I’m a devoted husband and father to an awesome family. For work, I’m a Product Manager who looks at the goals of the business and uses technology to deliver those business and customer goals. I’ve driven transformational change at Citi, AIG, and Amazon Web Services. For more information about what I do at work, please visit my LinkedIn profile.
I collect stories. There are so many amazing things happening every day. I need to spend some time writing them down before they slip away. Some of these ideas are so powerful that they hit me like a bolt of lightning. It’s my job to capture that lighting and put it in a bottle to share it with you. I want to capture that feeling that Archimedes had when he had an insight sitting in the bathtub screamed “Eureka!” and ran naked down the street. I know that I’ll rarely if ever make it there, but that won’t keep me from trying!
I wanted a place to put all the stuff I think is awesome. Growing up, I always wanted to have a great library in my house. I remembered the excitement when I learned that I could buy the entire collection of The New Yorker in bound volumes and put them in my house. I’d imagined that I would collect great encyclopedias from the past to peruse whenever I pleased. They would live in mahogany bookcases that looked like they’d belonged to JP Morgan. Then I realized that a New York City apartment doesn’t have the space for a physical library. So I did the next best thing. I’ve created a virtual library that includes lots of the things I enjoy, like my favorite books, words, and humor. You can check it out on the menu at the top of the page.
Things I’ve Built
- When a Book Gets Caught Up in the Story. The Art of the Book in the Digital Age. I picked up a book at the New York Public Library with a big purple stamp that read, “The Author of This Book Committed Suicide.” I quickly discovered that this book doesn’t just tell a story, it’s part of a larger conversation.
- How I (Re-)Built My Favorite T-Shirt. When I was in college I saw a T-shirt that was attractive, geeky and protested government policy. No one had produced it since 2000. So I recreated it.
- How I Replaced the Ads on My Website with My To Do List. I figured out how to make an early version of Google Contributor replace my advertisements with my To Do list. Here’s a video of me presenting this at New York Tech Meetup. Unfortunately Google Contributor doesn’t work like this anymore.
My Adventures and Explorations
- Six Amazonian Secrets You Can Use. When I was at Amazon, I learned some open secrets about the company, like behind the scenes view into its culture, great discounts, and real world tours.
- On Amazon – A Peculiar Company. Amazon is a self described peculiar company, doing things differently than your standard company.
- When Millions of Eyes at Amazon Were Wrong. How I fixed the punctuation on Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles.
My Adventures and Explorations
- Taking the Red Pill of Art. Here’s my love letter to art. It’s a story about the red pill and the blue pill, opening your eyes, and what art means to me.
- The Joy of the Hunt. While I haven’t been outside on any new adventures in the last few months, I wrote about some of my favorite adventures, from finding a hidden castle on top of a library to discovering an old historical text from one of Yale’s secret societies.
- What a Wonderful Word. Names are magical things. In the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” This is my talk about words and concepts that don’t have a name in English.
- Carpe Diem! How to Live Like an Emperor. I realized that no matter where I am or where I go, I can live like an Emperor by seizing every moment.
- Capture Better Memories Without a Camera. How technology is preventing me from building great memories and some techniques I’ve come up with some ways to use my brain to capture special moments instead of my phone.
- My Ideal Retirement Plan. How I’ve realized that my goal in life shouldn’t be to retire early but to live well, now and through retirement.
- Thank You for Being a Friend. Friendship is about being there for other people. Anyone can celebrate with you when it’s convenient. A true friend stands by you when things are tough and just be with you.
- Fiction is the Lie That Tells the Truth. When dealing with really difficult problems in life, I’ve realized that fiction often has the best answers.
- In Praise of Humility — The Forgotten Story of Edward S. Harkness. While we say we praise humility as a virtue, we rarely remember the people who practice it.
- How to be Happy — Yale’s Most Popular Class. Yale’s most popular class ever is on how to be happier. Now it’s available online.
Product and Design
- How Much is That Really Worth? The Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Valuation. A product gets its value from the job that it does. When I look at things this way, something that seems like garbage, like a crushed penny, can be surprisingly valuable.
- What a Wonderful Word. As a Product Manager, it’s important to understand what populations have in common and how they differ. Even though there are unique words in different languages, there’s a strong commonality across the human experience.
- Alexa and Google in Our Home. How Alexa and Google work with our family (vs. phones that work against it). I also have a post on specifically how kids interact with Alexa.
- How Airbnb Changed the Meaning of Hotel Branding. In the past, trusting a hotel brand meant trusting Marriott or Starwood. Now it means trusting Airbnb.
- The Hidden Thirteenth Floor. How my children found the hidden number 13 in our elevator.
- The Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Cloud Computing. I explain Cloud Computing through an analogy to retail checkout lines.
- The Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Software Testing. I write about two different ways to test software for errors.
- The Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Chaos Engineering. A guide to how Netflix and others plan for failure. I also dig a bit deeper into how software needs to be built to solve human needs — not just optimized for machines.
- Guest Post: Blake Schlaff on Fortnite Friendships. My 10-year-old son Blake is an avid Fortnite player who often plays with his friends. I thought it would be good for him (with my help) to tell everyone about the world of social gaming.
- “Saving Money” by Paying More for Netflix. With subscription pricing, some people feel like they’re getting a deal when they are actually paying more.
- What Do You Mean by “Film?” An interview with kids about film cameras from 2010. Spoiler alert: They’re confused.
- Prospect Theory: Losing Feels Bad More than Winning Feels Good. An example of how our biases in interpreting gains and losses cause us to make bad decisions.
Math and Logic
- How Numbers Work in the Real World. In school, we were taught that math is linear; however, in the real world, distributions are more likely to be exponential.
- Why Today Can’t Be an Opposite Day. How the statement “Today is Opposite Day” is mathematically inconsistent.
- Game Theory for Parents. Game theory provides some interesting lessons on how to equitably share a piece of pie.