Jason at Percolate

How a Potluck Brunch Led to My New Job at Percolate

Update: I realize this post makes it seem like moving to a new city and landing an awesome job was a walk in the park. It wasn’t. There was definitely lots of long days of networking, doing consulting work to bring in extra cash, coordinating with friends for new places to crash, and doubts about what the heck I was doing. I’m grateful to all the help I had along the way.

I moved to New York City in the second half of January as a free agent. I slept on couches, met up with dozens of people for coffee meetings, and explored a variety of opportunities within NYC tech.

After deeper conversations with a number of great companies including Meetup, Invision, and Skillshare, I ultimately decided to join the Growth Team at Percolate. I actually hadn’t heard much about Percolate before I moved to New York, but like many great opportunities, it emerged out of serendipity.

A Working Brunch

I was at a brunch co-hosted by my friend Derek of Greatist, where I met Sandeep, the cofounder of Delve News. We spent some time talking about his product, which is kind of like Reddit meets Yammer, in an email. Then we got onto the topic of my job exploration. I told Sandeep a bit about my background and interests, and he offered to introduce me to the cofounder of Percolate: Noah Brier. Continue reading…

One Woman’s Incredible Startup Journey in Peru

The other night, while wandering the bustling streets of Barranco, my adopted neighborhood in Lima, Peru, I walked into a Chinese restaurant called Chifa Hong Fu. [1]

I was struggling with the Spanish-only menu and was attempting to ask the waitress what was in the various dishes, when this woman popped out from the back and asked me

Ni hui shou zhong wen ma?” (Can you speak Chinese?) My Mandarin is passable so I said I could.

She started explaining the menu to me and I asked her if this was her restaurant. She said it was. And thus began one of the most fascinating and inspiring stories of entrepreneurship I’ve learned in a long time.

Huang: The Relentless Chinese-Peruvian Restaurant Entrepreneur

Jason and Huang

(Huang and Me in her restaurant)

Chifa Hong Fu was founded in 2009 by Huang’s nephew [1] and she bought him out in 2012 to become the sole proprietor when her nephew decided to move back to China. Before that, she was helping her younger brother run another restaurant for about eight years. Chifa Hong Fu has about 15 tables and I’d guess her dishes average out to about 14 Peruvian soles (equivalent to $5.2 USD) a plate. Continue reading…


A Year in the Life of a Founder After Shutting Down His Startup

I don’t know if this has always been happening but I noticed this year that a lot of people were sharing a summary of 2013 on Facebook around New Years. They’re usually a little “braggy” but honestly, I don’t mind that at all. I’m happy to celebrate all the wonderful things my friends have done or experienced this year and don’t feel particularly envious or annoyed. We are all on different paths.

I very much enjoyed reading a recap of 2013 through my friends’ eyes  and decided it would be a good exercise to reflect back on the last 365 days myself.

As you might know, Ridejoy announced that it was no longer being supported – a decision that my cofounders and I made this spring, after months testing new ideas and soul-searching. It was a hard decision and marked the psychic end of my first startup.

But life goes on and I went on to have a wonderful year in 2013, which I shared on Facebook. Continue reading…


17 Essential Best Practices for Making Things Happen

Note: If you enjoyed this post, I share more strategies for achieving significant growth in mindset, health+fitness, and quality of work in my free newsletter.

After reading through Sarah’s little rules of working life, which I thought was pretty useful stuff, I decided to think through some of my own rules, or as I’m calling them, “Best Practices for Making Things Happen”.

The idea is that these are all maxims that I live and work by, that I’ve learned over time and that I believe have made me more effective in accomplishing meaningful things.

The list is neither complete nor fully elucidated, but that’s totally in line with BP #2 and #7. =)

Would love to hear what you think: questions, feedback, etc.

Jason’s 17 Essential Best Practices for Making Things Happen

  1. Keep the promises you make to yourself. I learned this one from Stephen Covey – we make little promises to ourselves all the time (“I’m going to stop working on weekends.” or “I’ll definitely get a workout in tonight.”) These promises are in fact more important to keep than the ones you make to your customers, your boss or your family. Because private victories come before public ones.
  2. If you’ve got a good idea, try to take some kind of action on it right away. Too often good ideas slip away, either due to momentum (it was exciting at the moment, but less so now) or just through forgetfulness. So when you have a good idea, send an email to a potential collaborator, sketch out some designs, or at the very least, make an Evernote note for the idea. Continue reading…

These 3 Federal Government Jobs Might Actually Just Change Everything

presidential innovation fellows

Round 1 + Round 2 Presidential Innovation Fellows

What does it mean to be an artist? It means to be creative, to take risks, and hopefully, change everything. The Beatles. The Piano Guys. Frida Khalo. Kyle LambertDa Vinci. Karen X Cheng.

A typical government bureaucrat is NOT an artist. A bureaucrat follows the rules, isn’t very skilled at what he or she does, and never accomplishes anything particularly remarkable.

But not every government employee is a bureaucrat.

As a Presidential Innovation Fellow, I’ve met some amazing people in Federal Government (not just the other fellows, but career government people) who do creative, difficult, and meaningful work. And yes, I would call them artists.

Right now, there is an amazing opportunity to do some really innovative work within “USG” and show that the word “government artist” is not an oxymoron. If you really care about making federal government more tech-savvy and innovative, then I dare you to put your money where your mouth is.

And if you can stay flexible and creative in the face of red-tape jungle of the federal government, and bust your butt in the service of something greater, then you just might change everything.

The 3 Roles

  • Presidential Innovation Fellowship Director – We need someone who is going to lead the Presidential Innovation Fellowship. The program has done very well with its first two rounds but needs a visionary who can turn an emerging and promising program into a powerhouse within government. They need to be able to articulate their vision, create buy-in within government agencies, and select & incubate good projects. They need to also be a leader for the fellows – helping unite groups of diverse talent. Ideally they have experience in government, in startups, and with managing fellowship programs (tall order, I know, but ).
  • GovX Program Director – There has also been a program created that will work side-by-side with the Presidential Innovation Fellowship that needs a leader. This role will require more sales, marketing, and business development chops since it is newer and thus less defined / known. Note that the specialized experience sought after is: “using efficient and cost-effective approaches to integrate technology into the workplace and improve program effectiveness; developing strategies using new technology to enhance decision making; utilizing analytical methods to gauge the impact of technological change on an organization; utilizing technology to improve work processes; identifying the concept of minimally viable product, and the steps needed to develop plans and/or processes to meet organizational goals. “
  • Communication Specialist – We also need a marketing, communications and PR specialist who’s going to work with the fellows, the PIF + GovX directors, and the communications teams at various federal agencies. As a fellow, I saw first hand how much great work was happening with this program, but it was difficult to figure out who could really help us get the word out about our efforts. Additionally, these programs are in major need of brand strategy and marketing collateral, and this person would lead the creation of those assets. This person would report to the head of the Office of Comm / Marketing but would work side-by-side with the other two people.


How long will these jobs be open?

Unfortunately, the timing is very tight. I encourage you to apply ASAP if you are interested. The Communication job will stop accepting new candidates at 11:59pm Eastern on Wednesday December 4th, 2013.

The PIF and GovX director roles end not much later, Tuesday, December 10th and Wednesday the 11th (also 11:59pm Eastern)

Is there anything special I should do with my resume?

Great question! I would advise you to really flesh out your resume.

The way government jobs are evaluated require them to map the requirements of the job against things that they can find on your resume. So while you might be used to the one-page resume for industry, it is not unheard of to have 15 page resumes in government. Not saying you have to make yours that long, but consider expanding on the work you’ve done in your career and find way to map those to the job requirements.

What’s the deal with GSA?

Some people are confused about why a program called “The Presidential Innovation Fellowship” is sitting in something called US General Services Administration.

Well, GSA is basically the institutional home for the program. Fellows work very closely with the White House’s Office of Science Technology and Policy, but the White House itself is not the ideal place to be hosting a rotating group of professionals who get deployed across government. But GSA can. Just to be clear, this is the norm for government. The White House Fellowship and Presidential Management Fellowship, which are separate from the Presidential Innovation Fellowship, are hosted at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).