Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Hanging Tree, Ferguson, Something Bad, and Body Cameras

I have The Hanging Tree stuck in my head.

There are a lot of things going on with Ferguson right now. There are a lot of angry people, and nobody knows the exact truth. There is Darren Wilson's testimony, and conflicting testimony from Michael Brown's friend Dorian Johnson. What the situation has done is spur public discussion of race relations.

It reminds me of Something Bad from Wicked.
Only rumors - but still - 
Enough to give pause 
To anyone with paws 
Something bad is happening in Oz 

Something bad? Happening in Oz? 

Under the surface 
Behind the scenes 
Something baaaaaaad. 
(spoken) Sorry, "Bad". 

There are strange things going on right now. I just hope that we can find a peaceful solution that is respectful to all parties. I think that one step forward for all of us would be to have police officers wear body cameras, which is a call from both sides of the case in Ferguson. Body cameras can reduce citizen complaints by quite a bit.

Monday, November 24, 2014


It's fascinating to me. I filled out the survey as a woman with my foot in tech. It was interesting to see the breakdown of the data.

It connected to Brooklyn Nine-Nine for me. My sister introduced me to the show, and as a result I watched the struggle of Amy Santiago, who yearns for approval and ladder climbing.

My favorite character a few episodes in is Rosa. Amy is the Hermione of the show, eager to please. She's an unlikeable character when she wins and when she loses. Women who are perceived as competent are less likeable.

I found it astonishing to find this in myself. I am Amy Santiago, and I'm not in competition with this character. It's definitely something to chew on.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Treating Celebrities Like People

I believe that Fred Wilson is a celebrity, but he's Internet famous. There is a community that follows his blog and his investments, and to them he's a celebrity.
Fred Wilson, venture capitalist
Source: Forbes

People treat celebrities differently, as if they aren't real people with real feelings. I was guilty of this myself when a self-published author (SPA) contacted me recently with a free book. This happens a lot, but he seemed nice and polite. And so, unusually, I accepted a book that fell outside of the normal genres that I like to read.

I enjoyed it, and I said as much. I divide some of my reviews into 3 sections: good, bad, and conclusion. I try to put more effort into the reviews that I write as a result of the author sending me a free review copy.

He wrote back to me for having written the review promptly, and he responded to the critique that I put into the bad section. I didn't write the bad section for him. I wrote it for the customers who would read the review and decide on the strength of it to buy his book.

He's not a true celebrity, but I was guilty of discounting him as a person. I plan to continue writing customer-focused reviews, but it did give me pause when he said that he would consider my criticism when writing a second edition. My intention was not to make him feel bad; I just wanted to write something honest for the other people who were reading the reviews. Online interaction is very tricky.

The Oatmeal devoted part of a comic to this.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Yishan Wong Leans In

I wrote yesterday about Yishan Wong. I read his statement from last night today with interest. An excerpt:
The job as CEO of reddit is incredibly stressful and draining.  After two and a half years, I’m basically completely worn out, and it was having significantly detrimental effects on my personal life.
Yishan Wong
Source: Forbes

I saw him tweet a link to this article, wishing Ellen Pao the best.
“To add one layer, he genuinely did want to spend more time with his family, but you’d probably consider that to be an even less satisfying answer,” Ohanian said.
I'd read his Quora answers before, so I knew that he had a very high stress job at reddit.

I realized that Yishan is leaning in. From my review of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In:

Men Need To Sit At the Table

...the kitchen table. That's her line. She remarks on how women with big jobs needs supportive partners who really take charge of taking care of the kids. Men need to get involved with the mundane tasks of daily life, like grocery shopping and laundry. 

I hope that this is a move for Yishan to be part of his kids' daily lives. He has spent an enormous amount of time and effort having a huge, illustrious career. It may be time for him to rest on his laurels and spend more time with his family.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Yishan Wong Resigns as reddit CEO

Yishan Wong
Source: Quora

I feel like my world has been rocked on its axis. I'm sure the feeling will go away tomorrow.

It started with a TechCrunch article. Alexia Tsotsis reported that Yishan Yong had left the company.

I knew that someone named Yishan Wong was the reddit CEO. He resigned, as Alexia reported, over office space. Literal office space.

I went to Quora to ask a question, and I saw that it was already there. I started following the Yishan Wong topic, not just Yishan Wong himself, and I hope to see more there in the future. I know that it's a delicate topic.

So then I meandered over to Wikipedia, and someone had already edited Yishan's article.

Sam Altman spoke up at News.YCombinator about the issue when his blog post about it was submitted.

Alexis Ohanian, reddit co-founder, wrote a reddit post about the transition.

It feels like a huge shock. I don't know what Yishan is going to do after this. He's had a pretty illustrious career and serious connections in the Valley, so he'll do something worth doing. I am curious to see what it is.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bright Flight

People my age are moving away from expensive urban areas (LA, NYC, DC, etc.) and into affordable cities, like Denver and Portland, says the WSJ. Portland especially is becoming less affordable, and there are many unemployed young people there. Denver's real estate prices are going up.

Forbes agrees.
More intriguing, and perhaps counter-intuitive, “hip and cool” core cities like San Francisco, New York and Boston have also suffered double-digit percent losses among this generation. New York City, for example, saw its 25 to 34 population of 2000 drop by over 15% — a net loss of over 200,000 people — a decade later. San Francisco and Oakland, the core cities of the Bay Area, lost more than 20% of this cohort over the decade, and the city of Boston lost nearly 40%.

I've written before about Austin, Texas. The phenomenon is called bright flight. It's simply too expensive to survive in the big cities, and there's better quality of life in the mid-sized cities.
Dr. Ken Yun
Source: Methodist Willowbrook

Ken Yun, a urologist, is among the highly educated who opted to live larger in a less expensive place. The 40-year-old Chicago native moved to Houston several years ago for medical training. He came to like the Texas city and bought a house there. Eventually, he found himself overworked and began searching for a new position.
After exploring options in his hometown and New York, Dr. Yun moved last December to Denver. The reason: His new job lets him work four days a week, with weekends off to go hiking and skiing. The pay isn't bad, either, and it goes further than it would in Chicago or New York. "I was attracted to starting fresh, in an up-and-coming city," he said.
I'm part of this trend, in a small way. I'm from Indianapolis, and I moved to Madison. Indianapolis is approximately 3x the size of Madison. Madison is more expensive, but it also offers more job opportunities than Indianapolis.

I'm fascinated by this trend. A fair number of my college friends have settled in big cities, namely DC and NYC. I know someone who is moving to LA.

At the same time, I'd need a heck of a job in order to move to a big city. My costs are manageable here in Madison, and I would need assurance that I'd get equal or better quality of life in another city before I moved. Madison has jobs in spades, and not that many places do. I couldn't support myself via contracting if I moved to NYC. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Problems of Success: Freeloaders

I was listening to Ramit Sethi's visit to Tim Ferriss's October 9 podcast.

I went to to see Ramit's links about freeloaders. I really liked the one by the guy who wrote the Personal MBA.
Josh Kaufman

Here are examples of things that Josh Kaufman gets:

  • Can you please tell me what I should do with my life? Be detailed.
  • I heard you’re adding more material to the second edition of your book. Does that mean I have to purchase it again? Can’t you just send me a new copy for free?!
  • I need in-depth coaching from you, but I don’t have any money. Can’t you work with me for free? Can’t you make an exception just for me?
  • I have a top secret business opportunity I want to discuss with you. Call me at 3:00pm this afternoon, sharp. Don’t be late.
  • Your courses are too expensive. Anything more than free is too expensive.
  • I want to work for you in exchange for your material. Can you please create and manage an easy unnecessary project so I can avoid paying your fee?
  • I would like you to run live training courses in [very small market]. By the way, people in [very small market] can only pay [very small fee]. When can we expect your arrival?
  • I’m offended that a free resource you already provide is not in the format I prefer. Do it again, then send it to me, and I won’t be so offended.
  • I set you [an unreasonable request] yesterday, and haven’t heard from you. Please hurry up, this is urgent!!!

It's true. These are the problems of success. I know that a lot of people face these challenges.

Top Reviewer

A small scale example: As a newly minted Top Reviewer on Amazon, I get free books all the time. Authors beg me to read their books and write reviews of them. I turn down the majority, even though I love books, because I have no interest in reading most of them.

I've had two emails from authors when I've accepted the responsibility. One author was very kind, he did good work, and I trusted him. He tried to repay the favor, which I appreciated. The second was extremely entitled, I got insta-form messages when I indicated interest, and she insisted on me leaving a review on a specific day two weeks into the future. Not a date range, not the release day of the book, which had already been out for months, but a specific day. I'm doing it, because she gave me the book, but I won't be reviewing for her again. She didn't lay out that restriction in the beginning, and it wasn't part of the agreement. She changed the terms. I know that it enables me to refuse, but it's just foot-in-the-door technique: I already agreed to her smaller request, so I felt committed to doing her bigger, more onerous one.

I've learned from that experience. I'm already thinking of creating a form email to give to authors who solicit me. I've seen other people do that, including top 150 reviewers who are actually groups of people who read books before release day and make sure that they get high visibility. I see that the top reviewers - the top 10 - are all pushing out video reviews and have 97% useful ratings.

It's a whole different world inside of the Top Reviewer forums. It's been a new experience.