How to make the practice of discourse fun. No, seriously

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In December 1914, Allied and German troops crossed no-man’s land and embraced each other in a now-famous show of humanity in the face of abject division.

Today, it’s easy to feel like our political discourse has placed us in a similar set of trenches. A 2019 Pew Research Study found that 85% of Americans believe that political discourse has become less respectful, fact-based, and substantive over the past several years.

We don’t often find ourselves changing our minds. There are a lot of modern sources of blame — social media echo-chambers and 24-hour newsmedia come to mind.

It seems…


Why it’s ok for engineering and product to fight

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Let me know if this has happened to you before:

Engineer: I’m not sure we’re going to be able to get done features A, B, and C by the deadline you gave us.

Product Manager: What if we [built it differently, pushed through the weekend, deprioritized that other thing you’re working on]?

Engineer: Feature A turned out to be more complicated than we thought due to an unforseen dependency on that system we built in a programming langauge that nobody knows. Anything we could build that quickly will break in a month, we can’t do that. …


What if I told you that breakfast cereal saved AirBnb?

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Story 1 — Scrappiness in the face of annihilation

What if I told you that Airbnb was saved by breakfast cereal?

In 2008, Brian Chesky and the early team behind Airbnb, which at the time was AirBed & Breakfast, found themselves with $20k debt and no way to pay it off.


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Discovery

It started innocently enough. I was going to work out, and I needed a funny gif to mark the occasion.

But nothing is ever simple

I’d found something wonderful. My mind raced with potential origin stories for this work of art…

Perhaps it was an obscure Eastern European workout video series, serving as the cornerstone for a massive underground community of aspiring Baltic fuckboys.

Maybe it was Cobra Starship’s fabled lost music video that was good and not bad.

Perhaps this was the promo video for the 1989 Tang National Grand Prix of Aerobics, the lesser-known competitor to the Crystal…


Illustrated by… me! I know! I did a thing!
Illustrated by… me! I know! I did a thing!

Bad Air. Before Germ Theory was popularized, the spread of disease was often attributed to “Bad Air emanating from rotting organic matter”. Germ Theory replaced this notion of how diseases spread, but it didn’t happen all at once.

Louis Pasteur’s seminal work demonstrating how bacteria spread disease took place in Europe in the early 1860s, but it did not become popular in the United States until well into the 1880s. Similarly, sanitation practices which proceeded from Germ Theory were slow to gain worldwide traction, and their effectiveness was often limited by a poor understanding of how to properly disinfect.

Health…


When you’re thinking of others, you can’t help but make great stuff

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I was traveling home to see my family for Christmas when I came up with my latest product idea. I had heard someone somewhere talking about a bingo game they played on a road trip with their family. I knew I had to create one for my family — with squares for when my Mom fell asleep watching a Christmas movie or when my Dad complained about Notre Dame football.

As a product person, I got to thinking about all of the things I wanted to make sure I got right for this fun little game. Let’s call them “features”…


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The skills that you need to start being great

Consider all of the software products out there that have pervaded your life, for better or worse — Instagram, Lyft, Gmail. There are some incredibly talented software developers behind the scenes putting fingers to keyboard in service of making these programs work the way they need to, but who’s the one setting that goal? How do software developers know what they need to build in order to best solve the problem of helping us get from A to B or organize our email?

Enter the product manager (PdM) — the great aggregator, intrapreneur, and master empathizer.

My Story

I started off my…


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We all want to improve every day, right?

The mantra of, “I want to be a little better today than I was yesterday” is something I find appealing, but sometimes it can be stressful.

Doing more with our time often seems like a daunting task, but occasionally opportunities present themselves to gather up that low-hanging fruit.

A friend of mine, we’ll call him Mark, and I were sitting down to watch Monday night football a couple of weeks ago. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t do anything halfway. Anything he does, he wants to be the best at. …


The Productful Conversation behind great, accountable development plans

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Product Managers are force multipliers for their engineering counterparts. Come up with a good plan, comprised of good requirements, and you’ll make the most of the opportunity offered by talented engineers. Done poorly, though, product management can negate the impact of great engineers with bad plans and poor requirements.

For those teams that work in sprints, Sprint Planning is one of the important handoff points from ideation to execution, and it’s the Productful Conversation we’re focusing on today.

The sprint is, typically, a 2-week window of development. You start with a set of tickets representing work that needs to get…


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The premier primadonna of the NFL is making news and ruining fantasy teams

French cryotherapy is not exactly what you think about as a source of injury for NFL players. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t an Onion article. One was left wondering — did the Raiders think Brown’s antics were going to shift as a result of him moving from the Steelers?

How about you, fantasy owner, are you going to allow yourself to be similarly fooled?

Brown has done what few others have, maintaining his spot as one of the top of the fantasy WR rankings these last few seasons. As such, it may be tempting to draft him high with the…

Jack Moore

A product person looking to figure out all the ways software can improve peoples’ lives

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