A block of brownstone apartments in Brooklyn as the sun sets
A block of brownstone apartments in Brooklyn as the sun sets

In last year’s reflection, I wrote how 2019 was a bit of a blur (as was 2018). If only I knew, if only we all knew, what this year would have in store. I wrote about ending 2019 in a very transitional space, between feeling out the new role at Google and figuring out what was next for me. I had hoped for more clarity and direction in 2020, and while I feel like I made some progress I’m definitely not quite there yet.

January 2020 started off much better than the year before as I didn’t have the flu…

A classic car parked in front of the Immigrant wine and beer bar
A classic car parked in front of the Immigrant wine and beer bar
My favorite scene in the East Village

Last year, I wrote about how 2018 kind of went by in a blur, and this year did as well (much to my surprise). I knew coming into 2019 that big changes were coming— I was finally reaching my limit of being burnt out at work, the future of the mentorship program I led was unclear as we struggled to find the resources it needed to keep going, and the bar that I co-owned wasn’t doing the business it needed. …

St Mark’s Place, late on Summer day

In my post covering 2017, I wrote about how much of a roller coaster last year was. In many ways, this year continued that trend, but looking back it’s hard to find some of the specific accomplishments similar to what 2017 brought. I went on a vacation in March, and feel like ever since I came back I haven’t had a chance to breathe. …

Blue Apron is a company that delivers fresh ingredients for two to four recipes, pre-portioned and ready to cook, right to your doorstep every week. It was one of the early companies in this most recent round of subscription businesses, along with others like Birchbox, Harry’s, StitchFix, Daily Harvest, Bespoke Post, Trunk Club, MeUndies, NatureBox, Scentbird, Graze, Try the World, Lick My Dip, Quirky Crate, Escape the Crate, Globe In, The Monthly Burn, Hygge Box, Lola, MyBookBox, SurpriseRide, KiwiCrate, and BarkBox.

The basic premise with all of these companies is pretty simple: you sign up, and every week (or month…

I thought it’d be useful to share out some of the tools and resources that I use as part of my workflow as a manager. Below is a link to a number of Google docs, which if it sounds interesting to you I encourage you to copy for your own purposes. I’d also love to hear what tools you use in the responses!

Tracking Work

Last year I ended up building out a spreadsheet to help schedule various projects for my team, and it ended up also being super useful to track work throughout the year. …

Recently Oren Ellenbogen shared his Manager README and encouraged other folks to do the same through his newsletter Software Lead Weekly. I’ve been using a similar idea with new folks to my team since last summer, and have really enjoyed the conversations that come out of it.

It’s not common as humans to be so upfront about how you behave and what you value in any situation, let alone work. Laying these things on the table, and asking the folks who report to you to help keep you accountable, is incredibly liberating. Below is a copy of my manager README.

Glacier National Park

This has certainly been a roller coaster of a year. Last year was one of new adventures and challenges, and that certainly kept pace into this year. Looking back, I did a lot, and I’m not even sure how it all happened. A small list of these things in no particular order:

  • We launched the Tech Career Accelerator Program!
  • I flew 50K miles on Delta, visiting all four corners of the US and a bit of Europe
  • Blue Apron went public!
  • I opened a bar!
  • I got promoted!
  • I started mentoring through Plato and Everwise
  • and I consulted for this…

This year I reached the milestone of having visited each of the 50 United States of America. Going into 2017, I was down to Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, and North Dakota, so I made a goal of crossing those all off the list. I had visited most states during my childhood, between various road trips and summer vacations. Most of the remaining ones were in the Northeast, which was made easier once I moved to NYC.

The criteria I had for visiting each state was doing something in it, with the exception of flying through. Driving across counted, which I’ll explain…

My first desk at eBay NYC

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently, and had originally started this post last year after moving to lead the Growth team at Blue Apron. The past year at Blue Apron is definitely worthy of it’s own post at a later date, but thought it would be nice to finish this one as I looked back on how my time at eBay has shaped me into the leader I am today.


My first year was about engineering fundamentals with scale and distributed systems, my second year was transitioning to management, and my third year was about increasing our…

John Cline

he/him. co-founder/cto at shelflife, interested in tech, art, and nyc

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