Recent Posts

  • 2022 Review
    A HOLIDAY GIFT FOR YOU I wanted to give you all a meaningful holiday gift. This is difficult during normal times, and even more difficult during the pandemic. I’ve always admired people who can give holiday gifts that are truly unique. I’m inspired by some of the great holiday gifts […]
  • How to Succeed in Business
    When we think about being successful at work, we all know that it takes a lot of hard work. But even with that work, success is elusive. That’s because we don’t have a good sense of what it means to be truly great at a job, even for seemingly obvious […]
  • How New York City is Acting Like a Tech Company
    NYC’s new OMNY MetroCard shows how the city is creating products that better meet customer needs, just like tech giants like Amazon do. While it’s easy to get sucked into discussions on “important” topics like COVID or politics, sometimes it’s fun to focus on the little things in life. These […]
  • When Experiences Are Better than Buying Things
    The first time I experienced “Insane Mode” in a Tesla was in Knoxville Tennessee. We were outside cousin Greg’s house next to a beautiful lake. Blake was in the back seat while we rolled to an empty straight-away in front of his house. Then Greg said, “Do you want to […]
  • Happy 2022!
    I wanted to give you all a meaningful holiday gift. This is difficult during normal times, and even more difficult during the pandemic. I’ve always admired people who can give holiday gifts that are truly unique. Designers do it best. Last year, I wrote about Thomas Heatherwick’s Christmas gifts. From […]
  • Everything as a Service
    These days, all of these products are being sold as services. With Amazon Web Services we’re buying IT infrastructure and computing as a service. With Apple Music, we’re no longer buying music but streaming it over the internet for a monthly fee. We don’t even store our own pictures anymore, […]
  • Why We Love Camp Ramah
    You walk into the field and see a group of children huddled around a fire pit. They’re having fun, performing strange rituals, singing odd songs, and building a community. What do you call this? Summer camp. If the songs are in Hebrew and the rituals are thousands of years old, […]
  • Kids Do the Most Incredible Things
    Summary: Kids do incredible things. Instead of trying to teach them as little adults, give them some tools and flexibility and see what they create. They may not do what you expect, but it’s fascinating (and funny) to see how they think.
  • When My Career Caught the Mail Truck
    Intro: One of my friends told me that at 33, married with a baby, she’s doing some soul searching. She thought at some point that she’d be set and have figured out her career, but she’s realized that things never settle and it’s all journey. This makes her a little […]
  • The Future of the Hybrid Office
    It’s time to go back to the office. Some of us are already there and others, like me, will be back sometime in 2021. A lot has changed since 2019. Now we all know what a fully remote workforce looks like and most of us know how to host a […]
  • Watching Clubhouse Get Built in Real-Time
    There’s something special about being an early adopter. There are obviously painful things like capacity limits and features that don’t work quite right. But the wonderful thing, if it’s done right, is that the community and the founders work together to build something magical. That’s the feeling on Clubhouse now. […]
  • Zaid’s Unopened Hannukah Present
    It was December 19, 2012. I’m horrible with dates but I remember this one. My grandparents, Bubbie and Zaid,(1)In Yiddish Bubbie means grandmother and Zaid means grandfather. had come over. They came over about once a week. We had these good Jewish grandparent/grandkid fights around how much food they should […]
  • Dolly and Me: Dolly Parton’s America Podcast
    Abigail and I rarely listen to the same podcasts or read the same books. We watch TV together or movies together but that’s more about sharing the experience—especially in the pandemic. But I like play snooty public radio podcasts and Abigail really likes reading about history and politics.(1)This is my […]
  • Book Report: Deep Thinking by Gary Kasparov
    Do you remember the legend of John Henry? John Henry was a steel driller in West Virginia or somewhere thereabouts in the late 1800s. He was the best there ever was. Then one day the railroad bought a big steam drill that they said could drill faster than any man. […]
  • Book Report: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
    Growing up, I remember hearing the term “Writing the Great American Novel” and not quite knowing what it was. I thought that it was a quest to write the best book ever written. But I later learned that The Great American Novel isn’t about writing the best book ever, it’s […]
  • Rebuilding a Foundation of Trust
    We had a sad day for America this week. Rioters stormed the capital to disrupt the election. Everyone has a right to protest but it’s the way you protest that matters. At its heart, a good protest is about getting your voice heard while letting other people give their voice […]
  • Book Report: Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life
    This is a book about trying to find your place in the world. Lulu Miller was always looking for a tried and true path through life, and She had a hard time as a kid. Her father was a scientist who had very strong beliefs about his atheism and the […]
  • Book Report: The Speculative Future of Ready Player Two
    Imagine a world where nothing is real. A world where you plug yourself into a simulated environment and you can have everything you’ve ever wanted. Once you plug in, you’ll be able to eat the most fantastic foods, travel everywhere, and do everything you’ve ever wanted. This is the world […]
  • Making the Most of This Ugly Year
    All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. — The opening line to Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I still have a holiday gift I got in December of 2009 from the design firm Ziba. They created six brochures on trends for 2010: me, […]
  • Why I Write
    Someone recently asked me, “Why do you write this blog?” As I didn’t have an answer ready at hand, I figured I’d write it out on this blog. I’ve always viewed blogging as my own personal publishing platform, putting out my best material to the world. This might come from […]
  • Falling Back and Springing Forward
    When we switch to and from Daylight Savings Time, I start to question reality. I realize that things that we take for granted, like what it means to be “5 o’clock” can be changed by fiat. It reminds me that things that I see as solid and unchangeable are just […]
  • How to Give a Great Birthday Present During Coronavirus
    My wonderful mother-in-law was having a milestone birthday last month. In normal times we could have flown down to visit her, had a big party, and celebrated in style. But obviously, we can’t do that. So we needed to figure out a different way to celebrate her big birthday.
  • Disney and the New Digital Theme Parks
    These days I’m sitting at home thinking about jetting off to Florida and entering the fantasy land of Disney World. We could walk around meeting the characters in Toy Story, travel to the past, or visit countries from around the world. Of course, these experiences are not the real thing […]
  • Nine Amazonian Secrets You Can Use (from an Amazon Insider)
    When I was the Head of Banking at Amazon Web Services, I was able to peek behind the curtain and learn how Amazon really works. While there are some things Amazon keeps close to the chest, I was surprised that many of the most wonderful things about Amazon are available […]
  • The Best Vacation Ever. Thank God We Survived.
    Here’s a recap of our ski trip to Breckenridge from 2018. There were some hiccups on the trip, like the way the Griswalds had some hiccups in the movie Vacation,(1)BTW, National Lampoon’s vacation was based on director John Hughes’s magazine article Vacation 58: If Dad hadn’t shot Walt Disney in […]
  • The Key to Happiness: Focus on One Thing
    I’ve always thought that free time was the best thing in the world. What could be better than staying at an all-inclusive resort and sipping margaritas with nothing to do? But free time can be painful if it’s in the wrong context. Don’t believe me? Think about your last trip […]
  • Amelia Earharts’ 77-Year-Long Journey Around the World
    Here’s one of my favorite speeches. It’s the story of how a woman named Amelia Earhart flew around the world. You may think you’ve heard it before but it’s unlikely. I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been focusing more on refining my speechmaking with Toastmasters. You can see many […]
  • Welcome to My Site!
    About Me 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 […]
  • The Joy of the Hunt
    I have officially become a Grumpy Old Man.(1)Try to read this piece in Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man voice. It’s too easy for people to find things online. Back in my day, things were different. People should work hard to discover things. Kids today can just Google things online and […]
  • Indoor Treasure Hunt Challenge 1: Black Pepper
    When things get boring, I try to add some dramatic flair to everyday activities to spice them up. When I worked at Citibank, I’d picture myself as an adventurer. I’d imagine I was a quest to solve a large complicated problem, getting clues from various people on the way. Sometimes […]
  • What We Really Need
    Human beings want more of everything. We are on a hedonic treadmill that says, “What I have now is OK, but I really want more—more stuff, more money, and more friends. That would make me happy.” From a societal perspective, the hedonic treadmill has some benefits. It keeps us on […]
  • Taking the Red Pill of Art
    I don’t know exactly when I took the red pill.(1)Red pill and blue pill: I’m referring to the red pill in the movie The Matrix. Neo takes the red pill to see the world for what it really is. He had a choice to take the red pill or the […]
  • Nontransitive Dice
    I’d always thought of dice as being fair. Like flipping a coin, I’d assumed that a throw of the dice was random. Then I learned about nontransitive dice and it blew my mind. Nontransistive dice are a set of dice that don’t behave in the normal way. Even though each […]
  • When Will the Restaurants Re-Open?
    Right now, all the restaurants in New York are closed. Soon, hopefully, they will re-open. What will that be like? Will people go? When I think about this question, it’s just one of a host of “When will we get back to normal?” questions. But I’m not sure that’s the […]
  • Emotional Intelligence for Kids (and Their Parents)
    This pandemic is difficult for kids. They don’t have the same emotional skills and perspective that we do. But there’s one thing that my kids are learning that wasn’t in my curriculum growing up: Emotional Intelligence. Some people think of Emotional Intelligence as a soft skill and don’t see why […]
  • Tell Me About a Time You Made a Mistake
    This is one of the scariest interview questions. In an interview, you always want to show yourself in the best light. You want to show how perfect you are. But here’s a secret. Interviewers know that you’re not perfect, and that’s OK. It’s more important that you learn from your […]
  • A Biography of Numbers
    In the past few years, I’ve seen books written about lots of different things like elements, molecules, and colors. I’m surprised that no one has written a biography of numbers. Math nerds like me would love this book. I’m thinking it would look like Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every […]
  • Global Pandemic and Global Friendship
    I keep hearing that we’re in a world of social distancing, but social distancing isn’t the right word. We need social connections more than ever to help keep us sane, but we need to physically distance ourselves from one another. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the novel […]
  • My Ideal Retirement Plan
    I know that money wouldn’t make me happy, but I still had dreams of being an early retiree. I dreamt of being that person who quit their job, moved to Hawaii, and sipped margaritas while I cashed my dividend checks. But as I got older, I realized that it’s not […]
  • Whose Life Do You Save?
    These days, people are having to make really hard decisions. With the  COVID-19 virus overwhelming Italy, doctors are having to make decisions about who lives and who dies. It raises the great moral question, “Given limited resources, who do you save?”
  • Coronavirus Prevention – Everything Great is Bad for You
    Summary: All the things that make a great social event like large groups, diverse groups of people, and close connections also create a great environment to spread coronavirus. After the pandemic is over, it’s worth using the coronavirus prevention guidelines, and going against them, to find great events. What makes […]
  • That Time I was Catfished by a Robot Secretary
    Catfish: To trick someone into a relationship online using a fictional persona and/or photographs. I was trying to set up a meeting with one of my friends. He has his own venture-capital firm so he runs a lean shop. Also, as a venture capitalist, he likes to leverage new forms […]
  • Guest Post: Blake Schlaff on Fortnite Friendships
    Guest Post: 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.  Fortnite is not just a game about fighting. Yes, there is a lot […]
  • Cloud Banking 101: Technology Exists to Support the Business
    Summary: In the beginning, computers were expensive and complicated machines and needed a cadre of high priests to cater to their every beck and call. However, as computers have become cheaper and more ubiquitous in business, technology processes need to become business processes. While many businesses know they have to […]
  • Thomas Heatherwick, Designer and Master Builder
    Great design combines a strong artistic vision with the fulfillment of a real-world need. Thomas Heatherwick, the builder behind the Vessel, exemplifies great design. The first time I saw the Vessel, I was biking along the West Side Highway and saw this wonderful staircase being built. Two things went through […]
  • When a Book Gets Caught Up in the Story. The Art of the Book in the Digital Age
    When I was in college, David Foster Wallace (DFW as he was affectionately referred to) was a literary powerhouse. He was the author that all of the literature fanatics loved to read (or at least said that they loved to read). He wrote books like the thousand-page tour-de-force Infinite Jest […]
  • Capture Better Memories Without a Camera
    I’m always looking to better capture the special moments of my kids growing up. While having an iPhone in my pocket at all times lets me document these experiences, I feel like I’m not capturing the essence of those moments. I started thinking that technology was part of the problem, […]
  • When Millions of Eyes at Amazon Were Wrong
    Disclaimer: I worked at Amazon Web Services as the Head of Banking Business Development. This writing does not represent the views of Amazon and opinions written here are strictly my own. Also, I’ll admit that this post wouldn’t be very interesting if it wasn’t about Amazon; however, it does highlight […]
  • What a Wonderful Word
    Note: You can watch the speech I gave based on this material here. I remember the first time it happened to me. It was the first year of business school and we were working on an economics problem set. My friend Yugin had just arrived from Korea and she was […]
  • How Much is That Really Worth? The Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Valuation
    Dearest Mother-in-Law, Last year, when you and I went to the One World Observatory, we saw that famous tourist location—the penny crushing machine. We watched a tourist put her penny in the machine and then added in a dollar. The machine then crushed the penny into a medallion that she […]
  • Thank You for Being a Friend
    If you threw a party and invited everyone you knew, you would see the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say, “Thank you for being a friend.” — Theme Song from The Golden Girls In Judaism, the word minyan refers to a group of 10 […]
  • Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Open Banking
    Dearest Mother-in-Law, First of all, Open Banking is not about keeping banks open later in the day or having more banks open on Sundays. Open Banking is about 2 things: Open Banking Regulation: Many countries are regulating how banking data can be used. Open Banking refers to customer ownership of […]
  • My Old Welcome Page!
    Who is Robert Schlaff? 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 […]
  • Creating Great Social Experiences
    Creating products is about building great experiences for customers. In the past, companies would create products to tell a story to customers. But my old boss, Raja Rajamannar, CMO of Mastercard, says, Storytelling is Dead. Jeff Bezos says that at Amazon, “We see our customers as invited guests to a […]
  • Carpe Diem! How to Live Like an Emperor
    I also presented this as the speech as How to Live Like an Emperor in the Age of Coronavirus At the end of last year, Bubbie, my last living grandparent, was fading away. She couldn’t see, could barely walk, and her kidneys were failing. It was becoming clear that we […]
  • When it Makes Sense to Prioritize Going for Ice Cream
    Focusing on the right thing is key to being successful in work and life.  If you focus on one thing, you can accomplish anything. But, as a mentor once told me, “If you have 12 apples, don’t take one bite of each.” But figuring out what to prioritize can be […]
  • No Pain, No Gain at Amazon
    Disclaimer: I work at Amazon but this writing does not represent Amazon in any way. Opinions written here are strictly my own. Starting at Amazon was hard. It’s not that anyone hazed me—the people were really nice. And it’s not like I was working crazy hours—I’ve worked much longer hours […]
  • You Think You’re Better Than Me?! An Open Letter to the Grammar Police
    I was at my shul last week and got into an interesting argument with my friend Bill Schwartz. I said, “Bill, the reason you feel this way is that you’re older than me.” “Than I,” he corrected me. “No. I really think it’s ‘than me.’ It’s clearly the object of […]
  • My Blog as a Jewish Folk Tale
    As I think about the sensibility that I have in this blog and the stories I tell, there’s a certain Jewishness to it. After reading the book A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, I can see it clearly. There’s an ironic wit of the underdog in Jewish storytelling that’s been passed […]
  • Lessons from My Grandparents
    Note: This is an older version. You can see the newest version here. I’m a very lucky boy. I had all four of my grandparents until I was 25. And I had one until this year when I was 41.  Now that they’ve all passed away and I’ve become a […]
  • Fiction is the Lie That Tells the Truth
    When my Bubbie died in January, I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. People kept telling me that, “She lived a good long life” and “Her memory will live forever” but this wasn’t helpful. I know that she lived a great life and I know that I was very […]
  • My Eulogy for My Bubbie
    Below is my eulogy for my Bubbie, Connie Schlaff, who died on January 9th, 2019 (1/9/19): There’s a video of the great physicist Richard Feynman. In the video, his friend Danny Hillis said, “I’m sad because I realize you’re about to die.” And Feynman said, “Yeah, that bugs me sometimes too. […]
  • On Amazon – A Peculiar Company
    Disclaimer: I worked as the Head of Banking for Amazon Web Services. This writing does not represent Amazon in any way. Opinions written here are strictly my own. Amazon has a very strong culture. At other places I’ve worked, culture is an aspiration at the senior level but took a […]
  • In Praise of Humility — The Forgotten Story of Edward S. Harkness
    The Residential Colleges were created 85 years ago. Though they have the names of many famous Yalies, the donor of these colleges is nowhere to be seen. Why? What is a Yalie? When I think of the archetypical Yalie, I think of two things. First, a Yalie is someone who […]
  • Design Challenge: Makeup Kits for Female Astronauts
    It’s always hard to design products that you are never going to use yourself.  One of the most interesting design challenges in history was the equipment for the first astronauts. And once the women went up in space,  the problem for the (mostly) male engineers only got worse. Take the […]
  • The Future of Payments
    Disclaimer: I work at Amazon but this writing does not represent Amazon in any way. Opinions written here are strictly my own. When I was working at Citi Cards, I was under the impression that people were spending a lot of time figuring out what credit cards they should have. […]
  • Growing Up Alexa
    A few months ago, I wrote about how Alexa and Google Home are used in our house. In my experience, these devices are a better way for kids to use the internet than a mobile phone. A phone becomes an extension of a person, isolating her from the group. Interacting with Alexa […]
  • How to be Happy — Yale’s Most Popular Class
    This year Professor Laurie Santos created Yale’s most popular class of all time. The class is titled Psychology and the Good Life but it’s really a course on how to be happy both in the short and long term. I was excited to hear that Yale was offering the course but […]
  • As You Wish — Watching the Princess Bride With Kids
    I keep trying to find great movies to watch with my 8 and 5-year-old sons that are fun for all of us. The Princess Bride is one of the best. It’s a great movie for adults and it even has Peter Falk as the narrator grandfather to keep the kids […]
  • These are a Few of My Favorite Words
    To start with I found an amazing etymological podcast called The Allusionist by Helen Zaltzman. She has some great episodes on cursing [NSFW], Mountweazels (fictional words used in dictionaries for copyright purposes), portmanteaus (combination words like “brunch”) and eponyms (words named after people). She also had a great TED talk on how the letter […]
  • Why Do People Think That Wearing a Hoodie to Work is a Status Symbol?
    I spotted a technology executive walking down the street. He used to wear expensive tailored suits. Now he’s coming to work in high-end jeans and a polo shirt. Then it hit me. Jeans and a turtleneck or jeans and a polo shirt (or really jeans and anything) is the new […]
  • How Strawberry Ice Cream Got the Short End of the Stick
    In the class The Science of Well-Being, Professor Santos focuses on how we often look at our happiness not in an absolute way but by comparing ourselves to those around us. These thoughts about absolute vs. relative comparisons got me thinking about strawberry ice cream. Whenever I eat strawberry ice cream, I think […]
  • Reframing Bad News to Inspire the Team
    A leader’s job is to inspire their team. This is easy when things are going well. A good leader can keep morale up even when there’s bad news. But a great leader can find a way to use the bad news itself as inspiration. I remember two years ago working at […]
  • The Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Software Testing
    This is part of my Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Technology. My Mother-in-Law is a very smart woman even if she isn’t a “computer person.” The goal of this series is to take some big and treacherous sounding ideas and bring them down to earth. Dearest Mother-in-Law, Remember when you had kids […]
  • How I (Re-)Built My Favorite T-Shirt
    Read in the voice of the Mission Impossible announcer: This t-shirt was originally created as a protest against US Export laws. Until 2000, US export law considered the computer code on the shirt as a “munition” that should not be exported from the United States or shown to a foreign […]
  • Alexa Blueprints: Personal Alexa Skills in Minutes
    I like building Alexa Skills. Skills are Amazon’s name of the apps that run inside Amazon’s Echo and other Alexa products. Building skills is a good way for me to understand how Alexa works and it’s a pretty neat party trick to get Alexa to pretend that she knows me. Building skills […]
  • The Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Cloud Computing
    This is part of my “Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Technology.” My Mother-in-Law is a very smart woman even if she isn’t a “computer person.” The goal of this post is to take a very big and treacherous sounding idea and bring it down to earth. I tried this before in a […]
  • The Value of Big Data and Why It’s Difficult to Monetize
    I recently attended a session on Autonomous Cars at the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. It was an insightful session where the lawyers gave great presentations on legal issues they advise on, like M&A, regulatory and product liability. However, one non-legal item they talked about was the ability for car manufacturers to “monetize […]
  • Why I Love My Fitbit Alta HR
    The Fitbit Alta HR is one of the few technology products that gives me almost everything I need and very little that I don’t. It’s a tour de force of good design. When I look at what I need on my wrist, it’s not really a smartwatch or even a […]
  • Big Data vs. Small Actionable Analytics
    “Big Data” is a technology buzzword. The idea is that we have so much data about people and the way they interact with a company, we should be able to generate new and interesting insights from this data that will solve business problems. But there’s a catch. Big Data is […]
  • The Secret to Google’s Self Driving Cars — Google Street View
    For decades the US military was trying to create self-driving cars with little success. Once the private sector got into the game, these cars improved at a breakneck speed. In 2004, when the first DARPA Grand Challenge took place, no car in the world was able to complete the 150 […]
  • Smart Audio is Here to Stay: Some Takeaways from NPR’s Smart Audio Report
    NPR and Edison Research have been putting together The Smart Audio Report. The study, presented at CES in January, gives a good look into how quickly smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home are entering the home: It’s growing fast: 16% of Americans have a smart speaker − 128% growth since January 2017 Usage is growing over […]
  • What Does a Hotel Brand Stand for? How Airbnb Changed the Game
    I was recently on an airplane with a hotel entrepreneur. His family had immigrated to the US about 20 years ago and they decided to enter the hotel industry. Being new entrants to hospitality, they started with lower quality airport motels (e.g., Econolodge) and gradually moved up to more premium […]
  • Reader Question: Don’t Chaos Monkeys Slow Things Down?
    Today’s reader question comes from Marc about my article on Chaos Monkeys and the Simian Army. I can’t speak for your mother-in-law, but I find this fascinating. Do the testing of problems actually slow down the system, much like as if I were changing a flat tire every week? — […]
  • The Mother-in-Law’s Guide to Chaos Engineering
    In this post, I’m trying to take something technical and make it (mostly) readable for my mother-in-law. Enjoy! One big trend, especially for internet companies like Facebook, Google and Netflix, is not to have one massive computer anymore. This is an oversimplification but computers used to be one big expensive box. The […]
  • Iatrogenics OR When Doing Nothing Might Be the Best Alternative
    i·at·ro·gen·ic /īˌatrəˈjenik/ Relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment. — Google Definitions I learned about the word iatrogenic when reading the book Writing to Learn by William Zinsser. The book, written in 1984, used the following passage as an example of medical writing. It talks about the link […]
  • Prospect Theory in Real Life OR How Losing Feels Bad More than Winning Feels Good
    I’m going to do a magic trick with a number. I’m going to take a number 1700 and by doing nothing more than raising and lowering it, I’m to show how the interpretation of the number can dramatically change.  Let’s see how that can happen and then I’ll explain how that […]
  • “Saving Money” by Paying More for Netflix
    In an earlier piece, I talked about how NetFlix’s move to a subscription model. Why was this subscription model so important?  It made me think of some research that I did on how people think about money about 10 years ago. One of the big findings was that people have good and […]
  • The Liars Paradox OR Today Is Not Opposite Day
    Today my son Blake started telling me that “Today is Opposite Day!” and then said things like “I love doing my homework. Just kidding. It’s opposite day!” I told him that he couldn’t possibly be telling me that today is opposite day. If it were opposite day and he was telling […]
  • Game Theory for Parents
    When I was in business school I had a wonderful teacher Adam Brandenberger who wrote a book called Co-Opetition. The book is chock full of lessons on how to apply mathematical game theory to business. In the book, I learned how to fairly divide things between two companies. But it […]
  • It Works in Practice but Does it Work in Theory OR The Fairy Tale of John Sarno and The Miracle Cure
    Once upon a time, there lived two brothers, John and Steve. John was a television reporter for ABC’s 20/20. Steve was on the faculty of Harvard Medical school. They both had horrible back pain. They’d searched far and wide for a magical solution to cure their back pain.  They tried […]
  • Stories of Great Product Managers
    Marty Cagan is one of the great Product Management Gurus. His book Inspired is the bible of product managers. Product Management is a field with lots of advice and best practices but light on practical examples. In this talk, Behind Every Great Product (summary here), Marty shows what how great product managers […]
  • Spaceman by Mike Massimino
    “Every generation of astronauts need a storyteller — a person with wit, humor and passion, who has lived our collective dreams of space exploration and returned to tell us all about it. Mike Massimino is that person. He’s that astronaut. And this is his story.” — Neil DeGrasse Tyson Why […]
  • A Very Brief History of Mixed Reality and Disney
    When we think about Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality, we’re tempted to think this is a very new thing. Take The Void for instance. You can walk through a space that’s literally “painted” with virtual reality textures. I experienced The Void at Madame Tussauds in Times Square last year and it was […]
  • The Speed of Technology OR Forget Being Thankful for Your iPhone, Be Thankful For the Elimination of Cholera
    I just came back from a technology conference. I felt like it was mandatory for each speaker to talk about the speed of technology. The problem is that most people tell this story in a highly boring way.  Some use high level markers like the industrial revolution, the discovery of […]
  • When AI Get’s Personal OR You’re Not Supposed to Talk About That!
    A few months ago Microsoft released Seeing AI. This is a tool created by a blind product manager to help blind people. It’s trying to using computer vision to replace lost sight. The most interesting piece is the person functionality. This is a fairly transparent implementation of Microsoft’s Face API. The Face […]
  • Questions from a Reader
    Hi Everyone! In this email, I’m answering some questions from a reader. Rob, I really like what you put on this site. I’ve tried to blog myself but could use your advice on the following topics: Why write about something when you know that there’s bound to be someone on […]
  • How to Avoid Losing Things at the Airport
    I was travelling today, having a quick breakfast in Charlotte, NC, before heading into to work. When I left the hotel room, I had a roller bag with me. I finished breakfast and started heading to work. A minute later my phone rang. “You forgot your bag at breakfast,” said […]
  • Technology Through the Generations OR What Do You Mean by “Film?”
    Alan Kay said, “Technology is anything invented after you were born.” While that makes sense intuitively, it’s hard to see in real life. To make this more tangible let me take you back 8 years. It was early 2010 and we were in Key West for Jeff and Debbie Katersky‘s wedding. […]
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s Favorite Writers and Storytellers
    Malcolm Gladwell is one of the best writers of our generation. That’s not to say he’s always right. As he likes to say, “I hope you find my work entertaining even when it’s wrong.” Gladwell has done some amazing stuff as a magazine writer, book writer, speaker, and even podcast […]