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Showing posts from July, 2017

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

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.

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

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. :-)

Teaching: I realized why I love it, and why I really need to do more of it.

Ever since I can remember, I've imagined a version of my life where I teach.

I was never really sure why. I just knew it was something I'd probably really enjoy. I'd done enough of training and presenting at conferences over the last many years that I knew I really enjoy getting up in front on a crowd. I'd also guest lectured occasionally and recruited enough to know I really enjoyed interacting with students.

Then in April, I ended up lecturing at 3 schools - Chicago, Stanford and the University of Michigan. The topics were completely different at each of the schools, and I left each lecture exhilarated. In two of those cases, I was also exhausted - but that's another story. :-)

There were a few reasons why:

The creative itch: This applies to presentation of this type in general. but the foreword of this book really summed it up. The author taught a class because he was clear that it helped him scratch a creative itch that he had that his job as a lawyer didn'…