Latest Writing & Things of Interest

July 20, 2018

Link: Assistive Technologies I Test With

A nice little roundup post from Dave Rupert about what tools he uses for testing accessibility. The keyboard, dimmed screen, and zoom tests are all in regular use over here, but I’ve admittedly only ever used VoiceOver for screen reader testing. I’m not that proficient at using it, either, so it might be time to practice some more and expand my testing with other screen reader software, too.

Check it out →
July 16, 2018

David Allen Unexpectedly Explains Why Representation Matters

I’m digging into Getting Things Done by David Allen again, and I came across a passage that perfectly explains why representation for marginalized groups is so important. I didn’t expect anything like that in GTD, but there it is:

It’s easy to envision something happening if it has happened before or you have had experience with similar successes. It can be quite a challenge, however, to identify with images of success if they represent new and foreign territory—that is, if you have few reference points about what an event might actually look like and little experience of your own ability to make it happen.

Pretty good explanation if you ask me. For people to understand and believe in success, they need to be exposed to it and see examples of it. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to just dream up realistic paths to success from scratch. We all need examples, people to look to, and paths highlighted so that we can start traversing them, breaking off from them, and forging our own.

July 13, 2018

Link: Who experiences code of conduct violations?

Holy shit, this post from Karen McGrane is spot on. Very disappointing writing, strategy, and stance from Information Architecture Foundation organizers. Is this common with conferences? This level of ineptness? This level of victim shaming? WTF?

Check it out →
July 12, 2018

My Current Favorite Podcasts

podcast microphone illustration

I’ve been listening to podcasts for a few years now, rather casually. It’s only recently that I’ve started digging into them more and listening on a regular basis. There are a ton of podcasts out there, which means there are a ton of terrible podcasts out there. Fortunately, I’ve come across a few of what I consider to be the better ones.

These are my regulars, the one’s I nearly always listen to. Whether it’s when I’m doing dishing, cleaning up, going out for a run (a recent addition to me life), or just want something to listen to while I’m working, these are what I throw on.

The Important Ones

These podcasts are essential listening, as far as I’m concerned. They tackle important issues in interesting ways. And are generally really fun to listen to, too.

Of those, I’ve really been digging the first two. Both bring up a lot of good, divisive issues, and talk about them more frankly than other podcasts, which I appreciate. They’re both relatively new, but I’m hoping they stick around for a long time.

Song Exploder is pure joy for a musician (even a failed one). It’s absolutely fascinating listening to artists walk through their creative process. And the inside look at demos and single tracks from a mix are absurdly cool.

The Fillers

These are the podcasts that aren’t quite as important in my personal development, but they’re always a good listen. I use them to keep up on news, tech stuff, and get tips for personal productivity and general living.

My wife is trying to get me into My Brother, My Brother, and Me, but I haven’t gotten into it yet. I know some diehard MBMBAM listeners, though, so there’s got to be something to it.

Other than that, the rotation changes all the time. I’m always listening to new podcasts and seeing what’s out there. Which means I’m always looking for suggestions on what to listen to. Have a favorite podcast? Email me and let me know about it.

June 29, 2018

Reframing Growth

reframing growth charts

For the longest time, I’ve been against one of the most pervasive attitudes in the tech and business world: growth-at-all-costs. I’m still against that mentality, but my opinions have been evolving lately.

At an intellectual level, I understand that growth is what fuels businesses and the economy. Without growth, everything stagnates and eventually dies. But emotionally, it just doesn’t feel right. Pursuing growth over everything else in a business seems like a recipe for disaster. It leads to the hustle, which leads to the grind, which leads to burnout—both for individuals and businesses.

I can’t get on board with that.

I get why so many companies default to the growth-at-all-costs model, too. So many of them take outside investments that it probably feels like the only path to success for them. When you’re beholden to investors that want a lucrative exit in the next 2-4 years, massive growth is one of very few options left. And investment is so ingrained into our culture that most people default to it as the only way to build a business.

Still, I wholeheartedly think that the One True Path™️ for businesses should be the one laid out by DHH—making a dent in the universe, rather than trying to upheave anything and everything. Create a solid, sustainable business. One which cares about what the customers and employees want, not investors. One that doesn’t consume every waking hour and employee lives in the process. People should default to building a bootstrapped, balanced, longterm business.

It seems like growth is at odds with the “making a dent in the universe” model. Until recently, I definitely felt that, too.

Now, I think that growth is completely in harmony with slower, sustainable business. Growth-at-all-costs is not, but when a business grows more gradually and intentionally, it’s a great thing. That business will be more sustainable and, perhaps more importantly, will positively affect the lives of more people.

That’s the crux for me: helping more people. Until this past year or two, I’d have been against introducing sales and growth hackers and whatever the hell else you want to call it to most businesses, preferring organic, inbound customers instead. But now I think that having those people on a team is the way to go, assuming they understand the goals and values of the business. They help get products and solutions in front of more people, in theory helping those people solve problems and create better work and lives.

I think of Litmus, which only recently started building a sales team. For a long time, us tenured folks were anti-sales. But we’ve seen how effective sales and growth can be for getting our product (which we firmly believe improves the lives of email professionals) in the hands of people and companies that need it. There’s still the fear of growth adversely affecting our core company values, our culture, and our product, but by instilling those values and culture in the sales and growth teams, we can mitigate a lot of the problems that other companies run into.

The email industry is massive and only growing. But there are still so many shitty senders out there—the companies that send ill-conceived, broken, blast-y, spam-y emails on a daily basis. They need a tool like Litmus to help make email better for everyone. The only way we can help them do that is by growing and getting in front of them.

So, yeah… growth can be a good thing. It’s taken me a long time to reframe that in my own mind (and it’s still a work in progress). But I think for anyone that’s anti-growth, looking a little deeper at the benefits of growth and how we can temper the growth-at-all-costs mindset is a useful exercise.