Thursday, October 9, 2014

4 Lessons from Leading a Small Team at Google

As I mentioned in my last post, Friday was my last day at Google after a year and a half on the social impact team. For the last five quarters, I was the product manager for the One Today, a mobile app from Google with the purpose of creating a more socially aware and engaged world. The question we asked was this: Could we make learning about causes and taking positive action so frictionless, delightful, and engaging that we could change people's behaviors?

I could talk at length about the product and UX principles there (and who knows? maybe I will at some point), but for now, I wanted to take a moment to discuss the lessons I learned from leading a small team with a very large mandate.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Onwards and upwards!

After a year and a half on Google's social impact team, today is my last day. At day's end, I'll hand in my hard-won Google badge, say goodbye to the plentiful free food, and part ways with many colleagues who have become respected mentors and friends. These last seven years, on again off again, with Google have been an incredible ride: arriving at the Googleplex for the first time as a bleary-eyed 19-year-old, taking a year to travel around Africa on the emerging markets team, and last but not least, working with many extraordinary people.

So what am I up to next? On October 20, I'll be starting at Kickstarter as the PM responsible for the "backer experience", i.e. the chunk of the product you've probably interacted with as a non-project-creator. I'm insanely excited to start this new adventure, and I'm incredibly thankful for the journey that Google has taken me on.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reflections on Burning Man

It's been a few weeks since I've been back from Burning Man, and after recounting the experience to many of you, it seemed about time to put my thoughts down for posterity. In short, Burning Man was incredible. When people ask me if it met or exceeded my expectations, I reply "Burning Man was a superset of my expectations." I'd heard so much about the experience from friends and from the media that I thought I knew more or less what I was getting myself into before I got there. Man, was I wrong.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Techie's Dilemma: International Edition

A few months ago, I wrote the first article in this series on the Techie's Dilemma. In this entry, I'll continue to explore the question that I spent months wrapping my head around: Where, in an interconnected world, does a globally-minded techie settle down? As I alluded to last time, I didn't limit my options to the U.S. Quite the opposite -- I actively sought out international options ranging from Cape Town to Bangalore to Buenos Aires. Today, I'll look at two of the particularly compelling international locales I explored: London and Nairobi.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Launched: One Today by Google

Just over a month ago, my team at Google and I launched One Today, a new mobile app that encourages people to make charitable giving a part of their daily lives. The gist of the app is this: Every day, One Today serves you a new charitable project. If you think it's worthwhile, you can donate $1. If you're really excited, you can challenge the community to donate to the project by offering to match their donations. We're currently in a closed pilot, but one month out, I'm optimistic about the future of One Today.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

In Praise of Great Parents

My family, as I was growing up, never resembled the "model American household." My mother was diagnosed with stage three cancer when I was six and never quite recovered afterward. My father often worked multiple teaching jobs and would wake up at 3am to meditate before his early morning commute. Neither one stayed home to take care of me like so many of my friends' parents did. There were never family dinners – we were all on radically different schedules. But for all of these seeming flaws in my family life, there were two things my parents supplied in abundance that, looking back, made all the difference: unconditional love and support.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Back at Google

Here I am, back at Google for my fourth first day at this crazy company. And I couldn't be more excited. I spent the last few months investigating opportunities all around the world, primarily at companies under 100 people, but at the end of the day, my real criteria for this next move were these:
  • Role: Some combination of software engineering and product management with a road to primarily product work.
  • Team: Smart, passionate people who will challenge me every day.
  • Problem: Work on something socially important. Provide real value for real people.
  • Technology: Web and mobile software.
  • Location: New York City.
And strangely enough, after a whole year of discussions with Google, they finally offered me exactly that.