Lumber Prices, Second Jobs, Floppy Disks and Pax Romana
Monthly Wrap from September
Another month, another host of great articles, listens, books and other finds from Product Thinking and around the internet. Here’s what you may have missed.
Product Thinking is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I’ve been thinking a lot about ideation and prototyping. So I wrote about those processes this past month:
Exploring ideas is a key part of the design and product development process. To create the best experiences, we need to identify the right problems and then generate many ideas to address and solve those problems. These ideas should be wide-ranging, pushing the boundaries of our assumptions and what we think can work. Once we do that, we can begin to narrow our ideas, prioritizing the best ones and developing them further. And eventually we can communicate our ideas in the form of writing, drawing, or prototypes.
Bringing ideas from abstract concepts to reality is a critical part of product and design thinking. The better we understand how to do it, the better we can create the best experiences for our users.
It’s so easy to make things more complicated or more complex than they need to be. It often takes more effort to keep things simple. The tools we use can contribute to this, as I’ve been experiencing and wrote about this month.
Steve Jobs knew that keeping things simple was the key to a good user experience. We can add two keyboards to an iPad, but users don’t need two keyboards to type on.
It is easy to complicate our work. Many of the tools we use these days make it incredibly easy to add more and more with less and less effort.
This month I reviewed the book Loved. Unfortunately I didn’t love it. It had a ton of potential, but fell short for me.
Overall, I was disappointed by Loved. I had hoped for a solid book on product marketing with insights or tidbits I could use as a product manager or product leader. I didn’t feel like I got that. It felt more like a heavily corporatized book, focused on the boardroom or consultant. It isn’t an on-the-ground, useful book you can take lessons from and begin applying to your work, in my opinion.
I remember going to get lumber in 2020 and questioning my sanity and memory with how expensive 2X4s were. Then realizing that I wasn’t the only one working on a home project and that demand was spiking as supply was taking a hit. And prices stayed high for a while. It looks like they’ve not come back down. So no more excuses I guess…
We’ve talked about burnout a couple times on Product by Design, and it’s a great topic. So this article caught me a little by surprise. I wouldn’t expect adding a second job as a way to manage burnout. And it’s not so much the second job, but the way that we approach work, which makes sense.
With multiple jobs, the posters say they never quite get attached to any. It’s a rejection of work as identity and an embrace of jobs as a means to an end. And most have an exit strategy, the financial goal or number that will see them pack it all in. Overemployment provides a sense of newfound confidence and positivity amid uncertain times, a feeling of taking back power.
I hope we never have to say goodbye to floppy disks. I grew up needing them in school. Hell, we actually had real floppy disks with games on them for our Commodore 64. The full size floppies that were actually floppy. But all good things come to an end. Until they come back again.
Satyam has led various in-house design organizations at companies such as Citrix and PayPal. He is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School. He is now the founder of UXReactor, a specialized UX design firm and author of a new book, which we discuss. Anyone looking to become more user-centered as a team or company will benefit immensely from this excellent product management and UX discussion!
I thought this was an interesting conversation and it got me thinking about the journey vs. the destination. It has many implications for life and for product.
John Stuart Mill's midlife crisis came at 20 when he realized that if he got what he desired he still wouldn't be happy. Art and poetry (and maybe love) saved the day for him. In this week's episode, philosopher Kieran Setiya of MIT talks about his book Midlife with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Setiya argues we can learn from Mill to help deal with the ennui to which so many midlifers succumb--along with regrets for roads not taken and wistfulness for what could have been. Setiya argues that a well-lived life needs fewer projects and more pursuits that don't have goals or endpoints. He explains why past mistakes can turn out to be good things and how lost chances can help us appreciate the richness of life.
Mark founded two successful companies and shares his experience with his latest venture, Backendless. We discuss his move to the United States, Ukraine, creating good applications, scaling, and how to become better at programming principles. Whether you are new to no-code/low-code solutions or are a seasoned product manager or engineer, this is a great discussion!
I thought this book was a great read. I learned a ton of fun tidbits and gained a new appreciation for the complexity of our body and the role of our gut in our overall health. It’s incredible how influential it is on our body and mind, and I suspect we don’t even understand it all.
We’re heading to Rome and Italy (which means I’ll likely be taking a little time off of this newsletter to enjoy that, but more to come). So I am trying to learn as much as I can about the history of ancient Rome and Italy in general. I am finishing these courses on ancient Rome and will move on to Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire soon. But if you enjoy a good overview, this is a great place to start.
This is a few weeks old, but something this good never gets old. It’s found the secret formula to Linkedin influencing, and all you need to do is plug in a few phrases.