KPI’s for Life: Adding Beauty

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My son was born almost 11 months ago and is just starting to walk on his own.  Seeing him learn to stand on his own feet and the look of sheer glee on his face as explores his world is  magical.  Watching him and his big sister become more and more themselves is basically the best thing in my world.  I think most parents experience something similar, having kids gives us a chance to see the world through new eyes and experience familiar things for the first time once again.

Like many parents I find myself reconsidering priorities and modes of thought.  In my professional life I spend a lot of time thinking about metrics and key performance indicators (KPI’s) because so much of what I do revolves around tracking and reporting.  It’s far too easy to get so caught up in the work that one loses sight of the KPI’s that really matter – things like being a decent human being, teaching my kids good values, leaving the world a better place than I found it. What I’ve come to realize is that fundamentally they all come back to one thing – adding beauty to the world.

In tech startup-land it’s common to frame actions in term of whether or not they “add value” to the company or to clients.  It’s a useful shorthand and a good reminder that if a product or service isn’t adding value there’s no reason for people to consider paying for it.  Being cool is nice, adding value is essential.  As a professional, my interactions with customers and coworkers are determined by this simple metric: does what I am about to do add value?  I find having a simple clean metric like this immensely helpful in cutting through the noise of office politics, my own ego, and anything else that can cloud the issue.

At the same time, it’s far too easy to get sucked into thinking about things only in terms of monetary value – we see the horrific impacts of such thinking in every clearcut forest, every destroyed fishery, and in the impending existential crisis of climate change.  I’ll save the rant about capitalism for another day, for the purposes of this post it’s enough to say that these things are the result of an ideology that defines value in strictly monetary terms.  For example when one works for a logging company a pristine old growth forest has no value but the lumber you could extract by clear cutting it does; and so we clear cut our forests with abandon and leave the natural world – the ecosystem that makes our existence possible – in ruins.

I’d like to propose a new KPI: Adding beautyContinue reading

A Close Look At Mobile Ad Fraud

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I have a new article up on MediaPost looking at the various types of ad fraud in the mobile media space and how brands and their partners can combat them.

Media quality remains a top challenge for digital marketers. With mobile ad spending accounting for 70.3% of total U.S. digital advertising spending, many of the techniques used to perpetuate fraud as well as detect it have migrated from desktop to mobile. Mobile ad fraud comes in several varieties; let’s take a look at several of the most prominent.

Read more at: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/312740/programmatic-insights-a-close-look-at-mobile-ad-f.html

Deep links and Cross-platform targeting

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Two new posts up on corporate blogs for my job.  One is a product announcement on our new deeplinking solution:

Announcing: Smart Link

The second is an explanation of how data from that tool is being used along with other data to power our new cross-platform and cross-device targeting technology:

Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Targeting

(Hopefully) interesting stuff if you work in the mobile advertising and media space!

The art of jumping ship

Posted in Life, tech | Tagged , ,

I started a new job last week and was talking to my good friend Tim O’Neil about the where’s and why’s.  He’s happy in his current position but suggested I write a follow-up to my article on what to look for in a new company addressing when to start looking for that company.  After thinking it over, I thought it would make for an interesting conversation – so please feel free to add your $0.02 in the comments!

One of the hardest professional decisions is when to look for new opportunities.  Taking a new job is a risk after all!  The thing is, job security is a myth – it simply does not exist any more.  Layoffs are a normal part of business and startups die almost as fast as new ones are born.  No one is going to stay at the same company their entire career.   On the other hand, Silicon Valley is one of the only labor markets where demand significantly outstrips the available supply (thanks in large part to the abysmal failure of American schools to turn out the engineers needed to power our tech industries).  That puts talented workers in a uniquely strong position.  Millions of Americans who are struggling to stay afloat would be thrilled to have the opportunity we have.

The solution is to start treating your working hours like a stock portfolio – if you’re not getting the ROI you need it may be time to make a change.  Here are a few KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for that portfolio: Continue reading

How to succeed in Technical Sales… and Life

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In the last month I’ve been reviewing and revising the job description for Sales Engineering (SE) at work as I work on expanding my team here. These guidelines form a sort of code of honor that I try to adhere to as a professional and outline what I look for in potential team members.  They aren’t always easy to live up to, but making the effort is its own reward.  I hope they will help you as much as they’ve helped me. Continue reading

The Peter Principle

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There are managers who you like and even learn from, people who make you feel motivated and excited to be part of a team and who lead by example instead of relying on threats and bribes.  And then there are managers like Roy.  He’s not a bad guy and was a decent engineer, but some people should never be promoted to management!

Robin was trying very hard to be diplomatic and failing miserably.  Roy had been a great programmer and when their boss had retired everyone assumed Roy would be the obvious guy to take over as Team lead, but his skill as an engineer had completely failed to translate into skill leading a group of engineers and he was floundering.  Everyone knew it, including Roy, and his panic at suddenly being bad at his job had made him defensive, which of course only made things worse.

She wasn’t trying to be critical, but things were quickly turning toxic and she wasn’t thrilled to have to contemplate looking for a new job.

Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle?

Jeanine had briefly studied organizational theory before dropping out of her grad program when she had her first child.  Having a career and building a human was all the stress she could handle.  She’d been talking about going back for most of the decade since.  In the meantime, she kept up with the field as best she could by reading on her own and finding excuses to talk over the ideas with friends.

Ok, so basically this guy Lawrence Peter argued that in most human organizations people get promoted based on their competence at the job they were doing previously, not based on how they’d perform in the job they’re getting promoted into.  Which means that over time, everyone who climbs the ladder will eventually get promoted to their position of incompetence where their inability to perform prevents them from advancing further and every large organization that doesn’t actively take steps to prevent it will end up being run by incompetent people.  It’s a side effect of the fact that our brains haven’t adjusted to moving out of a hunter gatherer society where it made sense to have the best hunter lead the hunt.

“So what you’re saying is it’s not Roy’s fault that he sucks at his job and I should just blame biology?”  Robin was obviously skeptical and her laugh dripped with sarcasm.  “Roy doesn’t need my pity, what he needs is a crash course in basic management skills.”

Robin stopped to take a sip of her beer.  It had been a long week and even without an incompetent and defensive manager she’d have been tired.  Her relief at it finally being Friday night was palpable and, as much as she enjoyed spending time with Jeanine, what she really wanted more than anything was to curl up in a comfy chair and read a book.  She started to make an excuse and stood up without looking behind her, and bumped into a couple guys who were walking past.  Robin apologized reflexively as she turned around and was surprised to find herself looking up into a face she recognized.  It took a second to click and then

John!

He laughed at her surprise and she tried not to let the way the crinkles around his smile made her feel register on her face.  They had talked a bit on skype after that first initial meeting, mostly work stuff but occasionally veering off into personal lives, music, sports.  All the standard  small talk.  She thought he’d wanted to ask her out but he never seemed to work up the courage so bumping into him here was as unexpected at it was pleasant.  He’d come out to Oakland from the city to meet a friend, Charles, who he promptly introduced.

Sorry, it looked like you were about to leave,  I didn’t mean to bump into you I should have been watching more carefully…

Oh no!  Nothing to apologize for, I walked into you.  Actually I was just going to get up and get another round.  Want to join us?

The two men looked at each other and it was Charles who spoke first.  “Actually, that would be just about perfect.”  Jeanine quickly chimed in “Well I’m glad that’s settled then!  You two go get us a pitcher” as she playfully shooed them away and motioned Charles to come sit by her.

John pushed through the crowd, Robin following after him, trying her best to not to make the fact that she was staring at his butt overly obvious.  She failed.  He didn’t mind.  It was a good night.

It’s a start

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Getting older is one of the few inevitable’s in life., and yet it’s a constant source of surprise.   I still can’t quite wrap my head around how fast the years since have gone.  9 years in a failed marriage, a house that my ex kept, a pile of songs no one sings on albums no one listens too.  And now even my career is falling apart.  I’ve failed at literally everything I’ve ever cared about.

Grant took another sip of his beer and stared straight down at the table, blank faced.  He was in one of his depressive moods and thought he was being philosophical and honest but as far as the rest of the world was concerned he was just wallowing in self-pity.  Jared looked across the table at his friend and raised his eyebrow.

Snap out of it man.  There’s a difference between failing and not having succeeded yet.  Everyone who knows you respects you – you have courage and integrity and you’re smart.  No one else would have walked into Mark (their CEO)’s office after a major product launch and told him the direction he was taking the company was wrong and would bankrupt us.  And I can’t think of anyone else who could have convinced him he was right.  That takes guts.  You should be proud of yourself, not crying into your beer. Continue reading

What to track in your Mobile App?

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Brand new blog post up on the HasOffers corporate blog!

Acquiring users costs money and keeping them is hard. Every app has some amount of churn but how much and under what circumstances depend entirely on you and the experience you’ve created. Since it’s impossible to measure uninstalls – on all three mobile platforms uninstalls happen at the OS level outside the app and are thus invisible to the app developer and to SDK-based measurement – the next best thing is to capture key engagement points and measure dropoff based on the number of users who hit each of these.

Since the functionality and flow of mobile apps vary so radically, it’s impossible to identify specific events that everyone should track. So instead I’m going to go through a few common types of events that I see our clients measure and the value propositions behind each.  Continue reading…

10 Rules for Startups

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I was hiking with a good friend from a previous company this last weekend and we got to talking about some of the things we’d both learned over the last few years of working in tech startups.  I mentioned that I’ve put together a list of rules that for me determine whether I think a company is likely to succeed or not and he expressed interest in seeing it, so here it is.  I reference these rules both during the job hunting process as I’m evaluating opportunities from various recruiters and to decide if and when it’s time to jump ship and look for something new. Continue reading

First Impressions

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I’ve been thinking a lot about Google Glass lately.  There are a lot of naysayers, as with any new tech, but I’m really hoping they’re able to pull off a successful launch.  Unfortunately, Google has a long track record of not giving their new releases the support and rapid iteration that’s required at the beginning of the lifecycle for a new product (ex: Google+) and then standing by while they wither on the vine.  So today I’d like to talk about some of the things that need to go into launching a new product and what we can learn from technologies in other industries that should have succeeded but didn’t.

Continue reading