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

No Silver Bullets: Etsy’s Randy Hunt on Product Design

While on my Peru trip earlier this year, I read a great book  called Product Design for the Web: Principles of Designing and Releasing Products for the Web.

As one of two interaction designers who joined Etsy in 2010, Randy Hunt, now creative director, has written the book on best practices of product development for successful modern-day Internet companies. I highly recommend it.

I sat down with Randy recently to learn more about his perspective on product design. But before I jump into that conversation, here’s a brief look at some of the big ideas from the book:… Read the rest

One Woman’s Incredible Startup Journey in Peru

The other night, while wandering the bustling streets of Barranco, my adopted neighborhood in Lima, Peru, I walked into a Chinese restaurant called Chifa Hong Fu. [1]

I was struggling with the Spanish-only menu and was attempting to ask the waitress what was in the various dishes, when this woman popped out from the back and asked me

Ni hui shou zhong wen ma?” (Can you speak Chinese?) My Mandarin is passable so I said I could.

She started explaining the menu to me and I asked her if this was her restaurant. She said it was. And … Read the rest

17 Essential Best Practices for Making Things Happen

I previously wrote about my PIF coworker Sarah Allen’s little rules of working life, which I thought was pretty awesome. I decided to think through some of my own rules, or as I’m calling them, “Best Practices for Making Things Happen”.

The idea is that these are all maxims that I live and work by, that I’ve learned over time and that I believe have made me more effective in accomplishing meaningful things.

The list is neither complete nor fully elucidated, but that’s totally in line with BP #2 and #7. =)

Would love to hear what you think: … Read the rest

Training to Dunk

How many people do you know who are 5’5″ and can dunk?

Brandon Todd is 5’5″ and can dunk a basketball. At that height, you need a 42+ inches vertical leap to have a chance of putting the ball in the hoop. This is pretty insane. Todd trained for three years, putting on 85 lbs of muscle to gain the power needed to dunk.

I was enthralled by the short film on Todd I found

In it he says:

I used to look like I wasn’t even on the [basketball] team. 5’5″ 117 lbs. I didn’t want people to count me out because my height. I was reading an article about russian

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Sarah Allen’s Little Rules For Working Life

I’ve learned a lot of stuff working with the fellows in my program, particularly Sarah Allen, who’s paired with me on the Smithsonian Transcription Center. I noticed that she’d often mention a policy she had on doing (or not doing) certain things. I remarked that there seemed to be a lot of them and has she ever put them in one place?

Well luckily for us she has. Here are some my favorite policies of Sarah Allen, an incredibly accomplished software developer, manager, and entrepreneur, and my comment on it.

I never take a job where I

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My Experience with Toastmasters

Don’t Start Sentences with “Soooo” and Other Things I Learned

I always thought Toastmasters was like one of those quaint support-group esque membership organizations, in the same category as  Boy Scouts, Rotary clubs, and Alcoholics Anonymous. And indeed, some quick Googling reveals they were all founded in the early 1900’s.

I like public speaking, having done an Ignite talk and spoken at my high school graduation, but I think I could get a lot better. I’m particularly bad at off-the-cuff speaking – I tend to freeze up and sound neither natural nor professional. I remember once looking around for Toastmasters clubs when I lived in the Bay Area, but … Read the rest