Why Generalists Beat Hyper Specialists

Book notes on “Range” by David Epstein

I’ve always seen myself as someone with a ton of interests, with a lot of useful skills and knowledge but not a world class expert in anything. And while that’s served me really well, I sometimes wonder if it puts me at a disadvantage.

Fortunately for me, I recently finished Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, a thoughtful and comprehensive read by David Epstein. It made the rounds on VC Twitter this summer, which makes sense because venture capitalists, especially early stage ones, are very much generalists who look across a broad set of industries.

I recommend … Read the rest

Community is just friendship

WeWork, well-being, and who we are

Working in tech, you hear the word “community” a lot. When I was starting my career more than a decade ago, the concept of a community manager was starting to go mainstream.

Today it forms the foundation of our industry’s latest IPO – WeWork. For years they have been crowing about the power of community.

From their mission page:

When we started WeWork in 2010, we wanted to build more than beautiful, shared office spaces. We wanted to build a community. A place you join as an individual, ‘me’, but where you become part of a greater ‘we’. A place

Read the rest

Techstars Alexa

Midgame joins Amazon’s voice-focused startup accelerator

Midgame was accepted into The Alexa Accelerator, a program co-run by the Techstars startup accelerator and the Alexa Fund, a $200M fund for Amazon to invest in voice tech companies. We’re two weeks in and over the next few months, we’ll build and launch a voice assistant for gamers, alongside nine other companies who are also part of the program.

The announcement went live on VentureBeat last week as well as the Amazon Day One corporate blog.

The other companies in the program include include an AI-powered service that helps students learn, a health product that checks up on … Read the rest

Conflict Isn’t Always Bad

My natural tendency is to avoid conflict. The few times I fought in school, I was caught and punished for it and it didn’t seem never was worth the trouble.

It’s also the case that needless conflict can be harmful to both parties, because even if you “beat” the other party, now they’re holding a grudge.

But I’ve come to realize the value of productive conflict.

Read the rest

Lessons on Persistence from Dean Karnazes

What ultramarathon running can teach us about persistence at work

Photo by Alex Gorham on Unsplash

In college, I came across a book about long-distance running called Ultramarathon Man. The author, Dean Karnazes, was a runner throughout his childhood and into his teens, before taking a long break from the sport. More than a decade later, Dean found himself with an urge to run after work and covered 30 miles before calling his wife from a 7-Eleven for a ride home. For 25 years, he’s been a leading ultramarathoner, having won a 135-mile race in Death Valley and once running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.

In

Read the rest

My Op-Ed in Vox

“Why Always Be My Maybe’s Asian American underachiever is groundbreaking”

Writing milestones don’t come often. I’ve been blogging since 2009, have had pieces blow up on Medium or hit front page of Hacker News. I’ve been interviewed for places like The Atlantic and NYTimes. I’ve had my writing republished on Quartz and I contribute pieces regularly to Fast Company‘s Leadership / Work-Life section.

But I’ve never straight up pitched a mainstream publication and had an editor take my piece. Until last week, when Vox published my op-ed in their First Person section: Why Always Be My Maybe’s Asian American underachiever is groundbreaking.

As you may know, I’ve been … Read the rest

Thirty Three

Developing a new mantra

I turned 33 a few weeks ago.

I remember when my gymnastics coach turned 33 and told me about it. I was 12. He was not only my first serious gymnastics coach, he was one of the owners of the gym. He was in charge and he seemed to know everything.

I replied by saying that he had run through a third of his life. Probably not what he wanted to hear and but given he was a smoker, it was actually a pretty optimistic forecast.

Turns out of course that you don’t have it all figured out at 33, … Read the rest

Starting Over

Due to an unfortunate combination of bad actors and my own neglect, I’ve had to do a full reboot of my blog. I should be able to recover / republish many of the posts over time, but backlinks may be an issue, perhaps indefinitely.

While this is of course frustrating, there’s also a sense of relief. A fresh start. There’s something uplifting about a blank slate and having a chance to redefine myself and what I write about.

Early on, I tried to make everything I wrote a direct reflection of personal experience. My shield was always “this is what … Read the rest

Long hours are BS

Squaring tech’s penchant for long hours with elite athletic training

Lots of people in tech are obsessed with putting in long hours. Elon Musk once said that “nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week” and suggested that the correct number was between 80-100 hours. Freelance marketplace Fiverr, with venture funding to the tune of $111 million, came under fire for an ad campaign that described an aspirational lifestyle where lunch is coffee and sleep deprivation is “your drug of choice.”

Or there was the time when the cofounder of Coursera launched a machine learning company called DeepLearning.ai and in a job post suggested that the team … Read the rest

How to Facilitate

Lessons from master facilitator Piper Anderson

Piper Anderson is no stranger to difficult conversations. As an educator and cultural organizer, she’s spent over 17 years facilitating discussions about some of the most hot-button issues facing U.S. society. In 2016, for example, she gave a TED talk about Mass Story Lab, her storytelling series focused on how the U.S. criminal justice system impacts communities of color. “Yes, I’m the person who brings mass incarceration into polite dinner conversation,” she quipped.

In a time when two black men can be arrested at Starbucks just waiting for a friend, it’s clear that these conversations need to happen. Yet … Read the rest