Category Archives: personal

Interviewing personal

Bushel and I On The OWC Radio Podcast

Special thanks to Tim Robertson and for including me along with some of the great ones like Tidbits’ Engst family!

iPhone personal

10 Reasons Uber Kicks Ass

I’ve spent way too much time traveling in my life (and way too little time writing about non-technical things). It’s had ups and it’s had downs. But these days, a bunch of fun little technical breakthroughs that make traveling incrementally better. And one of those things is Uber (and other similar services) who have disrupted the short-range ground transportation game. And I like them so much, I decided to write a little list of the reasons why! While writing, I also realized that you can use this code and we both get Uber credit I never used a promo code. But you can: Has nothing to do with why I wrote this, but it’s a nice thing for me to find while writing…

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 5.33.25 PM

So here’s my top 10 reason Uber rocks:

  1. I believe in the model. People work when they want and seem generally happy. I’ve had a lot of students and people who drive a little after their day job just here and there whenever they feel like it. And they love it. It’s transparent. Everyone is wide open when it comes to talking about what they do and how the process works. Even in the apps, it’s all very transparent. The app requires the credit card, but you never have to give the card to the driver. You can text the driver (e.g. if you accidentally drag the pin a little when you’re a bit buzzed to let them know where to get you).
  2. The reason the model and the transparency are possible is that the tech is great. I can see a map of all the cars, the route they’re going to take, the exact(ish) number of minutes before they show up and the payment is all kinds of working for me. In fact, the tech is so great that I reference their interface here and there in UX meetings. For example, how that whole awesome credit card entry screen works (if you haven’t seen it, it should be the design everyone uses forever cause it’s that rad). But my credit card never goes in their hands. The maps are great and up-to-date and the app is bad daddy, sleek and probably should earn their UX team some awards (not awards like getting knighted but awards like getting a trophy or something). They email receipts, so I don’t have to cart around printed receipts to do an expense report. They have a web lost and found.
  3. It’s been faster than getting a cab every single freakin’ time! For some areas it’s like half an hour faster. Boom. And I don’t have to setup an appointment the night before with some craptastic Danny DeVito-style operator who still needs me to read out an address and then have that cab show up 15 minutes late when I’m in a hurry or 15 minutes early when I’m still in the shower and start calling over and over. I can see where the car is on a map. Love that. And if you tell a driver a better route, they actually listen…
  4. It’s not possible to tip in the app. Or not that I’ve found. I do still throw a few bucks their way here and there when I actually have cash because they’re awesome. But when I’ve not had cash it’s a no harm no foul kind of situation. They don’t expect it and they’re great people so usually deserve something more than $15 or whatever for the amount of time I spend with them…
  5. You rate the drivers. I have given all of mine 5 stars. And they can rate me. And they’ve all given me 5 stars. It’s not possible my experiences will absolutely always be this awesome (YMMV I’m guessing) but it’s definitely been a great run.
  6. Cab drivers are rushing around and rude drivers. Nothing harshes my calm more than feeling like I get some negative karma points for someone else hurling their car around like a vehicular version of the Jerky Boys.
  7. Credit cards. In the past year or two, at least half the time I’ve taken a cab, the driver gets annoyed if I can’t tip in cash, or sometimes pay in cash. I shared a cab with my friend Zack (@acidprime) once and since we were paying with credit cards the driver wouldn’t even charge us at all. Totally annoying… This does seem to be getting better with the cabs that have the video screens in the back. But I’d almost rather them get annoyed than having some of the early versions of those things screaming at me while I’m trying to talk during a conference call…
  8. The drivers are quirky and interesting. I have had a great run with this. I did have a funny little moment with this recently where a lady driver was telling me about her grandkids, which I thought was natural, but then she started telling me all about the “arrangement” she has with her husband and referencing knocking off early and hitting my hotel bar. Alright, it was fun to get hit on by my first Uber driver, even if she was 20 years older than me! The one on the way back to my hotel later that night was telling me all about his Tinder whoreness. Hilarious conversationing! Also, they all know how it works. I tried to get in the wrong Uber the other day and even though the guy got stood up he was like “no thanks.” I’ve had cab drivers from the same company pick me up and not radio it in and then I get nasty calls from dispatch when I thought I was getting in the right cab ’cause they lied about it! Teh lamer…
  9. Oh, and did I mention that Uber is cheaper than a cab. I once got a little too tipsy to drive and took a cab from the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) up to Hollywood. It cost over $100. I took an Uber to Sunset and started further away than LAX and it was $41. .
  10. Because it’s so much cheaper than a cab, there’s even less of a reason to get a DUI too. It seems like I see less drunk drivers later at night since it became a thing, too. So for the final one: Uber saves babies and makes the world a safer place.

Having said all these generalizations, I’ve had some absolutely wonderful cab drivers in my life. I was once riding around with a customer of mine and the driver was so awesome that my customer sent him a pallet of the product my customer makes. So YMMV, but this has been my experience thus far! And before anyone says it: I know Lyft is supposed to be cheaper and whatever, but I’ve had more experience with Uber, and I’m sure they’d be similar if it had been with another service…

Also, Uber continues to experiment with additional services and features. Black, Taxi and other options are the most obvious, but they also experimented with delivering Halloween costumes and makeup artists to your house for Halloween this year and I’m guessing they’re going to continue thinking of cool, quirky add-ons to the service. I love bringing an MVP to market in the app and then adding little tweaks here and there when the MVP actually works and people love it love it love it (yes, that’s an Eloise reference).

Finally, Uber isn’t for everyone just yet. Check to see it it’s in your city yet:

PS – Double  Amex points if you use that to pay for Uber.

personal Product Management

When The Project Manager Realizes A Feature Can’t Be Built


Spotify Halloween Playlist

personal Product Management public speaking

I Don’t Resolve A Lot Of Defects…


cloud personal Product Management

When Product Management Meets Social Justice

In technology, we often find a lot of cool stuff that, as developers, engineers and yes, even product managers, we think is just plain cool. In agile development, we create epics, where we lay out customer stories and tie them into a set of features; however, while we’re working towards our goals we often find those technical places where we discover we can do something super cool. And we sometimes want to weave those into our stories as features in products simply because we want to make stuff that we’re technically proud of. But should we?

Too often we don’t consider what the social ramifications are to features. Time and time again we hear stories of what seemed like a cool feature that got abused. When we’re creating software, we think of the art. We want to change the world after reading too much Guy Kawasaki. We want to build sometimes just for the sake of building. And sometimes we come to a place where we think we just have to add something into a product. Then we stop and think about it, and we come to a place where we’re just torn about whether that feature is something that should go back to the obscure place we found it. And in times like that, when we’re torn about what to do, we have to remember that “we are the goodpeople” and do what’s right.

That is all.


Music I Write Code To


Work harder, faster and more… Or not…

The difference between being judgmental and caring can be the benefit of the doubt. Living in Los Angeles I got to learn a lot about people not giving two craps whether you were alive or dead. Unless of course you started to smell the place up. Living in Minneapolis I got to learn a lot about people being a little too much in my business. But then I realized that it’s OK to be in my business, as it keeps apathy at bay and helps make me a better person, provided it doesn’t come with a bit too much judgement. When no one cares, what drives you to be better other than your own desire to be, well, better. Which can be fleeting.

But that’s at home. At work, I’ve started to realize the various stages of my own judgement and don’t always look back on my actions (or judgment of others more to the point) too kindly. There was a time when I worked more 100 hour weeks than 50 hour weeks. I’ve never actually worked less than 50. There was a time when I expected everyone to work the same as me. I expected them to be in the office for a dozen hours a day and to stay focused the whole time. I can’t even do that any more. Having said that, I’ll put my 9-10 hours a day (often including weekends) against anyone else’s 16 hour days. Focus with age, or so I keep telling myself. It’s not about working more, it’s about working smarter. And you don’t want to work faster, because the quality of your work starts to decrease.

I also stopped judging how much others work because I started to realize I don’t see all of their work. On the Tuesday after Labor Day, I left the office at 4. But in order to meet some crazy deadlines I worked 30-40 hours that weekend. If anyone noticed me leaving at 4, they likely didn’t know that. But no one cares because they’re all too busy worrying about their side of the street. In short, who cares about working faster and more hours. More hours are just for show. For being a martyr. For burning out.

When I was younger, I didn’t realize that it was more important to work smarter. I thought if others saw me burning the midnight oil that they would be inspired. I also didn’t realize what things were like when you had kids or in general, when you have a life outside of work. Now, I reserve my judgement for the output over a longer duration of time over when I can see your mug in the office. And when the Apple Emoji for Poo hits the fan, I’m still there, and less distracted when needed – as the people around me are more understanding when I’m home more.

You see, with our personal lives bleeding into our professional time and our professional lives bleeding into our personal time, we start to realize that the barriers between home and work are more and more grey. We learn (hopefully you’re here) that we must disengage from the computer when our family and friends try to talk to us (I have to close my laptops). We learn that if you try to find a home-life balance that we end up setting the two to be in diametric opposition. Instead, maybe just maybe we learn how to let them coexist.


Crazy Russian Zombie Apocalypse Survival Training



Some time ago, I had the good fortune of reading Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment (thanks to MacTech for hooking me up with it!). It was a book filled with many of the things that are good in the business world today and how to make them better by adopting them in your own organization. Since reading that book, I’ve looked for enchantment. I’ve searched in the technology coming out of new products, in social causes that I’ve become involved with, in trips out of town and within myself.

Today (now yesterday), I was truly enchanted. At my new employer, there is a charitable foundation publicly released at the JNUC last year. I thought it was cool when it was introduced. But seeing the eyes of the person that administers the program light up as she went through all the nooks and crannies and seeing the importance placed upon it at the organization really made me take an even greater notice.

I like to give my time and whatever resources possible back to my community. I’ve never considered this charity, nor my duty, nor commendable, nor enough. Instead it’s just part of being a person. To see someone who is so enchanted with what the company is doing in that regard, that they can bring that enchantment to others and engage a room of new hires fresh off a heavy lunch (let alone keep them awake) was just… enchanting.


Thanks to all involved for the experience and I look forward to many more like it!