Salon

Topics of interest, in no particular order

Currently pondering...

If any of this sounds like you and you want to trade ideas, feel free to get in touch.

Platform Theory and the Role of Data

CollegeVine is finally becoming a true platform company on the verge of a breakout year. Central to our platform story is the role of data and how it's already transforming the way millions of families make decisions around the college admissions process.

Historically, we've prioritized investment in software features over data, but that's changing with our latest funding round. Over the next year or so, I'll be responsible for bringing the company's capital allocation for our data strategy up to par with the rest of the platform functions.

If you're reading this site and think it'd be cool to work with me on bringing ML to major life decisions for millions, then I would love to hear from you! I'm hiring for all sorts of roles, and an informal conversation is the best way to get started.

Mobility Standards

I came across Kneesovertoesguy on YouTube in mid-2021 and it has been a revelation. I've always taken pride in my barefoot/minimalist adapted feet (a lifestyle change I made in 2010), but the mobility standards from ATG training really blew my mind.

Fortunately, when I tested myself, none of the standards were out of reach, but I was still far from being able to claim a clean bill of health by those standards.

I've therefore set out to meet the standard as soon as possible and maintain it for at least a couple of years to see what kinds of benefits I'd experience in practice. For instance, just doing split squats on the regular has already made my lower body feel more resilient. It's been more powerful than yoga for flexibility in many ways (although I'm sure my background in yoga is helping me achieve the standards much faster than I otherwise would be).

Early Stage Engineering Advising

I've recently been talking to engineering leaders at startups that are in an earlier stage than CollegeVine and have found great joy in helping them transform their engineering teams by teaching important concepts and principles that I've learned over the years.

I didn't realize it at the time, but the intuition for why I've captured and distilled the right framework and principles is that CollegeVine essentially allowed me to do the closest thing possible to a controlled experiment on culture: we built the business one way through 2019, decided we didn't like that business model, pivoted and downsized, I did a bunch of thinking about engineering's role in all that, and did it all over again with another business model and culture with the same core group of people.

So the people didn't change, but the results were drastically different this time around. That's probably as close to an A/B test on culture as you'll get in this line of work.

But don't take it from me. Here's what a grateful advisee had to say:

"Just wanted to say thanks again for all the advice man. We've talked to many CTOs at various stages but you are the one who [our lead engineer] and [engineering manager] consistently want to hear more from." — a co-founder/CTO

Due to these positive experiences, I've vowed to always take a call from any budding engineering leader who wants help. Think of it as my way to pay it forward for all the good mentorship I've gotten over the years.

Used to ponder, but now have opinions I'm reasonably confident in...

This section is kind of like the "graduated" version of the list above. It's stuff that I used to think about with great curiosity, but now think I've reached some level of conscious competency in.
What follows is not a complete list by any means, and you should read it as the set of ideas that used to be in the top section since I started this version of the site in mid-2019 that I've since integrated successfully into my life. Though it's a tantalizing thought for the completionist in me, it's actually impossible to catalogue all my areas of interest over the years (believe me, I've tried).