Andrew Bryk

Invisalign and 3D Printing

I was in the chair at the dentist getting fit for my Invisalign aligners. Several thoughts popped into my mind. Are we approaching a point where I will be able to get impressions and have the actual Invisalign to take home on the same day?

With the rise of personal 3D printing, I do not think my vision is too far off. When I asked my dentist, who also happens to be my uncle, about my thoughts, he confirmed that this should happen within the next 5 years, although he personally does not know anyone who has started to work on it.

Currently, the process to get Invisalign is quite arduous. The patient first has to go to his dentist/orthodontist. The dentist will decide if you are a candidate for Invisalign or some other orthodontic appliance. The dentist takes xrays, photos and impressions. The impressions are used by the dentist in his/her office to create models that are mailed to Invisalign. A hard copy (old fashion) of your xrays are also sent with the models. Most xrays are now digital as are the photos so that is all submitted electronically with a prescription to Invisalign for treatment. They evaluate everything, mostly by dental teams in Costa Rica to reduce costs, and create a treatment plan. This is placed on the dentists online account. The dentist logs into their account and reviews Invisaligns recommendations. This includes video and further explanation of how the treatment will proceed and how the teeth will move. So far the only physical thing created is the models by the orthodontist.

The doctor reviews this and approves it or recommends changes. The dentist can also call the company to speak to the dental team about the treatment plan. Once the final plan is set on their website, the orthodontist approves it. This data is transmitted to the production facility which is in Mexico where the Invisalign trays are created and finally sent to the doctor. The trays are then initially inserted by the dentist to confirm the “fit”. Some appliances also often require attachments, or filing of the teeth for the tooth movement which again must be done by the dentist. This is done at different phases of the treatment depending on each individuals tooth misalignment and tooth anatomy. This takes about a month.

There is clearly a large room for improvement in the actual creation of these trays. With a 3D printer at an orthodontists office, the tray creation can be performed after the orthodontist logs everything into the system. This would cut down the process from at least a month to no longer than a week. This would allow orthodontists to take more patients for these treatments and therefore more revenue. I believe this is just the beginning of the impact that 3D printing can have on the dental industry.

A Day in the Life of a Product Manager

Notes from a panel at General Assembly SF

 

On my trip this past week to San Francisco, I wanted to meet product managers to gain insight into their roles. I mentioned this in a meeting with John Capecelatro and he said that there was a panel at General Assembly the next day on a day in the life of a product manager. It was perfect timing! I was looking for something to do at the time of the event and as a past intern at GA NYC, it was a great opportunity to see the office of GA in SF. Although I didn’t get to check out the offices as the panel was held in the old garage of GA, it was incredibly helpful in providing information about the PM role and I made sure to take a lot of notes. I felt it was so helpful that it would be great to share with others. Below are my notes from the panel. Errors and omissions are mine. Credit for everything is given to the panelists.

Jason Shah — Product Manager at Yammer

Ryan Hoover — Director of Product at PlayHaven

Blake Barnes — Product Manager at Facebook

Nathan Bashaw — Moderator — Product Manager at General Assembly

Q: What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Jason:

  1. Figure out what to build this but also thinking how it fits in to what we want to build in 5 years
  2. Work with engineering and the design team
  3. Constantly measuring success — Very data driven

Ryan:

  1. Work on broad vision for the product
  2. Meet and talk to customers
  3. Collaborate with everyone on the team (engineers, designers, etc.)

Blake: (Explained as an analogy)

  1. It’s as if you are running a small company within the company. You are the one leading the product.
  2. You have to define the mountain your team is going to climb. You must help your team to get up the mountain, celebrate your victory and then choose another mountain for your team to climb.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being a Product Manager?

Jason: Thinking about what people are trying to do and understanding the “micro-interactions” users have that affect the product. He obsesses in thinking about very miniscule things in general and is very aware of his surroundings so he enjoys seeing the small interactions people have

Ryan: Talking to customers

BlakeLaunch day — Everything your team has been working on is done and at Facebook, you have the pleasure to see your panel with the user chart as a legitimate hockey stick of almost a billion users

Q: How much technical knowledge is necessary?

Jason: Need to make sure you at least understand technical concepts

Ryan: Varies on the company + product

— Earlier at PlayHaven — did not have to be as technical

— Later — very necessary to clearly communicate with everyone

— a few benefits if non-technical — ask naive questions + make engineers rethink some problems. However, these do not outweigh the benefits of being technical

Blake: Pros outweigh the cons in being technical

— The more you know, the more you are able to leverage your knowledge

— Being technical brings you street cred to your team. It is very important to make sure your team trusts you

— Being non-technical should not prevent you from getting shit done but have to make sure you at least understand for example the interactions between client + server

Q: What is the difference between working at a small vs. big startup?

Jason: Small — more hands on

— Big — needs to talk to people out of your group

— learn from people who did it before

Ryan: The best PM’s have a high emotional intelligence and know how to relate to people

— Small — much more diverse role. You need to reinvent and evolve every 20 people that are hired as you scale

— Now — more process and project management is needed as a team scales. Something PM’s are responsible/help out with until we hire someone dedicated to this role.

Blake: a lot more design work as a PM at a small startup

— at FB, much more removed from the actual product

— It is like inception to convince your team to do something without them feeling as if they are being told what to do

Q: How do you deal with technical debt?

Jason + Ryan: Tech debt is often a byproduct of moving fast and making conscious decisions that you know you’ll pay for later. Sometimes it accumulates and later invest in paying back tech debt when it becomes a problem.

Blake: Hire people to focus primarily on this — some people are obsessed in dealing with these issues

Q: What 3 tasks do you spend the most time doing in %?

Jason: Not specific percentages

— Staying current on everything around him + how they are building their product

— Spec’ing things out

— Focusing on data

Ryan: 50% — work with enginering + design teams as well as project management of filling in the holes

— 10% — talking to customers. Trying to do this more though

— 40% — miscellaneous — everything else — data, internal stuff, competitors

Blake: More than 3 things to mention

— 20% — design team work

— 20% — cross-functional work with other teams

— 20% — Tracking the pulse of what everyone is working on

— 10% — breaking up work (project management)

— 10% — figuring out next thing to be built

— 10% — runs the bootcamp program for PM’s at FB

— 10% — Worrying — this leads to everything else

Q: How do you set goals for a product?

Jason: Solving a problem — Always trying to up MAU’s

Ryan: Long-term vision

— Goals for each quarter and making sure they are very clear throughout the company

— Focusing on engagement

Blake: Big strategic plays — more vision oriented

— Shorter term is very metric driven

— Speed matters — if a user can get the same action done in less time, it is a big upgrade

Q: What mattered to get where you are today?

Jason: Demonstrate ability to get shit done. You have to do anything it takes to succeed

Ryan: Learned under VP of product at a gaming company. Fell into the position under a mentor

— Being proactive and regularly contributing ideas and helping my boss as well as always be asking to help

Blake: Craigslist — Got first PM role through it

— Lucky to be on a team that needed help with specs and mockups and he took the role into his own hands

— Didn’t wait for anyone to tell him what to do. Just went for it

Q: Does data trump anecdotes?

EveryoneTrue — People get upset at decisions made by the company but data shows you what people are actually doing

Q: How do you use data?

Jason: Focus on 4 factors — retention, engagement, virality, revenue

Ryan: Focus on how much the use features — Breadth + depth

Blake: FB has literally tons of internal features. Privilidged to be at a company that has teams thats only job is to work on internal data

Q: What is most unexpected as a PM?

Jason :Analytics — Cannot mention enough how much statistics matter

Ryan :Always needing to evolve. Everything is constantly changing

Blake :Recruiting helps build product vision. At Facebook, each team must try to recruit the candidates to choose to work with them. By continuously recruiting for his team, he is always refining the product vision.

Q: How is your success measured?

Jason: Based on what people around you think

Ryan + Blake: Some PM’s have more qualitative metrics but its hard to measure

Q: Where do you want to end up?

Jason: Go around the world and do develepment projects as well as start another company

Ryan: Ambitions to start own company or join another early stage startup. Longer term, I can see myself doing more advising/investing.

Blake: Not sure where he would like to end up

Q+A from the audience

Q: How do you prioritize what to build next?

Jason: Need to weigh against engineering costs — short vs. long term

Ryan: Based on quarterly goals

— Sometimes have requests from biggest clients — need to be very careful to make sure their requests align with the product vision

— Always looking at numbers

Q: As a PM, would you rather be a jack of all trades or a master of one?

Blake: You want to be a jack of all trades. As a PM, you should never be better at any given task than anyone is on your team. Everyone on your team should be specialized in what they do.

Q: How do you decide what to do with now vs. later?

Ryan: Really likes what Medium does by organizing “Jank N Drank” on Tuesday nights on which they completely focus on fixing bugs and usability issues

Q: What are some red flags when you are looking at a feature?

Blake: Always be checking in on how things are progressing

Jason: Sad faces mean a lot. Being able to gauge emotions of your team and be connected to them will help you understand situations much better

Q: What % of projects do you kill?

Jason: 30% gets killed — dont get blinded if something is not the right product

Ryan: Need to be sure the team understands why something is killed and that’s it’s often a necessary part of building a great product

— if A/B tests fail, don’t think it is a failure. A majority of tests do fail

Q: Where do you draw inspiration for the next feature?

Blake: varies by company size

— empathize with your customers

Jason: Be observant of your surroundings — watching people to see what they’re annoyed with always gives the best insights. Pay attention to inneficiencies

Everyone: Seeing how people piece together hacks on your product and then providing that action in an easier manner.

Why I Was Wrong About Medium

After hearing about Medium, I was very skeptical of yet another publishing platform. What feature could it possibly have that the others didn’t include? It just looked like a place for the tech elite to share their thoughts as everyone waited on the side for their turn. This is until I was finally “chosen” and received an invite.

After joining, I cross-posted my last two blog posts on Medium. Writing on Medium is seamless. However, a better writing experience isn’t enough. It needed something more.

Then, the page views started to roll in. I pushed my first post on June 23rd and within 3 days had over 150 views. Aside from the one outlier of the 35 posts on my Tumblr, I had averaged about 50 views per post, majority of these coming from my family and the 40 friends my mom forwarded my posts to. I have always enjoyed writing and the fact that my mom or one of her friends enjoyed a post of mine urged me to continue. I figured the 150 views were a fluke

After publishing my second post on July 28th and seeing the response, I realized the potential of Medium. Over 200 people read it the first day and over 700 within two days. Medium has changed the way in which writers can be discovered. Having a following on your tumblr or Wordpress blog is not a requirement to be noticed. People that have a lot of knowledge to share but have not had the chance to acquire followers over a long period of time now have the opportunity to interact with others reading their content.

People criticize Medium questioning why to move their blog to Medium if they already have a profile and following? Medium does not need to be your profile. It gives the opportunity for established writers to acquire more views and can be a great supplement to your blog. You can share different thoughts on a variety of topics that you normally would not post on your blog because you can now get discovered in different categories. My favorite example of this is how Semil Shah has posted several more personal posts on Medium he might have never posted on his regular blog.

I’ve also seen several tweets questioning why they should read these posts written by “nobodies.” People underestimate those that might not have been able to become a successful blogger. However, being able to share high quality content and gain a following are two very separate skills. Medium has created a platform in which it focuses on the quality of the content and helps those that have had trouble with their distribution.

I think people have and will continue to see the immense value of Medium and it will become a major publishing platform in the future. We will find many people that have great ideas we can all learn from but have never had the public platform available to them.

Be a Caddy to the People Around You

So much of our time is spent on looking at other people envying what they have, criticizing them, and worrying about what they think of us. It is inherent in us as human beings. This is not a new observation. However, I feel like I don’t see people making any effort to try to counteract these feelings. This may be because I don’t personally know what emotions and feelings other people have aside from my own; but I believe that we as humans have a lot of potential, particularly, to help others. Think of that situation when you received praise for an action that you did. The feeling of appreciation and gratitude after someone says something good about you is unmatched. We all know this feeling, and yet we are so involved in trying to gain this feeling for ourselves that we don’t try to help others achieve this state of mind.

I began to think more about this watching an episode of Parks and Recreation. Chris Traeger, an upbeat character said in a recent episode, “I love being a caddy. It is not just about carrying clubs. It is about offering positive reinforcement…I consider myself a caddy to everyone in my life”

A caddy is by a professional golfer’s side for all four rounds in a tournament, reading greens, giving advice on club choice, pin placement, and tons of other elements that go into the game. If a golfer wins, it is rare that a caddy receives much credit, which is reasonable. However, without the caddy, it would be near impossible for the golfer to win the tournament on their own. Chris Traeger’s observation struck a chord with me.

We should all strive to have the ability to be a caddy. We have the ability to give positive reinforcement and help others, which can have a huge impact. A caddy’s job is to continue to offer the advice and positive reinforcement whether the golfer is leading the tournament or in last place. Being able to offer positive reinforcement and trying not to criticize people, whether they are on top of the world or down in the dumps, can lead them to great success. I hope everyone can strive to be a caddy to everyone around them.

15 Seconds is a lot of time

With the release of Instagram video , I found the choice of 15 seconds to be very interesting. I think 15 seconds presents a big opportunity but not without its risks. The average commercial is 15 seconds. This is the most obvious reason why Instagram chose this amount of time. They will need to generate revenue somehow. This will be a lot more difficult than the average person thinks, as Steve Cheney, Head of Biz Dev at GroupMe mentioned in a fantastic blog post. As Steve said, thinking Instagram’s advertising dollars can be similar to those of television ads is foolish. However, I do believe that Instagram will find a way to leverage its vast amount of data to be able to generate revenue somehow with these videos.

On the other hand, 15 seconds seems like a ton of time when I am leisurely scrolling down my newsfeed. I do not have time to spend watching all of my friends’ videos. Instagram has always been the app I go to when I have one to two minutes free. I’d quickly scroll down and see the cool pics people I follow were taking, “like” some of them and get back to whatever it was I was waiting for. Adding 15 second videos completely changes the use case for when I should open Instagram. In the 1-2 minutes I scroll the app, I will only be able to watch 4-6 videos compared to being able to potentially see 10 times that amount in photos in that timeframe

This presents a big risk in terms of having videos and photos in the same feed. The obvious move by Instagram will be separating the feeds, which I hope they will do sooner rather than later.

A smaller risk 15 seconds poses is the production effort that goes into 15 seconds. The 6 seconds of Vine was short enough that not much thinking was required and it took very little effort to make an effective and entertaining Vine. The ability to take 15 seconds of quality video is a difficult task, one that I do not believe I or many users have the skills for. Yes, taking less than the 15 seconds of video solves this problem, but given the option to go longer, people will use that to their advantage and potentially make worse videos. 15 seconds is a lot of time for the average person to create an awesome video. The biggest aspect I enjoyed about Vine was the limit on time, which in my mind made the majority of videos look great, unless I only saw people that were talented at vining.

All in all, despite the risks a 15 second video poses, I hope and believe Instagram has thought this out in detail and will make the additions of video successful, having the benefit of sharing to Facebook as a
huge boost. I have already spoken to several friends that have deleted Vine, as they would prefer to share with their existing followers on
Instagrams rather than building another follower base on Vine. Additionally, as CNBC’s Eli Langer stated, daily Vine shares on Twitter have dropped a massive 50% since the launch of Instagram video. It is clear that people are heading in masses to take their videos making to Instagram and it will be interesting to see if they can capitalize and actually generate revenue with the 15 seconds.

The Invisible Computer of the Future

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Toward the end of reading The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman, I was struck by an excerpt in which he describes his vision of the invisible computer of the future. 

The computer of the future is perhaps best illustrated by my imaginary perfect calendar. Suppose I am home one evening, deciding whether to accept an invitation to attend a conference next May. I pick up my appointment calendar and turn to the appropriate page. I tentatively decide that I can attend and pencil in the topic. The calendar flashes at me and displays a note reminding me that the university will still be in session during that period and that the trip overlaps my wife’s birthday. I decide that the conference is important, so I make a note to check whether I can get someone to take over my classes and to see whether I can leave the conference early for the birthday.  I close the calendar and get back to other things. The next day, when I arrive at my office 1 find two notes on my message screen: one to find a substitute for my classes next May, the other to check with the conference organizers to see if I can leave early. This imaginary calendar looks like a calendar. It’s about the size of a standard pad of paper, it opens up to display dates. But it really is a computer, so it can do things that today’s appointment calendar cannot. It can, for example, present its information in different formats: it can display the pages compressed so that a whole year fits on one page; it can expand the display so that I see a single day in thirty-minute intervals. Because I frequently use my calendar in conjunction with my travels, the calendar is also an address book, notepad, and expense account record. Most important, it can also connect itself to my other systems (via a wireless infrared or electromagnetic channel). Thus, whatever I enter into the calendar gets transmitted to my office and home systems so that they are always in synchrony. If I make an appointment or change someone’s address or telephone number on one system, the others get told. When I finish a trip, the expense record can be transferred to the expense account form. The computer is invisible, hidden beneath the surface; only the task is visible. Although I may actually be using a computer, I feel as if I am using my appointment calendar.”

I am astounded by the image Norman had of the future 25 years ago. We are in this future Norman imagined. Technology exists for a calendar like Norman describes to be created. However, with the countless amount calendar and virtual assistant apps available and constantly being created, it does not seem like people are taking the leap to reach these levels. Within a few years, I believe my calendar will be like a mom is to a young child — having more knowledge about myself than I know, able to book and schedule my life each hour of the day without me having to do much of anything.

If you have never read this book, I highly recommend it. It will make you look at daily routines such as opening doors and turning on a stove in a completely different way.

5 Reasons Dots is so Addictive

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With Dots soaring to the top of the app store rankings and everyone posting their scores on Facebook and Twitter, I thought about what has made the game so addicting. Here are the 5 key reasons that continue to make us connect the dots.

1) It’s Quick - 60 seconds is the perfect amount of time for a game. You can do it waiting in line, in the bathroom, as a quick distraction, on the subway, etc. it’s enough time that I don’t feel like I’m wasting too much time on a game

2) It’s Easy  - connecting the dots doesn’t take much thinking or skill. You don’t have to pay much attention as you play. Any age range can enjoy it. Both my parents and little cousins can play without the need for much learning.

3) And yet it is Strategic - when to stop the time? Eliminate a dot to get a square? Using the power ups at the right times separates the good from the great

4) It’s Competitive - who doesn’t want to beat their friends?!? Bring on the competition

5) Each game is Different - you never know what to expect with your dots. It reminds me a lot of bejeweled, which I have spent way to many hours playing several years ago

Huge congrats to Patric Moberg and Betaworks on another great product.

My Ultimate To-Do List Hack

I have always struggled with my daily to-do list. I constantly download every new productivity app and yet feel that it is not the right solution for me. I realized over time that the best method was pen and paper but struggled to find the optimal layout of my to-do list that would help me be the most productive. 

Several weeks ago, I re-read this article (http://blog.idonethis.com/post/34170232603/marc-andreessens-productivity-trick-to-feeling) on Marc Andreessens productivity trick to feeling productive. Andreessen explains how he has created his own anti to-do list. He writes down what he has accomplished during the day as opposed to what he needs to get done. I realized that this was the aspect of my design I was missing. In my original layout, I had a to-do list on top of the page with long-term goals and to-do’s at the bottom. After seeing the article again, I split the to-do list in two columns and added a done list on the right. It was a small and simple change that has helped me tremendously.
This has helped me realized that a to-do list can be fulfilling if its not looked at as a burden but rather as achievements you are accomplishing each day 
Original
Inline image 2
New and improved To-do
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What is on your iPhone Home Screen?


I always wonder how other peoples home screen on their iPhone look.  I have seen many people post their screens on Twitter (Jack Dorsey) and I wanted to conduct some sort of experiment detailing the statistics of people that have certain apps on the home screen.  I have created a tumblr (http://homescreeniphone.tumblr.com/), in which I will post peoples home screens that are sent to me. Please comment on this post, tweet at me @andrewjbryk or email ajbryk@gmail.com with a screenshot. I will post the statistics on the apps each week

Embrace the Past

 

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One of the first memories I recall in my life was when I turned 2.   I remember the cake of Thomas the Tank engine that my dad spent 12 hours making, however, my favorite memory was the presents I received from my grandparents. They bought me a Little Tikes basketball hoop along with a set of plastic golf clubs.  This hoop was witness to the blood, sweat and tears as my brothers and I played epic games in our basement for the past 18 years. The games started when we were young, as my dad played 1 against 3 on his knees. The games progressed to me and BJ, my second oldest brother, playing against my oldest brother Darren, until we were finally able to beat him. After Darren’s retirement from basement basketball, I went through years of torture and tantrums until finally beating BJ with some miraculous shots. After playing with him a few weeks before I left to Florence for one of the first times in a couple of years, my parents were having flashbacks to our games as kids and it reminded me of all the good times I had with my siblings. On the court, we were all fierce rivals and yet off the floor, we were the closest of friends.  Being able to separate the two is a lesson I have taken with me everyday of my life.

People say that one should not live in the past. However, reminiscing on specific events of the past and realizing the traits and skills you gained that have shaped you into the person you are today can bring a lot of serenity and good feelings. There is a huge difference between living and looking back on, which is something I find myself doing often.  These experiences motivate me to live life to the fullest and to appreciate every moment that comes my way so that when I look back on these times, I will be reminded of the great times I have had and the great times to come. 

Michael Jordan’s 50th Birthday Celebration

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The celebration of Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday has bothered me. Every website and channel focuses on his individual achievements.  They make it seem that Jordan has made it possible that the name on the back of the jersey is more important than the name on the front.  I believe that Jordan would not want people to get this image. Where are the interviews with Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and his other teammates discussing how good of a team player he is? MJ was all about elevating the games of his teammates and yet this fact hasn’t been mentioned. Despite the fact that Jordan could take over a game at any moment, his teammates always benefited from his leadership and style of play.  I hope that younger people, who were not there to witness Jordan display his acts of leadership know that the name on the front is way more important than the name on the back and MJ would agree.  Jordan was the ultimate team player and would not want anyone to think otherwise. 

Tech Thoughts and Ideas from Italy

As I study abroad at NYU in Florence for the semester, I have noticed several areas where I believe there is room for innovation in Italy and other countries as well as the US. I have listed a few below.

1) Information on Restaurants and other local businesses - In a search for restaurants that my friends and I would like to visit, it is often difficult to find information, particularly the menu and products. A majority of restaurants do not have websites, let alone any type of info on yelp, etc. Single Platform has killed it in this area and it seems like there is potential for someone to provide these foreign local businesses with easy ways to manage and post their offerings to the web to help make consumers decisions easier.   

2) Restaurant Menus - On my trip last weekend to Venice, I was shocked to see that in over 75% of the restaurants I visited, there was a picture of every item on the menu as seen in this pizzeria.  I found it very interesting to see what my order looks like and it personally helped me make a quicker decision. As Dave Mcclure noted in this post, there is a ton of areas for innovation in the restaurant industry and I think this is a trend along with many others will be seen soon in many NYC restaurants.  

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3) Language barrier on tips and recommendations in Foursquare and other sites - When I visit famous restaurants or shops, there are tips that have been voted very highly except I have no idea what they are recommending because it is in a different language. It would be awesome if Foursquare had an easy way to translate people’s tips.

4) Where is the place to be tonight? - This is an issue everywhere but I have noticed the potential as I am studying in Florence as the work is not as intense and more people go out at nights.  The constant question I here everyday is which bar or club is the place to be at tonight. In Florence, promoters have many “spammy” tactics in trying to get students to come to a certain place each night.  They primarily use Facebook to blast out information in student groups on parties and deals at a variety of locations.  However, they do not help the students in knowing where the “party” will be at. This problem exists everywhere as people always struggle in deciding where to go out but I think with innovation in sensor technology, a place should be able to tell people how many people usually come on a given date, the ratio of guys to girls etc. This will not come close to solving the problem completely as people still wont know the place to go to that particular night but it is one idea that can perhaps help make a decision easier. 

Discuss on Hacker News Here

What is the value of a celebrities tweet about your company?

I have recently been thinking about the value of celebrity endorsements through social media, particularly through twitter. Everyone wants to be given a shoutout by the Justin Bieber’s and Shaquille Oneal’s of the world.  People believe that with that one celebrity endorsement, their startup will take off.

How valuable is their tweet anyway?  Thousands upon thousands of people retweet their tweets but does that mean conversions for a company.  Out of the people that sign-up for a product that they mention, what percentage of those stay on as recurring customers or visitors to the site. Does it add any value to just gain signups?  Does anyone know statistics of how valuable it is for startups to have celebrity endorsers or have examples of ones that have succeeded or failed? 

“0” Downside in Trying to Connect

Ever since I can remember, I have always been a shy individual.  Like majority of younger kids, I was afraid to approach people I did not know. When I got to college, I decided that I wanted to rid myself of this trait and this was not an easy process. It took quite some time before I felt any sort of comfort talking to new people and it can still difficult at times. However, I believe putting myself out there has helped me make tremendous strides in my everyday life. It led me to the startup scene and has led to numerous chance encounters with fascinating and incredibly talented individuals. 

Last week, as I waited to board my plane in Salt Lake City as I returned to New York from a trip with some friends, I sat down in my seat at the airport.  I opened up foursquare, checked-in and noticed that Bryce Roberts, founder of OATV Ventures had also checked in 5 minutes earlier. 

Without thinking twice, I opened twitter and tweeted at Bryce, “@bryce just noticed after my checkin you are in slc airport as well. Headed to nyc? Any chance you’re available to chat.”  

Unfortunately, about 10 minutes later, Bryce replied to my tweet “@andrewjbryk sorry I missed you. no NYC for me tonight. safe travels!”

Despite not being able to chat to one of the brightest minds in the VC world, I came to several realizations after this Twitter exchange with Bryce. The biggest thing I realized is that there is “0” downside in trying to connect with someone you dont know, no matter how much higher they are than you in the totem pole or whether the odds of them responding are .001%. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. And as long as you ask politely, even getting a no has its benefits.  You will be noticed as making an effort and showing that you care. There are many ways to try and reach out to someone that will be able to give you great advice and possibly connect you to the job of your dreams (will get to in future post).  Making these efforts just takes guts and not overthinking your actions. It has helped me grow both personally and professionally and it is something many more people should try to do.

Elevating Your Craft

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Last week I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a fascinating documentary that details the daily activities of one of the most famous sushi chefs in the world, Jiro Ono.  He is so well known that he can charge hundreds of dollars per person.  Several lessons can be learned from Jiro in how he conducts himself and how he has achieved this grand stature in his circle.

All in the details - If Jiro notices someone using his left hand, he makes a small adjustment to place the sushi on the persons left side. He makes sure every single aspect of his restaurant is in perfect condition and that the customer will feel at home.  Companies should pay attention very closely to the needs of their customers and make sure they feel at home as well.

Love what you do - There was never a day in Jiro’s life where he was unhappy doing what he does for work. This reminded me of what Vin Vacanti said in his skillshare class I took several months ago. Since starting Yipit, Vin has not experienced one case of the Monday blues and wakes up excited to get to work each and every week.

Always look to get better - Jiro has been making sushi for over 65 years. And yet he says he can always get better. He constantly works toward this goal and is never satisfied with what he has done.  When Jiro’s sons were asked what the most important lesson they learned from their father, they said, “Always strive to elevate your craft”. This is perhaps the most important lesson that can be learned from Jiro.  In order to elevate one’s skills, one must constantly be working toward his or her goals and must not slack off.   Jiro’s dedication is unmatched. Jiro is like a CEO.  He explains how he is always the one in the limelight that looks over his sons and apprentices that work under him.  It is his responsibility to teach all of them. His success is not just due to his unbelievable sushi skills but also his great ability to pass his skills on to those working with him.

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