The hiring team I assembled gathered in one of TaskRabbit’s conference rooms to review the candidate we had just interviewed for a Product Management role. Everyone had submitted their feedback privately before this discussion, but now I wanted to get a little more color as a group. The consensus was that the candidate, Drew (name changed for this post) had good experience, was a competent product thinker, and seemed aligned with our values. The concerns from the team were that he didn’t seem data driven and that although there was some good chemistry the team felt that (I swear this…


It was Monday evening and I walked out of the office around 7pm. I was taking my normal route home from Sentier to Le Marais by walking south on the crowded, café-laden Rue Montorgueil. As I turned onto the rue I saw huge clouds of yellowish smoke billowing across the sky from east to west. Strangely, no one seemed to notice it. They continued drinking their aperitifs and chatting contentedly with their friends. I hoped it was no big deal.

When I got to the open space near Châtelet and Église Saint-Eustache de Paris I could see the sky more…


Rue des Rosiers is a small, narrow street in the heart of Le Marais with cobblestones underfoot, fashionable boutiques, and a few charming restaurants. This may be off topic but I have to say, it may well be the falafel capital of the universe.

Five falafel shops are within fifty steps of my door. Nearly every day unconscionably long lines of people queue to wait for a €6 falafel. There are falafel shops one block over with no line, but there must be something special about Rue des Rosiers falafels. Back to the point, it really is a charming street…


You get very lonely in Paris because you see so many people on the sidewalks at the cafés drinking and smoking and laughing. There is a constant reminder that you are walking home by yourself with your dinner and your rosé in your backpack.

I don’t mind being alone that much but I was happy when Harold texted me on Saturday late afternoon and said let’s grab a drink. I said sure and asked where. “Les Étages,” he said. It was on Rue Vieille du Temple, less than a five minute walk away. We decided to meet at six.

It…


I woke up at 5am due to the jet lag. I had slept like crap, tossing and turning all night fighting off recurring dreams of puzzling anxiety and electrifying stress. As I slogged through my morning routine and got ready for my first day of work, my mind kept saying what the hell are you doing? I pulled on my jacket and reluctantly stepped out into gloomy dawn of Paris in February.

What was I doing? I loved living in Potrero Hill, in San Francisco, in Northern California. I loved our house, our kids’ school, our outstanding community of friends…


A playful way to look at what apps/startups need to do to thrive in the next business cycle. Based on a talk I gave this April at Industry: The Product Conference in Dublin. (Note: this is not religious, but meant to be a fun, perhaps useful, thought exercise.)

Last fall I was remembering my college days as a Badger at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In particular, I was remembering my Philosophy 101 class. In this class we were studying enlightenment philosophers such a David Hume, George Berkeley, and John Locke. They were attempting to solve a big problem of the…


I find morning routines interesting. Here’s mine.

Podcaster and author Tim Ferris likes to ask his guests what are their morning routines. His guests are always super remarkable people in one way or another and their answers are fascinating with many common themes often combined with heavy doses of eccentricity. I have also found it interesting to ask this question of those in my world. From this I’ve learned how important it is to set yourself up for the day with intention, physical movement and mental grounding.

So, in case anyone is interested, here is my morning routine. I have…


Using Maslow’s famous framework for product planning

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is one of the most well known frameworks of all time. Famously, Maslow draws the pyramid of human needs where lower layers of the pyramid represent the more basic needs (for example, physiological and safety needs) while each level above moves towards transcendence and self actualization. As the theory goes, one can only satisfy the needs at a certain level after satisfying the needs of the levels beneath it. If the lower need has not been met the person will not have the motivation, focus or capability to work…


No, it’s not an Eastern European carmaker. That was Yugo. And yeah, it’s not an Italian restaurant in SOMA either. That’s Buca. I’m not a big fan of either of those, but I am a huge fan of VUCA.

VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Any startup or anyone going to work at a startup needs to index high on their comfort level with each of these. Trust me: it’s VUCA out there.

Volatility

Change is constant at startups. Everything is new and new information is acquired every day. (You know: build, measure, learn, repeat.) This leads to changing…


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Excuse the rant, but I am tired of getting this question. Every couple of months somebody seems to ask it. It’s always someone outside of the product development team. Usually, it’s somebody from Operations or Marketing (no offense!) who is anxiously awaiting for their pet project to be finished.

It plays out like this… The co-worker walks over to tech side of the office one day at 6pm, sees some empty desks, and then assumes the team is not working hard enough. Okay, I get it. From your perspective, “butts in seats” has been a good proxy for productivity. …

John Vars

CEO @Mixhalo (formerly CPO @GetQonto, @VaroMoney, @TaskRabbit and Co-Founder @dogster)

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