James Hawkins' README

Last updated:

|Edit this page


I'm from Cambridge in the UK.

I started off as a bad professional cyclist, became a worse developer, bootstrapped an online marketing company, wound up as a VP Sales at an enterprise software company, then got into YC where PostHog was born.

I tend to work 9am to 5pm with an hour for lunch, then I have a gap to have dinner with my family, then 9pm to around 11pm ish.

Areas of responsibility

  • Make sure we've always enough money to think long term
  • Make sure we have exceptional people working here
  • Make sure we have a clear, rational direction


  • I speak really fast and hop around a lot. I've tried to fix this before but it led to me focussing more on polish than the topic at hand - a tradeoff that I felt wasn't worth it. If you leave a conversation without clarity with me, get me in written form instead.
  • Sometimes I bottleneck stuff because I'm too keen to try to pick up tasks. Call me out on this.
  • I'm a little disorganized. I compensate for this by making sure the teams I work on have this skill. Often I think this actually helps me prioritize the things that really matter.
  • If I haven't responded to something that you've sent me, that's probably because I've read it and don't feel particularly strongly - so just make a call on what to do if you don't hear back in a reasonable time frame. I try not to do this intentionally.
  • I'm an optimist and I'm level headed. If you've got bad news, I am never going to get mad.
  • I'm not great at delivering direct feedback 1:1, so I'm working on actively addressing this. I'm using the OFNR framework to do this.

What I value

  • Proactivity. Do not ask me for permission to do things - I wouldn't have hired you if I didn't trust you. I'd rather 9 things get done well and 1 thing I disagree with than we don't get anything done at all.
  • People who get things done without me having to chase. I love it if we mention something should get done and there's a PR for it the next day.
  • People who solve frustrations they have with other people (or with projects / tasks) directly. I won't mediate your relationship with someone else - I'll ask you to speak to them directly.
  • Iteration over analysis. Analysis is valuable but it should be very quick and intense.
  • Speed. It's much easier to get things right if you take more shots at goal. Let's just get something up and iterate on it.
  • Directness impresses me. If you don't like something please just say so. It makes for much healthier relationships.
  • Being different / independent thought. It's more effective to be polarizing than boring.
  • I'm anti meeting by default.

How I can help you

  • I can help you figure out what you should be working on.
  • I can help you get constructive feedback on your performance.
  • I can help you figure out how to build relationships with people.
  • I can help you figure out what to do in your career.
  • I can help be a rubber duck.
  • I can help bounce ideas around.

How you can help me

  • Come to 1:1s with an agenda, energy and things I can help with.
  • Ship :) Lots of things will be on fire in a startup all the time. Make sure you're moving the needle every week.
  • Due to my role, it's easy for me to accidentally steer you. Sometimes this means your team will get confused. Be communicative back to your team if I've changed your direction. And you don't have to listen to me.

Personal strategy as of Q1 2023

  • make sure every team reaches an "Innovating" state
  • encourage the company to increase overall adoption whilst not harming revenue growth rate

Execution todo

  • Clarify product strategy better over the next year
    • This will make the next round of OKRs smoother and will reduce micromanagement
    • Get us on the path to overtake our competitors, not to follow them
  • Make sure all teams that report to me reach an innovating state
    • Encourage better Focus (vision, strategy, all hands, OKRs)
    • More speed (encourage shipping early and iteration over huge PRs)
    • Higher quality (design and marketing especially)
  • Personal
    • 4 exercise (strength or cardio) sessions a week
    • make sure planting is planned so I grow lots of my own food in the spring and summer

Archived todo

It makes me feel better crossing stuff out, rather than deleting it, thus:

  • 2 strength sessions a week did more like 3-4
  • 1 bike ride a week. Note: solved this by commuting to pick up my daughter from nursery every week. Double win!
  • Experiment with larger order values as opportunities arise. Note: hired someone to do this.
  • Set clear input-focussed goals for teams, that will optimize for long term revenue
  • Hire and onboard someone else able to run all $0 to $50K ish sales
  • Work to onboard existing users properly to turn them into 5 reference customers
    • Get meetings / build relationships with them in order to make sure they’re up and running with funnels properly (activation is defined clearly, they’re using us for the list of “jobs to be done” that we’re supposed to be enabling.
    • Clear pricing model
    • Internal guidance on what is free versus paid
  • Sustain existing success
    • Get them to use funnels for the full list of jobs to be done
  • Don’t get distracted outside of the above
    • Make sure that my direct reports have goals that they can focus on autonomously
  • Personal
    • Exchange on house
    • Ride bike once per week Didn't complete this, but I've changed the goal to running through the winter.


Was this page useful?