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
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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

The 10x Job Application: What You Do When You Really Want the Gig

We talk a lot about the war for talent: the idea that organizations need to fight to recruit, retain, and grow great people. Harvard Business Review recently put it this way:

“Finding and nurturing ambitious, hard-driving, and international-minded managers and technical staff are major challenges for multinationals and will become ever more crucial. HR operations at many companies have traditionally been seen in terms of compliance, record keeping, and support. But as talent shortages grow more acute in idea-intensive industries, human capital management should become a much higher strategic priority.”

— The Future and How to Survive It (HBR October

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The Rise and Fall of Product Lines

The natural lifecycle of a product from birth to growth to decay

I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to the growth of certain popular products — both physical and media [1]. The pattern looks like this:

Company Develops a Breakthrough Product

A unique product hits the market. It looks or operates in a way that feels distinct in an important way. It’s aggressively different from other things on the market.

  • iPod: bigger, heavier and more expensive than the tiny mp3 players on the market, but has a solid battery life and a massive amount of storage
  • Vibrams: shoes that look like gorilla feet, but some people swear it gets rid of their knee pain
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First Impressions at Etsy

The vibes I’m getting from the new gig

Since first publishing this post in October, our team has shipped the first product I had a hand in (in November). It’s called Shop Updates. You can read more about how the product came to be from this blog post by Nickey, our Group Product Manager.

It’s been about two months since I started at Etsy as a product manager on the Seller Experience team. I strongly believe that first impressions fade quickly so it’s important to try to capture them in the moment. I won’t be talking about product management at Etsy but more broadly how the company culture has … Read the rest

Six Blistering Bodyweight Workouts You Can Do in Under 30 Mins

No time? No problem

One of the biggest reasons why people say they don’t exercise is because they don’t have time. Of course, we all have the same amount of time, and there are plenty of really busy people who work out despite having many other things to do. I trained for and ran the SF Marathon while doing Ridejoy, and have written about the benefits of physical activity for entrepreneurs.

But I also understand that the best way to build a new habit is to make something dead simple — so you can put all your mental resources in pushing yourself during … Read the rest

The Extraordinary Power of Self-Reflection

I recently stumbled across an old document on my laptop. It was a PDF with journal entries from several years ago. While many of the entries were typical day-to-day activities, I also found about 100 short lessons that I had captured during this journaling period and I shared a few on Twitter.

Some of them were very specific:

As a panel moderator, you are the advocate for the audience – don’t just suck up to the big shots.

— Jason Shen (@JasonShen) July 16, 2015

Others were more generally applicable:

A few gems: If you don’t set clear expectations about

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Why Being Real Matters

Where “fake it till you make it” falls down

There’s a great article on TechCrunch by Danny Crichton called Startups and The Big Lie.

Crichton, who is a former colleague back in my days at The Stanford Daily, has a great line about how startups “run on an alchemy of ignorance and amnesia that is incredibly important to experimentation” and that entrepreneurs essentially have to lie a lot of the time about how things are going.

The Relentless Push to Be Positive

It’s very popular to lament the fact that founders are always saying their startup is “crushing it” and growth is through the roof. But most of … Read the rest

29

Three Short Lessons for the Last Year of My Twenties

I turned 29 last month. No contest or giveaway. This year we’ll keep it simple. Three simple lessons I’ve learned as I round the last lap of my twenties.

Just because it isn’t on your resume doesn’t mean it’s not real work. This includes relationships, moving cities, calling customer service, organizing around the house, and taking care of parents. It’s easy to just gloss over these things as chores and distractions if you’re an ambitious person but this is the real meat of life.

You can have it, but only if you want it really badly. There are too many … Read the rest