Made In The USA: Pen and Wallet

Machine ERA Makes great products right here in the USA. Check out the products I own below.

If you want to see more check out my ever growing list of useful products made in the USA.

I have the very first version of this pen and it has lived in my pocket eversince. I has a nice weight, uses Pilot Percise Gel ink and is Made in the USA.
The companion to the pen I carry is an early version of this slim wallet. I have had it for (I think a decade) a long time. I can carry 8 cards plus a little cash, just the right size.
This is my personalized Machine Era wallet. You may not be able to fly the flag everywhere you go but you can carry it with you.

Write to Change the Mind of the Reader

Larry McEnerney, Director of the University of Chicago’s Writing Program, gives a lecture on writing effectively. While the presentation is focused on academic writing, he provides great insight into how experts and professionals need to think about effective writing. There are many takeaways, but right up front, McEnerney hits on the first barrier to effective writing, “stop thinking about rules and start thinking about readers.”  Other valuable insights are:

  • “Experts use language in one set of patterns to do their thinking, but those very same experts read with a different pattern.” (@6:57)
  • “more than anything else, from now on your writing needs to be valuable, because if it is not that nothing else matters” (@13:43)
  • “What is professional writing? What is it? It’s not conveying your ideas to your readers, it’s changing their ideas. Nobody cares what ideas you have.” (@21:44)

The academic bent of the presentation is a small price you pay to better understand effective professional writing in general.

The 4 Literacies of Product Managers

I think Ryan Singer concisely lists out the 4 questions that all Product Managers have to be skilled at answering. I would refine #4 to read, Supply-side value. What matters to my Bosses and teams? I think what matters to the teams we engage with gets lost and can impact the team’s commitment to outcomes the product manager is trying to achieve.


Tyler Cowen Interviews Daniel Kahneman

Economist Tyler Cowen interviews Daniel Kahneman (well worth a listen) renowned psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences. I first learned about Daniel Kahneman when I read his 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow (NY Times book review), detailing his research and experiments demonstrating the impact of intuitive thinking and cognitive bias on our behavior.

In his conversation with Tyler he demonstrated the deep consideration he has given to a wide range of topics and his comfort with not knowing all of the answers.  Here are some great quotes from the interview:

Referring to a paper on happiness he authored with Alan Krueger:

Altogether, I don’t think that people maximize happiness in that sense. And that’s one of the reasons that I actually left the field of happiness, in that I was very interested in maximizing experience, but this doesn’t seem to be what people want to do. They actually want to maximize their satisfaction with themselves and with their lives. And that leads in completely different directions than the maximization of happiness.

On happiness feeling good:

Yeah, happiness feels good in the moment. But it’s in the moment. What you’re left with are your memories. And that’s a very striking thing — that memories stay with you, and the reality of life is gone in an instant. So memory has a disproportionate weight because it’s with us. It stays with us. It’s the only thing we get to keep.

On investing in memories:

We certainly invest heavily, heavily in memories. Vacations for many people are investment in the formation and maintenance of memories. There is a lot of investment. Whether it’s too much or too little, it probably depends a lot on people’s amount of consumption of memory that people engage in.

I, for one, am certainly biased. But I do not consume my memories a lot. And I almost never go back to photographs, not deliberately. If I stumble on something, it will move me. But the idea of going back to relive a vacation — that’s not what I do, so I have little empathy for this.

and my favorite on improving the quality of judgement:

My advice is divide and conquer. That is, there is one thing that we know that improves the quality of judgment, I think. And this is to delay intuition…..

So I think delaying intuition is a very good idea. Delaying intuition until the facts are in, at hand, and looking at dimensions of the problem separately and independently is a better use of information….

I don’t think CEOs encounter many problems where they have intuitive expertise. They haven’t had the opportunity to acquire it, so they better slow down.

Break the decision up. It’s not so much a matter of time because you don’t want people to get paralyzed by analysis. But it’s a matter of planning how you’re going to make the decision, and making it in stages, and not acting without an intuitive certainty that you are doing the right thing. But just delay it until all the information is available.



The relationship of UX to engineering

I have a habit of looking for the nugget of insight or the key pattern used when listening to interviews. In the YouTube clip from the Joe Rogan show, comedian and musician Reggie Watts simply described the relationship between UX and engineering.  To quote Reggie Watts (@2:51 min into the clip),

It’s about what does it take to engineer a machine that becomes invisible to the experience. And that was, that kinda blew my mind. So whenever you are designing anything it’s like your designing the experience the engineering should get the f*ck out of the way.

For me, Reggie could have spiked the mic and walked off.  So many people work and fail to articulate UX and the relationship to engineering. It was a simple but profound observation by Reggie, made while listening to a record on a $150K stereo system. Inspiration and insight surround us and they appear when we least expect it, even while watching a youtube clip on why records sound better.

Reggie Watts on Why Records Sound Better via the Joe Rogan.

5 Links Friday August 14 2015

Team Genuis: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations” by Richard Karlgaard and Michael Malone.  The latest Scientific perspective on high performing team, his Microsoft example is very interesting. And the Hypothesis used to
His presentation at Google

“Since software is about learning, and we rarely, if ever, do the same project twice, we are always estimating the unknown.”  Johanna Rothman author of “Predicting the Unpredictable: Pragmatic Approaches to Estimating Cost or Schedule”

Science Heroes: An amazing analysis on the impact of innovation that has benefited us all.

Freakonomics Failure is your Friend Stephen Dubner interviews Steve Levitt his coAuthor on “Think Like a Freak“, Allan McDonald from Morton Thiokol Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motor Project and Gary Klien a cognitive psychologist about Go fever. You can read the transcript or listen via YouTube.

Architecture Stuff:

Making Architecture Matter: A brief but great presentation by Martin Fowler of ThoughtWorks about Software Architecture and a reference to his design stamina hypothesis.

The Leprechauns of Software Engineering by Laurent Bossavit looks to be an interesting read dealing with Folklore in software development that is widely believed to be fact. I will add it to the pile to read or at least a quick scan.

A good resource with articles explaining SAP CIF. I wanted to brush up on CIF a bit.

5 Imperatives for Developing Information Superiority

In the Strategy& the authors write:

Developing an information superiority capability requires following five imperatives:

  1. treating information as a strategic asset
  2. having centralized governance
  3. building an information culture
  4. taking the right cyber security posture
  5. designing and delivering an integrated ICT infrastructure

Information and Decision superiority in modern markets is critical. Companies cannot hide from this reality, failure to achieve and maintain both Information and Decision superiority will make it  increasingly difficult for companies to win in the market place.