Posts

Representation, or why I'm insanely excited about the Black Panther movie!

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Black Panther is releasing on my birthday. I'll actually try to watch it on that day.

I'm easily excited about movies, but I think this may be the most I've been looking forward to a movie in a long, long time. I've been watching the trailer twice with my son each night before putting him to bed for the last week.

And it's also the first time I remember I've been watching out for early reviews and being relieved it was a good movie. (Phew, looks like it's really, really good - I'm not allowing myself to read the reviews yet).

Now, obviously there's a cinematic argument.
The Black Panther is a great character - and was so well introduced in the Civil War movie.The trailers look really good.the soundtrack is probably most interesting I've heard in a long, long time ..and the guy who directed Creed is going to direct a superhero movie!!!! Come on!! But here's a much simpler reason, I'm rooting so hard for this movie - how it represents Afric…

Yup, you can hate Silicon Valley now

When I read Susan Fowler's post last year, I was shocked. I couldn't believe a company of that size would tolerate such behavior - especially in Silicon Valley, where I thought people were supposed to be nicer! These were supposed to be my people. I knew most of them were increasingly not like me, but still...

We discussed the post that week in my team meeting at work, and I brought it up in all my 1:1s the next week. What shocked me even more was the reaction of the women in my team - they didn't seem surprised that something like this could happen, or that it was crazy that the behavior was tolerated. While I know that men find ways to treat women terribly in all sort of different ways and places in society, I thought modern workplaces at least were safe.

Over the next year, as revelation on revelation mounted and my own awareness grew - of the discrimination, the systematic preying on women, and the cover-ups that seemed the come from these companies, it was pretty clea…

Materials from my Product Management workshop

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One of the things I've really enjoyed doing over the last year is teaching and presenting on the work I do more. I do it mostly because I enjoy doing it, but once in a while you hear back about the impact it had and feel better about the fact that you're taking the time to do it.

Last year, I conducted a workshop on Product Management (write up about it here). Within the last week, 2 people got in touch to tell me how that workshop actually helped them - one who used it to have a better summer internship and the other on how it helped him interview better and get a job offer because of it. 3 others also got in touch over the last month to ask about the materials since they're conducting trainings of their own.

The materials themselves aren't perfect (my slides are really meant for presenting and not great reading material in themselves), but I figured if it might actually still help some folks - either to prep themselves or conduct these kinds of workshops.

I borrowed…

People are selfish, shameless and free-riders.. and other lessons from a playground. :-)

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Almost every weekend I end up at a playground in a park near where I live. It's a really nice playground in a really nice neighborhood, with really nice kids. A lot of their parents though, are terrible people.... which probably means many of these nice kids will grow up to be at least somewhat terrible people as well.

Yeah... I'm having that kind of day. :-)

There are days when I think people are amazing - kind, generous, compassionate and civilized enough to take care of each other or at least not hurt each other. And then there are days when I'm reminded how we're ultimately just animals - barely evolved enough to not try to take advantage of each other in every way possible.

So back to this playground, where humanity comes every weekend and continues to disappoint me. I should mention I love this playground. I take my kid there every weekend, and there's nothing I enjoy more than watching all kids and families hang out. Kids that are joyful often bring out the …

Measure f-ing everything, and assume f-ing nothing!! - Or how mentoring ruined lives :-(

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I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.

I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.

It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…

Beware the friends you keep... and that your leaders keep.

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I ended up catching up this season of the Revisionist History podcast this week.

This episode (The Prime Minister and the Prof) was my favorite of this season by far.

Here's the episode summary:


"How does friendship influence political power? The story of Winston Churchill’s close friend and confidant — an eccentric scientist named Frederick Lindemann — whose connection to Churchill altered the course of British policy in World War II. And not in a good way."

I won't say too much about the story in case you want to catch the episode. Gladwell takes his time to reveal the story with lots of great audio clips, an interview and a great background score.

I'll just say that it's a stark reminder that we should judge our leaders not just by their actions and words, but by the company they keep and the judgement those people show. For the simple reason, that a lot of authority will naturally be given to those people.

Churchill's blind trusting of his friend had d…

Fun job perk: finding interesting stuff! This week - Desiderata

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One of the fun perks of my job is that on many days simply the act of doing my job means I learn or find a lot of interesting stuff. Product managing on Search often involves search query debugging, and you often stumble on to really interesting stuff.

Last week it was this poem: Desiderata.

"With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.Strive to be happy. "

I find myself going back to read it again all of this week.

Also caught Baby Driver this week - though that would've probably happened even if I didn't work on Search. :-)