Before I left work today I helped a few co-workers with creating some tickets in JIRA. Somebody had already created an issue, but they wanted to link all the tickets together into the same epic.

After five minutes of trying to figure out how to move the existing issue into the new epic I gave up. I wasn’t willing to put any more effort into figuring this out - it didn’t really mater. I re-created the issue manually as an issue in the epic and then closed the separate issue as a duplicate. 

If you couldn’t follow what you just read, I don’t blame you. Every project management software I’ve ever used has never quite lived up. I often hear some people get into very passionate discussions about how they arrange their boards, tickets, and the painstaking process it involves. Or better yet what project management software is better. 

After a while I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what project management software you use. They all will the miss the boat one way or another. Instead I’ve found it much better to focus on what you need to get out of the project management software. 

I use JIRA tickets as receipts. They’re a great way to confirm what needs to be or should be done. When someone is working on something that needs to be done I pass the receipt to them. I use the metadata of the receipt to find them and create filters to view them.

That’s all I need to get out of my project management software. The rest comes from collaborating with my co-workers, and following a successful product development process that works for my team. Project management software doesn’t make the product, the people do. 

Yesterday I posted a weekend read about thinking about the way we eat and use the land. I thought it would be interesting to follow up on yesterday’s weekend read with another that’s along the same topic.

This weekend read comes from Zander (an analyst at USV) and focuses on looking at the agriculture market, the current businesses, and investments in the market. You can read it here

It’s a great read on the current state of the agriculture market, the challenges faced in innovating (or disrupting) the current market, and a market map of new startups such as Good Eggs, Wholeshare, and others. 

I’m particularly interested and fascinated by the agriculture market. Not only because of the direct effect it has on our everyday lives but because of how long it’s gone unchanged. 

My friend Justine used to work in publishing. When she was working in publishing her and her co-workers would randomly pick out books for each other and give them to each other. I’m glad she’s kept this tradition up even now when she isn’t working in publishing. 

Thanks to her habit I’m now reading The Third Plate. I’m still reading the introduction - it’s surprisingly hard to read a hardcover book on the subway - but it’s absolutely amazing. 

It focuses on the history of our eating culture or lack there of and talks about what the future of food and sustainability might look like. I’m really excited to read it and think that everyone should read it at some point. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, pick up The Third Plate and start reading it.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite lines from the book so far. 

In Berry’s words, we understand that eating “is inescapably an agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.”

I’ve always had flexible work hours. It start off as a necessity because I was getting my undergrad and working full time. I’d work for two hours, go to a class or two, come back for a few more hours, go back to class, and then work some more during the night.

At Toy Studio we also had very flexible work hours. I’d be the first or second one in the studio. During the day I’d step out to go to the gym or run some errands, and found my way back to the office - sometimes staying until 6PM other times until much later. 

I’m lucky enough to continue to have the same freedom to exercise flexible work hours. It has always encouraged me to get work done when I was best suited to get the work done. This also means that you have to be very self motivated and manage your time extremely well. 

It’s not that I believe that a traditional work schedule isn’t effective. But I don’t think that working long hours or for that matter working the same amount of hours every day is effective. Some days you’re not that effective and it’s actually best that you stay away for a while and do something that else. Maybe it’s going for a walk to the farmer’s market, meeting up with a friend, or going to the gym. Whenever I do this and I get back to work I feel better and I know I’m more productive. 

Over the past few months I’ve noticed something on the NYC subways. More yellow swooshes are being used in subway ads. A very similar yellow swoosh to that of Amazon and I don’t think it’s an accident. 

The swoosh is placed underneath words that qualify the service being advertised. Usually underneath words such as fast, instant, and even online. 

Amazon has set the bar what defines quality consumer services and it looks like a yellow swoosh. 

I was thinking about what I was going to write about today. I went through the usual process. What happened in my day? What have I recently read, listened, or watched? And at the same time I just happened to be listening to 99% Invisible podcast Duplitecture. A story on how China’s towns are being developed as copies of architecture from around the world.

So much of what I do on an every day basis is based around what or who I interact with. If I read about alternative ways to solve problems that were effective I will be influenced by that and probably use some variation of the solution I read about.

Everything is derived from something that exists. I’m influenced and inspired by what I do, where I go, and who I’m with. If you know what I’ve been doing, where I’ve been going, and who I’m with you could get a good sense of what ideas I have - or for that matter who I am.

I was talking with Raphael (a friend and co-worker) who just came back from vacation. He was telling me how much better things seemed after his vacation. Progress happened on some things that he was working on and he was able to get a different perspective on what he was doing. Things are better for him since he took a vacation. 

We all want to take vacation. But sometimes real world logistics get in the way. Whether it be planning, money, or just life. It’s not a secret that we’re more productive if we properly rest, and vacation is a great opportunity for physical but more importantly mental rest. 

So why not make vacation mandatory? In fact, why not build a culture of vacation into the structure of an organization. It can be really hard to take the necessary steps to actually go on vacation and detach yourself from work. An email vacation responder doesn’t block you from logging on to your work email. Vacation days don’t guarantee that you will go on vacation.

Take the necessary steps to incentivize vacations. Decrease salary by some percentage and provide an annual vacation stipend along with vacation days. When an employee goes away on vacation turn off their access to email and internal tools. 

I’m not sure if this would work but I think that it would be interesting to try.

My great grandmother died today. She was 100. During those 100 years she’s seen a lot, including the Spanish Civil War. We sat around and told some stories about her, and stories she told us. 

There weren’t any blog posts, instagram photos, tweets, or Facebook updates that told these stories. All there was, was our stories. 

Technology has done a lot to progress our every day lives, but there are some things that don’t need technology’s help such as oral storytelling. No matter how many ways we have to document what happens in our lives, or whether or not it happens automatically, there’s nothing like hearing a great story be told. 

Sure, some details might be missing, or not every aspect of the story is accurate, and different people tell the story differently. But that’s what makes great stories today and why storytelling even another 100 years from now will still be the same. 

Last week I came across this post about writing a blog through one of fred-wilson's Tumblr posts. The post is by Brent Simmons about how blogging is a way of being publicly wrong on the internet, but is also an exploration of the truth. It’s short and you can read it here

The post captures how I feel about what I write really accurately through this excerpt:

Everything is provisional — it’s what I think now, and I might change my mind in a year. Or in a day. Or in a minute, when somebody posts (or tweets) more or better information or has a solid argument.

I started writing every day as something I just wanted to do. And these past few weeks have been really tough to write every day, but no matter how tough it is or how badly I don’t feel like writing I always look forward to clicking post. 

For the past few weeks I’ve been using Countable. It’s an application that makes it easy to see what votes are upcoming, gives you a brief rundown of them, allows you to vote on them, and then based on your vote - follow up with your senators and representatives. 

It’s easy to use and in the past few weeks I’ve read more about upcoming house and senate votes than I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if this type of armchair democracy is beneficial, but I do find it interesting. 

I think that educating ourselves and expressing our opinions to our elected officials is important. And if it can be facilitated and improved through technology such as Countable that’s great. If you haven’t heard of it I recommend you give it a try.