What Harper Reed Has to Say About Managing Stress

Harper Reed, Director of Software Development for PayPal, is an engineer, a leader, and may have been correct when he described himself as “Probably one of the coolest guys ever.” Reed wrote his first code at 6-years-old under the glow of an Apple IIC computer. He is most known for his work on 2012’s “Project Narwhal”, a system he built to track and distribute information on a network of more than 13 million supporters. Needless to say, this was an enormous assignment. So through many long hours and late nights of work, Reed learned a few things about how to manage stress and build a successful team.

Personal Wellbeing

Whether you’re at the frontlines of a project or the leader of a start-up company, it can be easy to put in outrageously long days because your motive is to “Just get it done,” but will that outlook really benefit you in the long run? Reed told Business Insider, “If you’re sluggish, you’re not going to make it because you’re not going to be able to react to things.” Going home, enjoying a proper dinner and the time away from work is a necessary way to recharge yourself so you can attack the problem tomorrow. Though giving yourself that much at the moment may seem difficult, it will prove to be more productive in the end.

Don’t Work Alone

Quite often people feel like the weight all has to fall on their shoulders, but Reed’s advice would be to “Realize you’re not as important as maybe you thought you were.” Sometimes we may feel that we are the only ones who can solve the problem. When the job is big, delegation is necessary.

Talk About Success

Minor or major accomplishments, discuss them with your team. Looking back at your successes can inspire the team to keep going and look forward to their work the next day. Give credit where it is due, but don’t be afraid to discuss failures. In talking about failures with your team, teach them to learn from the mistakes that were made and build on what they’ve learned. Reed makes sure to regularly hold weekly meetings with his team to discuss their accomplishments.

Use Humor as an Equalizer

“No matter how contentious, you still have to be able to laugh together.” Using humor can be a nice reminder to your team that we are all human. Of course, everything has its place but creating a relaxed work environment can make everyone feel courageous enough to speak up and give their input. Creating more productivity.

Focus on Today

In an interview with Internet2, Reed gave an illustration about focusing on today. He talked about a musical performer in front of thousands of people. He said, “You don’t look at the audience. Look at the front row or a few select people at a time, but never the entire audience.” Why? Because the pressure will crush you. We often have the tendency to stress about next week’s problems before they’ve even hit us. While it is good to think big picture, it is also essential that you focus on what needs to get done today.

According to Terry Howerton, the head of Illinois Technology Association, “Harper Reed knows how to pull people together.” Whether you are in the technology industry or not, he encourages all to appreciate what it means to be an entrepreneur. Taking advantage of the few suggestions above can help you to minimize your stress and maximize productivity.

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