In the early days of LearnVest, von Tobel put everything involving her business before her own health and needs. A lifestyle that’s based on little sleep, long workdays of drinking nothing but coffee, and forgetting to squeeze in doctors visits obviously isn’t sustainable for the long term. Now that von Tobel has been running a business for four years, she says she goes to the gym almost everyday and stays healthy.

“Advice for startups from LearnVest founder Alex Tobel” via Business Insider.

Maintaining a healthy and somewhat-balanced lifestyle while working at an early-stage company is hard. I use my calendar to make sure I block off time for crossfit, date nights, and spending time with my family. It never feels like enough time, but by regularly blocking off time and only cancelling if it’s absolutely necessary, I find I can maintain the energy needed to put in the time at the office.


After a year of this, one day, one of my partners came in and told us some really disturbing news about her life situation, and suddenly, things kind of clicked. It was apparent that we might be her only positive daily interaction, and that the extra attention, especially that when she had a complaint, really might have meant a lot to her personally, giving her some modicum of control in her life and also a feeling of importance. We’d never let our service waver, and we were very glad.

Great article on Business Insider, “What Baristas Think of Your Coffee Orders.

I am always impressed by the consistently high bar of the baristas’ professionalism and amicability at the SoHo Starbucks I go to every morning. I also give them a ton of credit when they don’t jump the counter and shake the person in front of me they decide to pay for their $5 latte in pennies when the line is out the door at 8:50am. 


The SMB market is becoming increasingly fragmented, with businesses realizing the power of the cloud and breaking out of using siloed, one-size-fits-all solutions that are mostly tied to desktop-based software. In doing so, businesses are increasingly mixing and matching a bunch of different vendor platforms to find the right combination of tools.

“ZenPayroll Partners With A Dozen Other SMB Back-Office Tools” via TechCrunch

Another great company opening up their API’s and making the experience for SMB’s more seamless.


It’s an absolute myth that you can send an algorithm over raw data and have insights pop up. … the predicament of data wrangling [is] big data’s “iceberg” issue, meaning attention is focused on the result that is seen rather than all the unseen toil beneath.

“For Big-Data Scientists, ‘Janitor Work’ Is Key Hurdle to Insights” via NYTimes

A great article that covers the inherent issues of dealing with unstructured data. “Data wrangling” is as important as the actual magic delivered by “data science.”


By owning engagement on both desktop and mobile, startups capture more attention and become more defensible. It takes more effort to switch someone from Sunrise when they’re using both the mobile app and desktop app. This is especially important for those creating more ‘commoditized’ apps that can be easily replaced.

Awesome quote from producthunt founder rrhoover in “The Return of the Desktop Productivity App” via TechCrunch

We are focused on building exciting, productive, multi-screen experiences with our new sales app, Klink. Early customers love the desktop and tablet notifications that accompany all of their phones calls. We initially thought we would just focus on the mobile apps, but lots of love for the multi-screen experience has us delivering across all of them simultaneously.


Another challenge with lean dogma is that all that testing and prototyping can feel aimless, even to key members of the team. At Iodine, we spent a lot of time brainstorming and prototyping various features to test, which left some staff members unclear what we were working toward.

“When to Break the Lean Startup Rules” via Inc.com

Thomas makes several great points about adopting the lean startup methodology. As the team at Contactive has grown we always try to make clear to everyone why we’re doing certain in-app experiments or customer-driven development exercises. Sharing with the whole team the reasoning behind the individual experiments and their desired impact has helped significantly with the team’s cohesion around our core mission.


It took us six years, or until 2012, to get to 1 trillion objects stored. Then it took us one more year to get to 2 trillion. So that’s an indication of the speed of growth.

“Talking the Cloud Business with Amazon CTO Werner Vogels” on Recode

Great interview piece on Recode with Werner Vogels on the state of AWS and how they’re approaching growth moving forward.


For example, he says at the company everyone knows what a developer does and what a product manager does. But those roles need an overhaul, and that’s what he meant in his memo when he said “nothing is off the table.”

“Satya Nadella: This Is How I’m Really Going To Change Microsoft’s Culture” via BusinessInsider

I saw the role of the Program Manager change only slightly in my ten years at Microsoft. The explicit separation of the Program Manager’s responsibilities from the non-code side of the business – marketing, business development, KPI’s, etc. – made it such that you could get really good at designing a UX interface but have no idea if customers liked it (or really needed it in the first place). Not every team or individual PM had such clear separations, but it was definitely less than common. 

I’m still in a bit of the honeymoon phase of working for a tiny startup where everyone’s roles are naturally wider (due to the work vs. resource balance). Yet my short time here has convinced me that for the PM role to evolve at Microsoft, it absolutely must move more towards a Product *Management*-style discipline, one driven by metrics, KPI’s, and customer-driven development. This was happening on my last team where we were building Mail, Calendar, and People on Office 365, and I hope that the style of work we were beginning to embrace (more agile, metrics- and customer-driven development) continues to spread.


According to Meeker, more than 1.8 billion photos are uploaded and shared daily across these platforms. These photos are not findable: more and more people are choosing to share one-to-one, creating richer, more personal connections.

How Messaging Apps Are Changing the Way Businesses Connect With Customers” via @huffposttech 

Mapping this consumer trend to the enterprise world makes it clear that companies will need to focus on small team collaboration scenarios to drive adoption of new productivity tools.