How Camaraderie is Forged Through Hardship

Reflections on teamwork after reading Tribes by Sebastian Junger

I recently finished reading Sebastian Junger’s excellent new book Tribes: on Homecoming and Belonging. It\’s a slim volume that addresses something really important: how hardship builds group cohesion and solidarity.

In my keynote speech at the PRCA conference, I spoke about I believe is the most critical factor in high performing teams: trust. And I pointed out that groups never work closer together than after a crisis. This applies to acts of terrorism (America’s sense of unity after September 11), natural disasters (the pan-Asian support in response to the 2011 earthquake/tsunami of Japan) and even corporate crises (morale and … 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.

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What the Black Lives Matter Movement Means to Me

The events of the last week have been horrifying, infuriating, and deeply saddening.

Two black men, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile, have been shot dead by police officers. Men who were not resisting arrest, not posing a threat, and who should not be dead. Their final, awful moments, filmed on mobile phones, have been seen millions times. Then, during what was otherwise a peaceful protest in Dallas, five white police officers were shot and killed by a gunman who appears to have been motivated by his frustrations with how black people are treated by the police. My heart goes out … 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 identifier), which is a … Read the rest

What Makes Effective Problem-Solving Teams

What Research from MIT, CMU, and Google Found on Making Smarter Teams

We all want to work in teams that exhibit high performance and solve problems effectively. But while it’s often easier to understand what drives individual performance, team performance is a more complex activity.

There is some great research done by folks at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Google that shows how we can make smarter teams, and the answers are not what you might think.

Building Smarter Teams

In a paper published in Science, researchers split a few hundred participants into randomly assigned 2-5 person teams and spent upwards of 4 hours on a diverse set of activities, including solving visual … 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