I’ve been working in and leading distributed teams for the past six years, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned so far in a short series.

A cartoon planet Earth on which several people are throwing paper airplanes back and forth to each other.
A cartoon planet Earth on which several people are throwing paper airplanes back and forth to each other.
One of the many pleasures of remote work is meeting and working with people all over the world.

In January of this year, I started preparing a conference talk on “new work” to share information about trends, research and best practices in distributed teams.

At that point, I could already see that the bigger, more established companies were becoming “remote-curious” and considering new ways to structure projects and people, but who knew that 2020 would suddenly turn into a great global experiment in working via video calls, instant messaging and distributed documents? …


This is the third post in a series on the topic of “Physical and Financial Fitness.”

Cartoon girl says, “I hate phone calls.” Cartoon phone says, “Why though?”
Cartoon girl says, “I hate phone calls.” Cartoon phone says, “Why though?”

Ever have that feeling that you need to start something and just… can’t?

In the last post, I wrote about having small, specific, achievable tasks that build toward a bigger theme. But the truth is, even small tasks can sometimes be intimidating.

For example, I know I personally have a nagging fear of “doing it wrong” (in whatever context “it” applies). That fear can make even simple, achievable, well-defined tasks feel challenging and uncomfortable.

For me, a couple of examples are things like “incorporating lunges into my workout” or “calling my accountant to talk about taxes.” …


This is the second post in a series on the topic of “Physical and Financial Fitness.”

Cartoon girl looking up at the stars with a dreamy look.
Cartoon girl looking up at the stars with a dreamy look.
Dreams are more likely to become realities when you can give them specificity.

When you look at a vague, long-term goal like “getting fit” or “becoming financially stable” do you think, “Yes! Perfect! I’ll start right now!” or do you feel more like, “Yeah, okay. I’ll do that one of these days…”

If you’re at all like me, it’s going to be the second answer. Why? Big ideas about fitness and financial wellness are themes, not goals. Themes are too big, too undefined and too easy to screw up.

That’s why, as a person who strongly believes that we all need to be physically and economically powerful, I’m going to advise you not to work on “getting fit” or “achieving financial health.” …


This is the first post in a series on the topic of “Physical and Financial Fitness.”

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At some point, you may need to consider the fact that doing athletic things makes you an athlete.

I never considered myself an athlete.

Sure, I went out for long bike rides for the fun of it, and I took a dance class at the community center. I grew up skiing and hiking with my parents. When I moved to New York City after university, I joined yoga classes and a social running group.

Competitive sports seemed intimidating, but in my late 20s, I finally signed up for a few races to give myself something to train for, and I discovered that they were fun and inspiring. Soon after, I was signing up for half-marathons and sprint-length triathlons. …


Mistakes happen. Don’t make things worse with a bad apology.

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You’re not alone. Even the Death Star suffers from denial of service attacks.

When we build things, we break things. Sometimes we break things in public, and sometimes we break things that affect people’s lives.

You never know when you’re going to discover a problem with your product. Maybe it’s today, maybe next week, maybe next month. Even when we plan well, things happen. Problems are coming. An apology must follow.

Here’s the thing: It is possible to apologize incorrectly. A simple, “I’m sorry,” might work for a typo, but it doesn’t even come close for bigger problems.

Say you managed to survive the explosion that occurred after a targeted attack by a group of your enemies on the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station (AKA the “Death Star”). You’re now the head of operations. …


Do you realize… that The Flaming Lips are actually User Experience masters?

It may surprise you to learn that The Flaming Lips have been making music since 1983 — nearly 35 years.

That kind of success and staying power isn’t luck. It’s craft, and the principles that help The Flaming Lips thrive can help your products excel.

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My ticket to the Berlin show on this year’s European tour.

1. Start Strong.

People are busy. They have chaotic lives. You lose a potential user quickly.

When The Flaming Lips open a show, it looks like this:

Ten seconds of the opening number.

Some products hide their wonder behind walls of text and stacks of form fields. Consider what that feels like for your audience. …

About

Leitha Matz

FinTech COO. Startup Mentor. Woman in Tech. I spend a lot of time thinking about technology products and user experience, and I love stupid puns.

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