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.

I just finished Scott Hartley’s new book The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World. It is an inspiring read full of compelling stories and ideas about the rapidly evolving world around us.

The central thesis of the book is that instead pushing every last student to major in a STEM field, we need to recognize that the liberal arts provide a crucial human perspective in a world increasingly governed by machine algorithms. Continue reading

tl;dr: I recently left Etsy and I’m working on some new projects: one around improving tech hiring, and another around personal excellence. I have some spare cycles to take on part-time consulting / contract work in product and marketing, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

I joined Etsy in August of 2015, five months after the IPO. I had admired Etsy from afar for years and I was excited do product at an established, publicly-traded technology company after leaving a privately-held B2B software company.

Over the past two years, I’ve built products and features to support our global seller community of 1.7 million creative entrepreneurs. I helped launch a marketing / promotional tool called Shop Updates, oversaw a major rewrite of the system we use to assess listing and transaction fees, Continue reading

Something I’ve noticed is that people and organizations that are successful over a long period of time periodically reinvent themselves. That is, they start out doing one thing, become good at it and get known for it, but eventually transform themselves and pursue something different.

Amazon of course is making headlines for their purchase of Whole Foods for $13 billion. Are they an e-commerce company? A technology company? A logistics company? A services provider? With the mission of being the most customer-centric company on earth, they can be all that and more. Continue reading