2015 art of ass kicking roundup

The 2015 Roundup

2015 was a big year.

I started it out living in Manhattan, working at Percolate, and just starting a new role as a PM for the Demo. I ended the year living in Brooklyn, working at Etsy, and settling into being a PM for the Seller Experience team. A whole crap ton of things happened a long the way: I took a GA course on front-end web development which really raised my game as a technology worker, I finally got my Guinness World Record certificate, I settled a long and protracted dispute that we can discuss another time, and I launched a side project that’s generated more money than all my previous side projects combined.

All the while, I’ve been blogging here. Let’s take a look back at the biggest hits on The Art of Ass-Kicking in 2015 (and yes I realize I’m a little late, oh well). Continue reading…

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What Makes Effective Teams — According to MIT and Google

We all want to work in teams that exhibit high performance and solve problems effectively. But while it’s often easier to understand what drives individual performance, team performance is a more complex activity.

There is some great research done by folks at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Google that shows how we can make smarter teams, and the answers are not what you might think.

Building Smarter Teams

In a paper published in Science, researchers split a few hundred participants into randomly assigned 2-5 person teams and spent upwards of 4 hours on a diverse set of activities, including solving visual puzzles, brainstorming, negotiating over limited resources, and playing checkers (as a group) against a computer. Continue reading…

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Play to Your Strengths

One of the things I’m trying to remind myself of this year is “play to my strengths”.

Truly understanding ourselves — our tendencies, preferences, abilities, and the impression we give to others — is enormously important to leading a successful and satisfying life. We often overlook our strengths because they come easy to us. We rely on them so frequently that they almost don’t exist in our minds. We’re typically see our weakness much more often, since it’s more obvious why we struggle than why we succeed. Continue reading…


What Engineers, Product Managers, and Executives Can Learn from the Volkswagen Scandal

Volkswagen has been eviscerated after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in September that VW had installed “defeat devices” to cheat on their emissions testing.

It turns out least 500,000 diesel cars made by VW were rigged with software that would reduce engine emissions to meet standards, but then turn off to achieve higher fuel mileage. When not in testing mode, the engines released nitrous oxide chemicals at levels up to 38x times greater than allowed by the Clean Air Act. Continue reading…