Books I read in 2021

High Output Management

Working Backwards: Insights, Stories and Secrets from inside Amazon

  • Hiring uses the bar raiser process; do not allow urgency to override the need to make a good hire. Interview feedback should be detailed, specific, and contain examples from the interview.
  • Bar raisers receive special training and are part of every interview loop.
  • Behavioral interviews are conducted using the STAR (Situation, Task (“what were you tasked with”), Action, Result) approach.
  • Single-threaded leadership is used to make sure that teams are able to drive initiatives with minimal coordination overhead
  • Dependencies can be technical and organizational
  • Amazon built autonomous teams with well-defined charter boundaries and success metrics
  • Most meetings start with 20 minutes of reviewing the six-pager
  • Six-pagers include “tenets” (principles on which the arguments are based) and try to anticipate questions. They include an FAQ section.
  • PR/FAQs are used when exploring ideas for brand new products. They include a detailed description of the product and user experience in the form of a press release.
  • The press release portion of a PR/FAQ includes summary paragraph, problem paragraph, solution paragraph, and quotes from hypothetical customers and company employees announcing the product.
  • Start using six-pagers and PR/FAQs instead of Powerpoint
  • Use Bar Raisers
  • Focus on controllable input metrics
  • Create autonomous teams with single-threaded leaders
  • Create compensation structures for leaders that encourage long-term commitment
  • Articulate the company culture and leadership principles
  • Articulate the key drivers for your business as a flywheel

Headspace Guide to Meditation

  • You are by the side of the road watching cars (your thoughts) go by; meditation is like taking off a blindfold and going from only hearing the traffic to looking at it; meditation is like shining a bright light on your thoughts; sometimes you may find yourself driving a car (engaging with your thoughts); when that happens, just go back to your seat
  • Your thoughts are like clouds obscuring a placid blue sky; you know that that calm place is there, underneath the clouds
  • Your thoughts are like a wild horse; to tame a wild horse, you can’t rein it in in one go; you have to put it on a loose leash, and then gradually reduce its length, so gently that it doesn’t notice that it is being reined in; similarly with your thoughts, don’t try to control them
  • Sit down and set a timer for 10 minutes
  • Scan your body, noticing how you feel in various areas; identify how you are feeling
  • Take several breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, focusing on your breath
  • When the timer goes off, bring yourself “back” into the present, then open your eyes whenever you’re ready
  • Step 1: become aware of your surroundings, the way your body is touching the bed; scan how your body feels
  • Step 2: recount the day from the moment you got up, without dwelling on any particular time or incident; just let the thoughts flow
  • Step 3: traverse your body from your toes up, “switching off” each part
  • If you are still awake, count backward from a thousand to zero



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Abhijeet Vijayakar

Abhijeet Vijayakar

Current: Hippo Insurance. Previous: Google Assistant, Trulia/Zillow, EA, startups. Engineering leadership and navigating ambiguity. Create, learn, repeat.