I'm a firm believer in needing to find your personal passion/skill/opportunity fit as the ultimate path to career fulfillment. Only when you find a career that you're passionate about, that you can also be skilled at, and one that has sufficient market opportunity will you achieve ultimate career satisfaction. And it takes a careful balance of all three dimensions because simply finding fit along one dimension unfortunately won't result in success nor fulfillment.
While most folks found value in this framework when thinking about career fulfillment, some wondered what was a viable process by which they could actually get there. They knew that the role they were in wasn't it, but also didn't know how to find their personal passion/skill/opportunity fit nor how to start heading in the right direction.
To provide my perspective on this, I wanted to share my own career journey and how I specifically leveraged an explore & exploit algorithm at every turn of my career to ultimately find my dream job.
When I first started learning about product design, one of the most influential books I read was The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. In this classic work, Don Norman sheds light on the design of every day objects like doors, stoves, thermostats, and more. He then applies these universal design principles to designing technology products. Don Norman is one of the leading thinkers on human-centered design and the principles he writes about are required reading for every product designer. I still reference these principles daily in my work designing Notejoy. So I wanted to walk through each of Don Norman's six principles of designing interactions and how they remain relevant to designing digital products today.
When I went to college I knew that my ultimate aspiration was to found my own tech startup and in order to prepare myself for that goal, I decided to pursue a dual-degree at the University of Pennsylvania from both the engineering and business schools. I studied computer science in the engineering school and ultimately settled on finance at Wharton. While I may have been better served studying marketing or management, I did learn some important finance principles that I still use day-to-day in my product management role. I wanted to share three such principles that I find incredibly relevant to product.
[This is the third post in my Understanding User Psychology series. If you haven't already, make sure to check out Meet Your Happy Chemicals and The Psychology of Persuasion.]
When looking to understand user psychology to design better product experiences, one of the richest sources of knowledge exists within the game design world. Game designers have been refining their techniques for decades to build ever more engaging and enjoyable experiences that drive specific player behavior. Their techniques are rooted in a deep understanding of player psychology and have built an incredible set of mechanics that they repeatably leverage to design addicting games.
Today I wanted to provide an overview of some of the tenants of game design and particular game mechanics that can be leveraged to drive user behavior in any digital product.
2016 was another great year of writing for me. I published my 100th essay at the beginning of the year and wrote another 20 essays throughout the rest of it. I grew unique visitors by 50%, page views by 80%, Twitter followers by 30%, and email subscribers by 450%.
But just like everything I do in product, what excites me most is rarely the stats, but the impact I have on real people's lives. And this year I appreciated the outpouring of notes from readers. I relished the stories of helping a reader get their very first product manager job, helping an entrepreneur to reach product/market fit, and helping a new product leader find their footing in their expanded role. Please keep sharing your stories as it's really the fuel that motivates me to keep on writing.
As a quick look back, here are the five most popular essays I published this year in case you missed any of them.