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Cambridge, MA
Founder of this site.

Casual Recommendations
This short podcast provides a beautiful description of a school from the 1960's called Harlem Prep.
This further reinforces my observations that human connect, support, and collaboration can be significant drivers of engagement and satisfaction in your work, be it in an organization or a school.
Some very insightful observations about architecture and education. Saving this one for hopeful future use with The Puzzle School.
Costco has a brilliant business model that really focuses on delivering value for its customers and bucks a number of "common sense" ideas such as "more selection is better" (e.g. they don't offer 10 types of ketchup). They've aligned their business to their customers, pay their employees well, and are thriving.
These are some great observations about aspects of school that differ from many traditional models. Worth thinking through these, what might be missing, etc.
I've recommended this article to a number of people who are trying to create effective competency-based programs. I like the way this professor has student accumulating points through a variety of activities. I wonder if you could even have students develop their own activities for points toward the demonstration of their competency in a subject area.
This seems like a great technique. Create a user manual describing your expectations of other people, your weaknesses, how you want your team to work together, etc. Provides a way for other people to learn about you in an asynchronous manner.
A beautiful video about learning, unlearning, and the biases that affect our lives in subtle but powerful ways.
Excellent thoughts on hiring, firing, and general management practices from an HR perspective. I'm constantly amazed by how little attention HR gets when hiring great people is such a valuable component of any organization...
Critical Consciousness gives a name to an idea I've been thinking about and that will be at the core of The Puzzle School. Essentially it describes being conscious of the systems that are all around us and explicitly thinking about how to effectively navigate and change them. I believe this would be an incredibly valuable exercise within any school, helping students prepare for their futures, helping them to practice their critical thinking skills on authentic challenges, and helping them to recognize the complexity of the world around us and how it affects each of us in different ways (which is crucial if you want to create a healthy environment within the school).
A great podcast on complexity, our inability to predict the future, how fickle merit is, and how complicated "progress" is. A good discussion on the "merit" of music and how much luck plays a role in a song rising to the top of the charts starts at around 12:50. An interesting anecdote regarding a simulation of history starts at 11:58. The whole thing is good, though.
There are few skills that I've found as valuable in all social situations than managing expectations. The more effectively you can allow people to prepare for the future based on what you know now and how that information is evolving the more likely you are to avoid surprises and real problems. It takes a certain amount of courage to continuously manage expectations, but it really does pay off in my experience.
Pam Moran is doing great work as the superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia. This interview talks about the foundations of her work and how she does everything she can to encourage teachers in her district to continue to grow.
Not quite as interactive and educational as other multi-modal resources, but still multi-modal and the diversity of interests (design + mathematics) leads to a very nice exploration.
A wonderful podcast talking about Peter Drucker's work (I'm a big fan) around management. A number of specific techniques such as "The Manager's Letter" that can help you more effectively communicate with people in your organization.
This is a very thoughtful essay that, while focused on the process of learning to code and providing a critique of existing "learn to code" resources, is very applicable to learning anything. The ideas around reducing confusion and facilitating feedback around fundamental to the learning process and are not nearly well-represented enough in existing resources.
Creating a culture of giving may be the more important thing an organization can do. Adam Grant presents the evidence and some ideas for how to achieve this.
This article has some thoughtful and timeless observations about performance evaluation. The basic idea is that performance evaluation happens with or without a formal process, so eliminating the process will lead to an ad hoc process with little transparency. It also highlights the temporal nature of performance reviews and the underlying goal of learning.
This article does a great job of two things. First it helps to articulate how hard and unnatural it is to be a manager of CEO, and how it will take time for people to develop the necessary skills. Second it goes in to detail around one of the more unnatural aspects: giving feedback. In my mind the essence of management lies in giving good feedback (really a dialog more than just "giving") as your goal is to coordinate the efforts of your team as effectively as possible and you can't do that if you can't provide feedback effectively.
A very tangible example of someone discovering a voice that feels unique to them and captures a unique sound.
Giving feedback is very difficult and I agree that the feedback sandwich strategy is rarely successful. The advice here still feels a bit forced, but it is definitely an improvement on the feedback sandwich alone. The talk by Kim Scott about Radical Candor is well worth checking out as well.
Some solid advice about having a conversation. I personally struggle quite a bit not talking about my own experiences when someone shares some challenge they are going through even though I recognize that it rarely helps when I'm the one going through the challenge.
The first point alone justifies recommending this article: "You must like dealing with people to be great at management."
A beautiful description of the challenges a teacher faces trying to introduce students to a new way of working together, how close it comes to failing, and how, with perseverance success is found.
An interesting demonstration of many different leadership styles within great orchestras.
Good advice about getting to the heart of an issue (or just a project in progress) without laying blame and losing the trust of those involved.
Interesting breakdown of the concerns a communication expert has regarding external vs internal communications and how to address those concerns in an authentic manner.
I struggle to say "everyone should follow their passions" as life is hard and just following your passions often makes it even harder, but it's hard to argue with that advice when you see the effect it has on people who have finally taken that step.
These are great questions to help evaluate a leadership team. So much of it comes down to how much trust you have in someone's abilities and determination. I'd bet a team with high marks across the board on these questions would be very effective.
Jo Boaler is doing great work to help students overcome anxiety about math. This website is full of resources directed toward that goal.
There are few things as important as communication within an organization. Having everyone understand exactly what the organization is doing helps align people internally and externally. I'm a sucker for any design exercises that help with this process and these are some high quality exercises.
It's a horrible recording, but includes many specific ideas for effective lessons from Eric Mazur.
Eric Mazur's work offers many interesting techniques for enhancing learning. This particular presentation digs in to assessment, the purposes, and emotional responses to various assessment techniques.
Some great and honest advice about being a founder, working with a board, and people's definitions of success. I particularly appreciated the insight in to board meetings which are such a black box.
This is an amazing idea. I love ideas that effectively capture disparate ideas in a single cohesive narrative. They seem to add exponential value. The idea that you can transform the always sub-optimal experience of a laundromat and turn it in to an educational experience and a way for parents to spend more quality time with their kids is really amazing.
Great to see an example of how effective an authentic culture can be to the success of a company. I don't think this means people should copy these tactics, but I love to see companies that have some legitimate personality.
I've never been satisfied with performance reviews, but this article provides some nice framings that may make them more useful. Here's an example: "In effect, we are asking our team leaders what they would do with each team member rather than what they think of that individual."
Good advice on how to communicate from a position of power. I'm a big fan of reframing situations, using questions to learn and communicate, exploring extremes to recognize the nuances of your thinking, etc. And I really appreciate the dinosaur metaphor...
This article has some very solid and pragmatic advice around becoming a good manager. It's a little specific to engineering roles, but I think a lot of the advice can be applied to management in general.
My appreciation for storytelling and the value it provides continues to grow. Giving a good presentation is an important skill and this advice seems worth paying attention to.
Some very solid advice on public speaking. I particularly appreciate the idea that trying calm yourself may be counterproductive compared to saying "I am excited".
We need to be engaging with students more and give them more ownership of their education. This is a good place to start and seems like honest feedback.
The basic finding is that if someone finds something to be challenging vs. a threat then they will perform more effectively. This rings true to me and I think it could be applicable even in situations where there is not a high degree of stress. Just the framing of an appropriate challenge could go a long way toward explaining performance in a number of different situations.
Despite a cheesy title I do think these quotes are valuable to keep in mind as you approach any goal.
Interview with an adult who went to Summerhill and, by his own admission, graduated without knowing how to read and write barely at all. It's fascinating to see how confident and successful so many of these graduates are despite not having even these basic skills.
Very solid advice on designing a course. It's specific to an online course, but I think the ideas apply to off-line courses as well.
I think culture fit is a real thing (i.e. I wouldn't hire a jerk in to my organization), but culture fit is a widely abused concept that I think limits organizations and causes them to play it too safe when it comes to hiring. I think the observations in this article about implicit and explicit expectations for candidates are particularly valuable.
Teaching a robot to do something provides a fascinating perspective on the explicit instructions you need to provide to do something humans do naturally. The usage of predictions, validation, and iteration in this video provides both a powerful algorithm for robots as well as a process that humans can leverage more effectively.
This is a simulation of a full ecosystem that requires people to work together, make laws, constrain resource usage, etc. in order to survive and grow. As simulations like this become increasingly accurate and dynamic they offer a fantastic, iterative, educational environment. Excited to try this out.
Simple, straightforward example of Jo Boaler's work, transforming math education in to a pattern-matching puzzle-like exercise where there goal is to explore how many different perspectives a problem may have vs. what the right answer is.
I agree with Dan. There is great pedagogy here. Setting up a casual interaction that both scaffolds the problem (you think about it based on your intuitions) and creates a mystery that must be solved is a great way to approach learning. I'll have to keep it in mind as we develop interactions for The Puzzle School.
Love the emphasis on getting away from screens. Great ideas around collaborative learning and an environment designed to encourage collaboration and generate ideas.
I'm a sucker for retrospectives. Great way to increase communication on a team. These are some good techniques.
My first startup was built on Ruby on Rails and it has been the key technology in most of my work. Remains one of the most effective ways to build a web startup.
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Basically gave me my first break as a professional software engineer. I learned more about high quality business and software practices from my time there then I've seen anywhere else. The processes of pair programming and test-driven development continue to inform ideas I have in other industries.
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I'm a big fan of all Boston sports, but Fenway holds a special place. Hard to beat a warm summer night at the old ballpark.
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I've been visiting Acadia almost every year since I was a child. Beautiful landscape, fresh sea air, and an easy-going, outdoor-loving community. Highly recommend checking it out.
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50 cent oyster deal, great atmosphere with a fire, and a deck to hang out on. Hard to beat.
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Patagonia was one of the most memorable trips I've taken. Raw and beautiful. Feels like the edge of the world. It's a little pricey, but Explora was an amazing place to stay.
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The best wartime movie (mini-series) I've ever seen. Remains one of my all time favorites.
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The Wirecutter and more recent Sweethome are two websites that focus on providing in-depth recommendations of products ranging from computers to cars to boots. They set up a business model (revenue comes from Amazon referrals) that helps to ensure they can provide the most honest recommendations possible. This, combined with extensive research in each product category has made these websites indispensable for me. I use their recommendations on almost every purchase I make now. (note: they were recently sold to the New York Times, so I hope the quality of their recommendations continues under the new ownership)
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A consistently great podcast. Fantastic story telling about fascinating subjects. Highly recommend.
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I enjoy almost every show the produce. Consistently great story telling.
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I would challenge anyone to watch this show and not be inspired to do more cooking or even become a chef. It combines beautiful cinematography of places all over the world and world-class restaurants with the interesting journeys that many of the top chefs in the world have taken.
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Great recipe. We cook it multiple times a week. Really easy and very tasty.
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A very simple and very good movie. Legitimate music written by the actors.
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I have to give a shout-out to Chipotle. I've been wrestling with a serious auto-immune disorder that causes massive inflammation in my body. Changing my diet significantly has allowed me to avoid serious medication. Chipotle is one of the few places (fast-food or otherwise) that uses quality-enough ingredients such that I can eat it without any inflammation. My only complaint is that they do not seem to treat their employees very well leading to frequent turn-over. If they treated their employees as well as other companies such as In-N-Out I think it would make a huge different.
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Jon Stewart offers some of the most insightful and funny perspectives on news and politics without resorting to so many of the demeaning tactics used by other comedians. (Jon Stewart has since retired and I no longer watch the show as much)
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Vegeterian restaurant with a great atmosphere and some of the best views you'll find in San Francisco
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They've been the model for great customer service and high quality products since the beginning of time.
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Has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, which is probably why everyone from Richard Branson to George Clooney has a house there.
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I was blown away by the great experience this company provided in buying our latest mattress. Reasonable price, shipped for free, very comfortable, and, if you don't like it, then just donate it to charity and get a full refund. Very sharp business plan.
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