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Reading Notes on How to Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert

These are my reading notes on How to Make Sense of Any Mess, and the second installment of #WkofBks as part of the #YourTurnChallenge!

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The Book in a Nutshell: The human race is creating more information than ever before, in the form of signs, articles, websites, apps, and much more — and the world would be a better place if we could all learn a little bit more about how to structure, present, and discuss that information. Also one of the inspirations for How to Get What You Want.

About the Author: I first encountered Abby Covert via a presentation she did with the same name as part of the Blend 2014 conference. She’s the President of the Information Architecture Institute and teaches IA at the Parsons New School of Design. I loved her story-driven, no-nonsense approach to writing about this field. Continue reading…

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Book Notes on Your Turn by Seth Godin [#WkofBks]

I love reading books, and but I know I can easily forget what I’ve read if I don’t document the ideas somewhere. Luckily, this blog helps with that. Some book blog posts I’ve done in the past include:

This week, I’ll be publishing a new blog post every single day. Each will share some of the big ideas of good books I’ve read recently. I’m calling it Week of Books (#WkofBks) and it’s part of a global one-week project on shipping called the Your Turn Challenge. The campaign tied to Seth Godin’s new book, Your Turn and led by Winnie Kao.

And since the object at the heart of all this is a book, what better way to kick off this series than with a look at Your Turn.

Your Turn Book Notes

angled-cover_largeThe Book in a Nutshell: There are so many opportunities today to stand up, start something, and make a difference. We no longer have to wait for others to pick us, we can pick ourselves at any time. And we owe it to ourselves and the world to give our gifts tot he world.

About the Author: Seth Godin is one of the smartest, most generous, and most expansive thinking business bloggers I’ve ever encountered. I’ve been reading his blog and books since 2006. Seth has written 17 best-selling books that have been translated into 35 languages, and founded two tech companies: Yoyodyne, sold to Yahoo, and Squidoo, sold to Hubpages. Continue reading…

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The Best and Worst Parts of Peter Thiel’s New Book: Zero to One

In spring of 2012, Peter Thiel, cofounder of Paypal and Palantir and early investor in Facebook, taught a course at Stanford in the Computer Science department called CS183: Startup. One of the students in the class, a law student named Blake Masters, took meticulous notes that were widely shared across the web (1M+ pg views).

The ideas were intriguing, and ran counter to much of the standard startup wisdom. I had read some of the notes when they came out but they’re pretty lengthy and I didn’t get through them all. Continue reading…

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24 Ideas From Scott Berkun About Tech, Leadership, and the Future of Work

One of the few people who can match Paul Graham as writer is Scott Berkun. They have both succeeded as technologists, Graham in Viaweb + YC, and Berkun in Microsoft and Automattic. They both write thoughtful essays on a wide range of topics, like the Cities and Ambition or Street Smarts vs Book Smarts. If anything, Berkun is a bit more personable and relatable as a writer, he’ll refer to himself a bit more than Graham and use more culturally relevant examples.

I recently finished Berkun’s book, A Year Without Pants, about his experience as something like a product manager for Team Social at Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com. The title of the book refers to the fact that the company is fully distributed and so you don’t have to wear pants to work if you don’t want to. I’ve written previously about 37 Signal’s book Remote, but this book is different because it doesn’t focus so intensely on the “remote” part. In fact, large swaths of the book are about times where Team Social were working together at an in person gathering.

Berkun primarily uses his experience at Automattic as a platform to offer a variety of other interesting and unconventional ideas about work. Here are 24 of my favorite quotes from the book (which you should read) and my comments. Continue reading…

No Silver Bullets: Etsy’s Randy Hunt on Product Design

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While on my Peru Trip earlier this year, I read a great book  called Product Design for the Web: Principles of Designing and Releasing Products for the Web.

As one of two interaction designers who joined Etsy in 2010, Randy Hunt, now creative director, has written the book on best practices of product development for successful modern-day Internet companies. I highly recommend it.

I sat down with Randy recently to learn more about his perspective on product design. But before I jump into that conversation, here’s a brief look at some of the big ideas from the book:

Takeaways From Product Design for The Web By Randy Hunt

Note: these are not direct quotes but pretty close paraphrases

  • Great products are understandable (set expectations and live up to them) and meaningful (help people solve problems or accomplish goals) and, hopefully, delightful
  • It can be helpful to reimagine your product spec as a press release defining what the update is, who it is for and why it matters Continue reading…