Personal Growth

Most Noom reviews focus on two things: daily weigh-ins and meal tracking.

Both of these are features of the Noom program, but Noom reviews that focus on these two features are missing what truly makes Noom great.

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Personal Growth Startups & Tech

Not everybody can or should become a manager.

I talk to too many professionals who feel like becoming a manager is the inevitable next step in their career.

They dread this because they’d much rather be coding, designing, or doing whatever it is they already do.

My answer to them: keep doing that.

Managing people isn’t the only way to earn more. Titles aren’t the only path to more influence.

Unless you really, truly want the responsibility of mentoring others, providing ongoing, candid feedback, and helping the people who report to you succeed, you shouldn’t manage.

If that doesn’t describe you, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Personal Growth

Purveyors of conventional wisdom can’t seem to agree if we should say yes to more things, or say no to almost everything.

According to Warren Buffet, “Really successful people say no to almost everything.” According to some respected academics and plenty of self-help writers, there are numerous benefits to saying yes to nearly everything.

Instead of these black and white rules, I’d propose an alternative.

Say yes when you’re in a mode of exploration, and say no when you’re in a mode of execution.

Feel stuck? Not sure what your life’s purpose is? Say yes to any opportunity that could broaden your horizons or introduce you to new and potentially helpful people.

On a mission? Can’t find enough time in the day? Say no to anything that’s a distraction from your core values.

Knowing which mode your in is critical to making the right choice.

Design Personal Growth Startups & Tech

When you’re facing a particularly challenging task, it can be helpful to incorporate a forcing function into your routine.

A forcing function is any task, activity or event that forces you to take action and produce a result.

Need to stay productive at a meeting? Make everybody stand. Want to cut online time wasting? Leave your charger at home. Having trouble writing enough? The Most Dangerous Writing App forces you to keep typing until the timer ends, or you lose all your work.

When designing the most important steps of your app—or your life—think about ways  to incorporate behavior-shaping constraints.

Personal Growth

Nick Offerman’s Netflix comedy special, American Ham, is fantastic.

In it, Offerman organizes his act around what he calls 10 Tips for a Prosperous Life. While the act is hilarious, it’s also insightful. Each of Offerman’s “tips” clearly bring him joy and fulfillment.

I think everybody should have guidelines like this for their own lives. This got me thinking about what mine should be. Here’s my first crack at a list:

  1. Have a Growth Mindset – It’s important to have high self-esteem. But that doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Try to get better every single day.
  2. Master a Craft, and Practice it Regularly – Find a challenging, meaningful activity that fulfills you and do it regularly, whether at work or in your free time.
  3. Nurture Close Friendships – Close friends are there for you when things go wrong. Casual friends? Not so much. Take the time and effort to develop close friendships. And no, your spouse or significant other doesn’t count.
  4. Strengthen Your Willpower – Willpower, self-discipline, grit. Whatever you call it, the ability to do things that are hard, even when you don’t want to, is critical. The good news is that willpower is a muscle. You can strengthen it by practicing. Do so.
  5. Focus on Habits – Unconscious habits drive about 40% of what we do every day. Some of those habits are positive—you don’t think about brushing your teeth before bed, you just do it—but some are negative. More importantly, if you have to actively think about doing things that are good for you or avoiding things that are bad for you, it’s far more likely you’ll make the wrong decision (see #4). Learn how to build the habits you want and eliminate those you don’t.
  6. Be Direct, but Kind – Say what you think. Speak truth to power. Be candid. But learn how to do it with kindness. Aggressive and passive-aggressive are extremes that both get you into trouble.
  7. Admit When You’re Wrong – If you’re like me, this happens frequently. Admit it, apologize, and move on.
  8. Don’t Tolerate Abusive Behavior – Abuse can come in many different forms. Whether it’s verbal abuse from a family member, a boss intimidating a coworker, or something worse, you shouldn’t put up with it.  Stand up for yourself and for others.
  9. Get out of Dodge – Nearly every country in the world takes more time off than we do, and many of them are far more productive. Take frequent vacations. They’re good for you.
  10. Have Fun – Laugh. Drink a cocktail. Crank up the music. Make time every day for having fun.
Personal Growth Startups & Tech

Regardless of what you’re working on, knowing what’s good enough is critical.

If you’re a busy parent cooking dinner for your 2 kids after a grueling day of meetings, healthy, palatable, and quick is probably good enough. If you’re a chef at new restaurant on opening night and you want to stay in business more than a month, then the food better be delicious. If you own a Michelin Star restaurant and command top-tier prices, then everything—the food, the service, the decor—had better be perfect.

Most projects fall near the middle category, but most people manage them towards one of the extremes.

Know your good enough and strive to hit it.

Personal Growth

Every tech pundit with half a brain “knows”.

Technology was supposed to bring us closer together, but it’s actually driving us further apart. Phones used to be tools for connecting, but they’ve become crutches that distract and separate us instead. AI was supposed to automate and streamline our lives, relieving us of mundane chores and freeing us to spend more time on things that matter. Instead, it’s removed and trivialized the little personal interactions that make us human.

They “know” it. You “know” it.

But few pundits have suggested any realistic solutions. Fewer still have bothered to to reflect on the ways technology brings us together.

So as 2019 starts, here are a few ways tech has helped me actually connect:

Group chat – An ongoing group chat with some of my best friends has kept me sane through work stress, personal challenges, and every day gripes. Never underestimate the power of a timely gif to cheer somebody up.

Work – I knew when I made the decision to stop freelancing full time and join GetHuman that the company was special. Little did I know that this group of technologists would become my second family. This year we became profitable, streamlined our product process, and united around a shared vision we’re all passionate about. My colleague Jeff Whelpley has chronicled many of these successes in detail, and his blog is well worth reading. But many of his posts boil down to this: creating technology and working with technology brought us closer together, and we can’t wait to see what this year brings.

Instagram – In 2018, it seemed like Instagram succeeded in all the ways that Facebook failed. My Facebook feed is full of so much bullshit I don’t even bother to open Facebook anymore. But photos of my closest friends living their best lives? Instagram is getting it right. Here’s hoping Facebook doesn’t run it into the ground in 2019.

Personal Growth

At the end of every year, I do an annual review. I reflect on the year, review my accomplishments, and set new goals for the next year.

I used to love writing, but in the past few years I’ve found countless excuses not to write. So this year, I’m eliminating those excuses.

In 2019, I’ll be writing 100 words a day, every day.

Some days I may write more, but I’ll never write less. I’ll write about product design, UX, personal development, and anything else that seems interesting or relevant.

I’ve set several other goals for 2019, and no doubt I’ll be discussing many of them in detail in future posts, too.

Personal Growth

The last week of January is just about the time when all those New Year’s resolutions start to get really challenging.

The cheer of the holidays has worn off, the days are cold and dark and short, and it’s difficult not to feel well and truly exhausted.

Those new behaviors aren’t quite habits yet, and the motivation we felt for doing them in the first place can start to wane.

So how do we keep our motivation up? Here are 5 ways to maintain motivation when things get hard.

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