Absolutely! Electric cars will reduce our oil dependency and autonomous cars will reduce road deaths.

But what makes these advancements so intriguing is the second-order effects. Benedict Evans nails it:

And that’s not all. What about

  • The millions of truck, bus and Uber drivers who have jobs at stake
  • International relations in a world where the US isn’t as dependent on Middle Eastern oil
  • The consumption effects of wanting to replace a car as often as you upgrade your phone

These are two amazing slides. Thanks Benedict.


It’s the 8th of January so by now you’ve seen plenty of posts about setting new goals for the new year.

However, if you’re going to go through the effort of setting goals (which is a good first step), remember these tips for setting the right kind of goals so that the effects last throughout the year and you’re not off the wagon before the end of the month.

1. Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.pecific, M.easurable, A.ssignable, R.ealistic and T.ime-related (or some variation of that acronym).

2. Use the Aspire-Achieve-Do Method

Setup a goal framework that links your long term ambitions to daily and weekly habits.

3. Measure Your Results

How’d you do last year? I recommend aiming for a range of 60%-80% goal achievement. Any less and you probably didn’t have a good year or were unrealistic with yourself. Any more and you’re not stretching yourself enough. In any case, after you set your goals this year set regular reminders to check in on your progress.

You spend enough time with successful people and you start to notice something. They’re not batting 100%. They’re far from perfect and not too different from the rest of us.

So what’s different? Why do they come across like everything they touch turns to gold?

I’ve noticed a few common traits:

  • They don’t dwell on mistakes other than to learn; they fail fast and move on quickly
  • They promote their wins well leveraging the concept that success begets more successes
  • They appear to be lucky but are more often just taking more at bats than most


a16z partner Benedict Evans had an astute observation last week.

As voice-based interfaces improve what they can do (e.g. by adding more “skills”), how do you inform, train and perhaps most importantly remind end users of what they can do, without a GUI to do so?

Well, here are three ideas:

  1. Leverage recommendation engines (think Google Now, Netflix, etc) to proactively talk to users. For example, what if Alexa had motion sensing on it and when it saw me walk by the first time each day it told me what the weather was going to be
  2. Developers must design and build for a wider array of edge cases. For example, when listening to Pandora the phrases, “Thumbs up,” “I like this song,” and “Yes! More of this!” should all be able to rate the song higher.
  3. And probably easiest is to remember you do still have a GUI. For example, Alexa’s companion mobile app could use notifications and suggestions to help users maximize their Echoes. Yet in its current form the app feels like an afterthought.

Here’s a common question I hear teams ask their customers during product discovery:

Would you buy X if we built it?

That’s the wrong question to ask though. Customers’ expressed needs and wants often don’t match their actions. So how do you get around this problem?

Simple – assume you’ve already built it and start selling it. You don’t need a finished product to sell it; you don’t even need a prototype or an MVP. After all, that’s what many Kickstarters and other vaporware videos are. So you say:

We’ve built X. Want to buy it?

And then when (or really if) they say yes you follow up with, “GREAT! We’ll configure it for your team and that will be ready in N weeks. In the meantime let’s train your team so they’re ready to hit the ground running when the product is set up.”

Flown lately? If so, have you seen this sign?

Why Yes TSA, there are plenty of ways you could improve the airport security experience! But before that can happen you first need to improve how collect this feedback. And QR codes aren’t the answer.

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Recently our team gave a round of customer feedback demos to some customers, showing off a completely redesigned eVestment Input portal.

On the surface everything went perfect. After all, the users had consistently praised the new look. All our hard work had paid off.

If you looked closer though, we didn’t actually learn that much. Responses were generic & unactionable. And while positive, there wasn’t any hard evidence to back it the good things we hear. Instead, this became a good opportunity share some best practices on how to capture great customer feedback.


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Every company I’ve worked at – large or small, startup or big enterprise – has had a conference room problem.

One of two things inevitably happen:

  1. You can’t find an open conference room to book because they’re all already booked. Yet at meeting time the conference room goes unused because the original booker cancelled the meeting (but not the room reservation), had a recurring meeting that didn’t meet today, or heck, is no longer with the company.
  2. You get kicked out of your room by a more important meeting. Ever heard the, “I’m sorry but we have CLIENTS and need the room,” excuse?

What if there was a better way to use software to book conference rooms?

conference room booking system

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Before reading this week’s post, spend a few minutes and listen to this podcast from Planet Money.

No! Burger

I have this unusual aversion to one of Atlanta’s trendy burger joints, Yeah! Burger.

Unusual because I like a good burger a lot! I frickin’ love them. When I worked at BlueFletch burgers were my ‘flare’.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 8.35.04 PM
And for that matter, I like Yeah! Burgers’ burgers. But they’re not on my list. Thing is, I’ve had trouble figuring out why, or where this aversion came from.

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Employment at Will and Right to Work are often mixed up and confused.

Here’s a quick overview of both and how to distinguish them from each other.

Employment at Will

Think of it as: You can be fired without cause

Employment at will means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason they want, as long as it’s not an illegal cause. Good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all, you can get laid off.
If you crushed your recent TPS report, you can still get fired. If you mailed it in and did a poor job, you can get fired. The other way to look at it is that you, as the employee, can also leave the employment relationship without cause.


The only cases you can’t get fired for are illegal ones, such as for race, sex, religion, age, etc. Another common exception to at-will employment is if the written contract of employment is for a defined duration.

Similarly, the practice of giving two-weeks’ notice is not required by law (as long as your employment contract doesn’t have a specified duration). Then again, remember the impacts and consequences of not doing so, such as asking for a future reference from your previous employer.

Here in Georgia we are an at-will employment state.

Right to Work

Think of it as: You can’t be forced to join a Union

Georgia is also a Right to Work state. Right to Work is often confused with At-Will Employment but is much different.

In essence Right to Work means that you can’t be forced to join a union to work at your company.

right to work picketing union

Why Right to Work Laws Exist

Proponents of Right to Work laws argue they are pro-business. By not allowing union mandated membership, companies can be more competitive. In theory unions hurt economic growth so in turn the economy as a whole gains from a freer business environment with things like more competition, more jobs, etc.

On the other hand, opponents of Right to Work laws argue that without unions, employees see decreased wages and benefits. In addition, in theory companies maintain too much control, as compared to the employee, in a Right to Work state.