Tim Brown organized

Rick Rubin, interviewing Arnold Schwarzenegger:

RR: When you list the great directors that you worked with, if you think of each of them, would you say there are any qualities that they all shared? What made those people so great, from your perspective?

AS: All of them had vision. When they tell you the movie that they want to do, they will look out into emptiness and tell you of what the movie will be about. And what’s important in this movie, and how you should play the role in this movie, and what they’re trying to get across. So they were visionaries ... all of them had a vision. They had the guts to do it. They didn’t think small, they thought big. And they didn’t listen to the naysayers.

Listened to this yesterday, and it was just what I needed to hear. What an inspiring interview! An early Christmas present from two legends. I appreciate Rick’s deep curiosity and Arnold’s forthright guidance.

Sat, 23 Dec 2023

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. Entertaining dual stories, linked psychologically. I didn’t understand all the connections. “Inklings” seemed unnecessary, but maybe that was the point? Was the real world also psychological? In any case it had the Murakami effect of making me want to grocery shop, listen to music, and drink whiskey. (Via Talin Wadsworth.)

Fri, 22 Dec 2023

Feedback is a gift

Wed, 20 Dec 2023

I’m fortunate to work with an excellent manager. She gives me freedom, encourages me, and helps me grow. With her guidance, I spent 2023 regularly interviewing customers and managing the prototyping of two concepts that became high priorities for our team (one of them our top priority). It was a wonderful learning experience, feeling out new processes and facing the pressure of strong interest in nascent plans.

But while I was learning and growing, my team was struggling to understand me (and my projects). I know this because my manager gathered feedback from my colleagues, collating and sharing it with me as part of a new coaching process. The feedback touched on my strengths, but I focused on the “areas to improve”.

To be frank, when I first got this feedback I felt many negative emotions. I felt angry, embarrassed, and discouraged. I felt my colleagues judged me unfairly, and I criticized myself as I thought back over the months. I couldn’t settle these negative emotions, so late that evening I dumped all the feedback into a text file and spilled out my reactions line-by-line. Theraputic!

Next morning, after taking a fresh look, I distilled the feedback into five priorities — and realized that my super-smart, hard-working colleagues had given me a playbook for how to be a better teammate and how to improve all of our working lives. These priorities aligned perfectly with the quarterly goals I had just set for myself, so I included them as “coaching improvements” in each relevant goal’s definition of done. Because I have confidence in knocking out quarterly goals, I know I can address this feedback too and make positive changes.

Coincidentally, I recently listened to the Huberman Lab podcast episode with Dr. Adam Grant, in which Grant describes the concept of a “second score”. He tells a story about giving a workshop to high-ranking military officials and receiving tough feedback (they felt he had wasted their time), effectively a low score. Grant felt bad, just like I did. And rather than settle for this, he responded by trying to get a high score on how well he responded to the first score. The second score reflects how well we take feedback.

I’m grateful for my colleagues’ advice, grateful for my caring manager, and grateful for my ability to respond with understanding and agency. And I’m shooting for a high second score.

Jane McGonigal, Imaginable:

This is how you become a pioneer. And it’s something I’ve seen again and again: it’s so much easier to come up with new innovations, to imagine new products and services and businesses and art forms, when you play with ridiculous, at first, ideas — because far fewer people are thinking about and getting ready for these “unthinkable” futures. You get to the ideas first.

Tue, 19 Dec 2023

Jody Rosen, The Genius of Lionel Messi Just Walking Around:

If you ask any astute observer – an experienced coach or player or tactically tuned-in analyst – how to understand the game, they will advise you to take your eyes off the ball. There may well be an analogous precept, with a German name, in philosophy or art history or mechanical physics. The idea is this: to apprehend the main thrust of the narrative, to really wrap your mind around what’s going on, you must shift your focus from the foreground to the background.

Making me want to articulate the product management challenges of oscillating between broad awareness (which drives good decision-making) and directed storytelling (which drives clarity). Especially tough during periods of technological disruption, when swinging from one to the other must happen frequently and quickly.

(Via Jason Kottke.)

Mon, 18 Dec 2023

The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. — Watterson

You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. — Jobs

To do great work, the right strategy is not to plan too much. — Graham

Stories forthcoming.

About

Hello, I’m Tim Brown. I’m a designer and toolmaker with 15 years of product leadership experience.

My special interest is typography, a fancy word that means using fonts. I’m Head of Typography at Adobe, where I work on design tools and help people stay sharp.

I live and work in New York State’s Hudson Valley with my wife and college sweetheart Eileen, our three daughters, and our dogs.

Please feel welcome to email and connect on social.

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My friend Chris Silverman illustrated the header graphic. Yes, it’s a BOTW reference!