There’s a reason why so many people claim to be ‘visual learners’.

By Sonse — Aristotle Bust at Old Library, CC BY 2.0,

Sometimes when I’m reading bedtime stories to my five-year-old, I glance at her and wonder Is she following this? We recently made the jump to “chapter books,” starting with some that have illustrations on every page. She often stops me and says “Let me see.” She’ll grab the book and pull it up to her nose to study the pictures.

Pictures seem to be at the core of how we understand anything. People often say “I’m a visual learner” as if it were a matter of personal style. (Where are all the audio learners? Taste learners?) …

How Product Managers Can Turn Data Into Lasting Knowledge

Photo by Author

Every time I watch a teammate walk out the door for another opportunity, I wonder how much of our organization’s knowledge leaves with them. Surely an organization can “know” more than what’s inside each employee’s head. But how is this knowledge acquired? Where is it stored? Is it written down in documents, or is it tacitly woven into a team’s culture?

These questions are especially pertinent to product managers. Think about a product manager identifying the winning variant of an A/B test. Given enough of these tests, the PM begins to build an intuition for what tends to work. …

I never stop reading a book. But I often lose momentum.

The first time I failed to finish the Iliad was during a great books seminar in college. I was terrified to learn that we were expected to read the entire book in just over a week. I calculated how many pages I had to cover each day in order to keep up: 68. After a few days it became clear that momentum was not on my side. I fell behind. We moved on to Herodotus. …

Every era has a defining anxiety. Ours is an era of technological anxiety. We ask ourselves questions like: What are smartphones doing to us? Is social media making us miserable? We’ve been asking these kinds of questions since the industrial revolution. The early 20th-century folk song “John Henry” and contemporary movies like Ex Machina ultimately pose the same question: Will these machines be the death of us?

John Henry was a newborn baby Sittin’ down on his mama’s knee Said, “That Big Bend Tunnel on C-and-O Road It’s going to be the death of me, Lord, Lord It’s going be…

Now if it is in our power to do noble or base acts, and likewise in our power not to do them, and this was what being good or bad meant, then it is in our power to be virtuous or vicious. Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, 1113b11

Imagine you had a time machine that could save lives.

Imagine you could go back to 2005 to reinforce the levies and floodwalls in New Orleans. Imagine being able to evacuate people from the beaches of Thailand in 2004 before the tsunami hit. Imagine you could prevent the 9/11 terrorists from boarding those planes.

Maybe I am spending too much time reading about the coronavirus. That may be true, but given how quickly this disease can spread, it seems important to not only take some action, but also to stay current with the latest perspectives. Here are a few recent pieces of content that seem to be moving the conversation in the right direction.

‘It’s Now or Never’

Former homeland security adviser to President Trump Tom Bossert argues in the Washington Post It’s now or never for the U.S. if it hopes to keep coronavirus from burning out of control.

The United States and other liberal societies must…

My family and I are making the decision to keep our kids home from school and stay home from work. Why are we doing this? Anything we can do to slow the COVID-19 outbreak can save lives by evening out the demand for healthcare over time. We are fortunate to be in a position to do this — I know others are less able for many reasons. But I’m posting this because I want to help remove the stigma of taking action for those who are able.

From Carl Bergstrom, Biology Professor at the University of Washington

During the 1918 flu epidemic, St Louis took decisive action two days after…

Maybe you knew someone like this in high school. He was the guy who organized the parties, the guy who somehow procured the beer. He was the leader. The instigator. He was the reason everyone showed up at Heather Morgan’s house to get buzzed on Milwaukee’s Best Light the Saturday her parents were out of town. But when the police showed up, he was nowhere to be found. Sure, he broke the rules, but so did everyone else at the party. The difference between him and everyone else was that this guy somehow survived.

Maybe you know someone like this…

Ben McAllister

I’m a product manager in Austin, TX. I write about product, design, and the great books. You can find more of my writing at my blog,

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