The Power of Meditation

man-meditates-wp

Meditation is transitioning from an obscure quirky phenomenon to a generally accepted habit for American workers. Two factors are driving this shift in perspectives: Western studies on the practice, and social proof.

Recently Wired published an article about how tech giants at Silicon valley are utilizing meditation at work. The article: Enlightenment engineers: meditation and mindfulness in Silicon Valley

Product Development Life-Cycle

Intro

I am working on a new product. This is the first post where I will share how I am applying the product manager set of tools covered in General Assembly’s course on Product Management. Because I am early in my product discovery phase I will outline the broader perspective of my approach through the lenses of the product life-cycle and the product development life-cycle.

Product Lifecycle

The Product Life-cycle

Development

Currently, my product is in the development stage.

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Product Management: Needs, Features & Benefits

Intro:

Last week I began General Assembly’s course on Product Management. Gopal Shenoy is leading the class as our instructor offering personal accounts, and lessons gleaned from many years as a product manager.  After each class our assignment is to write a blog post on the topic of the previous class. Given that the 10 week course meets twice a week this is my first of nearly 20 blog posts.

First up: Features, vs. Benefits. This post builds upon teamwork done in class, instructor feedback, and industry authority perspectives. In our first class exercise my team considered building a new photo sharing app. (I know, huge market need right?? *Sarcasm* ) We were able to generate a list of needs, features and benefits given a set of personas. What was the process we used?

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The Truth about Exercise

According to new research highlighted by British journalist Michael Mosley on the PBS/BBC program “The Truth about Exercise.

  1. You can easily hurt yourself if you’re not prepared
  2. People’s response to exercise varies greatly (not a clear linear positive relationship between exercise and health)
  3. If you expect to lose weight by exercise alone you will need to exercise for hours at a time. (unless you change your diet)
  4. Although 3 hours / week of exercise are recommended, you can gain potentially as much benefits for only 3 minutes/ week

Hogwash? Tell that to the Journal of Applied Physiology, who is publishing studies demonstrating the results.

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Ken Schwaber: Path to Agility

Agile Boston’s April meeting was quite a treat. About 60 lucky attendees got to hear Ken Schwaber, grandfather of Scrum, talk for an hour in an intimate setting at PayPal’s Boston headquarters. Ken spoke about scaling Scrum toward what he called the Path to Agility. You can stay in touch with Ken at: http://www.scrum.org/path-to-agility

Addressing some of the challenges facing organizations as they strive to become agile, Ken first presented data showing Agile projects are reported to be 3 times more successful than waterfall projects. Summarily, an Agile organization has a competitive advantage (because it can adapt to market changes more quickly and correctly.)  If your organization wishes to become agile it can either work toward becoming agile (Path to Agility) or “buy” agile, but of course if you really could just buy it off the shelf then you should expect no competitive advantage.

Ken also highlighted common metrics for tracking progress. These include ratios such as:

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Xconomy Mobile Madness 2013
Photo Credit: Dan Bricklin

Xconomy Mobile Madness 2013 Conference

This Tuesday, March 19th, Xconomy held their 5th annual Mobile Madness conference at Microsoft New England Research and Development Center

Headlining their great agenda was Jonathan Bush, CEO of AthenaHealth, who implored mobile developers to enter healthcare because of what he called “Financial and Spiritual Arbitrage opportunities.” Indeed I was convinced at both a logical and emotional level by his conclusion that Mobile is about human experience and that healthcare should be an expression of our humanity.

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Casting Custom Tiles for the Museum of Science

Remember Han Solo frozen in Carbonite from Star Wars? That is basically what the plastic tiles I made for the upcoming Hall of Human Life exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science resemble.

han-solo-carbonite-image

Using products from Smooth-On Inc., I mixed up Alginate, a material derived from seaweed, poured it into a containment box, had models place their clean feet in for an impression, and then poured liquid plastic resin into the negative form to create each of the 50 tiles.
Here I am pouring Smooth-Cast 300Q liquid urethane plastic. I had to act quickly because the chemical reaction takes place so quickly, once the two components are mixed together I have less than a minute before it sets.

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Vermont Hard Cider’s Strong Move

By ceding control of distribution for Strongbow to Heineken, Vermont Hard Cider is making a strong and smart strategic move.

Photo Credit: Dave Linger

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported that Vermont Hard Cider, who manufacturers and markets the domestic Woodchuck Hard Cider brand is giving control of Strongbow, the #2 cider brand by sales in the US to the Dutch brewer Heineken. Here is a link to that article.

This is a classic strategy play, give up market share to grow the market for everyone.  Clearly Heineken will back Strongbow with more marketing dollars than Vermont Hard Cider could have provided, benefiting Strongbow, and likely taking share from the Woodchuck brand. However, some estimate that the Hard Cider market could grow 4X over the next 5 years, and with the marketing budgets of international brewers such as Heineken, you can bet more drinkers will seek hard cider in their stores. Woodchuck Hard Cider, the current US market leader, with 24% of the US hard cider market, will likely benefit from the increasing American appetite for hard cider.

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What GrubHub’s CEO took from the Freemium Strategy

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on the Freemium model. When it works, and when it fails. Additionally, Matt Malone, GrubHub’s CEO, also shared his experience of switching from a freemium to a subscription model after testing his product and listening to his customers.

First the successes: The article cites Dropbox Inc., LinkedIn Corp., and Skype Inc., as examples of companies successfully building a free user base through positive network effects who recommend and rely on others using their services. Some percentage (1%-2%, according to David Cohen, founder and CEO of Tech-Stars) of the free users then pay for premium features or bring in paying users through word of mouth.

It is easy to see why the freemium model is so attractive to startups, but the liability of a large freeloading user base is increased operating costs, and potentially negative reviews of your brand if you fail to meet expectations.

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