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The past year working at Nucleus has been an amazing experience for me. I joined the team in March of last year with the goal of having our product on store shelves the first week in August. After having worked at a hardware startup that sadly never made it to market, I was intimately aware of all the challenges that hardware companies face and I was determined to make sure we not only shipped but that the product experience was as simple and delightful as it could be.

At the time I joined, we had a functional technical prototype of the core product but none of the experience designed around it. What followed was a crazy 5 (!!!) months where we rebranded the company, focused the value proposition around rich family communication, designed the whole experience (packaging, device, mobile apps, website), worked closely with Amazon to integrate Alexa, ran a successful beta program and got the product shipped on time. Most importantly, we built a strong relationship with our initial customers thanks to a) solving a problem dear to their families and b) showing them, with our actions, that we care about customer experience above all else. This resulted in a consistent 4 star rating at Amazon and many more units sold through the holidays than we could have imagined. …

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Jarod Erondu

If Oprah can have a list of her favorite things, why can’t we all?

Over the holidays, as I was drinking wine and lamenting the dumpster fire of a year 2016 was, I thought it would be good to try and think about the products and experiences that stood out to me for being uniquely delightful in hopes that they may bring some happiness or inspiration to others as we head into 2017.

Hopefully something in here brings you joy, inspires you to create something new and amazing or just makes your life a little better.

1. “No Chewing Allowed” Chocolate Truffles

In my final hunt for Christmas gifts this year I wandered by a booth in the Union Square Holiday Market with a line 20+ deep. People were buzzing about the truffles these two guys were selling — “I heard they don’t even have a store! They just do markets!” On a whim, I decided to wait and pick up a box as a gift and they turned out to be one of the most unique + delicious sweets I’ve had in a long time. You’re not meant to chew them at all. Just er … hold it in your mouth and wait for it to dissolve. It tastes like the most delicious hot chocolate you’ve ever had. I gave one to everyone who came to our house over the holidays and everyone was blown away. You can order them from their site. We got the Original/Signature Tin but I have no reason to believe they won’t all be delicious. Order a box. …

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I hadn’t logged onto Facebook since December 2014. Back then, I decided the effort — and data, oh that sweet sweet data — I was putting into the service wasn’t coming close to being matched by the value I was getting out of it. This was in stark contrast to the two products I used the most — Twitter and Instagram — where that balance was much more rewarding.

Facebook also became a place where being yourself, and sharing/standing by what you believe in, would often cause more trouble than it was worth so I found myself “toning down” the things I cared about in a way I didn’t have to on Twitter. Of course all this isn’t a surprise as Facebook is like being at a party with everyone you’ve ever met through every (often very different) stage and facet of your life. It wasn’t worth it. …

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Photo by Justin Luebke

After 9 great months working with many startups, I’m joining one.

Over the past nine months I’ve been working as an independent product consultant, collaborating with companies in a variety of capacities — product design, product & company strategy, process & org design and a little bit of coaching along the way.

Since June I’ve gotten to work closely with 10 companies and I’ve met with over 60. As I suspected, the variety that consulting offers has provided a great, rapid, learning experience and also happens to offer an amazing amount of flexibility and great compensation. …

As 2015 came to an end, I realized I’ve been working as a consultant since June and I thought it would be useful for me (and hopefully others) to reflect on how it’s gone, what I’ve learned, what I’ve changed, now that I have a decent amount of time and data to look back on.

Time is money. Plan accordingly.

Time is everyone’s most valuable resource and while most people could benefit greatly from a more rigorous approach to time management, for the independent consultant, this is a very literal thing. You can make good money consulting but any time not spent working on something that you can bill to a client is time not making money. No more getting paid every two weeks no matter what. Feel like shit and don’t want to work? No money. Want to take a week off and go to the beach? No problem. Also, no money. …

Back in May, after a little over a year, the company I’d been working with, Sum, closed its doors.

The vision — to take wearables beyond data for data’s sake and empower people with the insight necessary to make meaningful improvements to their long term health — was a big swing in a space I cared deeply about. The opportunity to approach it as a designer was something I couldn’t pass up.

As with all big swings, I knew there was a high chance of failure but pulling out of a race before you even get to hear the starting gun, was crushing. Prior to joining the team, I’d had an outsider’s sense that hardware is hard and my curiosity about what exactly makes it hard was a big draw to the role. The experience was eye-opening, gives me a newfound respect the teams who pull off well-executed hardware launches, and has helped me develop a new set of product design tools in my arsenal. …

I’d started gathering notes on my experience with the Watch on the weekend it was released (a little over a month ago) but quickly realized that the device fit into such a new place in my life that hot takes wouldn’t cut it. Below is the result of me capturing thoughts over the course of about a month and then going back and doing a little revising as some of my hottest takes ended up melting away as I got used to this new device in my life.

I wanted to capture these initial thoughts on the first version so I’d have something to go back to as I think the way in which the Watch as a platform evolves over the next few years will be fascinating. Hopefully they’ll also be helpful to those considering whether now is the time to pick one up. …

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This past weekend I ran my best half marathon ever by ~3 minutes and I owe most of it to the Garmin running watch above that I borrowed from my wife.

Over the years, I’ve been a heavy user of the Nike Running and Runkeeper apps and while the audio updates they provide on pace and distance are certainly better than nothing, they’re too infrequent to really have a material impact on my runs. …

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You can no longer add a new pin from the Home screen (left). You have to do it from the top of the Profile screen (right)

My overwhelming use case (>80 %) for Pinterest is to save something, usually an image/screenshot from my desktop or camera roll or via an extension (both iOS and Chrome). The other 20% is to find something I know I’ve previously saved to one of my boards.

Every time I open the Pinterest app, I’m reminded of how small a segment of the Pinterest audience my behavior must represent because I’m surprised at how many steps it is to do either — this is particularly true for the former. As a user, I’m frustrated but as a designer, I’m impressed.

The Pinterest app didn’t start out this way though — the Add Pin action was demoted to the Profile screen with the launch of Pinterest 4.0 (Nov. 2014). That means the Product teams at Pinterest clearly saw things in the data to support what I imagine were controversial decisions for them. They clearly chose to really optimize the mobile apps for on-the-go behaviors (never a bad idea) —browsing, searching and potentially re-pinning — at the expense of adding new pins, which I suspect happens predominantly from a computer/web browser. …

I’ve been longing for something “between Twitter and Medium” and in some respects today’s Medium changes look to be just that. That said, I’m honestly still a little mindfreaked by them and am struggling to get my thoughts in order. Here’s a quick stab:

  • A few months ago I switched my Twitter bio url to my Medium posts in the hopes that, over time, the product would evolve to replace the blogs many of us used to call home in the late 90s- 2000s. Today’s changes make me happy I made that bet.
  • At least for me, Medium used to be a place that I ended up after seeing a link shared to Twitter or from an email. The new homepage suggests it should be a place where I start, like Twitter. Feels like a personalized magazine that I consume and contribute to in the same place. …


Alex Rainert

Head of Audio Product ✨🎧✨ @NYTimes . Husband to @superkb , dad of 2, vizsla owner, introvert, avg ⚽️ player, @LFC , easy laugh. Past @foursquare @google

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