Categories
Others Product Stuff

My Work From Home setup

While it has been a year since I have been working from home due to covid, I have been investing in a good WFH setup much earlier than that. The productivity improvements by just having a dedicated space to sit and do your work at home is highly underrated.

So here goes the detail of stuff that helps me work better

PS: some links below are referral links and i make a small commission for qualified purchases


The Sitting Desk: This is perhaps one of my best investment yet. I got it made a few years ago.
My main specifications were:

  • It should be longer than normal( I like to have books and reading material also on the table)
  • Specific design(see the whites)
  • No annoying leg support that most desks in the market had. They are a nuisance for slightly taller people

The standing desk setup: This is new. I figured the best way to have any standing time is if I take some meetings standing. Unfortunately most standing desks are either super expensive, or just not ergonomic. I also did not want to give up on my existing desk.

The key to a good standing desk is to have the monitor at your eye level and your arms at 90%, very similar to how it should be when you are sitting.

My standing desk comprises of :
Standing desk converter (I use this one) : I keep this always raised. It turned out to be much more sturdier than I thought and flexible height means I can adjust it just right.
– On Top of it is your stepper used in Gyms ( i once exercised 🙁 )
a laptop stand( I use this one)

While this looks a lot, this gives me a comfortable standing posture. I can stand straight and type without straining my neck or my back


My Monitors
I primarily only work on my monitors and my laptop is only used when I am away from my desk or taking a standing meeting. I love keeping one monitor vertically as it helps me read long documents better, or open multiple windows together.
I use Samsung’s curved monitor for my primary work. I love the curved monitor so much that I don’t think i would go back to flat ones any time soon. Also it seems curved monitors are better for your eyes.



I also use Amazon basics monitor arms that can connect to my table without any drilling. I can shift it relatively easily to any side of the table. Monitor arms not only save space, they also allows me to put one of my monitors in a vertical position

Monitor Arms

Chair: I use a gaming chair by Greensoul. I assumed that gaming chairs should be super comfortable because gamers spend a lot of time sitting, but after using it for a year I think its not the case. It is a decent starter chair, but I am thinking of upgrading. Suggestions welcomed (Update: It seems they updated the lumbar support in the new model)


VC setup
My entire setup is fixed and I do not move around the laptop much, as a result I cannot use my laptop for my calls.
Also if you are using a monitor, and stare at it during a video call, it can be super distracting or annoying for the other person.
As a product manager, making at-least some personal connection is super critical and hence investing in a decent VC setup can go a long way (In budget)

Video: Logitech portable webcam this is attached to my primary monitor

Logitech camera


Microphone: I use and a Ahuja MTP-20 wired unidirectional collar lavalier mike , which is attached directly to my Macbook. While the Logitech webcam comes with an inbuilt microphone, it’s voice capture is not that great. A cheap Lavalier microphone can work wonders. I use this unidirectional one that cuts out any background sound such as a running fan. Also, since it is wired, its pretty economical

Lavalier Microphone



Sound: Macbook Pro built in

A note on using bluetooth devices
I did experiment with a bluetooth setup for both microphone and speakers, but there was always this slight lag that made conversations unnatural. I recommend against using any bluetooth device for audio in or out.


Mesh Wifi: My life has been different pre and post mesh wifi. It has been the single best upgrade I have done to my home office setup. I use Deco M4.
See below the speed tests before and after mesh.
Directly from router Wifi: 22Mbps
On mesh: 160Mbps

Wifi Speed before and after using Mesh Wifi Deco M4
My Mesh wifi. It looks super cool

Deco M4


Keyboard and Mice: Apple original Keyboard and Magic Mouse. If you are using a mac and can afford it (or your company pays for it), I recommend just closing your eyes and going with apple original. They not only work well, but also support all kinds of apple specific gestures, especially when it comes to the mouse

Apple keyboard and mouse

Other stuff

Wire organisers, lots of them to keep the wires always in place and mostly out of sight. I even created a charging station


Amazon basic lamp: Not only it looks cool, its great when you want to work in a yellow light during the night. Its rechargeable so no need to keep it plugged in. Really handy if you want to read a book on the desk.

Amazon basic lamp

Blackout Curtains: My desk faces the window, and while it is great to look out, during sunny days the brightness was way too much. My eyes started hurting trying to adjust to two different light sources.
I use these ones by Armenia Hague. Mine are fairly economical and work really well. I barely notice even if its super bright outside.( See images below)


Smart bulb directly on top of my desk, connected to my google mini. Its fun to ask the assistant to switch off the lights. I use Tplink smart light

Night time


I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in
Categories
Product Product Management

Just make it work

One big lesson I learned early in my career is that key to success for most products is to just make it work.

Whatsapp was whatsapp because if you send a message on whatsapp, it would reach.

Zoom became Zoom because the video adjusted to slower speeds and broken connections

Clubhouse is doing good because you can almost talk real time(Kudos to their Audio API provider Agora)

Being best at the most important promise you make to the user is the key element, rest all is bells and whistles

If you are a startup and your USP is simply a few additional features that your competition does not provide, it will give you PR, but perhaps not sticky users.

And you want to eventually own your USP and not use off the shelf commoditised provider. I won’t be surprised if Clubhouse eventually invested in or acquired a voice API company


You may also like
Validating your product hypothesis with a fake door : Here I talk about how you can quickly test out a hypothesis or validate a new market


I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in
Categories
Product Management

Why Twitter will never and should never have an edit button

Edit button on twitter is possibly the most requested feature in any product EVER, but somehow twitter never really introduced it. It is also possibly the only “Social Media” where you cannot edit as soon as you post. You can only delete and repost or add a correction in reply.

The feature is so highly requested that even twitter trolled the world by saying, you get an edit if everyone wears a mask. Great way to spread the message but basically saying, NAAAH


My Take is that

Twitter will likely NEVER give an edit button. It’s not a simple social media. Tweets are public, they are quoted, and become news. Tweets are a system of records of a person’s opinion

Tweets are a system of records for a person’s opinion.

There are no edits in it, only new versions. All history is maintained in perpetuity unless it’s useless.
Each person is aware of exactly which version of persons opinion they interacted with.

Ideally they should not have delete but thats survival, you probably wont use it without an ability to delete.

I suspect if ever twitter decides to allow some kind of edit, it will come up with some kind of versioning system for tweets.
Each interaction would be tagged to the exact version. 10 comments on version 1, 20 likes on version 2
But most likely that wont happen anytime in the near future.

While as a user I hate not being able to edit, I can clearly see its utility. This system of record is so powerful that you now have an authoritative view on what the person thought in the past. It’s either authoritative, or it has been deleted. There is no guessing.

Its a phenomenal space to be in.

Twitter is more valuable because it does not have an edit

I see the value so much that If Twitter ever added an edit button like Linkedin or FB, I will probably sell whatever Twitter stocks I hold

I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in
Categories
Product Management

Validating your product hypothesis with a fake door test

You cannot and should not build every feature that is there in your backlog. One way many companies, especially startups, gauge the need of a specific feature is via a Fake door test.

What is a Fake door test

To put it simply, instead of building the feature your product simply pretends to have that feature and shows user a Call to Action to use that feature. When the user clicks on this CTA, you either tell the user that this feature is not yet ready and you have noted their interest, or tell them how they can use alternatives ways for completing their tasks.

Example: You are a Product Manager at twitter and twitter introduced a way to animate your tweets. This feature is only available on the app and you are trying to gauge user interest on desktop.

Instead of building this, you simply add an “animate this tweet” button on desktop and if a user clicks on it, you can tell them

” This feature is not currently available on desktop but you can always go too the app and use it, click here to see how”

How does this help

  • You get data on potential size of the market
  • You know which segment of user needs this feature
  • You can validate almost all potential new features

Isn’t this disingenuous to the user?

It may seem so, but your job is to solve the most important needs of the user. If this helps you prioritise better, it is a win win for everyone. Sure some people will be a bit pissed but will be overall better served if you build the right features.


Some things to keep in mind

  • Make sure the call to action is super duper clear. You do not want to be in a situation where users may get confused. Example: in Uber if we wanted to test if people wanted to schedule a ride on the web, giving users a CTA such as “Schedule a ride” would have been misleading because Schedule may mean, schedule for NOW. So a good CTA might be “Schedule for future”. You can work to fine tune the verbiage later
  • Run this as an A/B if possible and only for a very small segment. You do not want your entire customer base pissed off
  • When users click on the fake door make sure you explain it well. Don’t leave them hanging. Even better, if you do end up building this feature, maybe send a note to these users
  • Measure effect on other interactions as well. You need to know the unintended consequences
  • It is perfectly ok to not run a A/B if you don’t have the infra or enough traffic and collect data only for CTA interactions. But be clear about that miss
  • Make it dirty and cheap. Don’t over think. Don’t end up doing user studies on what the fake door should look like. You are looking at directional results and your outcome should ideally be “Yes we are building this”, or, “No we are not”

Fake Door vs User Study and Surveys

User study is an awesome tool and can really help you understand the customer better. It also helps you test out multiple things at once.

Fake doors are super helpful when you have a very specific thing to know.
While you can also run surveys to gauge interest in certain features (Eg: survey to find if the new integration you are thinking of is valuable to the user), going by the old adage goes “don’t listen to what they are saying, but look at what they are doing”, Fake doors can be supremely helpful and surprisingly accurate even when not stats sig

Fake Doors for Validating Startup Ideas

This seems to be common. I have read multiple accounts, and have seen multiple examples, of people who setup simple websites with a real looking product page, and when you click on “Buy” or “Subscribe” they tell you its not yet ready but you can enter your email ID for early access.
If you gather enough email IDs, you have a winner idea and its time to Build

I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in
Categories
Product Management

Structuring your thoughts: for Product managers

In product management and In general one powerful weapon in your kitty is the ability to organise ideas and features in a logical structure. It helps you think better and in a more focussed way

My favourite being (the one I use) the flow of information. It has 3 parts

1: Creation
2: Curation
3: Consumption

You can literally fit hundreds of things into these buckets

Eg : You are at Twitter and you want to improve Twitter

Think creation
– how to get more people to tweet
– how to get people to tweet more
– more ways to tweet
– what apart from tweets

Think curation
– hashtags
– lists
– personalisation
– follow
– organize in replies and threads
– curated bookmarked tweets
– trending
– add metadata to tweets -og tags

Think consumption
– how to view threads
– different devices and surfaces
– read me tweets
– api integrations to send tweets to external providers
– surface og tags,images etc
– tell me why am I seeing this

Sounds pretty simple, because it is. Breaking down into simple structures can help you focus your attention and prevent you from getting overwhelmed

I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in
Categories
Haiku Product Management

Product Management Haiku #5 : Trump Style : Use case without users

I have a use case,
It is a good use case ,Huge,
Zero users though

There are a lot of interesting use cases you can solve. Stop any person in your company and ask them , do you have a use case to solve? The answer invariably would be Yes(If it is NO often , you need to think hard about how much relevant your own product is for your own company)

The question is not just what use case you are solving, but how many users actually are there? And are they even your users?


I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in

Categories
Haiku

Product Management Haiku #4 : User Acquisition

Followed the expert,
From facebook to instagram,
user never there

One of the follies of many businesses is looking for every kind of user on Social media.

Social media is not the place where your users may be, even if they are , it is not the place where they would make a decision .

Sometimes user is swayed by 1 post on a tech forum than 1000s of  FB Ads. Sometimes all it takes is 1 face to face meeting than un solicited emails. The former is slow but many a times much more effective.

Reach does not imply conversion.

Find the place not where the users are, but where they make decisions.

 

I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in

Categories
Haiku Product Management

Product Management Haiku #3: Tech debt

If unrepaid will haunt
the tech debt has to be paid
circle of PM life

Moral of the story: Pay your tech debts. Features can wait sometimes, you can have released where you have nothing to show. Absolutely 0 visual progress. Your product update would be ” Fixed some bugs” or “better logging”…do it and thank me later


I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in

Categories
Haiku Product Management

Product Management Haiku #2: Feature Prioritization

Pitchfork in hand I stand
Cut the feature cut it out
ahh that’s my real life


I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in

Categories
Haiku Product Management

Product Management Haiku #1: The Data is God

The design is sleek
The Product is awesome but
data does not admit

 

I send infrequent newsletters. You can signup for them below.
* indicates required
What are you interested in