Safia Abdalla HeadshotBuilding a product is hard. Building a product as the sole technical founder is harder. Safia Abdalla is doing something tremendously difficult, which means there’s a lot we can learn from her experience.

I’ve enjoyed following her on Twitter (@captainsafia) for a while now and am pleased to share this interview with you. Read on to hear Safia share more about her product Zarf, which recently went into beta, how she decides to give technical talks, and her technique for avoiding task paralysis.

Hi! Can you introduce yourself? Who are you and what are you working on?

I’m Safia. I’m the solo technical founder behind Zarf, a content marketplace for written content produced by independent publishers. On Zarf, readers can purchase subscriptions to publications produced by their favorite authors or purchase individual posts by those writers. Zarf aims to provide an equitable and fair platform where writers and readers can both benefit from the written word. Continue reading

Product management is a tough discipline to nail down. It’s an opportunity to make a big impact but only if you’re the right person in the right role. I’m doing a couple PM-related things that you might be want to check out:

PM interested in a new challenge?

I’ve been advising a startup here in NYC called Kingfisher. They help people and teams organize and collaborate on complex information with visual maps and I’m and helping them hire their first product manager. Learn more about this really special opportunity and let me know if you or someone you know might be interested.

Looking to break into product management?

I’m hosting PM Hack, a one-day product hackathon on October 15th for aspiring and entry-level PMs to get more experience working on product challenges while getting mentored by senior practitioners in the industry. Sign up here!

Hiring product managers?

I’m speaking at Productized Conference in Lisbon on the five personas of product management and how to hire for them. Did a run through of this talk recently which well-received and excited to bring it to a bigger stage. You can get tickets here! Also there may be opportunities for employers to scout for fresh talent at PM Hack. Get in touch if you’re interested in that.

Note: The following piece was originally published in a few months ago in FastCompany’s Leadership section, where I also have a new post on maintaining strong relationships called The Networking Secret That Only Requires Writing Four Emails A Year

Last summer I was interviewing for product-manager jobs in New York City. My last job had left me feeling cornered into a specialist role at an enterprise marketing-software firm, and there wasn’t a path for me to grow into or room to move up. So I started putting out feelers. I spoke to startups, big companies, and a few in the middle. The two companies I was most excited to interview at were Google and Etsy. Continue reading

As you probably have heard, Nintendo has partnered with game developer Niantic to launch a wildly popular game for iOS and Android called Pokémon GO. The game has already reached over 21M daily active users, dominated the in-game purchasing market, and players are spending more time in the game than on Facebook. It even stopped traffic in Central Park as players abandoned their cars to chase after a rare water Pokémon that had appeared in the vicinity.. Continue reading

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