How to Give (Negative) Feedback Effectively

Getting honest and useful feedback is a wonderful gift. Obviously positive feedback (“You’re doing a great job with this project!”) is awesome because it makes you feel good and motivated to keep up the good work. Negative feedback, (“Your site is extremely hard to navigate and I wasn’t able to complete the signup process”) can be painful to hear, but if you can swallow your pride, it’s actually an amazing opportunity to improve what you’re working on.

On the other side, being able to deliver good feedback (especially negative feedback) means you have the opportunity to influence the people and projects around you to make them better. But because many people shut down when recieving negative feedback about themselves or others, it’s important to deliver that feedback in the right way.

As a startup founder, I give and receive a ton of feedback both positive and negative, so this is something I think about a lot. Here are some suggestions I have for delivering negative feedback effectively. Follow them and watch your feedback’s influence increase.

DO:

  • Show you care about the project/person
    “I’m totally behind your efforts to help disabled athletes in China…”
  • Show you understand and are aligned with the projects goals
    “I know you are focusing on just one market at this time…” 
  • Show that you’ve thought through reasons why the implementation might be what it is
    “I bet you saw good reasons to use three buttons instead of two…”  Continue reading…

Answering The Big Gymnastics Questions of the 2012 Olympics on Quora

Jason's Gymnastics Quora Answers

I’ve been on a tear over the past few weeks on Quora, writing a bunch of answers to questions related to gymnastics, which suddenly becomes relevant once every four years during the Olympics. This year was no exception, except now, instead of just answering questions for my friends, I can answer them for the world on Quora and my blog.

I’ve included four of my more interesting answers, which discuss the risks of competitive gymnastics for girls, the dominance of the US men’s vs women’s gymnastics teams, the experience of doing a gymnastics vault and finally a rescoring of a 10.0 vault. (This last one actually got 200+ upvotes and got reposted by the Quora team to the Huffington Post, woot woot!)

But anyway, here are my answers. Enjoy!

Q1: Why are American female gymnasts consistently dominant, whereas American male gymnasts are overall not nearly as competitive in the world stage?

Female gymnasts far out number male gymnasts.

In 2007 (most recent date I could get numbers for) there were 67,626 female gymnasts and 12,120 male gymnasts registered with USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the US. That’s already 5.6x more girls than guys. Continue reading…

How Coffee Meetings Power Silicon Valley

expresso
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Diego Sevilla Ruiz via Compfight

I just had a coffee meeting with a friend in San Francisco today.

Well, he’s not quite a friend, more like a guy I find smart and interesting, who I’d like to stay connected to. We first met when he was working at Twitter and applied to work at Ridejoy. While we mutually decided it wasn’t a good fit, he’s since left Twitter and started freelancing at some cool companies.

In our meeting we talked about how Ridejoy was doing, the value of teaching a Skillshare class, the power of long form writing and the mechanics of freelancing as a marketing/social media person. We finished the meeting without any particular takeaways, but I’m certain that deepening our relationship will pay off greatly in the long term (many times the value of $6 + 1 hour + 3 weeks of scheduling)

I have these kinds of coffee meetings 5-10 times a month and I think it’s one of the magical things about Silicon Valley.

These meetings are an opportunity to meet new people, build existing relationships, get advice, learn insider news/gossip, recruit new members and more. While blogs, forums, social media, phone calls / Skype and meetups can also achieve these things, they are not a replacement for the in-person, one-on-one, casual coffee meeting.

It’s one of the big reasons why startups should really consider moving to Silicon Valley – many of the smartest/ most influential people are here, and you’re going to build the strongest and most worthwhile relationships with them if you can connect in person.

Preferably over coffee.