It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.Dizzy Gillespie
You can’t kill email! It’s the cockroach of the Internet, and I mean that as a compliment. This resilience is a good thing.Email Is Still the Best Thing on the Internet
Design like you’re right; listen like you’re wrong.John Lilly
There are a lot of problems out there that can and should be solved, and not just because it’ll be great for you, but because it’ll be great for everyone. Once you have this premise — once you’ve found the right thing to do — the strategy is to first know what you don’t know, the tactic is to grind, and the value is to remember: there are plenty of places to innovate.There’s a .00006% Chance of Building a Billion Dollar Company: How This Man Did It
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down different paths.Walt Disney
If you try to delight the undelightable, you’ve made yourself miserable for no reason.It’s not about you
In my experience, these types of parenthetical interfaces are almost always misguided, mostly because they run up against one of the (nearly) immutable laws of interface design: people don’t read interfaces.Unnecessary Explanations
Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.Sir Winston Churchill
most workplaces will move within the decade to a system that centralizes all of their communications and makes them searchable across the different systemsThe best way to organize your business communications is not to organize them at all
Today is the day that I finally publicly talk about what I’ve been doing for the past eighteen months. That’s a long time, so I thought it would be fun to run through what’s happened in that time.
A journey starting August 2012
When I left Hipstamatic in August of 2012, I knew I wanted to do something a little different. Hyper consumer tech like Hipstamatic is a lot of fun because you can build for yourself and most of your friends and family will understand it. But for me, it also can miss out on something that I believe about software: it is the most powerful building material humans have ever invented. Software is eating the world by transforming every single human endeavor.
I’ve been fortunate in my career to work on non-sexy software. I built software to power logistics, order management, and warehousing for the top companies in the power transmission industry (think motors, belts, drives and bearings). I worked at a company that builds the best code coverage tool for the .Net community, and at that same company we created a product to help Type 1 diabetics track important metrics. I’ve built point-of-sale solutions for retailers that had less than modern backends. I’ve even hacked Wordpress more than any sane human ought to makeover a coupon site.
The thing is, I like non-sexy software. It’s a great example of just how transformative software can be when applied to pretty much anything.
The couple of weeks after my departure from Hipstamatic were truly hectic. I interviewed at way too many places (and also discovered that I do not want to be a full-time scheduler for anything, ever), including very consumer things and not so consumer. I ended up choosing, after much deliberation, a company that was trying to make business products with the same attention to detail that consumer products are known for.
When I started at Tactile, the team had already built the first version of the app and server that we would launch in late November 2012. I transitioned the company away from the consulting group that had been building the iOS app and was subsequently the solo developer for the app until we hired our second iOS engineer in September 2013 (not without trying many times to hire another iOS engineer!).
It’s been a fun ride. There have been plenty of ups and downs (hello, startups). But, I’m super proud of what we’ve achieved so far. The product has come a long, long way since we first launched it in November 2012. We have shipped 20 updates in about 16 months. Each update has represented more learning and more understanding of what we should be building. Tact started as a mobile address book that syncs with Gmail, Exchange, and Salesforce and is now a true mobile power tool for sales professionals.
We have grown Tact iteratively, intentionally, and on top of tons of customer feedback and interviews. At each step, we have asked, “What do we build next?”. We have been ruthless (arguably too much at times) to keep the product simple and focused. The path has often been fuzzy, but we think it has become crystal clear over the last few months.
We are building a product that takes a stand against building for the enterprise first. Our first priority, and primary focus, is to make software that works for the individuals using our products. Superficially, this may seem antithetical to the goals of the companies that these people work for, but we believe that people are happier and more productive when software is designed for them, and the early adopters of Tact agree.
My CEO wrote a great blog post explaining our current perspective. You should check it out.
And, a new career direction
The beginning of 2014 marked the beginning of not only a new year but also a new direction for my career. I have been obsessed with how to build great products for about as long as I can remember. Writing code has been the primary way for me to build products, but I have also dabbled in design, marketing, copywriting, analytics, customer support, and all sorts of things that are involved in building products. I’ve often thought about transitioning from full-time engineering to a more product focused role, but the right opportunity has never presented itself.
In January of this year, my CEO offered me an opportunity I couldn’t refuse: to take over leading our product. It wasn’t a hard decision to accept this offer. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to a full-time engineering role, but so far I’m thoroughly enjoying this new challenge, even though I have no clue what I’m doing.
Our public unveiling marks just another step on our journey. We are going to continue building whatever we need to make good on our promise to build the best tools possible that help people get their work done and be happier doing it. We will continue to listen intently to feedback and continue shipping well-designed, focused software.
Here’s to the journey yet taken.
Our time and headspace are the most valuable things we have, and what we can do with them is virtually unlimited.Able Parris - Focus Means Ignoring
Impostor syndrome. We all know it.
Am I good enough? Do I really know what I’m doing here?
No, I’m not good enough. I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing.
(blissfully ignoring any success that I may have had in the area under current questioning)
Maybe I should just go back to doing something I know how to do. I wonder what’s happening on Twitter…
This is a pattern I know well. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in my career fighting to not succumb to the perils of the impostor syndrome, but I’m beginning to suspect that is an unhelpful (and maybe futile) approach.
Because, you know what? I am an impostor. I really don’t know what I’m doing most of the time. Sure, I know a few things and have legitimate skills in certain areas, but when I zoom out and observer my day-to-day work, I’m totally winging it.
And, that’s a good thing.
It means I’m pushing into areas of discomfort and uncertainty. I’m creating space for surprise because I don’t know 100% what’s going on or how it’s going to turn out. That sounds fun.
The presence of the impostor syndrome is hellish sometimes in the day-to-day effort of work, but I say bring it on.