The concept of work/life balance is wildly outdated.
A holdover from the 20th century, in which work at home meant a briefcase full of legal pads or someone calling your landline, it makes no sense in today’s world.
Work/life balance has outlived its usefulness. Here’s why:
The term “work/life” itself has a bunch of wrong assumptions baked into it.
First, that work is separate from (and not a part of) life. Two, that work and life together comprise the totality of human existence. Three, that achieving balance between them is important/desirable.
This anachronistic idea of “work/life balance” was popularized in the 1970s and 1980s to clarify expectations about what hours workers were expected to be in the office at IBM/GE/AT&T-style megacorps.
In patriarchal terms, during which hours did you have to wear a tie? 👨🏼💼
Product design best practices dictate that you should ask what customers need and build that.
But a product that you don’t deeply want to use yourself won’t have a soul. Most of the world’s great products were born of personal passion.
Build for yourself first. 4 reasons why:
1) When you are designing for you, the customer is not abstract.
So many bad products have been designed based on generic business plans or analyses of “unmet customer needs.” Yes, there are ways to get great customer signal but that is always one layer abstracted from yourself.
Facebook started because… well, you've seen The Social Network. The Uber guys wanted to tool around in fancy black cars. @stewart + the Slack team started building a game and instead realized what they cared about was the chat software they were building for themselves to use.
The “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) is the most well-known, admired concept in early startup product development.
Unfortunately, MVP is often misused in a way that actually harms early-stage startups, leading them to create needlessly bad products.
4 thoughts about better MVPs:
1) MVP doesn’t automatically mean “ship a bad UI.”
The word MVP can end up being used as a battering ram against people who argue to flesh out the product design more, to make the user experience more complete.
Instead, the barebones-ness itself becomes a badge of honor.
The key misunderstood word in MVP is “viable.”
@ericries writes about this pretty clearly. Simplifying, you want to, in the quickest possible way, get to a product you can learn from and then measure if users are finding value in it. Only then should you invest more in the idea.
There are certain behaviors in a job interview that cause automatic disqualification. Earlier in my career, I made several of these mistakes myself.
Unfortunately, I see these pretty much every week. Here are 5 of the worst behaviors that everyone should avoid when interviewing:
1) Don’t talk bad about all of your previous managers.
Yes, it's true: many managers are mediocre and some are outright terrible. I have no issue with someone relating that they worked in a hard or unstable environment, as long as they do so respectfully.
But when I hear constant blame, that every single thing that went wrong was because their manager was stupid, bad at decision making, inept, etc., I can't help but think "this is how you'll talk about me in 18 months when you're at your next job interview.”
Interviewing at a startup can be totally perplexing. Some startups pride themselves in having "no processes", leading to a confusing, inscrutable experience. Don't lose hope! 😕
Here are 4 warning signs that you may want to steer clear of the startup at which you're interiewing:
1) Repeated misfires on communication. This can be anything from the recruiter calling you Cindy when your name is Stacy (a mistake we made with a candidate early in our company) or making an appointment for a chat on the phone and then you never get the call.
People do make mistakes from time to time, but if you've started the process with an initial conversation (doing an informational with a recruiter or member of the team) and then don't hear anything for a long time, it probably means they are not into you. It's ok... move on!
When you're leaving a big company to interview at a startup, there are some hidden questions you might not know to ask.
Not all startup jobs are created equal; without the right info, you could make a bad choice.
Here are 4 questions you should ask in a startup interview loop:
1) How much money does the company have in the bank?
OK, yes: this sounds super crass... an embarrassingly direct question. But it is also incredibly crucial, because without this info, you have no idea what kind of situation you are potentially walking into.
You would never ask this question at a megacorp because, well, the answer is usually "infinite money." The cash position of a public company is also usually freely available. Besides, you probably wouldn't be talking to someone who could give you a direct answer anyway! 🤑
One of the most interesting thing that popped up in the discussion was that not only did users outside of Microsoft believe the wallpaper was some form of security, but the Xbox team also did and copied a version of what they thought it was for Xbox:
Here's some puzzle solving fun for a Friday night.
As we developed Windows, one of the minor decisions we had to make was what wallpaper to use for various internal builds.
These builds always leaked outside of Microsoft, so we knew that the wallpapers would also end up public.
Traditionally, these wallpapers included text embedded in them threatening to throw people in jail if they leaked the build, blah blah, substantial penalty for early withdrawal, not all coins go up in value (some go down!), etc. etc.
We wanted to try a more elegant tact.
So early in Windows 8, we created a wallpaper that was a combination of the text the lawyers wanted us to use with an attempt to appeal to people's better nature...
...thus the "shhh... let's not leak our hard work" series of wallpapers was born.
Leaving a big company job for a startup can rejuvenate your career and make you love work again.💖
But landing a startup job requires relearning some things, especially if (like me) you logged years and years at Microgoogfaceforceazon.
Here are six things I wish I'd known:
1) At a startup, you will probably make less money at first.
Yes, if you join the perfect startup early enough, your equity may someday turn into a private island and 200 foot yacht. But, in the meantime, your take home pay is likely going to be a bit less than it is now.
The so-called “golden handcuffs” that big companies give you in stock grants/bonuses that vest over time are because those companies need to overpay you in order to get you to stay.
Think about the metaphor for a second: You don't have to handcuff people to things they love.
A few days ago, I wrote about the self-loathing I feel when I get “twitchy Slack finger” and impulsively switch to a channel to read something funny/interesting in Slack and, as a result, lose whatever I was previously reading forever.
There’s nothing easier (or really more cowardly) than poking holes in someone else’s user interface if not paired with constructive thoughts on how it might be improved. So, as promised, here are a few thoughts about some ways forward for Slack’s UI.
Read this for context if you missed the original conversation the first time around:
My day is spent in mortal fear, worrying that I'm going to accidentally click away in Slack and forget what channel or DM that last important thing I forgot to mark for follow up was in.
As the first Slack-native companies without internal email cultures get larger, Slack will need to grow up to solve their problems the same way email had to grow up two decades ago.
When I led the redesign of the Outlook user interface in 2003, we felt similar growing pains: people were getting 5x, 10x, 100x more mail than they ever got before. Users felt out of control; they lacked the tools and affordances to manage this constant deluge.