On values

Ana Fernandes Rodrigues
4 min readNov 20, 2022
David Hockney’s “Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica”

I’ve been reading a lot more lately, but not just anything. I’m looking to make more sense of what I’m doing in this industry, and the type of professional I want to be. As I navigate the job market and prepare for interviews, I keep questioning myself and my approach. And let me tell you that the recruiting process for Product Managers is a fantastic opportunity for anyone to examine themselves (I’ll write more on that subject on a future note).

Am I doing things right? Am I creating value? Am I still aligned with the values that brought me here in the first place? Are we the baddies? (I hope you got this last reference).

Today I stumbled upon the values page of The Browser Company — for those who don’t know, they’re the makers of Arc. Besides being a fantastic storytelling piece, it brought me back to a sense of optimism (or even naivety) I hadn’t felt in a while. Times are tough and uncertainty runs high, which brings back the worst of technocratic discourse.

So I’ll share with you my favorite quote. It’s my favorite because it reminds me exactly why I fell in love with my job:

It’s a disposition and a posture. One that’s got an earnest relentlessness to it. Also a sense of giddiness, particularly about the discovery. That says “there’s so much to discover, and I’ll be damned if I don’t figure it all out.” (…) Because in our work, we encounter new stuff all the time. And when you say “I don’t know” a series of things happen that wouldn’t happen otherwise, both with how you build a product: you just start, and you start quickly, you go wide. You think twice, maybe three times about the impact of what you’re about to put out in the world.

As I prepare myself for the first round of job interviews, I’ve skimmed through those “common questions for Product Managers” guides. I’m obviously aware it’s designed for candidates to demonstrate their skills, and that no one is expected to know “how many tennis balls fit on a school bus”. And yet, my immediate response is a mix of apprehension and excitement.

I love playing RPGs. I am a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series, known for the (sometimes) unreasonable difficulty levels. When I was younger, I played most games by overpowering my character, since I had an aversion to losing. I would prefer to go through hours and hours of dreadful grinding, instead of risking a game over. Only when I became older I realized that losing a battle (regardless of the outcome) is a learning process, if you do it strategically.

It’s not rare for SMT boss characters to not have elemental weaknesses at all, so inflicting damage becomes incredibly difficult unless you understand their stats and attack sequences. In order to succeed, you often need to use the first encounter to understand all the factors, before you can come up with a strategy to win (yes, you can also read a guide — but let’s ignore it for the purpose of this metaphor). Your strategy may be a combination of buffs and debuffs, the right line-up, the right items, and the right timing when defending and attacking — but it would be virtually impossible to know it in advance, or to beat the boss just by brute-forcing your way through the battle.

This is a demonstration of why the school bus question should not be frightening. No one cares how many balls fit in there. It’s a puzzle. It’s exciting. All recruiters want to see is how you lose that first battle. If everything works out, you’ll have enough time to beat the boss once you get the job.

This is also the reason why I’m creating this space. I miss writing, I miss reading, and I miss examining the world around me with intention. I don’t expect my writing to be groundbreaking — or even good at all, to be honest. These notes won’t be anything but random encounters with various topics — more or less related to work -, written whenever I think to myself “there’s so much to discover, and I’ll be damned if I don’t figure it all out”.