Book Notes on the Fuzzy and the Techie

A rebuttal to tech’s “STEM or die” mentality

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.

As a venture capitalist who has served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow (we were part of the same round) and … Read the rest

31 Lessons at 31

Reflections after another year

It’s sort of a tradition at this point for me to do a post around my birthday (see: 3029282726). This year, I decided to write down 31 lessons I’ve learned in the past few years. Anything older than that tends to become a “known fact of life” and stands out a lot less.

These were initially written with modifiers like “most”, “often”, or “tend to”, but since that makes the points less pithy, I’ve taken them out. However, know that I don’t mean these lessons literally to be true in all … Read the rest

Ridejoy: Lessons Learned

On April 24th, 2011, I sat down with my friends Kalvin and Randy for an intense 10 minute interview with Paul Graham, Sam Altman, Jessica Livingston and several other partners at Y Combinator (YC). We were hoping to convince the world’s most powerful startup accelerator to accept our Reloveit, our idea for “a Mint.com for photo books”, into their Summer 2011 batch of startups.

YC prides itself on making a day-of decision about whether to accept a startup, so that evening, I found myself pacing back and forth at an outside patio by Kalvin’s childhood home. I was 24 years … Read the rest

An Open Letter to Managers of Women

This article first appeared on Medium, where it has received over 205,000 views. It has been republished to QuartzUpworthyHuffington Post and featured as a LinkedIn Editor’s Pick.

Dear manager,

We need to talk about her. You probably know who. That analyst, designer, writer, engineer who has been at the organization for just a year or two and is already doing the work of someone several levels above her current pay band. Or maybe she’s not even on your radar, because she’s the dependable one who always delivers on-time and under budget, without any drama.… Read the rest

Product Insights from Pokémon GO

Unpacking the year’s biggest mobile game sensation

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.

Read the rest

Beyond the 10,000 Hour Rule

What Anders Ericsson has to say about developing mastery

We’re all familiar with the 10,000 hour rule, which was made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2010 bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success. In it, Gladwell makes the argument that 10,000 hours of practice is a critical number that separates the great from the truly extraordinary. One of the bodies of work Gladwell relied on to support his thesis were from research by Florida State University Psychology Professor K. Anders Ericsson, the granddaddy of research on how people developing expertise.

Ericsson studied violinists from the West Berlin Music Academy: the highest performing students did not differ significantly from average … Read the rest

30

Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

About a week ago I celebrated a major milestone and turned *gasp* 30. Over the last few years, I’ve kept very careful track of how much time I had left until thirty, which was the age I thought I needed to have “made it”. In retrospect, the anxiety was unwarranted and thankfully in my old(er) age, I’ve gained the wisdom to see that.

Yes, in getting older, I’ve lost some naïveté, I look a bit more before I leap, and I get hangovers. But I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for building new things, and … Read the rest

The New Napster

How Sci-Hub is Blowing Up the Academic Publishing Industry

There has been an explosive new development in how scientific research is read and distributed. It’s name is Sci-Hub.

Founded in 2011 by Alexandra Elbakyan (who was, at the time, a 22 year-old graduate student based in Kazakhstan), the site has seen a major uptick in the last year. In February 2016, 6M+ scientific papers were downloaded from Sci-Hub, including articles from major journals like Nature and Science, to more niche titles across many fields, by hundreds of thousands of researchers all across the globe [1]. Simply by punching in a paper title or a DOI (document object … Read the rest

Readership Survey

Who reads this blog and why?

Since it’s been a few years since my last readership survey, I decided to poll members of the Art of Ass-Kicking insider’s list to see who they are and why they read the blog.

Here are some of our findings:

Demographics

While the readership skews male, we actually have a pretty strong spectrum across different generations, from Millennials, to Gen X to Boomers.

Attributes

  • Technology: 63% of folks work in tech. 31% are developers or engineers, 25% are marketers, 22% are product managers, and 19% are designers
  • Entrepreneurship: 31% of readers are active startup founders and another 27% are aspiring
Read the rest

Learning from Volkswagen

Takeaways for Engineers, Product Managers, and Executives from a Massive Cheating Scandal

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.

How It Was Discovered

In an ironic turn of events, the cheating was discovered by an environmental group working with West Virginia University to prove … Read the rest