Every couple of months I’m connected with someone interested in starting a career in product management. For them product is a calling and they want a way in. The problem is there aren’t many junior positions or internships available, and the typical product roles require a few years experience….
“BUILD STARTUP IS JUMP OUT WINDOW, INVENT WINGS ON WAY DOWN. BUILD COMMUNITY IS JUMP INTO WHIRLWIND, MAKE IT A HURRICANE. JUMP NOW.”—HOW TO SOCIAL by @fakegrimlock http://t.co/5NPyyCoA8q via @fredwilson
“Please think of me like an endangered species and just observe me quietly from far away," he said. "If you try to talk to me or touch me casually, I may get intimidated and bite you. So please be careful.”—
I would love to sit down next to @haruki_murakami and read books quietly
“After finishing my last semester of university (carefully planned to be a study abroad), I holed myself up in a one-room apartment in Bangkok, a city chosen mostly because it was easy to be isolated in. And I read. Like an invalid stuck in a hospital bed watches television, so I read—from the moment I awoke, clutching my book as I fell asleep on a thin mat, surrounded by the sounds of heat, and dishes being washed on a balcony.”—
Psyched one of my favorite curmudgeons is penning his hacker-videographer-traveler insights on @Medium. Go Alaric!
Alaric, my co-founder for Imagist, has recently taken to Medium. It’s the first platform that’s gotten him to write again as he’s more inclined towards long form. I’m super happy to see it. As someone who works in technology, we feed off creativity from all parts of our lives, and the best products come from our inspirations that oftentimes flash in the horizon far from our comfort zone.
Without us knowing it - while Alaric was hacking it as a writer in Bangkok, I was a few hundred miles away, trying to hack it as a writer in Hanoi. Both of us came to technology haphazardly - both found inspiration in the writer-heroes of our youth and aspired to be storytellers - and both of us continue to chase that dream, to be narrative weavers, in our current work of commits and pixels.
I’m excited to be working on Imagist with Alaric. We started as friends interested in traveling and foraging and biking. I’ve found that our differences have complemented our work, but more important, our similar motivations and passions have made getting up and working an everyday joy.
Thanks to the Wu-Tang Clan, C.R.E.A.M—Cash Rules Everything Around Me— may be the most famous acronym in hip hop. But these days Wu-Tang member GZA is switching things up and rapping about scienc …
I started at Flipboard last week and one of the traditions I’ve already grown to appreciate are the brown bag lunches. Friends from other start-ups come to talk about topics they’re passionate about.
Something I’ve missed about living in the Bay Area is trading start-up war stories - that’s how you learn how as an entrepreneur, outside of making those mistakes yourself! Lucky me, I caught the week with Caterina Fake, the queen of these stories (and random fact: she is also the progenitor of ‘FOMO’). Our conversation centered around how Flickr’s community got started and grew to be one of the first successful ones online.
I boil it down to control - how much you dictate, suggest, and leave up to your community.
Your community is defined by what you encourage…
Caterina said the two big features for Flickr that opened the flood gates were (1) making photos public as default and (2) allowing sites to embed photos. Such a simple concept but so powerful - encourage the activity you want by making it super easy, default and shareable. You also encourage by leading by example. At the beginning, everyone at Flickr wrote comments back to the community and the rule was they had to say something meaningful - something they would say as participants, not as Flickr staff. This set the tone. I know most Flickr folks of yore and they are all super passionate about photography. They were a huge part of the community and kick-ass photographers too! (the anti-Charles Barkley, I’m not a role model rule)
…and what you tolerate
The tough side of community is how you deal with the ugly. Caterina was adamant about pulling the weeds and doing it from the get-go. Communities devolve quickly so you have to be vigilant and encourage users to be involved in maintaining the community. (the broken windows rule)
… and users will always surprise you
You will never know what your users will do until they use it, for worse and for better. Flickr is the classic example of this. It was a failed game that had photo sharing as a feature. When that feature became overwhelmingly popular, they thought, ‘maybe this is something’. (I call this the kid with a box rule. Give a kid a present wrapped in a box and you’ll get a fort or a spaceship or a house for Optimus Prime back <— real example, courtesy of my nephews).
My major takeaway is that we are at the very beginning of this. Flickr, The Well, etc sound like ages ago, but in reality, we are still solving, resolving, refining a lot of the same problems with social software today. The idea of community is much more nuanced, complex, and rich then what we see on the interwebs.
It’s a great reminder as I kick off at Flipboard. The synapses are throwing off sparks.
Two years ago, I got a call from Foursquare to build products for all things discovery. It wasn’t just a job - it was a dream opportunity for me to encourage people to explore places around them. As a travel geek, I loved the idea of taking some of that curiosity about the world and turning into the everyday experience of checking out your own city.
I’m incredibly proud to have worked alongside talented colleagues to build Explore on mobile and web, contextual place pages, a big honking rethink of the entire app, the best location database in the world, and more. We’ve transformed from a little start-up to a big-but-not-so-big company. I’ve learned so much from dens and the rest of the team about how to build and launch well-loved products full of personality.
It’s bittersweet to leave such a great team and product. Whenever you build something new and shiny that do things other companies can’t do, you leave a piece of yourself behind. I’m leaving it in good hands though and can’t wait to see the next things to come!
Lots have happened outside of work in the last two years, too. I got married (yay!), dove into the NY food world (yum!), and have met some great folks (yo!). New York has been awesome - I’m thrilled to have witnessed the burgeoning tech community, and I’m going to miss its energy and culture.
But San Francisco calls, and at heart, I’m a west coast gal.
As for what’s next, I want to continue my focus on mobile first experiences. I’ve been lucky to find a product that I love and folks passionate about gorgeous design. I’m super excited to join the Flipboard team and focus on how users discover news, media and content that matters to them.
I travelled fast, in hopes I should Out run that other, what to do When caught, I planned not, I pursued
- Edward Thomas’s “The Other”
I just cleared out my nightstand bookshelf and found this gem - Graham Greene’s autobiography, Ways of Escape. Greene’s The Quiet American is one of my favorite political novels, and his Travels with My Aunt is the funniest take on old age. His characters are foreign correspondents, liaisons, shadowy governmental figures, monied itinerants - characters with a lot of depth and flaws. As much as I’ve enjoyed them, I’ve always had a feeling that they were mere shadows of himself. I knew he was a MI6 agent, journalist, and traveler of the lands he depicted in his novels - in short, an emblematic, 20th century British wartime man of the world.
The book was like happening into him at a bar, starting a conversation, and ending it 10 whiskies later. There was little rhyme or reason to his narrative - it was a stroke of stories that he meandered through. There were captivating tales. Then from time to time, he would verge into the personal thoughts of an old man self-indulging in the past. But like classic Graham Greene, he would make a poignant statement to zap you back into sobriety.
Highly recommended if you are a Graham Greene fan.