I haven’t had many managers throughout my career. But, the few that I’ve had have been great. And in becoming a manager myself I’ve invested in learning what a good manager is and does. 

Good managers help you. They get to know you, build a relationship with you, establish trust, listen, and once all that is done help you.

Good managers don’t just delegate work to you or help you accomplish daily tasks. They help you with anything and everything. The invest in your professional and personal development so that you can learn, progress, and challenge yourself. 

Good managers invest their time in you. They’re easy to approach and you can always get a hold of them. They’ll never make you feel rushed or like you’re wasting their time. 

Good managers know what your goals are. They help you clarify, manage, and even change your goals based on what you want to achieve. 

Good managers care about you. They will help you even if it means that their life will become difficult. They are your biggest cheerleaders and want the best for you. And if that means they’re helping you figure out what opportunity is next then so be it. 

I’ve been lucky to have good managers at Shapeways with both Brad and Aly. They’ve helped me both personally and professionally in very different ways. They are good managers.

Having a good manager, and a great relationship with your manager is one of the most important things you can do for your career. If you don’t have a good manager I highly recommend you find a way to get a good manager. It can make all the difference. 

From October to December I will be teaching Product Management at General Assembly alongside my friend and colleague Kate

I’m really excited about this. The last time I taught a class was several years ago as an adjunct professor. I taught a course on Social Game Design for UOIT (University of Ontario Institute of Technology). 

What I tried to focus on then was to reflect on my days in school. What type of courses, teachers, learning methods did I enjoy while learning? How could I recreate or improve on that experience?

For the Social Game Design course I created a curriculum that was as close to the professional games process as possible. The focus of most of the students was finding a job in the game industry so that felt natural. I also tried to make the course a game by giving out experience points for assignments rather than grades. 

I’m excited to get the opportunity to teach again. General Assembly has already provided amazing tools for the course and I can’t wait to get started. 

If you’re someone who has been curious about product management and has been thinking about how to get started join me for General Assembly’s Product Management Information Session tomorrow September 23, at 7PM. You can get more information here.  

Tomorrow is a chance for you to meet the instructors, potential classmates, but more importantly understand what you’d be learning. I hope to see some of you there. 

No. 

It has a negative perception. But I find that there are a lot of benefits to saying no. Liz Danzico wrote a great post this past week about the fringe benefits of saying no. You can read it here. My favorite excerpt is below. 

What you choose not to do, who you choose not to spend time with, and who and what you decide to say no to — what you do choose — is how you mark time.

Saying no is as powerful as saying yes. In fact saying no can help us say yes to the things we really want to say yes to. 

A few weeks ago I came across Clef on Product Hunt. The description read “Replace usernames and passwords with your smartphone”. I was intrigued and I signed up for it. After I signed up it wasn’t immediately obvious how I would use it and I was crunched for time so I put it out of my mind. 

Last night I received an email - most likely (but maybe not) automated - from Jesse Pollack checking in to see if I needed help using Clef since I hadn’t used it yet. 

If you use Chrome as your browser, the easiest place for you to use Clef is on Waltz. Once you install Waltz in your browser, you’ll be able to use Clef to log in to popular sites like Facebook and Gmail.

So I downloaded Waltz. Once I got to a site that required a username and password the the log in form was covered with a Waltz call to action to use Waltz and Clef together. I clicked it and was asked to launch Clef on my phone and then point it at my screen. 

Within a second of pointing my the Clef iPhone app onto my screen the digital signatures synched and I was logged in. It was incredibly easy. I was in awe. I spent the next 10 minutes thinking of what other websites I would want to use Clef with and repeating the same steps again. 

Upon registering for Clef you’re assigned a digital key that never leaves your phone. That is used every time to generate a new digital signature than you then sync with whatever service is asking for your credentials to identify yourself. That’s it. 

I’m sure it’s not perfect yet and it will be inconvenient at times but with web security being such an issue recently I find Clef to be a convenient and very secure solution to manage web security. 

If you’ve been thinking about how to improve your web security I recommend you download Clef and then install the Waltz plug in for Chrome. I’ve been loving it so far. 

Every now and again I do an activity that I haven’t done in a while. The day after I’m sore in places that I forgot or didn’t even know existed. But if I keep repeating that same activity then it becomes more familiar and comfortable.

The same goes for our mental muscles.

Making hard decisions is always hard, but if you keep forcing yourself to make hard decisions they become less stressful. You become more comfortable with them.  

Having difficult conversations is never easy or fun, but if you keep having them they get easier and you start to feel more comfortable having them. 

Even your own skills as a designer, developer, or product manager need training. If you haven’t programmed, made wireframes, or wrote product specifications lately the first couple ones are going to hurt. But after a few, you feel better. 

We all have untrained mental muscles. They’re the situations, interactions, or tasks that make you feel uncomfortable. The only way to make them stronger is to train them. So embrace the discomfort, nervousness, awkwardness, and difficulty. Soon you’ll be a lot more comfortable with it. 

The past several months Gillian and I have been really focusing on our personal finances. We’ve created several spreadsheets that have helped us focus on optimizing our short-term and long-term financial future. 

While I was working on one these spreadsheets I felt like I was at work, creating a financial model that determined the success of a product. We were treating our personal finances like it was a business and we were creating the tools necessary to measure success. And at the end of the day that is what personal finances is, a business. 

I’ve tried to use tools such as Mint that help you think about your personal finances but I’ve found them to be lacking. They help you see what you’re doing right now but they don’t help you change the way you think about your finances - or not in a way that I’ve found to be helpful. 

Automated tools also aren’t enough. You need experts such as financial advisors to help guide your decisions. But financial advisors can seem cost prohibitive and there isn’t a lightweight service that can provide answers at a trusted level. The closest I’ve found to this type of service online Stack Exchange Money

Most of us are allergic to thinking about our personal finances. It’s stressful, complicated, and often times gets too real. But it’s necessary and we can all benefit from it. Technology is starting to change the way we think about currency and payments, but it hasn’t really helped us change the way we think about our own personal finances. 

It’s been a busy summer and I think it’s finally caught up to me. I came home today and felt blank. All I wanted to do was disconnect. So that’s what I’m doing tonight. I’m not answering emails, or looking at any of my feeds, I’m just laying around - and it feels good. 

I recommend that you find some time to disconnect. It’s easy to forget what it feels like to do absolutely nothing. 

One of the ways I love to measure success of your role at a company isn’t by counting the number of projects launched, or evaluating the number of targets reached. It’s by counting the number of people who want to work with you again. 

Whether or not you were the most proficient developer in software architecture, or improved conversion funnels of a product by 90% doesn’t matter if you’re impossible to work with. And those attributes end up being contributing factors to whether or not you would want to work with someone again. 

I keep a short list of people I would want to work with again. They’re my go to. If I’m ever looking for someone for a specific role that’s where I look first. But it’s hard to leverage my network to find more people that my network also wants to work with again.  

Most professional networks try to establish trust and validation in individual through skills and expertise, but this doesn’t get down to the simple question of whether or not you would work with someone again. 

I would love to see professional networks take a more focused and simple approach in trying to do this. 

I woke early like I always do today. Biked to a Crossfit class, worked out, and then rode back home. Usually I rush to get ready and hurry off to work. But today I took my time. 

Gillian had made coffee and I drank it while I made lunch for the week. I played some music while I was cooking, talked to Gillian, and basically had a great time. Mainly because I love cooking. The process took me a little over 30 minutes. 

After I was done and got ready for work I looked at the time and saw that it was only 20 minutes later than if I were to rush, but I was in a way better mood. Not rushing, enjoying my time in the morning set me up to be happy and enjoy the morning rather than starting the day wrong. 

From my days in Spain I remember watching people on their way to work taking a long walk, sipping a cortado at the cafe, and talking with my friends. They were never in a rush and I couldn’t help but think that they were lazy. 

But the truth is rushing usually doesn’t help, in fact it usually makes things worse. You start to get worried, anxious, skip steps, and before you know it you’re no where near what you initially wanted to achieve.

Looking back on the people on the way to work in Spain - I get it now. They were making sure they enjoyed the very first moments of their day, and that isn’t lazy. It’s smart. 

I’ve declared that this Winter will be the “Winter of Ramen”. Which basically means that I’ll be cooking ramen a lot this upcoming winter (and part of Fall) in an effort to get good at it. In preparation for it I picked up Ivan Ramen’s Cookbook

I’m not going to ask you to pick up Ivan’s cookbook for this week’s Weekend Read. Although you should. It’s not just recipes. It’s Ivan’s story and it’s great. 

Today’s weekend read is very short. It’s an excerpt of the foreword in Ivan Ramen’s Cookbook written by David Chang. Here it is: 

You’re feeding people, you’re going to bring people a lot of joy. It’s a heavy-duty thing when you get past all of the bullshit. But do not underestimate the bullshit. 

As soon as I read this it struck a chord. It doesn’t just apply to cooking, or opening a restaurant. It applies to anything you try to do.