October 15, 2018

Filthy Rich

How much would Steve Jobs or Paul Allen have paid to have my good health? For how much would I have accepted their health in exchange?

Every time I worry about money, these questions bubble up at some point to give me perspective. Many of us are filthy rich by this measure — and I can’t be thankful enough for it.

October 14, 2018

Nudging with UI

The shopping cart emoji on a stores folder evokes a pleasing sensation — while using the credit card emoji does give me pause.

Renaming my folders with emojis is a fun test. But using symbols that not necessarily represent what’s inside them, rather than trying to influence my behavior with emojis that are attractive or disagreeable — is my real experiment.

October 13, 2018

One Small Step Today

Leaving your next day clothes ready the evening before is probably the best productivity advise I learned at Procter & Gamble. I did so by accident — my boss casually mentioned some of the learnings from a manager’s training she attended.

Almost 15 years later, a simple lunch comment has stayed with and affected most of my work life.

October 9, 2018

Push Back on Time

Some days there’s not enough time for all the things you plan to do, but make sure you push back by doing the things you want to do.

Time can bend. The strict calendar rectangles hide moments in between.

And the feeling of fighting time and winning once in a while makes it worth trying.

October 8, 2018

No Pressure

That’s probably the last thing someone says before telling you something that does make your blood pressure go up.

It might be uncomfortable but sometimes it’s necessary to transmit the importance of a result.

When you hear no pressure, don’t focus on the perfect outcome — that could be paralyzing. Make sure you can continually update those who decide the expected outcome given any changing conditions.

October 7, 2018

Disconnected Bliss

Traveling without roaming is among my top 10 first world worst problems. But being offline for the last 24 was a gift. I was present in time and space with those around me, and I channeled my impulses to check the data-less iPhone to interact more with them.

Enjoying the airport WiFi like a good meal after a fast, but the was something during the break that I want to explore more.

October 5, 2018

Good Friendly Lessons

Not all good lessons come from dead greek philosophers. Here’s three things childhood friends said that have stuck with me over the years.

On being a good teacher:

Don’t ask did you understand?, ask did I explain myself?.

On a good marriage:

Never keep score. That’s not how the game is played.

On good parenting:

It’s a destination, so don’t try to get there in a straight line. There’ll be lots of course corrections.

October 4, 2018

Uncertainty in a Process Flowchart

When you design in the beautiful world of diagrams, everything is known. A task can either be this or that. Committees or Approval Boards decide if something moves on to the next stage. Assessment agents decide the type of request and sends it on its way.

But what if you don’t know?. A new process can’t have every sort of input typified. This leads to a pause in the process because its actors want to be sure and request more information. Now the beautiful flowchart is like a park without efficient walkways: the grass shows dirt paths were people are taking shortcuts.

Give uncertain items a way out of decision points in your flowchart, because corner cases love to create bottlenecks

October 3, 2018

Good Days Should Be the Default

Some days will be bad. Friction and uncertainty are implied when trying to create something, and that means not all plans will work out.

But the default day can be designed to lean towards good. Break projects into smaller pieces, make a lunch walk a habit, sneak some reading into the day. Find what gives you a boost and design your day so that it incorporates these nuggets.

Nobody owes you a good day, but if we’re spending it sitting in front of a screen with air conditioning and a water fountain close by — we still have it better than almost everyone in the history of humanity.

October 2, 2018

Attention Volume

When designing a process that needs an approval scheme, look for the number of times attention is required — you may not have to break down and classify all possible requests.

If an approver has to check once a week a report that includes 30 requests and can pick out any that seems strange, the volume of requests is not 30, it’s 1.

The natural tendency is that you’ll try to create filters so that only major items are escalated. But it’s possible that you’re wasting more aggregate time than a simple straight to the top process would take.


This insight isn’t mine. I was defining an unnecessarily complex process for work and went for a sanity check with my boss. Glad I did.

October 1, 2018

Sleep Procrastination

Not going to sleep when I’m tired is among the most stupid things I do. When my day self keeps clicking around instead of diving into a task — I know I’m being dumb, but it’s a likable idiot.

But after the kids are asleep and the eyelids are heavy, to allow the moment to pass because there’s a YouTube review I have to watch?

If I’m not going to be more productive everyday, at least I should be more lazy. Otherwise my time here is really being wasted.

September 30, 2018

Acknowledge Bias

When having a political or controversial discussion — and you sincerely want to evolve the points of view — there’s value in sharing your bias up front.

If both parts want to have a dance of ideas, it will give context and allow everybody to more wisely choose their contributions. Otherwise, the deadlock can be achieved even before the shouting match begins, and everyone saved some time.

September 29, 2018

Believe Make Believe

A few episodes into The Dragon Prince and falling in love with it as I did with The Last Airbender a few years ago. Both the world and its characters have something that makes them real.

Being realistic does not make it relatable. Great fantasy can be more faithful to reality.

September 28, 2018

Gig Economy and Human Context

We ordered a pizza today from our favorite local Italian place vía Uber Eats. It was early, but it started raining pretty hard. Our pizza was picked up by Yenari (she/her) on a bicycle and delivery was estimated in 10 minutes. It’s seemed pretty accurate compared to past orders.

It’s still raining Costa Rica rainforest style. I worry a bit, the route to the restaurant is simple, but it’s a long hill. 5 minutes later: We’re sorry, your order has been cancelled.

Inconvenient, yes — hungry kids make millennials look like monks — but… what happened to Yenari? Is she alright? Did she fall or decide it wasn’t worth the $3?

It’s an open secret that the gig economy is a stepping stone to the self-driving pizza box revolution. But in the meantime, I’d be ok with more context about people who will arrive at my door with food my family will eat.

September 27, 2018

Backup as I Say, Not as I Do

I’ve bragged about my backups before, which is why I was horrified yesterday to find out my personal MacBook — the one I got just to keep a local copy of all photos at full resolution and back them up at a different place than iCloud — had not done a backup since November 2017.

So do yourself a favor and check your backup software this weekend:

  • Check the backup schedule
  • Pick a random file and restore
  • Force a backup