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Is 2016 the year you finally ship your side project?

The year is coming to a close and that means a couple things:

  1. You’re getting invites for holiday and year end parties
  2. Friends and coworkers are coming down with terrible colds, flus and other debilitating illnesses
  3. Your brain starts pondering how the year has gone and what next year will hold

I don’t have much advice for you around the first two issues, except, try not to eat too many gingerbread cookies, and wash your hands frequently.

But perhaps I can say something useful about the third. Continue reading…

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What is life like for the Asian American man in 2015?

I didn’t really think much about how my own race/ethnicity affected my life until 2011, when I read the ludicriously long piece in New York Magazine. It was called Paper Tigers, with the subtitle: “What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?” and it covered issues I had discussed occasionally with friends but rarely saw elsewhere.

Questions like how come Asians are rarely in leadership positions despite being “so smart”? Or is it possible to maintain traditional Asian values like being humble in a loud, show-off-to-get-ahead world? Or why the hell was dating so damn hard?

I thought Wesley Yang’s article was going to lead to a national conversation about these issues, given that Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua had been all over the media for months. But it didn’t happen. It’s understandable in some respects because he admits that he is “in most respects devoid of Asian characteristics”. While born to Korean parents, he does not: speak Korean, believe in Asian values, date Korean women or have any Korean friends. Maybe this was all he wanted to say about being an Asian man.

And yet, there’s more to our story. Continue reading…

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The 10x Job Application: What You Do When You Really Want the Gig

We talk a lot about the war for talent: the idea that organizations need to fight to recruit, retain, and grow great people. Harvard Business Review recently put it this way:

“Finding and nurturing ambitious, hard-driving, and international-minded managers and technical staff are major challenges for multinationals and will become ever more crucial. HR operations at many companies have traditionally been seen in terms of compliance, record keeping, and support. But as talent shortages grow more acute in idea-intensive industries, human capital management should become a much higher strategic priority.”

The Future and How to Survive It (HBR October 2015)

But one of the biggest challenges in the war for talent is identifying who those top performers are. Continue reading…

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The Rise and Fall of Product Lines

I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to the growth of certain popular products — both physical and media [1]. The pattern looks like this:

Company develops a breakthrough product

A unique product hits the market. It looks or operates in a way that feels distinct in an important way. It’s aggressively different from other things on the market.

  • iPod: bigger, heavier and more expensive than the tiny mp3 players on the market, but has a solid battery life and a massive amount of storage
  • Vibrams: shoes that look like gorilla feet, but some people swear it gets rid of their knee pain / plantar fasciitis
  • Marvel’s X-Men: a fictional team of superheros who are ordinary people with mutant abilities – depicted in comic books, tv shows, video games and movies

Continue reading…

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First Impressions at Etsy

It’s been about two months since I started at Etsy as a product manager on the Seller Experience team. I strongly believe that first impressions fade quickly so it’s important to try to capture them in the moment. I won’t be talking about product management at Etsy but more broadly how the company culture has felt for a new employee like me.

Staff = Admin. We often use the term admin to refer to the people who work at Etsy. This terminology comes from the fact that Etsy started as a community website for crafters which had (and still has) a strong forum presence. Continue reading…