Whom to Follow

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I ordinarily keep a Chinese wall up on here in posting about the platform on which I work, but lately I’ve been solicited for advice on whom to follow. My opinion is one of many, but since I am a frequent-user, I thought I would share my latest advice on some of my favorite accounts to follow on Twitter.

Everyone has his or her own follow philosophy. I am not a static follower but rather a rotator: I follow an account of a “trial run,” and if after 30 days or so (not scientific) I don’t find I derive much value, I usually unfollow or replace the follow. In addition, I find that certain accounts do it for me at certain stages of my business cycle/personal interests/macro interests and then stop being of use, and so I’m happy to unfollow and rotate the account. As a result, I’ve followed some interesting and far-ranging accounts, but I keep my feed clean and decluttered. Follower count right now? 420.

Disclaimer: I don’t personally know anyone on this list, so it’s just my genuine sentiments here and people I enjoy following (of late).

  1. Alyson Shontell (@ajs) – Alyson is a reporter for Business Insider, and I find she always has good insights on the tech markets in an actionable way. I learn a lot about cool, interesting products or the philosophies of important people in the tech space from her feed.
  2. Faces In Things (@facespics) – I’m not sure why I find this account so hilarious or entertaining, but it never disappoints. People submit images of things that looks like faces (but aren’t meant to).
  3. Rob Delaney (@robdelaney) – sharp and incredibly sardonic stand-up comedian who occasionally challenges Walmart and Lena Dunham. It’s basically a crime not to follow him.
  4. Marc Andreesen (@pmarca) – Marc is a prolific VC and has also become an incredibly active Tweeter since the start of 2014 (he’s racked up almost 24k Tweets in that time). He’s the father of the tweet rant and inventor of the “1/, 2/, 3/” syntax.
  5. Magic Pics (@magicpixx) – autoreplies to tweets of yours, at random, with a seemingly-related photo of your tweet. They often don’t match. Hilarity ensues.

Honorable mentions:

Saved you a click (@savedyouaclick)

Karl the fog (@karlthefog)

Who are some of your favorites? What’s your follow strategy? Tweet @ me.

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Whom to Follow

Change Management

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then                                         now!

Yesterday marks 2 years at Twitter for me, which is an exciting milestone. It feels like the time has flown by, and simultaneously it feels like my early experiences here were a lifetime ago. I began reflecting on the various and vast changes that I’ve witnessed in my short time here, and on the way we manage change and hypergrowth.

What kinds of changes have we experienced? Without being too specific to Twitter, startups grow. Management teams change (not quite so much in my case). The vision of the product redirects. New features get added. Most noticeably, the staff increases many-fold. We move into new offices, adopt new traditions and think about monetizing in different ways. Luckily, the snacks pervade.

Navigating that change can be challenging because every day you come into a different set of circumstances and face a different set of challenges with new people. The easiest way to diffuse the change management is to incorporate new additions as quickly as possible and get them acclimated to the environment right away. Then they, too, become the arbiters of the culture and owners of tasks that will help propel the company faster.

A great piece of advice I learned early on here was to innovate quickly and be decisive. I’m not in a product-building role. And I didn’t even start here all that early (this was a fairly large company when I joined). But to navigate the change successfully you, have to be able to do both of these things well. Innovating quickly means being scrappy: sharing your thoughts and ideas, and then rolling up your sleeves and actually executing on them. Going the extra mile to do the analysis, make the sale, build the deck. Being decisive means things get done more swiftly. Indecision can lead to stalling, but these companies grow and march onward whether or not your decision has been made. From my experience, it’s better to be able to march forward with everyone than lag behind.

And finally, roll with it. There are inevitably bumps, reroutes or even mistakes. We hire the wrong person, conduct the wrong study, pitch the wrong idea to the wrong company. Given how quickly these companies grow, those misdirections get smoothed over and course-corrected pretty quickly. But you have to be malleable to turn around when the time comes.

Corporate structural change used to intimidate me, but I’ve come to terms with the idea that no two days will be the same. That’s part of the excitement. Here’s to more of managing the change in years to come.

Change Management

Confidence/Competence

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After a very interesting conversation with a colleague yesterday, I started thinking about the balance between professional competence and professional confidence. There is a sliding scale and a series of tradeoffs that are often made between these two, but they are not mutually exclusive.

What do I mean?

Competence: basically, how intelligent are you and do you have the skills to perform the task at hand? There are a variety of gradations on this one, and for junior professionals getting a footing on their roles, competence will depend on the task at hand. For example, if you work in business development and you are asked to manage a partner’s expectations regarding pricing, your competence will (hopefully) be fairly high. On the other hand if you’re in the same role and asked to conduct an acquisition analysis, your competence might be lower.

Confidence: the ability to project or exude positivity and/or certainty. This one is pretty self-explanatory. For example, if your manager asks you for an opinion on a subject about which you are an expert, you’ll be pretty confident in your response. If anyone asks me about, say, Twitter Ads, I will (hopefully) deliver my answer with confidence.

In the early years of a career, there is often a divergence or gap between confidence and competence. Depending on the industry you choose to enter, you might begin obtaining skills in one area but not the other. In my experience, when I graduated from college I felt both competent and confident. Boy was I wrong! Investment banking takes the following approach: undermine the confidence; destroy the competence. Then, build back the competence from the ground up, which may or may not restore the confidence.

Why does this gap exist?

It exists primarily for the purpose of professional training, but also to mark and delineate points of inflection in a career. By “breaking” both pieces of the puzzle, it represents something to work toward on each end of the spectrum. Once you have mastered both for a certain area, domain expertise, task, etc, then it’s time to move on to the next level. For most people, that’s a promotion or a new role. But with that new role comes a new set of challenges for which an individual must work to become both competent and confident.

Know Your Audience

There are some instances in which it’s better to lead with confidence than competence. I find that when I am presenting or working on something that I’m passionate about, my confidence trumps my competence. Should I work to close the gap? Yes. But the audience or recipients will benefit in some capacity by the enthusiasm or confidence I try to project.

On the other hand, competence can go a long way in trying to prove a point or in many analytical settings. “Show me, don’t tell me” can often lead to a competence trumping confidence attitude.

Why does it matter?

In thinking about my own career, it’s been helpful to catalogue the growth trajectories of both confidence and competence, not letting one preclude the other for too long, and understanding when it’s time to take on the next challenge. I recognize what broke my professional confidence initially and what it takes to build both confidence (having an opinion helps with this one) and competence (learning something broadly and deeply simultaneously helps with that.)

How do you think of this dichotomy?

h/t to @klineshoes for the thought exercise.

Confidence/Competence