I'm not writing, but I'm twittering

Yes, it has been too long since I’ve written. So long, I won’t even try to apologize, but ask that you know I want to be here writing. Life has just not been cooperating with that specific goal. I have however started writing snippets (or tweets as I believe they are called) via Twitter. You can see some samples on the right side of this, and choose to follow me via Twitter if you want. My tweets are little comments on what I’m reading, hearing or seeing at that moment, which is in a way “what are you doing”, but more “what are you thinking about what you are doing”.

Like other nights, it is 8:24p and I haven’t done my work out yet, my dog and husband need attention (not in that order) and I haven’t eaten for about 9 hours. But, I wanted to leave you with a product demo that I found awesome. This YouTube video of the ABC3D book is a great demonstration of a simple, but powerful, video of a product. It represents the product well, really shows you what it is, isn’t distracting, and had to cost very little to make (in terms of direct and indirect costs). Over 300k views in 2 months. The one problem… no link to where to get the book, though they claim preorders are available. If you are going to do an AWESOME job in promoting your product make sure you let people know how they can buy it, or at least give them the info that your product will be out soon, and get their contact info!

With that, I’m off to eat!

On my shirt today:


Experience: The good, the bad, the ugly

Experience is a hot topic around Spreadshirt. Over the past few years, Lukasz, Michael, and Matthias have built a terrific team that exemplifies the Gen Y workforce described by Jay Adelson in Business Week’s “Digg This: Talking to Gen Y”. A few weeks after I joined, I wrote to Harry Nellis, “our” partner at Accel, and told him that I could feel at Spreadshirt what Adelson describes as the ideal for Gen Y:

“…create an excitement about the company’s achievements, but more important, help employees recognize their role in accomplishing that mission.”

I love seeing and feeling this at the company. So, what’s the hot point? Well, Gen Y also means younger, which means fewer years of experience. Since we have a great, motivated team… why do we need experience? Our discussions have led me to these thoughts:

We know the good:

Experience brings us the possibility of learning… from mistakes, from success… mostly from mistakes. Mistakes can give us that “hand on a hot stove” imprint in our brains… you remember not to do it again from the OUCH. The important thing is that you step back to learn from your experiences, and [Alert: hard part here] do your best to — without bias — understand why something failed. It is only then that you can actually apply your experience… and not be doomed to repeat history.

We know the bad:

A fun example of the curse of knowledge is given by Stanford professor Chip Heath in Made to Stick (which gets an A++ rating from me… I’ve followed Chip’s work for a few years and am a believer). In a Stanford study, participants were assigned either a “tapper” or “listener” role. The tapper would tap out a very well-known song and the listener would have to guess the tune. Before the answer was revealed the tapper had to say whether the person would guess the song or not. The tappers said that the listener would get it right 50% of the time… reality… the listeners got it 2.5% of the time. The reason: The tappers had the curse of knowledge; they heard the full song in their head with complete accompaniment, while the listener heard some form of Morse code. When you are applying your experience, remember that you are hearing the full symphony, while others could likely be hearing you tap on the table… or it gets bad.

I’ve recently discovered the ugly:

Closely related to the good and the bad is my recent discovery of the ugly. With the Spreadshirt exec team, you are rarely lacking in critical analysis, which is awesome 95% of the time. The ugly is the 5% of the time when you just can’t explain why something is wrong. But, you have seen it so many times in so many different ways that you know what will happen — and, you don’t want to stick your hand on that stove or see others go through it. Ugh. While your gut (which, IMHO, is your inner self expressing your experience) tells you it is wrong, you can’t justify why. And, the arguments contrary to your gut are compelling. When this happens for me, I try to get to what experience is driving my gut. When that doesn’t work… call it ugly, decide whether you can live with the decision either way, make your case, and move on.

Along with my intro story, another story goes well with what’s on my shirt today. Harry recruited me for this position. As I talked to him more about the opportunity, I admit to being surprised when I realized that they were recruiting me as the gray hair for the org. I did think that I had a couple more positions (not just a couple of years, but a couple of positions!!) before I was the gray hair. But, alas… here I sit as a:

gen X geezer