“You seem Zen. Do you meditate?”. We were in a bar having a catch up drink before Christmas. We hadn’t spoken for a year, but we’ve been friends for a long time. I didn’t think much of the comment at the time. But since I’ve had the chance to think about it some more. It has been a while since I’ve last meditated (even though I should do it more…). But the “zen” part has been a deliberate practice. Well, I wouldn’t call it Zen. I’d call it focus and it’s something that I spent most of 2017 trying to cultivate. There’s a Hemingway quote that’s stuck with throughout this year.
2017 it seems was the year of marketing, business and philosophy reading. A big (reading related) revelation of 2017: Used books on Amazon. This has saved me a huge bunch of cash. I read around 75 books this year and tossed aside a whole load more that didn’t captivate me. I also made a complete move (and loving it!) to physical books so that I can better take notes and reference them later. But without further ado, here are a few of the better books that I read this year…
On the 2nd of August 2006 Elon Musk wrote a blog: “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)”. A prophecy about what he would achieve with Tesla. 10 years on in 2016 he responded with a new master plan (part deux). What is mind-blowing is that Musk outlined a 4 bullet strategy and executed it with no deviation.
Inspired by Musk’s prophecy, here’s the Splitoo Masterplan.
With 2018 on the horizon, I’ve started thinking about plans for the new year. That means changes that I’m making to my site, updates and rethinking my personal brand. It’s been around 8 months now since I started writing. I started off wanting my writing to be relaxed and then I’d see where it went. But now, I’m starting to think more about where I want to take it as the new year approaches.
My bio seemed like a good place to start. After all it is my mini-pitch of my unique take on the world. I never liked my bio because I didn’t have a good grasp of what my target topic (and reader) was. I knew I wasn’t interested in talking on this site about technical topics. Many people are already creating amazing tutorials, videos and blogs on programming and software. But, I’ve always known that the key to good software teams was not more technical skill anyway. I’ve been more obsessed with things like effectiveness. And are we doing the right thing, not only are we doing the thing right.
This Saturday was our first round of user testing with the Splitoo product. It’s been a year in the work. From discussing ideas, looking at payments solutions and settling on a business model. We are now at the point of tweaking the initial MVP, which means doing some user testing. This is something we’re familiar with, but it’s the first time we’ve done it together as a team.
The following is a real cover letter from a real application. I decided to publish the feedback that I gave in order to help out other Junior developers. From the original text and the suggestions you should be able to see how to make a cover letter more punchy.
By rewriting your concerns as questions you move from anxiety to curiosity.
This is a paraphrased quote from the book Sprint. Author Jake Knapp is talking about gathering a list of “what could go wrongs” on a project as part of a design Sprint. Knapp is tapping into the elephant in the room and testing the worst case scenarios. But rather than listing them as statements, Jake says to list them as questions. “If we don’t get our customer to understand X we’ll fail” becomes “How can we encourage the user to understand X?”.