Thursday, August 14, 2014

Leveraging your Follower's Network

Whether you're an activist trying to change the world, or a Product Manager shipping new features, the biggest hurdle is engaging people to follow.  I read a great post on First Round Review about how to do that from a product perspective.  The technique I want to highlight is "leveraging your follower's network."  Here is an excerpt from the post:

After the Massdrop team decides that a submitted feature request makes sense, they ask the person who submitted it to rally interest from their community. “We tell them, ‘Okay, we’re going to start working on this. As a power user, your job is to gauge how much customers want this kind of feature.’” This isn’t so much about determining whether to forge ahead as it is about getting people excited. The more an upcoming feature is discussed by various groups of Massdrop buyers, the more anticipated it will become, and the more it will get used once it's built. “We want to start off with one person invested in a feature and eventually have whole communities invested in it as well. We assign them that piece.”

Notice how the Massdrop team leverages power users to become community leaders.  Having someone else preach your message is powerful in two ways.  One, it scales you, because you only have so much time in the day.  Two, the message arrives with more credibility to the listener, because it is coming from a respected community leader, rather than you.   The latter I learned from a story in Influencer about Chinese communist leader Mao, who disseminated health care to rural areas by leveraging his follower's network.  During his early rule, at a time before he stepped into the hall of villains in the annals of history, China had a serious public health issue in the rural areas.  Instead of sending doctors from the cities he asked each rural area to elect a community leader to attend basic health education classes.  Those leaders then taught their followers back home and improved health within their communities.  Many public health solutions involved discipline such as hand-washing or regular checkups, techniques that are easy to understand but hard to enforce. A city doctor with no relationship to rural locals would be less effective than a local, already respected leader for such influence-based work.

How do you leverage your follower's network to change the world?

Friday, August 1, 2014

3 Tips for Sustainable Blogging

If a tree fell in the forest and no one blogged about it, did it fall?  If the last entry on said blog was one year ago, is the blog considered abandoned? The answer is Yes and No.  In that order.  The tree is sadly rotting, but the blog can be saved yet.  In order to prevent a recurrence of unintended blog abandonment, I'm going to a give myself some tips that I will follow, and tell you in a year or so whether it worked or not.

Tip 1: Redefine my reason for blogging
I started blogging because I was doing my MBA in Sustainable Management. I wanted to share what I'm studying, and allow others to learn what I'm learning.  I graduated and my reason to blog put on a gown and walked out the door too.  Now I want to blog again because I am still learning even if I'm not going to formal classes everyday, and people have shown me recently that they are interested in how my life and my studies have helped me navigate my post MBA life.  What happened was I wrote a company-wide blog at work.  I work at Atlassian where anyone can write a company-wide blog, and I published an article about my life, and how minority status related to gender has shaped my career.  People told me it helped them.  I think I can help some more, so here we are.

Tip 2: Identify my reasons for not blogging
First of all, I need to identify why I have abandoned this blog so readily last time.
Reason 1: Writing is hard.   As a manager I'm already writing emails for a living.  So taking non-computer time to sit down and write some more is doubly hard.
Reason 2: I have another blog that is splitting my time.
Reason 3: I don't think people want to hear what I have to say.

Tip 3: Solve problems identified in Tip 2
Solution 1a: Figure out a way to take notes for my blog without having screen time.  I'm going to use a combo of Evernote and voice recording for this.
Solution 1b: Set aside time to compile these notes into a blog.   Maybe during my train commute.
Solution 2: Cross-publish those articles here.  I think the book summaries are relevant in this blog too.
Solution 3: Read The Confidence Code.

Operation blog resurrection, now activated. We'll find out how sustainable these tips are soon.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


“The true spirit of conversation consists more in bringing out the cleverness of others than in showing a great deal of it yourself; he who goes away pleased with himself and his own wit is also greatly pleased with you.”
- Jean de La Brùyere

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our Food is Making us Sick

If you eat food in the US, you must watch this 18 min video of Robyn O’Brien at the 2011 TEDxAustin. Hailed as Food's Erin Brockovitch by the NYTimes, Robyn is on a quest to uncover the secrets of American food production and how it is making us sick.

She also authored “The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It.” A former Wall Street food industry analyst, Robyn founded after discovering her child developed an allergy to certain foods and started digging into the cause. She was named by Forbes as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New corporate structures that combine mission and profit

In this excellent article in strategy+business magazine, Marjorie Kelly describes four companies structures that have harmoniously integrated both profit and mission.  Examples of these mission controlled yet publicly traded companies with revenues greater than $1 include: New York Times, Novo Nordisk in Denmark, Grupo Nueva in Chile, and Google with its integrated .org philanthropic department.  Read the article to learn more about each company's different control structure.  BCorp has now established as a possible structure for companies who desire to protect both mission and profit.