outside of work hours or even on public holidays. It’s likely there will seemingly random flurrys or individual but occasional communications coming from me at all hours of the day. I’m usually either inbox zero-ing or getting excited about something. If it’s out of regular business hours I’d be happy for you to respond but don’t feel like you need to reciprocate, especially if it’s a personal inconvenience

I like to start each day quite early, usually around 5am. During this time I spend a couple of hours inbox-zero-ing, organising my calendar, and getting everything setup for the day. I’ll be very active on email and Slack during this time so if you have a similar habit, in most cases you can count on me to be responsive during this time

I’m quite impervious to people that are trying to say things without actually saying them. For some reason I find it harder than most to pick up on that kind of thing. I like to conduct both my personal and professional life in an extremely transparent and straight-forward manner without hidden agendas or subtle notations. I like it when the people around me use similar principles when working with me

If you’re proposing something to me, I’d like it to be presented with some context. This usually involves a problem definition, a rough estimate of the scale of the problem, the opportunity cost, the proposed solution, the cost of the solution, and the other solutions that didn’t make the cut and why not. Not all of these are always possible but the more I have the better (and faster) I can make decisions

Coming from both startup and professional backgrounds where I’ve designed, built and delivered a lot of pitches, I have an acute appreciation for succinct and direct conversations. I prefer if someone takes more time to succinctly communicate something than try to communicate it quickly without structure and/or with diverging context(s). Clear concise communication is always appreciated

I like to lead from within as opposed to leading from the front. That means having everyone that reports to me empowered to feel they are capable of contributing to decisions made within the company irrespective of title or experience level. I will often defer decision making downwards to my team so we can collectively decide what to do next and how to do it for this very reason

I like to be very direct and timely with my feedback and likewise I prefer it when people carry the same principles with feedback for me. I will always try and deliver feedback with an observed reference point as close as possible to when it was observed. I believe the further the distance the more diluted the impact of the learning so for an effective outcome for all involved, feedback delivered with brevity is highly appreciated

I try to ask a lot of questions in meetings, especially when there’s reference, question, acronym or statement that I don’t understand or know the answer to. Some people see this lack of knowledge or understanding as a weakness. It is the opposite. If you don’t understand something or don’t know the answer, do not hesitate to ask about it or make it clear that you don’t know

I have a tendency to leap ahead and jump into solution mode. This is something that my mind does continuously when I’m being presented with problems and/or opportunities. Occasionally it goes beyond just thought and I start listing out options and solutions. If this isn’t what you’re looking for or I've made some leaps that I haven’t articulated, please don’t hesitate to slow me down