Dec 2017 Learning

Less reading and off-time Treehouse learning this month. Want to timebox at least 10-15 minutes a day for these.

Treehouse AJAX Basics:

  • Make sure classes correspond with html
  • Use removeClass() say after something, like a button, is selected so not all the buttons are selected for example
  • Passing data to set-up API example:

  $('button').click(function () {



    var flickerAPI = ""; // adding JSON callback to query string

    var animal = $(this).text(); // this refers to button and text() gets text from html element

    var flickrOptions = {

      tags: animal,

      format: "json"


    function displayPhotos(data) {

      var photoHTML = '<ul>';

      $.each(data.items, function(i, photo) {

          photoHTML += '<li class="grid-25 tablet-grid-50">';

          photoHTML += '<a href="' + + '" class="image">';

          photoHTML += '<img src="' + + '"></a></li>';

      });// loop through the array applying the callbackfunction

      photoHTML += '</ul>';



    $.getJSON(flickerAPI, flickrOptions, displayPhotos); // three arguemnts, URL to resource, data we want to send with URL, callback function

  }); // function will run each time button is clicked


Treehouse UX Basics Tools UX-ers Use

  • Card Sorting: all different pieces of content on card and ask users to group the cards. Optimal Sort or Remote Search can be used to do remote.
  • Search Logs: understand what users are looking for
  • Content Inventories: Excel, etc. so there’s one way to look at all it
  • Beyond Philosophy defines UX as “an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organization’s rational performance, the sense stimulated, and the emotions evoked and intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact.”
  • Customer or User Journeys – Mapping out phases of customer’s journey and touchpoints. Identify opportunities, etc. through this process
  • Flow Diagrams: Steps user take
  • Wireframes: Diagrams or blueprints to show information relationships on pages and views
  • Comps: Showing details of specific moment of context. Think wireframes + aesthic
  • Prototypes: Show working relationships, aesthetic, and interactivity
  • Usability Testing
    • Moderating means there’s a facilitator asking questions and assigning questions
    • Unmoderated: puts together tasks while users go on their own

Treehouse UX Basics: Strategic UX

  • UX as a strategic initiative: see it at organizational or strategic level rather than immediate goals for users and see how important a task is to overall company, eg. how does getting auto quotes impact overall org’s bottom line?
  • UXers and non-UXers alike don’t agree on how to define UX
  • Your value is partnering with business and technology to emphasize with users and creates better experience and better user loyalty that brings more to bottom line
  • Selling UX means 1) Understanding what your business and technology partners value 2) Describe to them how UX meets those values in tailored responses to them by finding root causes, eg. what are the roots of wanting conversion rates. Don’t explain hows of UX but the Whys so you’re not an expense but a necessity

How to Build an Engineering Culture that Focuses on Impact

  1. Share with the engineers the value they’re creating, even if it’s “grungy but critical tasks” to let them know they’re being valued at the company
  2. Daniel Pink argues motivation comes from three key elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose
  3. “Shape your culture through conversations and stories,” simply writing values doesn’t really mean anything

13 tips for product leaders on distributed teams

  1. Have an insider on your leadership team that can bridge cultural gaps and understand context of both languages and cultures and can mentor colleagues on both sides when it comes to improving communication
  2. Geographic gaps can multiply specialization gaps, eg business versus R&D that is compounded with distance and cultural differences
  3. If your engineers and business people look down on each other it’s your fault, create transparency and appreciation: “It might seem irrelevant to show your messaging and positioning documents to engineering or to show complex technology architecture to your sales people, but trust me, people learn to appreciate the challenges of the different roles when you surface the complexity. Animosity among colleagues usually stems from a general lack of understanding. Let members of each team shine and teams will show each other more support and respect.”

Three questions to ask yourself, before speaking to your users

  1. “What do you need to learn?”
    1. The big picture questions: who are customers, what’s their biggest problem, what do they want?
  2. “What do we need to learn right now to make progress?”
    1. Outcome of research that immediate action can be taken on
  3. “What’s the best way to learn?”
    1. Focus on doing minimum effort or method (interview versus user test) to learn

pm@olin Metrics (Class 8)

Continuous Improvement

  • PMs can create detailed factual timeline for post mortems – everyone should add what’s missing and note patterns as well as things done well and things that can improve on next time

2017 List of Wins + 2018 Look Ahead

I thought I was going to have a low-key NYE alone, but ended up going out. I still read this before, and thought it’d be good to put down a list of #wins and just things I’m thankful for this year and looking ahead for 2018.


  1. New role at work and working on an interesting project with a team. Felt like my career moved ahead a lot after feeling a bit stalled.
  2. I read 45 books last year, most captured here on Goodreads 
  3. I lose 11 lbs without really grinding hard, just more positive lifestyle choices
  4. Saved nearly 25% of my income
  5. Figured out who and what to prioritize in my life

For Next Year:

  1. Improve on my process at work as well as attitude and results. At my current workplace, I think we have an opportunity to build a good culture – so I hope that’s something I can help do.
  2. Read more fiction this year and still definitely read 30 books as a goal
  3. Continue to go on this healthier lifestyle path (incorporating yoga into my weekly workout routine, and eating more vegetarian meals namely)
  4. Save 30% of income
  5. Actualize some travel and academic goals

Oct Learning

Just my “three key points” notes from various reading I thought was work helpful this month:

PSFK Advertising Playbook Overview

  1. Experiential marketing now is the most critical tool
  2. Shift from ads to customer relationships and decline of online ads
  3. Emotional connections realign brands -> engineered enjoyment, contextual calibration, and third space communities are opportunities


Knowns vs Unknowns — Are you building a successful company or just typing?

  1. First known unknown is that you envision a product that solves a problem that a small group of users have
  2. Engineer’s primary job isn’t really writing code per se, but improving product for you users
  3. “What I often hear from CEOs is that “my CTO thinks we need to rebuild the backend so it’s scaleable.” The reality is that if you haven’t yet solved for the product’s scaleable and repeatable growth, you don’t know what the backend needs to be. If you’ve hired people that care more about the programming languages/frameworks and not the KPIs of your product, you’ll constantly have this internal battle. Remind them that writing software is the easy part. Building a company that scales isn’t.”

6 lessons learned about technical debts management in Silicon Valley

  1. Product always needs to be improved and have tech debts happening at once (80/20 rule)
  2. Top Down vision on the importance of these debts “It is not about the money you can make, it is about the money you won’t lose”
  3. Before you kill features, identify who are using it, find an alternative, and explain why you are killing a feature


  • “This is because the vast majority of people tend to play the middle—they focus on the vague minutiae that doesn’t matter”
  • Two things happen when you’re too focused on the middle:
    • You’re only successful to a certain level and then hit a plateau
    • You get stuck in one of two extremes: you get stuck either because you become too romantic on ideals and neglect the skills you need to execute or you get tied up in minutiae or politics and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Unit Economics

  1. “Unit economics are the direct revenues and costs associated with a particular business model expressed on a per unit basis.” Eg Lifetime Value, Customer Acquisition Cost (CPA)
  2. What you want to do as a product manager is increase average rev per user (ARPU), increase customer lifetime, and drive expansion revenue from existing cusotmers
  3. Make sure you know what your most profitable segment is and what their composite is of the user base

pm@olin: Buildiing (Class 5)

  1. Understand your personal work and productivity style
  2. Understand the style of your team and tailor your project management to the team – being cognizant of your personal style
  3. Understand your software processes (eg. Waterfall or Agile) and bug triage

Offshore Development: Pluses and Minuses for Product Managers

  1. Hard part is to learn and understand the team and learn what makes them tick and how you can leverage all this and control for issues such as different work cultures and different accents over conference phones
  2. Get to know them and make sure they know you
  3. Keep them informed, establish routines (especially communicating with remote team lead and holding them accountable, hold all-team meetings semi-frequently), and leverage tools

How we develop great PM / Engineering relationships at Asana

  1. Semi-formalized way for sharing leadership and credit
  2. Remember mantra product owns the problems and engineering owns solutions
  3. ‘Clarify roles and reinforce them with mutual respect’

Run Towards Something, Not Away. Learning from Talks Summary: C-Suite Meet with Jacki Kelley, COO, Bloomberg Media

I went to the C-Suite Meet with Jacki Kelley, Chief Operating Officer, Bloomberg Media with She Runs months ago in May, but I’ve thought a lot about her advice and carried these notes in my bag and mentally for the last few months.

The biggest takeaway, “Run towards something and not away.”  

This year, I had the opportunity to buy a dream co-op in NYC and job opportunities that would have paid more than I am making now. I walked away from those because deep down I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, remembering these words and with the encouragement of friends and mentors. It was really difficult, especially as a daughter of immigrants and as someone who never thought I’d have what I have now and these opportunities. Sometimes the opportunities are wrong. Listen to your gut.

Much better opportunities and life paths have presented themselves to me in the interim, and I’m so glad I did the hard thing to walk away.

This piece by public intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates resonates me with a lot:

Some people come up expecting to win. We came up hoping not to lose. Even in victory, the distance between expectation and results is dizzying for both. The old code remains a part of you, and with it comes a particular strain of impostor syndrome. You have learned another language, but your accent betrays you. And there are times when you wonder if the real you is not here among the professionals, but out there in the streets.

Obviously, I have to caveat that the specific experience he writes about has clear differences from mine, I’m from a much more privileged context, but it expresses the disorientation of how I feel in my circumstances now as Manhattan professional versus what my life could have easily been had I taken a few wrong turns and people didn’t intervene at key points in my life. (And to all the Women of Color who might be out there reading this, yes I still feel like I don’t fit in these spaces everyday, and probably never will. I still do it for the culture though).

My mentor told me in my moments of self-doubt this year, “There’s better for you. And you deserve it.”

I think most of us at least moderately-successful professionals will come upon these inflection points, where you can feel like you need to check-off certain life boxes (degree, house, ring, kids) or are presented with opportunities that are good for the money, but don’t feel right. Most people chose to do what they think should do because of societal or cultural expectations, because it’s hard to walk away from that. I’ve done that before, taken jobs to just to get away from a current situation, and and almost did all that again this year, but I’m glad I held out for the better even though it’s caused considerable existential dread, Asian guilt, and feeling of being ungrateful, especially in these sour times we live in politically and economically.

Some other key points from the talk/handwriting clarification:

  • She also mentioned “Life is not a to do list. Smell the roses.” Cliché, but at this phase of my life and career, I’m no longer in my frenetic twenties grasping at opportunity, but rather settling into a life and career that’s a marathon and not a sprint, and to enjoy the journey.
    • Also be there for the stuff that matters and plan out personal and professional life in tandem. She specifically mentioned planning out having kids (this isn’t something that’s a make or break for me), but we have all different milestones and wants to not be neglected
  • Sponsors v Mentors: need to find both. Sponsors are those people who advocate for you in your company or industry. Coaches/Mentors are your sounding boards and give advice, etc
  • Build cultures and processes to remove obstacles and allow people to do their best work
  • Understand people’s desires in a company and try to align with your goals and that of the organization
  • Ask yourself, how have you invested in someone you believe in?
  • Pick Learning > Promotion
  • Find work you love with people you love to work with
  • Connecting data, communication, and media is the key to survival for agencies (I’m not as bullish on this one and the agency model as it is, but it’s an insight worth thinking about)