Customers, Curiosity, and Context

Customers, Curiosity, and Context

As the voice of the customer, Sales, Success, and Support each play an important role in helping a startup understand what its customers want. The challenge is that customers want all sorts of things, and the companies serving them often lack the context to understand even simple requests. Without context, requests are likely to be […]


Focus is cool. Learning is cool. Happy customers are cool. Doing your best is cool. Taking responsibility is cool. Startups are cool. “Playing startup” is not cool. Thinking big is cool. Testing small is cool. Trying new things is cool. Curiosity is cool. Sharing openly is cool. Integrity is cool. Being smart with our money […]

KFC, Dave Thomas, and Focus

In 1962, Colonel Harland Sanders hired Dave Thomas to turn around four struggling KFC locations. One of Thomas’s initiatives was to drastically simplify the menu, from dozens of items to just four things: chicken, salads, desserts, and beverages. Thomas’s efforts paid off, and he went on to apply the same focus and disicipline at Wendy’s. […]

Four Things I Learned From Customers This Year

As we round out another year at Stitch, I feel especially grateful for our customers. We get to work with some incredible brands: Chubbies, Topo Designs, and Bombas, to name a few. The people behind these brands are open, collaborative, and kind—each a SaaS vendor’s dream customer. In addition to helping us improve our product […]

Ken Burns on sustained attention

“It’s alright to go back and watch the kitten with the yarn. It’s really OK. I’m not denigrating that sort of stuff.… [but] I believe that all real meaning accrues in duration, and that the work you’re proudest of and the relationships you care the most about have benefited from your sustained attention.” [ via […]

How to Hack It at a Startup

On the first day of new hire training at Stitch Labs, I ask everyone the same question: “Why work at a startup?” We all joined Stitch because we either needed or wanted a job—but why a startup job, specifically? Behind this question is a deeper one: does this new hire know what a startup is? […]

The Journey is the Reward

In 2008, I rode my bicycle from Seattle to Boston with four friends from college. For seven weeks, we rode an average of 80 miles a day. It was a lot of fun, but everything was predicated on a goal: complete the ride. When I finally dipped my front wheel in the Atlantic, I felt […]

A Better Half

intelligent articulate affectionate willful brave opinionated curious generous creative kind confident clever complex thoughtful upbeat independent and brunette.   [ August 2017 ]

Power Couples

“Obviously, extroverts have many charms. And they are a good balance for us introverted types. They help us go out and about. We help them slow down.” — Marti Olsen Laney According to Carl Jung, we’re drawn to those whose qualities complement our own. That certainly matches my experience. When I think of my deepest […]

Pizza Night

This was composition. Unity. Balance. Texture. Each topping in proportion. He added one last sausage crumble with an almost theatrical flourish, then turned to put the leftover toppings behind him. He turned back just as quickly, plate still in hand. “Fuck it,” he said mischeviously, sprinkling the remaining toppings over the pizza. He moved the […]

On Becoming

My sixth-grade science class had a pet snake named Lucy. She was a corn snake—almost butterscotch in color, with red saddlemarks down her back. She spent most of her time coiled under a heat lamp but had a knack for pedagogical disruption. Every couple months, we’d arrive to find that Lucy had slithered right out […]

Dating Profile for Nowhere

Hi! I’m Dan. I’m 6’4″, 33 years old, and I still wear my retainer every night. I got my braces off when I was 13. My orthodontist handed me my retainer and told me to wear it as long as I wanted my teeth to stay straight. So here we are. When I die and […]

My Gratitude Resume

With LinkedIn, Twitter, and so many other avenues for professional expression, our work has never been more public—or more vulnerable to pride and pretense. Just as we’re all living the good life on Facebook, our online work personas reflect an idealized version of who we are and how we got there. That’s fine, but it […]

10 Smart Ways to Say “I Don’t Know”

“If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know the answer. People will accept that you don’t know… what they cannot accept is if you tell them something that’s wrong, because they are going to act on that. And, then if you have to come back later with a different answer, you’ll lose credibility.” […]

Re-reading ‘The Catcher in the Rye’

If I were to hop back through time exactly fifteen years, I might find myself sitting in John Shafer’s English classroom. I imagine a full class—Shafer’s generally were—with a couple dozen high school juniors: athletes dressed for game day, the popular looking enviably presentable, the studious with notebooks out, and a motley remainder eluding easy stereotypes. Regardless […]

Amusing Ourselves to Death

What can we learn from the intellectual tradition of media bashing? Human history is littered with intellectual grumblings about media: Socrates objected to the written word, Thoreau shrugged at the telegraph, and Neil Postman railed against television. In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman makes two key arguments: The media we use to communicate affect the […]