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

Naming Your Company

Choosing a name for your startup or product is a crucial task because it defines the initial expectations and preconceived notions people will have about your thing. It’s easy to pick a bland name, but really try hard to think up a lot of name options and pick something weird, differentiated, and memorable. I’ve turned back to this book again and again for inspiration and reminders on how to develop good names.

About the Author: Eli Altman is the Creative Director of a naming company called A Hundred Monkeys (good name right?) which has worked with startups and Fortune 50 … Read the rest

28

How Has Your Perspective Changed?

Photo by Jagoda Kondratiuk on Unsplash

A few years ago, I started a birthday tradition on this blog, where I ask readers to respond to a question, and give away a sweet prize.

When I turned 26, I asked “What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were 26?” When I turned 27, I asked readers to tell me about an important decision they had made.

Last week I turned 28, and it’s time for a new birthday question giveaway!

One random commenter will win a hardcover or Kindle copy of Think Like a Freak, a … Read the rest

24 Ideas From Scott Berkun About Tech, Leadership, and the Future of Work

Book notes from “A Year WIthout Pants”

One of the few people who can match Paul Graham as writer is Scott Berkun. They have both succeeded as technologists, Graham in Viaweb + YC, and Berkun in Microsoft and Automattic. They both write thoughtful essays on a wide range of topics, like the Cities and Ambition or Street Smarts vs Book Smarts. If anything, Berkun is a bit more personable and relatable as a writer, he’ll refer to himself a bit more than Graham and use more culturally relevant examples.

I recently finished Berkun’s book, A Year Without Pants, about his experience as something like … Read the rest

Training Makes it Possible

Have you ever looked at someone who was really good at what they did and felt a little daunted?

Maybe it’s how they seem to easily make connections with new people, or design an amazing-looking web page over a weekend, or how they casually mention the 6 miles they ran before breakfast today.

It’s natural to feel intimidated by someone who’s really good at what they do and get a little insecure about yourself. It happens to me on occasion. But whenever I find myself falling into that trap,  I remember something I learned from 16 years of gymnastics:

Training Read the rest