Fear is a good thing, it keeps you focused, and can keep you on your game. However, like all things there are scales of terror, even in the realm of product management, tied to the pucker factor.
The Dude has experienced all sorts of sphincter clenchers, from the mild (line down, tell the world that it is FUBAR), to medium (we really screwed up and don’t meet specs, oops), but there is one that is a definite 10 on the SPF.
Picture if you will, you are in a nicely appointed conference room. There is a stenographer, and a videographer in the room. You have a suit and tie on.
You are being deposed in a lawsuit. There is the opposing lawyer, and (hopefully) your own lawyer at each side of the table.
They spend an entire day asking you difficult questions. Then they put a page (one of hundreds and hundreds they flash in front of you) that is an email you sent 5 years or so before.
Fuck. You ask to read it in its entirety. You can’t for the life recall the context. Unlike the majority of emails you send, it isn’t a quick sentence or two, but more of a “two pages of well thought out reasoning” sort of email.
You think to yourself:
Wow, I was really articulate at one point. This is very well written.
Oh shit, without context, this sounds horrible.
Yep, that is SPF 10 right there. You begin to sweat, you ask to read it again. You ask (in vain) for the referrant, or the response to this (the lawyers NEVER will give you context. They count on an isolated piece of communication to be a smoking gun.
Yep, the Dude has been there, twice. Yes, it sucks. The moral of this story: “Anything you write, type in an IM chat, or even email on your personal email account outside of the work context is likely to be found through discovery. And it can ruin your day/year/career. Even something that in context is innocuous.
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