Saturday, April 20, 2019

Bad Parenting - Something I saw on FB and so true...

Self-made billionaires like Ray Dalio and Elon Musk have said they train their brains to be smarter using 3 simple, highly effective tricks

  • If you don't take care to exercise your brain regularly, it can wither, just like unworked muscles.
  • Many of the most successful self-made billionaire entrepreneurs, like Ray Dalio, Elon Musk, and Charlie Munger, swear by mental models.
  • Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and mindfulness meditation all increase blood flow to the brain, which helps to enhance cognitive reserves.
  • Visit for more stories.
You likely go to the gym to work your muscles, hike for endurance, and do yoga for flexibility — but how often does your brain get a workout?
If you don't take care to exercise your brain regularly, it can wither, just like unworked muscles.
The human brain is made up of nerve cells called neurons, connected by synapses, which transport information from one neuron to the other. Just like other muscles and organs, the brain changes with age — synapses fire more slowly, some cells die off, and the overall mass of the organ shrinks.
But studies have found that any exercising of the brain may not only stave off brain degeneration but reverse memory loss and improve mental agility.
Here are some simple tips and tricks that can make your brain faster, sharper and smarter.

1. Try using mental models.

1. Try using mental models.
Ray Dalio.
 Ruben Sprich/Reuters
Many of the most successful self-made billionaire entrepreneurs, like Ray DalioElon Musk, and Charlie Munger, swear by mental models.
A mental model is a concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind to help you interpret the world and understand the relationship between things. For example, supply and demand is a mental model that helps you understand the economy. Entropy is a mental model that makes sense of disorder and decay. And game theory is a mental model that helps you understand how relationships and trust work.
The brain needs a variety of mental models to piece together a complete picture of the world. The more sources you have to draw upon, the clearer your thinking becomes. The best thinkers avoid looking at life through the lens of one subject or strategy.
Here are some useful mental models you can use to improve brain function:
  • Circle of competence. This mental model was developed by Warren Buffett and Munger to describe limiting your financial investments in areas where you may have limited understanding or experience. More broadly, it recommends recognizing the limits of your knowledge to develop an edge over others. When ego drives your undertakings, you wind up with cognitive blind spots. But understanding your circle of competence improves decision-making and outcomes.
  • Occam's razor. Attributed to the medieval philosopher William of Occam, this mental model holds that simple explanations are more likely to be true than complicated ones. Instead of wasting your time trying to disprove complex scenarios, you can make decisions more confidently by basing them on the explanation that has the fewest moving parts.
  • Inversion. Most of us tend to think one way about a problem: forward. Inversion allows us to flip the problem around and think backward. Sometimes it's good to start at the beginning, but it can be more useful to start at the end. Developed by the ancient Stoic philosophers, inversion is a powerful tool to improve your thinking because it helps you identify and remove obstacles to success.
  • Hanlon's razor. Named for Robert J. Hanlon, this philosophical razor suggests not attributing to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity. By not generally assuming that bad results are the fault of a bad actor, you look for options instead of missing opportunities. This model reiterates that people make mistakes and forces you to ask yourself: is another reasonable explanation?
These are just a few of thousands of useful mental models. The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the number of models in our heads. The more models we have, the more likely we are to keep our brains sharp.

2. Play games.

The brain can be lazy. Once it realizes it has mastered something, it stops trying.
But there are steps you can take to increase the range of mental motion by activating different parts of the brain. The trick is to constantly push your limits. Brainteasers and other problem-solving games are useful here. Here are some options:
  • Sudoku. To complete a Sudoku puzzle you have to look ahead and follow trails of consequences — if you put a six in this box, that one must be an eight and this one a four, etc. This "planning" helps improve short-term memory and concentration.
  • Lumosity. Lumosity is one of the most developed brain-trainingwebsites around. It provides fun brain-training and mental-fitness games, tests, and activities backed by science. You'll challenge your brain and keep track of your results and improvement. In addition to the website, apps are available for iOS and Android, so you can train on the go.
  • Crossword puzzles. Crosswords are a classic brain-trainer, accessing not only verbal language but your memory from many dimensions of knowledge. Studies have found that crossword puzzles may delay memory loss and preserve cognitive function.
  • Peak. This free app provides more than 40 fun games to help you exercise your brain. Peak is designed to improve your memory, sharpen your problem-solving skills, and develop your mental agility. Each game has been developed by neuroscientists, and the app offers in-depth insights to help you track your progress.
You should also do mental math whenever possible. Instead of whipping out your calculator app, calculate the tip in your head or try to total the amount for items purchased at the grocery store.
Research shows that variation in our mental activity is the key to long-term success. By regularly putting your brain to work, you can improve memory and other types of cognitive function.

3. Exercise, meditate, and eat well.

Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and mindfulness meditation all increase blood flow to the brain, which helps to enhance cognitive reserves.
In particular, research has found that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Other studies have found that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are bigger in people who exercise than in people who don't.
Diet is also an important component of brain health.
Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, and nuts helps maintain brain health and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon are rich in fatty acids that have been found to help neuron function. And don't forget to take your Omega-3 fatty acids — they play an important role in brain function and development.
Finally, mindfulness meditation is great for keeping your brain sharp. A recent UCLA study found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Likewise, a Harvard study found that eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory.
Because nearly everything we do requires a sharp mind, these simple hacks are a no-brainer.
Read the original article on Minutes. Copyright 2019. Follow Minutes on Twitter.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

What It Takes to Become a Great Product Manager

Because I teach a course on product management at Harvard Business School, I am routinely asked “What is the role of a product manager?” The role of product manager (PM) is often referred to as the “CEO of the product.” I disagree because, as Martin Eriksson points out, “Product managers simply don’t have any direct authority over most of the things needed to make their products successful — from user and data research through design and development to marketing, sales, and support.” PMs are not the CEO of product, and their roles vary widely depending on a number of factors. So, what should you consider if you’re thinking of pursuing a PM role?
Aspiring PMs should consider three primary factors when evaluating a role: core competenciesemotional intelligence (EQ), and company fit. The best PMs I have worked with have mastered the core competencies, have a high EQ, and work for the right company for them. Beyond shipping new features on a regular cadence and keeping the peace between engineering and the design team, the best PMs create products with strong user adoption that have exponential revenue growth and perhaps even disrupt an industry.

Core Competencies

There are core competencies that every PM must have — many of which can start in the classroom — but most are developed with experience, good role models, and mentoring. Some examples of these competencies include:
  • conducting customer interviews and user testing
  • running design sprints
  • feature prioritization and road map planning
  • the art of resource allocation (it is not a science!)
  • performing market assessments
  • translating business-to-technical requirements, and vice versa
  • pricing and revenue modeling
  • defining and tracking success metrics
These core competencies are the baseline for any PM, and the best PMs hone these skills over years of defining, shipping, and iterating on products. These PMs excel at reflecting on where each of these competencies have contributed to the success or failure of their products and continuously adjusting their approach based on customer feedback.

Emotional Intelligence

A good PM may know the dos and don’ts of a customer interview, but the best PMs have the ability to empathize with customers in that interview, are tuned into their body language and emotions, and can astutely suss out the pain points that the product or feature will address. A PM with a high EQ has strong relationships within their organization and a keen sense of how to navigate both internal and external hurdles to ship a great product. Here’s a deeper look at how the four key traits of EQ, as defined by Daniel Goleman, relate to the PM role:
Relationship management. Probably one of the most important characteristics of a great PM is their relationship management skills. By forming authentic and trustworthy connections with both internal and external stakeholders, the best PMs inspire people and help them reach their full potential. Relationship management is also vital in successful negotiation, resolving conflicts, and working with others toward a shared goal, which is especially challenging when a PM is tasked with balancing the needs of customers, resource-constrained engineering teams, and the company’s revenue goals. Authentic and trusting relationships within an organization can lead to more support when additional funding is needed for a product or when an engineer must be swayed to include a quick bug fix in the next sprint. Outside an organization, these skills could encourage existing customers to beta test a new feature for early feedback or to convince a target customer to try the MVP of a product still in stealth mode. These relationship skills can also be what makes the difference between having irate customers because of a bug introduced into the product and those who say, “No worries, we know you’ll fix this!”
Self-awareness. PMs must be self-aware so as to remain objective and avoid projecting their own preferences onto users of their products. If a PM is in love with a feature because it addresses their own pain points — PMs are often super-users of the products for which they are responsible — they may cause a user to say they love it too, just to please the PM (“false positive feature validation”). If not self-aware, a PM may push to prioritize a feature they conceived even when all the customer interviews and evidence are stacked against it. This lack of self-awareness could derail more important priorities or damage the PM’s relationship with engineers, who may lose confidence in their PM when the feature isn’t readily adopted by users.
Self-management. Being a PM can be incredibly stressful. The CEO wants one thing, the engineering team another, and customers have their own opinions about feature priorities. Managing tight deadlines, revenue targets, market demands, prioritization conflicts, and resource constraints all at once is not for the faint of heart. If a PM cannot maintain their emotions and keep it cool under pressure, they can quickly lose the confidence of all their constituents. The best PMs know how to push hard on the right priorities, with urgency but without conveying a sense of panic or stress. These PMs also know when to take a breath and step away to regroup.
Social awareness. According to Goleman, the competencies associated with being socially aware are empathy, organizational awareness, and service. PMs must understand customers’ emotions and concerns about their product as much as they understand the concerns of the sales team on how to sell that product, or the support team on how to support it, or the engineering team on how to build it. PMs have to have a deep understanding of how the organization operates and must build social capital to influence the success of their product, from obtaining budget and staffing to securing a top engineer to work on their product. Finally, social awareness ensures the best PMs service their customers with a product that addresses their jobs to be done, which is ultimately what drives product-market fit.
(Read more about what Paul Jackson has to say about EQ and PMs here. And here’s an interview with Sam Lessin, former VP of product management at Facebook, who says he has “never successfully trained empathy.”)

Company Fit

If the best PMs have well-developed core competencies and a high EQ, does that mean they are destined for success no matter where they work? Not necessarily. In fact, taking these skills and personality traits and applying them to the right company is what will ultimately guarantee success.
I have yet to see a standard job description for a product manager, because each role is ultimately defined by the size, type of product, stage, industry, and even culture of the company. If you possess the core competencies and high EQ needed to be a successful PM, the next step is to unpack who’s hiring and what they are truly looking for.
Here are a few of the key areas in which companies differ in what they want from a PM:
Technical skill. The type of product, who uses it, and the type of company will determine how technical a PM needs to be. For example, Google requires PMs to pass a technical skills test regardless of what product they’ll work on. If the company is building a SaaS CRM, there may be more requirements around experience with go-to-market and customer lifecycles than around how the product is built. By contrast, if it’s a data science product with machine learning algorithms and APIs, the role may require a lot more technical depth to understand not only understand to build the product but also how to talk credibly with the customers who will use it. That said, having a basic technical understanding of what is under the hood and mastery of the tools that PMs use is definitely important for the role, anywhere it is. Colin Lernell has more to say about these necessary skills here. If you are an aspiring PM and are concerned that you lack the basic tech skills for the role, you might consider taking online courses such as the renowned Introduction to Computer Science (CS50) course offered by Harvard University or one of the many intro and advanced technology courses offered by The Flatiron School.
Company philosophy about PM. Every company has a different philosophy about the product development process and where PMs fit into that process. Below are the three most common types, with pros and cons:
  • PM drives engineering. This is a “throw it over the wall” approach, where PMs gather requirements, write the quintessential product requirements document, and hand it off to engineering to spec out the technical requirements. Contemporary organizations may do this process in a more agile and collaborative way, but the expectation is that PMs know best about what customers need and engineering is there to serve.
    • Pro: Engineering can focus on coding without a lot of distraction; this tends to work well for Waterfall development shops with long lifecycles.
    • Con: Engineers lose sight of the big picture and do not develop empathy for customers, which can lead to a poor user experience. Often there are unhealthy tensions when technical debt and “plumbing” work needs to be prioritized over customer requirements.
  • Engineering drives product. More technically oriented product companies (cloud, big data, networking) tend to be engineering-driven, where engineers are advancing the science in their domain and PMs validate solutions or create front end access points (UIs, APIs) to tap into this new technology. There can be a collaborative relationship and feedback loop between customers, PMs, and engineering, but typically PMs are serving engineering in these companies.
    • Pro: Breakthrough technology can offer customers things they didn’t even know they needed. VMotion at VMware was a great example of this. An engineer thought it would be cool to do, a PM figured out how to monetize it, and it became a billion-dollar game changer for the company.
    • Con: Engineers chase the shiny new thing, over-architect the solution, or iterate forever, seeking perfection before getting customer feedback. PM input on priorities is ignored, which sometimes includes the most basic needs of customers.
  • The PM-engineering partnership. In these cases, there is a strong yin-yang between PM and engineering, with joint discovery, decision making, and shared accountability. Engineers join PMs in customer interviews, and PMs are in sprint meetings to help unblock tasks or clarify requirements. But the two roles respect the line where one starts and the other stops. PMs understand what’s being coded but don’t tell engineers how to code, and engineers have empathy for customers’ needs but leave the prioritization to the PMs.
    • Pro: A streamlined prioritization process that values technical debt and plumbing projects; better design processes leading to a more positive user experience; higher-performing teams with improved product velocity, quality, and, typically, happier customers.
    • Con: Breakthrough innovation may not get greenlit; time-to-market may seem to lag (though I’d argue that what’s released is far better aligned with customer needs and more likely to successfully scale).
I’m clearly biased in favor of the third type of philosophy about PM (as is venture capitalist Fred Wilson), as I’ve experienced all three and found the yin-yang to be most effective. But that’s not to say the others are notably bad — it really depends on what type of product you’re building, the company stage, and more. Regardless, when considering a PM role, the philosophy of PM at the company could be the deciding factor on fit for the role.
Stage of company. The role of the PM at a startup is far more likely to be responsible for “all the things,” whereas at a mature company their role will be more distinctly defined. (Banfield, Eriksson, and Walkingshaw’s book Product Leadership has a section that has a lot more detail on this topic.)
  • Startup. Beyond discovery, definition, and shipping, PMs may also be responsible for pricing, marketing, support, and potentially even sales of the product. These PMs thrive in a scrappy environment and are comfortable with ambiguity and frequent changes to direction as the company works towards product-market fit and learns to operate at scale.
    • Pro: PMs are likely to be more involved with company strategy, get exposure to senior leadership and the board, are able to take more risks and make a bigger impact. They also have more influence and authority over company resources.
    • Con: There’s typically little to no mentorship, role models, or best practices within the company. (You may have to seek it externally.) Budgets are typically tight, and PMs may not have the requisite experience to succeed at some of the things they’re tasked to do.
  • Mature company. The PM may have a narrower scope and have coworkers who handle pricing, go-to-market strategies, and so on. And they are likely to be part of a larger team of product managers.
    • Pro: PMs are more likely to have mentoring and role models, as well as development standards and best practices. Close association with an engineering team can create strong relationships over time, which is great for long-term impact and career growth. And if the product has market fit, there is an established customer base and performance baseline to work from, versus guessing until you get it right.
    • Con: PMs have less exposure to company strategy and are just one of many voices of the customer. They can get “lost” in the system and have to deal with more politics and tight budgets.
Founder/CTO/CEO relationship with PM. Especially in earlier-stage companies, it’s important to know how involved the founder/CEO/CTO is in the product process. If they are deeply involved, the PM role may play more of a support role, to flesh out their ideas or validate concepts with customers, versus conceiving and driving ideas of their own. This can be great fun for some PMs who enjoy partnering with founders and C-level executives and collaborating on the product evolution. But for other PMs, it can be very frustrating if they prefer to take more ownership of the product direction. It can also be challenging if the more technical founders or C-levels prefer working directly with engineers. This can leave PMs out of the loop or undermined (sometimes unintentionally), causing not just personal frustrations but delays. When considering a PM role that may work closely with the founding leadership team, be sure to find out their expectations of the PM function and decide whether this is the right fit with your interests.
There are, of course, many other factors to consider for any role, such as the type of product you are building (B2B, B2C, industry), the people with whom you’ll work, the overall company culture (diverse, inclusive, flexible work hours, remote culture), and, of course, the compensation and benefits. There are also lots of articles on hiring product managers to get perspective on what the hiring managers are looking for — I especially recommend my friend Ken Norton’s piece “How to Hire a Product Manager.” However, if you are striving to be a great product manager, consider all of the above before signing on to your next gig. Developing core competencies will be an ongoing activity throughout your career, and leveraging EQ will ensure a more positive experience. But where you work, how they work, and who you work with and for will ultimately determine your long-term success.

From Simple Town Comic - About Bosses. Haha

Friday, April 5, 2019


France is famous for its cuisine, and certainly its culinary establishments. Ever wondered what the difference between a bistro and a brasserie is? Where would you go for a three-course meal – entréeplatdessert, just a quick bite – a delicious Croque Monsieur perhaps, or just a coffee? As much as we French people love our food, we love to talk about it, so having the right words will be important! So Chic shares here with you a quick guide to telling the difference between all these yummy establishments! Bon appétit!


In Paris alone, there are more than 5,000 restaurants, from the fancy to the rustic. Restaurants are only open at certain times of the day, for lunch and dinner service for instance, and are normally closed one day of the week. You would be able to order from a classic printed menu, and waiters and waitresses are trained and knowledgeable professionals. By law, a prix-fixemenu must be offered, although some more luxurious establishments try to conceal this.


bistro is smaller than a restaurant and many times use chalkboard or verbal menus as opposed to printed ones. Wait staff may not be as trained as those of restaurants, and many bistros feature a more regional fare. Notable dishes include coq au vinpot-au-feuconfit de canard, and entrecôte.


The concept of a brasserie came in the 1870s with refugees from the region of Alsace-Lorraine in the East of France. These establishments serve beer, but also wines from Alsace such as RieslingSylvaner, and Gewürztraminer. The most popular dishes are choucroute and seafood dishes. In general, a brasserie is open all day every day, and you can count on having the same menu.


Found in Lyon, a bouchon is a tradional Lyonnais establishment that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork. The dishes can be quite rich, and are usually heavily oriented around meat and its parts. There are about twenty officially certified traditional bouchons, but a larger number of establishments do describe themselves as bouchons as well.


café is where you will find coffee, and also alcoholic drinks (yes!). Additional tables and chairs are usually set outside, and prices are usually higher for service at these tables. There may be a limited food menu, with Croque Monsieur, salads, moules-frites. Cafés usually open early in the morning and close towards nine in the night.

Salon de Thé

salon de thé (or teahouse) on the other hand, are more similar to cafés in the rest of the world, in that you will find a selection of cakes, simple snacks and sandwiches. Teas, hot chocolate, and chocolat à l’ancienne (a popular chocolate drink) offered as well. These locations often open just prior to noon for lunch and then close late afternoon.


Based on the American style, many bars came up in the beginning of the 20th century (particularly around World War I, when young American 

expatriates moved to France, particularly Paris). These locations serve cocktails, whiskey, pastis and other alcoholic drinks (yes!).