It’s been a time of great upheaval and change for me in the last few weeks. Without going into details, I’m moving on. I’ve had plenty of time to think about what I want to do with my time, and so now I’m going for it.
For those who know me, you know that I’m a Product person with a QA background and just enough programming knowledge to be dangerous. For those who don’t, I’m also a highly motivated individual who is tuned into the tech scene with a laser focus, so that’s where I plan to spend my time.
The most important fact I learned about myself is that I don’t want to take a job that I have to force myself to fit into. Like in a good relationship, there should be some give-and-take, but the job and I should be intrinsically interested in each other.
So, here’s what I’m looking for:
- Contract QA work for small startups: Most early-stage startups don’t have the resources to hire QA engineers full-time. That doesn’t exempt them from needing to release a product with a high level of quality, though, so I would love to help. I have experience with manual testing, UI automation, API automation, and building full regression test suites. I am also a usability/UI/UX guru, so you can expect quite a bit of extra peace of mind. You need to focus on coding, and I’d love to help. Email me at email@example.com with inquiries.
- Product Management: This is second-nature to me. I’ve been a Product person at Hashable for over a year now, and I’ve released Hagar as a side-project. I know how to write a good user story and get the whole team on the same page. You can also expect me to say “no” to new features almost obsessively until the right feature comes along. Even then, expect iteration and refinement before implementing the darn thing. You have a product you care about, and I know how to maintain it and help it grow. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries.
- QA-to-Live-Code: I’m a great QA Engineer. I’m also a budding programmer. I have experience writing Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and Objective C (iOS). I’d love to start by automating your QA process and diving into your codebase in the process. By the end of that cycle you can expect me to be able to write live code for your product, and I won’t let you down. You need QA people who can code, and I can be one of them. Email me at email@example.com with inquiries.
It feels good to be making moves. Have a great idea you’d like to collaborate on? Definitely email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help.
These are free ideas. On the off-chance you sell your company based on my idea for billions of dollars you can take me out for coffee. Really, really good coffee:
- An API that tells you if someone is reachable on any device. Takes Skype, Gchat, Facebook, AIM, Google Talk, etc. and returns “YES” or “NO.”
- A box for landlords/owners with a switch for every apartment they own/manage. Each switch has two positions: “rented” and “free.” Has a wireless connection to write to an online database with contact information.
- A mobile app that pings you as you near a crowded subway station. You can curate a list of stations you care about.
Simple ideas are great. Simple ideas that fulfill a real physical need are better. Simple ideas that fulfill a real physical need AND can be easily prototyped and demonstrated are better. Owning an existing product based on one of these ideas is best.
I found this old post on a very old blog of mine (techie readers can probably find it through the image links). It brought back some wonderful memories of hardware hacking, so I thought I’d repost it for your enjoyment.
Also, this amp is a great example of an awesome product from the 50s. It had its flaws and it had a scheduled obsolescence, but it was still designed to do its job until the day its owner would want to get rid of it. The result of such thinking was an amplifier that lasted long beyond its assumed lifespan and became a treasure for many musicians, including me.
Today I took apart the guitar amp I bought last month. It’s a 1951 Silvertone model 1342. I honestly believe it belongs in a museum. But because I am who I am, I took it apart!
The neat (read: challenging) thing about this project is that there is no schematic of this amp online and no real information on it other than anecdotal stuff by old-timers and collectors. This model has fallen through the cracks of musical history and into my hands via a very fun, very interesting older gentleman by the name of Dash. He lives in the East Village, still bikes around at the age of 60-something, and invited me to jam with him whenever I get a chance. He’s a cool cat, for sure.
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I have a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and a job in the startup scene. This post is an introduction to the overlap between the two. You can expect more about this in the future.
As a new product manager trying to develop my own style at a tech startup, I’ve noticed that the approach used by other product people is pretty specific: Find a problem or a point of friction in our lives, solve that problem in the simplest way possible, and then build it. Fill your team with designers and developers who can creatively overcome their own specific roadblocks, and iterate on your initial idea until users need and want what you’re selling.
What’s surprising about this process and the idea of iteration in particular is how purely intuitive it can be. A good product manager will always have UX (user experience) in mind, and it’s essential that the product’s intention be translated accurately into the feature set that is handed off to developers. This is frequently done with the knowledge that the first iteration will not be wildly successful, in which case you gather feedback and try again. “Getting it right” in this game is incredibly difficult, and this is reflected by the fact that over time, most startups fail.
Generally we chalk this success or failure up to bad timing, poor execution, lack of funding, bad marketing, bad design, and so on. Certainly these factors play large roles in the long-term success of a project, but the big picture is not that simple. Taking a look at the companies that have exploded over the last few years, you will notice that they suffer from many of these same issues. For instance, Facebook is poorly designed, has suffered from bad press for years, and has a bad record of forcing features on users that are initially decried as unacceptable. However, Facebook’s year-over-year user growth has remained one of the highest industry-wide and it boasts over 400 million unique log-ins per day. Clearly it’s doing enough stuff right to overcome its failings.
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