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Don’t Let Them Put You in a Bucket

People naturally want to put other people into a bucket. There are of course the obvious examples of race and gender. These stereotypes are so powerful that they can cause you to under or “over” perform on a math test, depending on what stereotype is invoked. [1]. But then there are the more subtle ones:

  • He’s so good at writing, he couldn’t possibly be good as an engineer
  • She’s an athlete so she’s obviously going to be hyper competitive about this project
  • That team fell apart last year in the playoffs, they’re just bad under pressure

Continue reading…

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Goodbye Percolate, Hello Etsy

I joined Percolate in March of 2014 as the 100th employee at the company (today: 250+). Back then, we were all piled into a single floor of our NY office in SoHo. We’ve grown tremendously, raising two rounds of funding, opening offices around the world, and delivering The System of Record for global Fortune 500 brands like Unilever and GE.

But in the next chapter of my career in product management, it is time to say goodbye to Percolate, and hello to Etsy. Continue reading…

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“When did you do your tour of duty?”

Edit Aug 14th: Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator just wrote a post on the United States Digital Service

I just got back from Washington DC, where I got to spend the weekend at the first ever Presidential Innovation Fellow reunion. You can see some of what happened with the hashtag #PIFHomecoming2015 and the official PIF handle. Continue reading…

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Curator vs Committee Selection

We’re all members of certain affiliations or groups and one way to think about what that membership means is through how you were selected for that group. 

For institutions like college, grad school, a Fortune 500 company, a startup accelerator, even a fraternity/sorority, you were probably selected by a committee. There were a group of people who are in charge of choosing new members – admissions, recruiting, partners. Because there is typically a set of required attributes or performance criteria and you are compared against a pool of applicants, your membership can be a signal to the outside world. When you work at Google (or graduated from Penn State, or were also Sigma Nu) and meet someone who has that same affiliation, you are more inclined to like and trust that person. Other people may associate certain things good or bad to you.

There’s some borrowed trust when you are part of a committee-selected group but it’s also likely to be a pretty large group and so that trust only goes so far. I’ll be honest, I don’t like someone that much more just because they are a Stanford alum.

Then there are curator selected groups. This might anything from a birthday party to small speaker series to a wedding to a themed event. I know a number of entrepreneurs who regularly host intimate events (often dinners, sometimes drinks) where everyone is selected and known by the host.

In these events, the group is smaller, and more in the current moment. Also it’s unlikely that the outside world knows or cares about this affiliation. But the connections you make here are instantly closer. If you are in a wedding party, you are instantly bonded and have many reasons to like and trust the other people in the party. Same for being a guest on a panel.

A lot of people focus their time on earning a place at committee selected affiliations. Obviously where you go to school and work matter when it comes to the kinds of people you’ll meet and the connections you build. But don’t forget about the curator selected groups too. A few deep relationships often do much more for your career and life than a pile of contacts. 

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Try Something Different

I love thinking about behavior change. Specifically, how people get themselves to adopt new attitudes, habits, ways of living. Hell I even taught a Skillshare course to 150 people on the science of willpower and behavior change.

One thing I’ve realized is that it’s actually a lot easier to be shaped by external forces than by your own hand. People can and do change themselves, but it takes patience, sustained effort, and creativity. Continue reading…