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An ABM Adventure

I am Head of Product for Engagio, a SaaS application with lots of features and users who use them. (Is there any other type of SaaS application?) Warning: This blog post throws data around the web with total abandon and gets confusing. You have been warned. My Mission: To activate and spur usage in the system. First Step: Usage Tracking If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. (Thanks, Avinash for that lesson over 10 years ago.) We use Pendo for application usage tracking and other stuff. We spent a few weeks tagging every feature in the app and rolling up…

Why I eat food

I can think of five reasons I eat food. Hunger Boredom It tastes good Food is in front of me Other people are eating in front of me Hunger I almost never eat food because I’m hungry. When I was 17 I was hungry all the time. I could eat ALL DAY. However, this has waned for me in recent decades. I don’t think I have been truly hungry all year. I know there are plenty of people in the world who are hungry. I am just not one of them. Let’s call this 0%. Boredom I’d say I eat…

Sphere of Influence, Control, Concern

An interesting way to frame an employee is by spheres, specifically three of them: Sphere of Control is the stuff you can decide on your own. This is people you manage and project you do the work personally. Sphere of Influence is stuff that you can guide through collaboration or subtle techniques. Your friendly co-worker is part of your sphere of influence. Sphere of Concern is stuff you care about but you have no way to influence it. This might be happenings in other departments in which you don’t have strong connections. Let’s take a look at some different circle…

The Sweet Spot

There are many manifestations of the sweet spot.  Some examples: Product Strategy In this image, the sweet spot is avoiding competition while also focusing on what you do best. If you focus on the customer needs and ignore your own capabilities then you run the risk of failure to execute. If you only focus on what you can achieve, you might not find a market. If you drift too close to the competitors it creates other problems. Sports This image of a gold club shows how hitting the wrong part of the club yields a bad shot. There really isn’t…

Managing Up, Down and Across

Career Phase 1 – Be Manageable When you get your first job you need to work on being manageable. This means taking direction, taking feedback, working hard, being responsible for your work, taking pride in what you do. In the dawn of your career, this skill will make you valuable in an organization. No one likes a young worker who can’t take direction or isn’t responsible for their effort. There is no magic trick to this. You have to be open, honest and work hard. Career Phase 2 – Manage Across Managing across is about getting along with peers. It’s unlikely…

The UX of Marketing SWAG

In Engineering terms, SWAG stands for Silly Wild Ass Guess. It’s used to estimate how big a project will be. It’s pretty unscientific, but useful for planning. In Marketing circles, SWAG means Stuff We All Get. SWAG is generally a gift given to prospects and customers. (I think the SW is pronounced similar to the bicycle SCHWINN, not like the word SWAY.) SWAG should achieve three purposes: Make the recipient feel appreciated by you Make the recipient feel appreciative towards you Piggyback advertising. If they use/wear something that has your logo on it, other people will see it Is SWAG common? Yes, gifts to customers are as old as business itself. It…

The UX of Figma

The CEO of Figma recently visited me and gave me a quick tour of their product. I think it holds great promise as a prototyping/design tool and I am giving it a try. The main benefit is real-time concurrent usage. In other words, two designers can collaborate live at the same time the way you might use a Google spreadsheet. I know that Adobe XD has been promising this feature for 6+ months, but the tool doesn’t even have a workable Windows version yet. I ran out of patience and am trying the competition. My initial usage is slow, I’m…

The Death of the Unsubscribe Link

I’ve been getting alot of email lately from SDRs using tools like Salesloft, Tout and Outreach. I have noticed a couple of important trend occuring. There is no unsubscribe link There is no content, just a request for a meeting/conversation They are not personalized or interesting to me the recipient It is hard not to think of these emails as spam. I assume the reply rate is dismal. Most importantly, I feel like all of the content marketing techniques learned over the past 10 years have been tossed out the window. I have questions: Who is writing these emails? How…

The Simple Volume Control

We have Sonos speakers here at the office. The Sonos application is pretty cool. However, there is one part of the system that bugs me and it’s extremely simple. This is the volume control. Now when you have a Sonos speaker in a group environment, the volume is actually a crucial function. Some songs are recorded louder or softer and when people are working a high volume can be very annoying. To use this control, you have to put your mouse onto the slider and drag right or left. It is very sensitive, so finding the right setting is tricky. The volume…

Myers Briggs 2017

I had another Myers-Briggs for an executive team offsite this month. Previously my tests in 2014 yielded these results: 2014 INFP Introvert(11%) iNtuitive(75%) Feeling(12%) Perceiving(33%) Slight preference of Introversion over Extraversion (11%) Distinct preference of Intuition over Sensing (75%) Slight preference of Feeling over Thinking (12%) Moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (33%) They call this personality type, the Mediator/Idealist. This time I resulted in INTJ, also known as the Architect/Mastermind. The different tests didn’t give me the same preference statistics, but the above shows the equivalent. I don’t have a strong preference for anything apparently. The descriptions of the personalities both…

Where am I from?

Ancestry.com has this chart to show me where I am from. (I sent in a sample of my spit) The little orange dots are matches for other people with connections in my DNA. As you can see, I am Eastern European. My ancestors lived right in the middle Empire central. The Holy Roman Empire, The Ottoman Empire, The Austro-Hungarian Empire, The Russian Empire and the Third Reich in Germany all controlled this area for some period. My people probably gave up deciding what to call their country.  Today it would be modern Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus. My children are the first…

Marketing Podcast 2017

I was interviewed on a podcast by marketers last week. Kristen Malkovich and Grant Grigorian did a great job making me feel comfortable and asking good questions. They need to buy some better audio equipment but otherwise, it went off without a hitch. I talked about the following topics: being the first employee at Marketo Marketo is a programming language the future of automation and orchestration of “plays” B2B design Take a listen and see what you think. I hate the way I sound. To my ear, it sounds like my brother, not me. Side note: I haven’t been blogging…

My Dream Prototyping Tool 2017

Here are the requirements for my dream prototyping tool: Cross-platform There are some that are mature and cross-platform like Axure, Justinmind, Balsamiq, MockPlus, Figma and Microsoft PowerPoint. However, the two that are not are Adobe Experience Design (XD) and Sketch. I clearly need it to work both in Mac and Windows. Has symbols (reusable components) This is crucial. Tools like Adobe XD and MockPlus have this, but PowerPoint and others do not. (Come on Microsoft, listen to me!) It’s essential to speed up design time to have these sorts of embeddable elements. Links / clickable prototypes Adobe XD and MockPlus have…

Not how I wanted to lose weight

Around the holidays (3+ months ago), I got a stomach ache. It didn’t go away for a week. Since then, my appetite has diminished by about 50%. I noticed the issue quickly and bought a new scale that syncs to my phone. (It was on sale at the time) I strongly suggest getting a scale like this for anyone who wants to lose weight. I find the feedback loop incredibly useful and your doctor will appreciate the more detailed history. Then I went to a doctor. My first doctor said, “Hmm, this could be appendicitis or some other serious problem.…

Adobe Experience Design (XD) – Almost

My design tools: Pencil (#2 Soft HB Dixon Ticonderoga) and paper Microsoft PowerPoint on Windows 10 However, over the years, I have tried numerous alternatives. So far, none have been better in terms of quick iterations, high (enough) fidelity, portability, and ease of communication. I have tried numerous prototyping tools, graphics editors of all shapes and online services. No joy. Recently, Adobe has been working on a product called Adobe Experience Designer (XD). They first released it on the MacOS, which means I couldn’t really use it. Then they released an Alpha for Windows. They called it a beta, but let’s…

Facts, Fakes and Fox

English is funny. Spelled different, pronounced the same, spelled the same, pronounced different. It’s like English doesn’t want to be “understood”. It’s like the language itself it trying to obfuscate the truth. Why is phonetic not spelled phonetically? Language is behind this whole issue. Whether you are in the world of product development or politics, the facts are a tricky thing. I remember someone in a meeting once said loudly, “People don’t like it, that’s a fact!” As if speaking loudly and forcefully made them more correct. Example: Stephen Miller raising his voice to try to mask that he is wrong. I…

The UX of Android Auto

I recently got a new car lease. (Kia Sportage 2017) I liked the Nissan Rogue but the Kia has Android Auto and I wanted to give that a try. Otherwise, the cars were very similar in price and features. Here is my run down: The Good “OK Google” works well for a specific set of cases. Call person, directions to, etc. If you stay in bounds, it is nice. It’s better than nothing. The Bad and the Ugly It takes too long to boot up. I turn the car on and it’s about 20 seconds until the phone can play…

Product Management Bullshitometer

Recently, I’ve been interviewing candidates for Product Manager and sometimes I hear phrases that set off my bullshitometer. This is a finely tuned piece of equipment that I keep with me at all times. It can detect bullshit intensity from any source. When I interview people, I keep a close eye on it. CEO of the Product An example came from someone who said they were the “CEO of the product”. I asked what they meant by that and they responded that you have to make things happen without having authority and that you have the ultimate responsibility for the…

The Negativity Filter

Sometimes I will hear people talk about something and I will hear alot of negativity in the statements. This is especially true on twitter, reddit or other semi-anonymous forum. A former boss did this frequently. I ended up helping people by using a special trick I call Negativity Filtering. How does it work? Basically, you just think about what they said and ignore/erase every part of it that’s negative and see what’s left over. In other words, if a robot was trying to interpret the actionable parts of a statement, what would it be? Pure logic and dispassion, no reaction to the…

The (possible) Meaning of Life

There are infinite possibilities, but one sticks out for me. This is what I think life is and the meaning behind it and the secret to a successful life. First, you need to imagine that technology is taking us to a place where we no longer have fear, hunger, or death. The advances in technology will eventually enable us to avoid aging, live in a virtual reality, be able to survive underwater or in an active volcano. Technology will allow us to replace body parts or grow new ones. Have a bad liver? Just rub some stem cell juice on…

The Department of Redundancy Department

This elevator control brought to you by the department of redundancy department. Why do we call the first floor L in this scenario? Why not just say 1? L for lobby just seems unhelpful. Plus, the door-close button doesn’t do a thing. It’s totally useless. Pressing it has no effect at all. It’s the little things in life that make all the difference, yes?

New LinkedIn UI is Slow

I don’t know how many people have the new UI in LinkedIn. I can’t seem to get out of it. (Yes, I tried) It’s slow af. Come on guys. You have buko resources. You should focus on speed, speed, speed. This is unacceptable. It’s ugly af. Look at the picture above. Seriously, is this an improvement? Looks lame to me. I hate the icons at the top. It’s confusing af. I don’t know where shit is anymore. I get used to stuff being in a particular spot. Stop moving it. Congratulations LinkedIn! You hit the UX trifecta. Slow, ugly and confusing. Pat…

Obamacare is Terrible Branding

Medicare has a name. Medicaid has a name. Even unemployment insurance and Social Security benefits can be referred to with non-partisan labels. Names matter. The Affordable Care Act is a bill but if you have that health insurance, what do you have? You have ObamaCare. This is the stupidest branding move I can remember and it will affect tens of millions of people. Republicans originally started calling it ObamaCare because they wanted to make it partisan, but democrats started calling it the same thing shortly after. Why didn’t they give it a name like, “Medisure” or pretty much anything other…

Product Idea for an App: Told You So

I always had this dream of an app called “Told You So“. Here are the requirements: You sign in with Google or Facebook. It asks you to make a prediction. You sign it with your finger. It has a button for “I disagree” and someone else can sign that. It stores the predictions and signatures in the cloud. Later, when the event happens, you bring the prediction back up and show it to your friend/family member and say, “Told you so.” BAM button plays the “You’re the best around from Karate Kid.” Resolve button gives you the option of who…

Mac Designers Need to Test on Windows

An open letter to designers who only see the world through Apple products. I’ll just jump right to the point. The rest of the world doesn’t see your work the way you intended. Take a look at this screenshot from my Windows 10 machine running Chrome. The site is a designers portfolio. I can’t read the text. It looks terrible.  I can see that it is embedded Lato from Google fonts. So why does it look blurry? The answer is “Font-weight: 200”. When I turn that off, the font looks slightly better. (I am not a fan of Lato when…

UX = Value minus Friction

It’s a simple formula. UX = V – F UX = User Experience V = Value F = Friction If the friction or effort of doing something is higher than the individual perceived value then the majority of people will not want to do it. Some examples where the effort outweighs the perceived benefit and therefore have the majority avoid it, despite its obvious value. Working out Doing your homework or studying for a test Voting Practicing piano or a new way to serve in tennis Logging phone calls in Salesforce Entering in JIRA estimates Writing tests for your code Usability…

Masterful Conversations

I’ve mentioned this technique in other posts, but I was searching for it and thought it deserved its own spot. The technique is one that I learned during my 12 months at Intuit in 2006 called Masterful Conversations. The basic premise of the technique is that we collectively spend all of our time talking about our own opinions and hardly even listen to someone else’s opinion. This creates poor conversations and poor relationships, especially in the work environment. As a better model, they provided this simple graph to break your role in the conversation into three parts. You are supposed…

Goodbye New York Jets

Superbowl III was played in 1969. Broadway Joe Namath guaranteed the win and came through. It was a miracle moment for fans of the Jets. I was born a few years later and grew up in the shadow of that glorious moment. I was a Jets fan, hoping that one day, another Joe Namath would lead the Jets to victory in the SuperBowl. We got close and had some great moments. In 2000, Vinnie Testaverde manufactured the greatest comeback ever on Monday Night Football. I watched the whole thing from my bed. (It was 1 am when it finished) We made…

Hiring UX Designer 2016

I am starting my search for a UX Designer to join our team at Engagio. I actually prefer people in the earlier stages of their career. (Directors need not apply) Designer Characteristics: Creative. Can come up with new solutions to problems. OCD. Does it bother you that their is a mistake in this question? Productive. We have a lot to do. Lots of context switching and multi-tasking. Concise. Confident. This position will have interactions with lots of people, including executives. Positive. It’s not personal; it’s always about the work. Special. A parent or loved one must vouch for you. Smart. Knows…

Disturbing Trends

Not all trends are bad, but some really scare me. For example: Congress is supposed to pass laws. It’s kind of their job. I suppose I would rather no laws than terrible laws, but still, this is a disturbing trend. How about this one? The top 1% is earning more and more of the pie that is supposed to be shared. This trend got it’s first huge boost under Bill Clinton. Look at how the disparity is increasing below. Also, the wealth is being centralized in white hands. This is not because white people are “smarter”. This is systemic bias…