Last week I left Shapeways. Like I mentioned in a previous post I learned a lot while I was there and I can’t thank Shapeways enough for the opportunity. 

Before joining Shapeways I had a good idea of what I needed to work on. What I needed to learn to just be better. Over the past couple of days I’ve thought about what I’ve learned and what I’ve worked on throughout the past years. 

Managing 

Before joining Shapeways I saw myself as a part-time micromanager. Mainly leaving everyone to do what they needed to do on their own, but also sometimes inserting myself too much into their own process. So much so that I would do the work myself or guide it very closely. 

I wanted to stop this. I knew it wasn’t good for me or anyone around me. When I started managing people at Shapeways this was my first goal. I wanted to mentor and advise, not delegate. There is more than one way to get something done and I wanted to let everyone who I managed explore those ways on their own.

I wanted to make sure I was listening and not telling. “Maybe” became my favorite response ever (thanks Matthew). I worked hard to create a sense of distance and independence while being observant. This was something I worked at every day and based on the feedback I received from my direct reports, it paid off. 

Industry 

I didn’t know a damn thing about small, medium, or large manufacturing before coming to Shapeways. I still think I don’t know much about it, but I know more than I used to. 

But it wasn’t just manufacturing that I learned about. I got to explore both logistic and commerce problems and solutions. While I dabbled in this space beforehand this gave me a lot more room to do so. 

I wouldn’t say I’m ready - nor do I want to - start building a vertically integrated commerce product, but I do understand what’s involved in making physical objects, and that’s something I had little knowledge of beforehand. 

Product Strategy

I’ve always loved thinking about product strategy. Over the past several years I got the opportunity to do this at large unlike ever before. 

Thinking about what product changes would do for us in a month, a year, and three years was - and continues to be - one of my favorite things to do. I got a lot of chances to do this over the past several years which means I was able to practice with a lot of smart people.

Each time we thought about this I was able to see where I was wrong, where I was right, and course corrected myself for next time. If anything I’ve learned to be comfortable having strong convictions but also changing my mind at any time. 

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I hope to revisit this post every so often. After a few months or years, just to check in and see what I’ve learned or I’m working on now. With every new opportunity or environment comes new challenges. I’m excited to see what they help me achieve. 

I read this piece in the New York Times a few days ago. It mainly talks about Shyp and how it works, but it also touches on recent tech services that sell time and convenience. You can read it here

Shyp for example will send someone to your location, where they will pick up what you want to ship and ship it for you. Instacart will deliver groceries to you within the hour. Postmates will get you what you want without having to leave your home. 

It might seem that these services are allowing us to pay for our time and convenience. Here’s an excerpt that highlights that sentiment. 

Economists think about outsourcing chores in terms of opportunity costs. If you can work during the hour you would have spent mailing a package, it would probably be a better use of your time — as, perhaps, would taking a nap, going for a run or spending time with your child.

I’m conflicted though. I have trouble believing that by using these services we’re all somehow using and managing our time better. Maybe we’re all just watching Netflix and playing on our mobiles at the same time and don’t want to be bothered. 

I understand the convenience and opportunity cost of mundane chores. I even buy into it myself at times. But there’s something to be said about doing these things yourself. 

I didn’t get a chance to post last night so you can expect a double header today. 

Yesterday I walked around the Dumbo Arts Festival with Raphael. There were a lot of open studios and some interesting work to look at. If you find yourself in the neighborhood today you should check it out. 

The studios were everywhere. One was right next door to my apartment, the others were scattered around Dumbo’s big buildings. 

As we were wandering these large commercial buildings we couldn’t help notice how many businesses were in these buildings. Each floor must have had more than 20 suites and each one housed a business or an individual. And each building had at most nine floors. 

Even though I live here I don’t know much about what goes on in Dumbo. And now I can’t help but wonder what else is housed here. It’s odd that I’m more connected through technology with services, business, and people far way from me but I don’t even know what’s going on in my own neighborhood. 

A few days ago I wrote a post on professional networks and short lists. I wanted to get a few more opinions on short lists so I asked on Twitter if anyone kept short lists. One of the replies was from my friend Keith Fuller

Not only did he talk about his short list, he talked about the three people on the short list. His 140 character descriptions made me even more curious and I mentioned to him that at some point he should write a bit more about them. A few minutes later he pointed me to a post he wrote, “People I’d Love To Work With”. You can read it here

Keith had a story about every person he’d like to work with and the story showed exactly why he’d want to work with them. 

We spend at the very least 40 hours with our co-workers. Maybe every day isn’t great, but there can be some pretty amazing moments. It would be great if we shared more of those moments about the people we work with just like Keith did. 

I spent my day very differently than how I usually spend it. I woke up, had coffee, did laundry, vacuumed, washed dishes, ran some errands, walked in the rain with my dog for a bit, and finally I made a pretty delicious bolognese that Gillian and I ate for dinner.

I didn’t leave my neighborhood, and I was at home for most of the day. There weren’t any meetings to go to, or emails that needed to be sent. It felt amazing.  

Just walking through my neighborhood was fun. I wasn’t focused or lost in thought about work. I was just walking. 

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a break and today felt amazing, even if all I did was a lot of chores. I’m going to spend the next few days enjoying it as much as I can. I know that in a few days it will all be over. 

Today was my last day at Shapeways. It has been an incredible 2.7 years. We did so much. And we did it so quickly that it’s only now that I walked out the doors for the last time that I can start to appreciate what we’ve accomplished together.

It’s been a career changing experience for me in so many ways. It was a change in industry, I was previously in video games. It was a change in relocation, I moved back to NY from Chicago with Gillian, but most importantly I changed. I’ll write about that in a separate post.

I’m extremely thankful for the time I spent alongside everyone at Shapeways. There are great people who I will miss working with everyday. They’re building great things and moving Shapeways into an amazing direction. I can’t wait to cheer them on from the sidelines.

Thank you Shapeways and everyone there for believing in me, supporting me, developing me, and working with me. I wish you the best.

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.