How To Manage Like A Boss…Because You Are One

Darrah Brustein
8 min readMar 9, 2020

Are you a manager, or hoping to become one? Ever feel nervous that someone’s going to notice that you’re shooting from the hip and figuring it out as you go? Feeling lost or unprepared to help others succeed?

If so, you’re not alone. Julie Zhuo felt the same way when she was flung into management at age 25 because her skills as a top product designer were noticed. After years of trial and error, she became Silicon Valley’s go-to gal for management. For the rest of us who aren’t in The Valley, she authored The Making Of A Manager: What To Do When Everyone Looks To You.

Why? Because managing is hard and boils down to people, who are complex and multifaceted. And, because remarkable things progress via teams, so managers aren’t going away any time soon.


I sat down with Zhuo to get some actionable takeaways for all my managers out there:

The true definition of a manager

First, it’s important to get on the same page about who and what a manager truly is.

Zhuo believes, “A great manager, quite simply, is someone who gets great outcomes from her team. It doesn’t mean she has to be excellent at everything herself, but rather that she builds a capable team and enables them to do their best work in service of the team’s goals. Great managers believe that people can do more together than alone, and that their job is to be a multiplier for their team, which means playing whatever role is most critical at any given time to helping the team be successful — whether recruiter, coach, office housekeeper, operator, visionary — even if it’s unglamorous or hard.”

Managers are made, not born

You might be like Zhuo and be thrust into a position of management, or perhaps you started your own company and grew your team, suddenly becoming a manager. Don’t fret if you’ve never dreamed of being, or been trained to be a manager.

“The ability to manage is not something that’s bestowed upon you at birth. It’s a journey of everyday improvement, because you’re constantly being put into situations that you’ve…



Darrah Brustein

On a mission to debunk "sleep when you're dead" culture + chasing others people's definitions of success to build a life of your own design.