• Chesky at Config

    Didn’t get a chance to attend Figma’s design conference, but caught a recording of the founder of Airbnb after a few of us were discussing it at work.

    Wrote up some notes that I found particularly relatable and inspiring.

    Brian Chesky talk –

    He felt like Airbnb as a product was losing its magic. Looked around and realized a couple things: The company was run by PMs and over time, the more people that he added, the less the product changed.Decided to make drastic changes and be more design lead. Design meaning less of a department and more of how to think about the world/product.

    • No a/b tests
    • One single roadmap for whole company. If its not on there, its not getting done. All approved by him.
    • Elevated design to same level as PM.
    • Combined PM role with product marketers – you can’t build a product if you don’t know how to talk about it.
    • Created a tiny design team that looks across the entire product.


    • Obsess over every detail.
    • Don’t ship anything you aren’t proud of.
    • “Growth” is not a goal.
    • Present all work in its most native form.

    Love this line:

    “We can’t do new things without permission. And we don’t have permission until people love our core service. We have to get our house in order first.”

    . . .

  • WordPress is 20

    Feeling especially grateful today to be working on a product that is in it for the long haul. Looking forward to the next 20+ years of making the web a better place. Celebrating 20 Years of WordPress.


    . . .

  • Reply with a design

    Getting feedback on a design iteration is an important part of the job. Sometimes it can result in a spiraling, often unproductive discussion. Over time, this leads to more time talking and less time doing. The user will not benefit from these discussions – they will only see and interact with your design. Focus on the design. Next time, instead of replying to feedback with an explanation: take it in, thank the person, and then reply with a design.

    . . .

  • Altitude

    I’ve had this loose idea forming around what it takes to be a highly effective lead. It has to do with altitude. Specifically, the ability to quickly and consistently travel between the really high level to deep down in the details. Staying too long in either place causes you to be out of touch in some way – you can’t see the big picture, connect dots across areas, or ensure goals are carried through to quality output.

    . . .

  • Without context

    Designers are often hesitant to receive feedback on their designs from someone who is not close to the project.

    “But they don’t have the context!”

    This has always confused me. When I present a design flow, I find the people who are furthest away from the project gave really valuable feedback. They see things I don’t. And if I find myself having to explain things in order to figure out how to interact with my prototype, something is up.

    After all, when this ships, the user won’t have been part of any of the project meetings, be aware of the research, any technical constraints, or otherwise. The design and implementation of it will need to stand on its own.

    . . .

  • Why write

    Of course I stole the title for this talk from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:




    In many ways, writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clauses and qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions—with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating—but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.

    Joan Didion, Why I Write

    . . .

  • Wordle

    We’ve been doing the NYT crossword together every night for the past several months, which is a lovely way to end the day. This week, we started playing Wordle after seeing half the internet playing it. It’s so good. Here are the first four results, which are just fun to share. Can’t tell if we have beginner’s luck or if the crossword playing is helping. Probably a bit of both.

    Wordle 204 2/6


    Wordle 205 5/6


    Wordle 206 3/6


    Wordle 207 5/6


    . . .

  • Books in 2021

    I’m still listening to books with the only exception being the physical books I bring along with me on camping trips in the van.

    The books that have stayed with me
    Ones I couldn’t stop thinking and/or talking about.

    The Midnight Library
    Nothing to See Here
    All the Light We Cannot See
    Why Fish Don't Exist

    Ones I revisited

    Getting Unstuck & From Fear to Fearlessness are recordings of Pema Chödrön giving talks on weekend retreats. I love listening to her and went back to both of these several times throughout the year.

    Full list
    with a ★ next to books I’d recommend to most anyone who asked.

    The Midnight Library
    by Matt Haig ★

    Beautiful World, Where Are You
    by Sally Rooney

    Nothing to See Here
    by Kevin Wilson ★

    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr ★

    From Fear to Fearlessness
    by Pema Chödrön

    Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller

    Getting Unstuck by Pema Chödrön

    The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★ (oops, I had this on last years list)

    Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis

    How to Weep in Public
    by Jacqueline Novak

    The Gifts of Imperfection
    by Brené Brown

    Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

    The Guest List by Lucy Foley

    Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

    Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    The Searcher by Tana French

    Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

    Group by Christie Tate

    And the books I’m in the middle of that I’ll carry into 2022 are Dune, Outline, and Hidden Valley Road.

    . . .

  • Avi course

    I took a 4 day avalanche course by Baker Mountain Guides the week of Christmas in the Mt. Baker backcountry. I’ve been casually doing some backcountry stuff the past few years, but never pulled the trigger on buying avi gear or taking a class, which isn’t super smart or safe. The first two days were over Zoom with a firehose of information – logging it all here for future reference.

    General info & videos to review regularly

    Trip planning

    Where we went

    Day 3 was our first day in the field. Built a snow pit to analyze the snowpack and practiced recovery using our beacons, probe, and shovel.

    Forth and final day, went on a tour we planned the night before. Was an epic powder day with waist deep snow.


    . . .

  • ggslides.com

    Grandmother & Grandfather always took pictures using slide film and we’d watch them on a projector in their living room – from their travels and just daily life. My cousin scanned 1,500 of them, from the 1960s to the early 2000s. They were scattered across different Google Photos links and I wanted an easy way to look at them and share with others so I created a site: ggslides.com. A few faves:

    . . .

Sappho, spelled (in the dialect spoken by the poet) Psappho, (born c. 610, Lesbos, Greece — died c. 570 BCE). A lyric poet greatly admired in all ages for the beauty of her writing style.

Her language contains elements from Aeolic vernacular and poetic tradition, with traces of epic vocabulary familiar to readers of Homer. She has the ability to judge critically her own ecstasies and grief, and her emotions lose nothing of their force by being recollected in tranquillity.

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