Release notes

App release notes are the notes that accompany an app update. Most people don’t read these as they are generally very staid and boring. “v2.1 – bug fixed on pressing send button in screen in some iOS devices.”

Over time, however, developers realized this was a nice way to showcase their creativity. So, companies like Medium, Tumblr, Pinterest, et al, created notes that were a almost random. This evolution got a bit annoying for hardcore users who wanted to understand what was fixed. “Jam packed full of amazing things” and “bug fixes” didn’t do it.

Release notes need to be functional – they need to inform users on what has changed. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t inject creativity. A good friend shared Slack’s release notes as an example of their sense of humor (Thanks Kaushik!). Slack is a workplace collaboration/messaging tool used heavily by engineering teams.


Slack has a history of doing this. Just type “app release notes” on Google Image Search. They are specific about the bug (functional) but always describe it with humor.


I think of this as an example of doing small things with extraordinary love. After all, release notes could just easily be a tedious exercise. However, you can almost feel the love as Slack works through fixing one bug after another.

We can all add personality and character in the small things we do.

All we need to is decide to do the small things with extraordinary love.

Five career priorities

There are five career priorities –

1. Location
2. Industry
3. Company
4. Role
5. Team/people

Every career choice we make comes back to how we solve for these. We can make career decisions easier for ourselves by keeping four things in mind.

First, we ought to know that it gets harder to change multiple priorities. If you are trying to change just a role or team within your company, that is likely among the easier things to do. It is harder to change companies, industries, locations. And, of course, it is harder to change two or three things at a time. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It is just very hard. Location can be particularly hard for those who weren’t born with American or European passports. And, for most people, graduate school tends to a way to enable such change.

Second, every time you make a move, it helps to create a stack rank of these priorities. What are you trying to achieve? And, at what cost? It is rare you are going to end up with the perfect combination. You have to know what you are willing to trade off. Also, I’ve noticed that when most folks make career decisions, they focus on points 1-4. That is natural. There is just one problem – the people we surround ourselves with have a massive impact on our daily well-being. So, beware ignoring the team/people priority.

Third, the first two priorities are the hardest to solve for. So, if we can find a way to resolve this or simply eliminate them, it’ll ease any transition. For example, if you are focused on one industry, you can now focus on four priorities instead of five.

Finally, the best way to think about career moves is to layer a longer term / directional perspective. Instead of attempting to change multiple priorities today, look to work on changing one or two at a time. For example, you can make a move across industries within the same role as a starting point. Then, attempt to change role and so on.

As a bonus point, it is easy to second guess your past career decisions when you try to make changes. It is easy to look around and feel “behind.” But, it is worth reminding ourselves that we’ve gotten here by doing the best we could with what we knew.

Now that we know better, we will do better.


Clay Christensen pushes product creators to look at their products as a vehicle to get a particular job done. FedEx, for example, fulfills the job of getting a package from here to there as fast as possible. Disney does the job of providing warm, safe, fantasy vacations for families. Great businesses get this concept. And, IKEA is a great example of a great business that does.

On first glance, IKEA is just a simple furniture store. Why hasn’t someone just copied their product line and catalog? IKEA focuses on the job it is hired to do while its competitors define their businesses by product or customer segments (high end, low end, etc.). IKEA gets hired to quickly furnish or re-furnish a house. So, they are designed for just that. For example, furniture is easy to carry, deliver home, and assemble. There is a kids area so parents can focus on the shopping. Furthermore, there is even a restaurant so you don’t worry about your next meal. Finally, lest we forget, they are also very affordable.

My wife and I have been IKEA shoppers since we left home for university ten years ago. So, this isn’t just a cool case study. We’ve visited IKEA in every place we’ve lived – typically within the first week of getting there. Seeing products with Swedish name tags around our home is normal for us. The table and chair I’m using to type this has Swedish roots. I know furniture connoisseurs scorn their furniture. But, we love it. And, here’s hoping we never get too fancy to continue loving it.

IKEA released a beautiful one minute ad about a mom taking her son shopping.


It is a beautiful example of being “on brand.” They get what customers come to them for and keep things simple… consistently. It shows.

Field of Dreams fallacy

“The Field of Dreams” was a movie from 1989 that made the line “If you build it, they will come” famous. It is a beautiful line. There’s only one problem – it is almost never true.

This is a hard lesson for most people to grasp. It certainly was the case for me. But, building a product alone doesn’t guarantee success. Even a product as irresistible, in hindsight, as Facebook, had some savvy marketing behind it when it launched. And, we call the most successful books “best-selling,” not best-written.

Products rarely sell themselves. Perhaps one product in a million manages that. They almost, always, need a story. It is generally too late if you are stuck crafting a story after the product is made. So much better to build the product and the story together. In the long run, the product is the strongest part of the marketing. In the short run, you need to build a story that makes the product desirable in a manner that is consistent to what it is really about.

Don’t fall for the “Field of Dreams” fallacy. Don’t build it and wait for them to come.

Plan for them to come. Tell a story. Make them come.


Compounding is a simple and powerful concept.

A $100 saving compounded at 10% per month gives us $110 in month 1.
In month 2, compounding doesn’t just give us $10. It also gives us 10% of the $10 we earned in the previous month to a total of $11. Now, our amount at hand is $121.
The following month, we receive interest on the $100 and then the $21 to a total of $133.1.

Compound interest starts off as pocket change but soon becomes the primary value of the saving.

9062942Thanks to source for the image

Here’s the kicker – compounding doesn’t just apply to money.

My hypothesis is that everything worth developing or learning compounds. Fitness, self control, initiative – you name it and it likely works that way. Heck, even learning compounds.

Every trait that makes us better people is hard to develop at first. Start exercising today and it feels hard. The results either feel negligible or absent. But, climb up that curve and suddenly things feel different. There’s a momentum where there never was one. There’s an understanding of how pieces tie in together.

So, if you are aiming to get started on a habit that you think will make your life better – start today. Compounding is more powerful when you start earlier and do it for longer. And, for those of you who feel stuck after putting in effort for a while, push through. Keep at it. It is tough at first.

But, it’ll get easier. And, most importantly, it’ll be worth it.

Ray Dalio investment autopsy – The 200 words project

In 1975, at the age of 26, Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates – a hedge fund.

6 years in, Dalio felt the debt levels in the government pointed to the fact that the US was on the brink of a recession. So, he began betting on it and publicizing it. But, to Dalio’s surprise, the stock market surged and it led to a tremendous embarrassment and loss of fortune.

To make sure that never happened again, he began keeping detailed records of every trade he made and began noting what happened with every investment – learning from both his success and painful losses. As Dalio puts it, pain + success = progress. As he reflected on these investments, he kept finding “rules” that governed how markets worked and kept refining it. At Bridgewater, he built a culture of “radical transparency” challenging his employees to question his decision making and assumptions.

As author Al Pitampalli observes in his book, Persuadable – “Does he have an ego? Absolutely. Many say his is over-sized. However, he realizes that having false self-confidence would cost a lot.”

In essence, Dalio built his success by being very persuadable to new assumptions and data with an inspiring process.

(In case you haven’t watched it, his video on “How the economic machine works” comes highly recommended)

Ask yourself – how much do you let what you wish to be true stand in the way of seeing what is really true? – Ray Dalio

Source and thanks to: Persuadable by Al Pitampalli, Principles by Ray Dalio

(The 200 words project involves sharing a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words)

On brand

There’s something beautiful about watching behavior that is “on brand.”

A brand, as the tradition definition goes, is a set of associations. Amazon conjures up associations of “value” or “fast,” Ritz Carlton points to “luxury”  and so on.

Another way to think about brands is to equate them to integrity – or the ability to make and keep commitments. When an organization makes a commitment to quality and keeps it, it builds a brand around quality. When a person makes a commitment around enthusiasm, he/she builds a brand around it.

Regular readers here know how much I love “The Piano Guys.” My main association with The Piano Guys is “uplifting.” Their music, their themes, their ideas, their personalities – they are all uplifting. They all tell us to be our best selves – in one way or the other.

So, when The Piano Guys released the song “This is exactly what you want to hear today – Okay,” it was a perfect illustration of being on brand. It was uplifting. Integrity – check.


Here are a few excerpts from the story behind the song

We’re all struggling with something – a debilitating weakness or illness. Or someone we love is barely holding on.

We watch the news. We see the tweets, the Facebook posts. The YouTube comments! We hear about hate, terror and despair. But just because what sells, what goes “viral,” or what gets attention may try to drown out the good in the world, it doesn’t mean that goodness is gone. Just because choruses of controversy and scandal shout louder than quiet symphonies of service, it doesn’t mean that inside most of us still genuinely want happiness not only for ourselves, but also our family, our friends, and our fellow human beings.

Media can make the world look bleak. They’ve given themselves this job description, in part because there’s a darker side on the surface of human nature that feeds on fear and cynicism. But deep down, we are beings of light. And in the end, since darkness is merely the absence of light, light will inevitably overcome dark.

This is the essence of hope. And the essence of this song. “No matter what you’ve been through, no matter if you think you’re falling apart, it’s gonna be okay.”

Do check it out.

And, of course, whatever you might be going through – it will, eventually, be okay. :)

Thank you, The Piano Guys.