The 2-Word Trick That Makes Small Talk Interesting

Making small talk more interesting is one way to look at it, but also that it might help if you - like me - find small talk to be a challenge occasionally.

While listening to my favorite podcasts, I’ve noticed a two-word phrase that hosts often use with their guests to cut past the surface-level chitchat and into the heart of a story: “I’m curious.”

What “I’m curious” does is set the other person up for success. You’re not being interrogative, as there’s no right or wrong answer. There’s no judgment, no ulterior motive. You simply want to learn.

Source: The 2-Word Trick That Makes Small Talk Interesting

Video, Audio and Other Tech Setups

A bunch of these posts have cropped up since most people are now working from home. They are interesting to me, simply to see what others are using but also what technology and product gems exist out there that I didn’t know about.

What Would Trolls Do

This is an aspect of Product Management that I don’t see mentioned very often. What negative side-effects of launching this new feature could there be?

… One regular feature request that we discussed was being able to automatically post your trips on Facebook. It sounds like a simple feature – “I’m taking a trip to Paris! Let me share that with my friends!” But as our team discussed it, we realized how easily this could go wrong. We could see a very short leap to a scenario where our app posted that someone was going to be out of town for the next week, and gave potential thieves the exact dates during which their house would be empty. Or a user forgot to turn off this automated feature before flying to another city to interview with their company’s biggest competitor…and their boss was a Facebook friend. We decided the risk wasn’t worth the “fun”.

Source: What Would Trolls Do

Stop Taking Notes

I am such a nerd when it comes to organization and productivity, but the real reason I like to take notes while I read is because it helps me remember what I’ve read. There are multiple schools of thought on taking notes when reading, mainly, don’t bother - just let the important stuff rise to the top, and yes, definitely take notes but in your own words.

Because the notes stay as separate notes. Ideas and knowledge remains scattered as individual pieces. In regular note-taking, connections between ideas are not made by default. When reviewing a note, other relevant notes (i.e., ideas) don’t present themselves.

This method, while interesting and maybe more valuable, would be much more work for sure:

But putting in the effort upfront, during note-taking, makes it significantly easier to review and use your notes to synthesize content when writing.

Source: Stop Taking Regular Notes; Use a Zettelkasten Instead

On Writing a Spec

Grab some index cards and simulate your system. Have each user write down precisely what they want to tell/ask the system and have the person running the system hand back index cards with the results that they can expect. Be clear about the state that the system is in before each transaction and after it as well.

The sum total of these interactions is your spec.

Source: On Writing a Spec

Why Feature FOMO Stalls Product Innovation

Most companies say they’re not competitor obsessed, but still one in five say they look primarily to competitors for product inspiration. Competitive intelligence is useful, but it shouldn’t guide your product strategy.

Product managers have a lot to do, so it makes sense that a majority view their responsibilities as more tactical and less visionary. The downside of that may be shortsightedness when it comes to prioritizing features or driving long-term feature adoption.

Product teams should rely on senior product leadership—not competitors— to guide vision. CPOs are in demand because they can assess the market, build the strategy, and combat demands from other executive leadership and internal teams about new product features.

Customers care what you build and when you build it, so give them a say, communicate back what you plan to build and when you plan to build it

Source: Why Feature FOMO Stalls Product Innovation

You Don't Need to Quit Your Job to Make

I’m always in need of a good reminder that browsing social media, watching YouTube or Netflix does not contribute to goals of making something. The risk of our need to decompress after a long day at work can turn into an entire evening of watching Netflix.

But what if we stopped imaging “me time” as relaxation time, but instead exactly as it is titled — time to focus on yourself and align with your goals. If you need rest, then rest. But if your goal is to one day become an entrepreneur, a significant portion of “me time” should be invested in getting there since it won’t happen on its own. “Me time” shouldn’t just be non-tiring activity, but anything that helps an individual get to the future state that they wish to be in.

Source: You Don’t Need to Quit Your Job to Make

Seeking the Productive Life

This is a fascinating blog post from Stephen Wolfram on his Personal Infrastructure and how he organizes himself. I find that I’m always on the lookout for better ways to be organized, whether it’s new software to keep files and other data organized or a better way to store physical documents. I can be a bit obsessive about it.

I believe I first thought seriously about how to organize my files back in 1978 … And over the past 40 years I’ve basically gone through five generations of filesystem organization, with each generation basically being a reflection of how I’m organizing my work at that stage in my life.

I did love, and can certainly relate, to his comment about connecting to projectors:

And it’s amazing how random it is. In places where one can’t imagine the projector is going to work, it’ll be just fine. And in places where one can’t imagine it won’t work, it’ll fail horribly.

Source: Seeking the Productive Life

Kill the Elephant in the Room...

This is something that a lot of us struggle with, me included. It’s time to start embracing conflict and make better products.

Why do people sitting around a table keep their doubts to themselves? Much of the hesitation boils down to conflict avoidance and always trying to keep everyone happy

Source: Kill the Elephant in the Room Before They Kill You

The Art of Over-Engineering Your Side Projects

A great reminder on not putting too much effort into the infrastructure of our side projects.

I’ve fallen into this type of busy-work before:

… focus too much on this initial plan and you risk falling down the ‘project management’ rabbit hole: writing user stories, creating backlogs and finding tools for a project that you haven’t even started, let alone need copious amounts of rigid management for

Source: The Art of Over-Engineering Your Side Projects