Issue 43 – Give, Take, Match: Which One Will You Do?

Posted on April 15th, by katestull in issues. Comments Off

News to know


Leadership – Give To Get

13 Ways to Be an Exceptional Teacher
Managers – what are you doing to make sure you’re being a good teacher for the members of your team? This article has great tips for how to imitate your best teachers from the past to help your team develop their own skills and careers. Here are a few highlights (though the whole list is worth looking over!):

  • They relinquish control – Sometimes your team will surprise you with ideas you never even thought of; be willing to let them try it their way (whether or not you already know it’s wrong).
  • They aren’t always fun – Being funny might make you popular, but being able to take your role seriously *when necessary* means you’ll be more effective.
  • They don’t look for an ideal student – Don’t turn employees away just because they haven’t already impressed you. They might just do it if you give them a chance.
  • They show their pride in you – None of us is praised enough at work. Let your team know when they’re really impressing you.

The Introvert’s 2013 Business and Leadership Success Pledge
There’s been a lot written about introverts recently, but I really like this pledge for introverts to take to make their career a priority and take the steps necessary for their own success. This includes scheduling one-on-ones (since introverts do better in small groups as opposed to big meetings), advocating for their ideas (even though vying for attention is a big hurdle), and making connections with new people on a regular schedule.

Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?
This is a great article based on the research of Adam Grant (the youngest-tenured and highest-rated professor at Wharton) who focuses on the science of organizational dynamics. In his research he essentially buckets people into 3 categories: givers, takers, and matchers. The article details his philosophy that if you give freely and help wherever you can that it results in your getting ahead.

As someone who loves saying yes to things, but who has found myself saying no a lot more recently, it made me wonder if I should rethink my priorities.  Well despite all the giving, one thing was certain for me after reading this post – I really need to remind myself to be a lot happier, a lot nicer, and focus on seeing the best in people – something I had lapsed on a bit recently.



Teams & Process – Swag With Swagger

Using Group Instead of Individual Bonuses to Reward Employees
Giving bonuses? This article advocates giving bonuses to teams instead of individuals, and explains how to do it effectively:

  • Be transparent. “When you freely disclose details about the company’s financial performance, employees can begin to think more like owners than workers.”
  • Reward teams. “Paying bonuses to groups of employees encourages them to communicate and coordinate their work to improve overall company performance. Your employees will naturally seek common cause and try to maximize every aspect of their performance.”

Why T-Shirts Matter
I thought this was a great post that really articulated the value of uniforms.  One of the reasons the military soldiers all wear the same outfit (well, of course, besides functionality) is to create a sense of unity where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  And when it comes to company shirts, you can achieve a similar thing.  I think the company I know that does this best (and perhaps to an extreme) is my old crew over at SEOmoz – just check out their pictures here and here.

Maybe it is time you rethink your company swag (and here is my tip: by different shirts for the employees than the ones you give away at events).

No email at AngelList
There are so many different ways to get things done.  Originally my friend Hendrik shared this link with me to put Pivotal Tracker on my radar for PopForms, but I thought it was also interesting to read about how other organizations are communicating and facilitating these discussions. Love the emphasis on transparency and lightweight communication.

Product Management
Ever wondered what exactly a product manager is and does? I love this simple breakdown of how a product manager takes a software product from conception to shipping, plus it has advice for anyone who thinks it might make an interesting career path…

Tech – Curating Content, Technically

A non-mathematical explanation of one way functions
A crossword puzzle analogy; and I love analogies for explaining things.  The whole way I made it through discrete math and combinatorics was thanks to brilliant analogies from my study buddy Michael.  And this post reminded me of the way he might explain something from those classes.

And if you aren’t well versed in computer security it may help you understand the user of these functions and why they make things more difficult to decrypt.

Surfacing Interesting Content
I am a big fan of content curation – because, well, there is a lot of junk and I started this newsletter because I wanted something like this – that blended the good parts of HBR and the tech details on Hacker News, Reddit, etc.  And like the comments in the post, I also tend to agree that with all the noise, algorithm based discovery makes a ton of sense.

And this was a cool post because it shows you how to do it yourself!  Sample code and everything.  And it is much easier than you might think :)

Front-end performance for web designers and front-end developers
This was a fantastic guide (and it references the great Andy Davies, who I think is fantastic, too).  While much of this will be obvious to the front end gurus, for some new to UI programming (like myself) I picked up a couple tips. Definitely worth reading (or at least skimming) if you are working on the front end of websites.

Practical Techniques to Achieve Quality in Large Software Projects
These are definitely help tips and guidelines, albeit fairly high level.  As with any sort of quality guideline or metric, though, always be balancing your business needs and tolerance for bugs with the amount of testing in your process.

Scott wrote a great post on the why he advocates more automation and less QA (good advice for web startup teams and something I tend to agree with too).

Ask HN: What’s the best technical talk you’ve heard?
In the event you need a distraction, or just want to watch some great talks.

[ Mobile ]

Demystifying Cordova and PhoneGap
Admittedly I was using them wrong, I thought Cordova was the next PhoneGap.  Here is the gist for those interested:

“You can think of Apache Cordova as the engine that powers PhoneGap, similar to how WebKit is the engine that powers Chrome or Safari….Over time, the PhoneGap distribution may contain additional tools that tie into other Adobe services, which would not be appropriate for an Apache project….PhoneGap will always remain free, open source software and will always be a free distribution of Apache Cordova.”

Exploring iOS Crash Reports
If you have an app (and let’s face no apps are bug free) you have likely faced the challenge of going through one of these crash reports.  While there is some decent documentation in the developer portal, I thought this was a great step-by-step to cover some of the more complicated issues.  Worth checking out if you are building for iOS.

Product – Are You Sending Mixed Messages?

Effective Messaging: Say the right thing at the right time
Yowza. This one is a must read if you’re doing any kind of customer communication or product development. There’s too much in it to summarize everything here, but some of the highlights of wisdom were these:

  • Send a message with personality – Look for opportunities to make an impact on your customer by not taking the easy way out on your communications. Infuse even the blandest auto-replies with some of your awesome culture and your customer will notice.
  • Send a consistent message – Don’t just woo your potential customers with amazing design; make sure to seal the deal by spending just as much effort on your communications with existing ones too.
  • Send an appropriate message – Don’t email blast your whole list at once; instead, craft a message for groups of customers (ones who access your site from their mobile device, ones who haven’t logged in for a while, etc) to make a bigger impact and get a bigger return on your communication investment.

Crash Course: Design for Startups
This is an awesome foundation for startup designers who may not have the experience, time, or money to create the design and UX they want for a product. By breaking it down and focusing on a few essentials, you can still create a solid visual experience without a major investment.

  • Subtlety is key! (Except when it’s not). In most cases, focus on designs that are *just* perceptible, but that doesn’t scream in the user’s face either. (Except when something really does need to be huge – then don’t shy away).
  • Get inspired. See a website or design element you like? Screenshot it and save it in an easily accessed place for the next time you need inspiration.

UX Best Practices for Designing Mobile Apps
High level but good reminders. I especially like that they called out feedback and metrics – something oft overlooked in mobile apps.



Recruiting – Get A Mac Superstar

Interview Questions for iOS and Mac Developers
This is a good guide to hang on to, in case you are ever interviewing these kinds of developers and need a bit of inspiration.

Quick Bytes

[ Links we liked ]

3 Ways To Teach Yourself To Become Smarter
I recently finished the book Smart Thinking which also focused on ways to help you be smarter.  However, there wasn’t only a small overlap with this list (and we could all use a little better/faster/smarter thinking, no?), so I thought it worth sharing.

The 3 tips:

  1. Master the art of habits: The key to develop persistence is to make it a habit. [also in Smart Thinking the book]
  2. Percentage thinking helps you to find, with whatever you want to achieve, the percentage you need to succeed.
  3. Start working out–the cornerstone habit; to get your persistence to the level of altering your brain is to start working out.

Stop Wasting Your Time and Write Like a Lawyer
I wish that all lawyers wrote with the guidelines laid out in the post.  My brain often gets foggy reading all the clauses and claims – that being said, his tips for better writing were good ones!

Legal writing structure is based on the simple acronym CRAC:

  • Conclusion
  • Rule
  • Application
  • Conclusion

And use short, simple sentences – which you can test by reading out loud.  Smart.

Coffee Meetings
Coffee meetings are a bit of a staple in business, especially in the startup community. So if you’re going on coffee meetings – whether you’re the one asking or being asked to meet – follow these guidelines to make it as productive as possible for *both* people. This is great advice for anyone going on lots of these meetings.

[ Inward Focus ]

One Little Tip To Remain In The Present
The tip? Gratitude.

“Look around you and see what you have got in your life. Go back into the recent past (last few days maximum) and remember all the amazing things that have happened and are happening now in your life.

Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

  • People – your boyfriend/ girlfriend, husband/wife, lover, friends, work colleagues, someone you met on the street, the person who serves you coffee with a beautiful smile…
  • Your stuff – all the material wealth you have attracted into your life.  Your bed, your house, your rented room, the sofa you are currently sleeping on, your toothbrush, your shampoo.  
  • Your health – your fitness, your state of mind, your two legs that move, your breath which breathes itself.
  • Things that happen – your job, your routine, a compliment someone gave you, a goal you reached, something you did today which was better than you ever could have done.”

7 Ways To Be More Optimistic
It’s really easy to get down about the many small frustrations of work and daily life. These are great tips for bringing it back to the positive. Here are a couple highlights:

  • Try focusing on the solution, not the problem. If you find yourself obsessing about a problem, experiencing self-doubt, or feeling negative, focus on the solution instead.
  • Look for any improvement to the current situation. Get into the habit of looking for any improvement in the current situation as a solution, no matter how small.
  • Give yourself “done wells” daily. Take a few moments every day to ask the question, “What have I done well today?”


[ Geeking Out ]

Futuristic ‘transient electronics’ disappear when no longer needed
Interesting that there is $50m of e-waste generated each year too.

Code Pen
Super cool!

[ Wordly Reading ]

Why the Defense of Marriage Act is Doomed
“The question about marriage equality for all Americans is not if it will pass but when. The country has changed, and it’s never going back to the way it was.”

Shodan: The scariest search engine on the Internet
Another yikes-inducing story about the huge lack of security on the Internet.

“Dan Tentler demonstrated how he used Shodan to find control systems for evaporative coolers, pressurized water heaters, and garage doors. He found a car wash that could be turned on and off and a hockey rink in Denmark that could be defrosted with a click of a button. A city’s entire traffic control system was connected to the Internet and could be put into “test mode” with a single command entry. And he also found a control system for a hydroelectric plant in France with two turbines generating 3 megawatts each.”

Bitcoin May Be the Global Economy’s Last Safe Haven
Curious about Bitcoin? It’s been all over the news recently, so if you’re still not sure what the big deal is – give this one a read.

Weird but true: Mali to give France new camel after first one is eaten
Dude, where’s my camel?
Uh, someone ate it.

Google Searches For Mental Illnesses Increase During The Winter
“A new study suggests that all mental major illnesses, including anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia, ADHD, bipolar, and OCD, might get worse during the winter. Researchers analyzed Google searches for information about mental health in the U.S. and Australia from 2006 to 2010. They found that, in both countries, all mental illness queries were consistently higher in winter than in summer.”

[ Just for fun ]

Klaus Pichler “Skeletons in the Closet”: A behind-the-scenes look at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History
The photos in this article are 100% awesome! A photographer heads into the storage rooms of his local natural history museum and uncovers amazing collections of neanderthals, bears, and pterodactyls.

Man gets shock when his toy poodles turn out to be GIANT RODENTS on steroids
Holey moley – how someone confuses ferrets for dogs is beyond me.

Nine Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Swear Words
Oh $&@#! Fun facts about swear words. For example, did you know that swearing can actually alleviate pain? See, it’s good for you!

What the Internet Looked Like in 1995
I swear that at one point around 1995 I thought I had seen every publicly available site on the internet.  It was no wonder my weight ballooned up to 180 pounds sitting in front of the computer all the time.  And I am totally one of those geeks he was talking about.  Check out this video for a flashback.

[ Useful & Productive ]

4 Tricks For Remembering Anybody’s Name
Do you have a secret strategy for remembering people’s names? It’s a big win when you can recall the name of someone you met a while ago, so if you struggle with it, why not try some of these?

5 Tips to Make Difficult Conversations Easier
Having a tough conversation or delivering bad news sucks. I like these tips for making the exchange a bit easier – for you and the person getting the bad news.

  • Have the conversation sooner rather than later
  • Avoid blame, judgments, and criticism
  • Focus on specific feedback

This is How You Master the Email Introduction
Email introductions are a great way to help connect awesome people with one another. This list of basic rules for making a good introduction is so helpful and is definitely worth a read.

  • Always ask for permission first. I love to make connections for people with other people who can help them with their careers – but it’s important to let both people know they can say no to you, instead of feeling obligated to meet with someone they might not have time or interest in meeting.
  • Be personal, not lazy. A good introduction should make both people feel good; explain how you know each person and why they’d be so great to meet.
  • Prompt with presentation. As with all emails you actually want read, keep it short and visually simple. Use bold and bullet points if necessary, but aim to keep the whole message pithy and brief.


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  — Maya Angelou

We hope you have a *spectacular* week. :)

Hoşça kal,
Kate + Kate

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