#13 ⚫️👨🏻‍💻🌵🚀🎙🍄⭐️

Thoughts on current events, new job at Facebook, trails in Joshua Tree, SpaceX launch, Fantastic Fungi, and the Orion Mystery

Current Events ⚫️

My guess is that you subscribed to this newsletter because you have some interest in my perspective. It’s a very strange time to be sharing perspectives, especially as a straight white man.

I’ve sat down to put together the 13th edition of this newsletter several times over the last week, each time realizing I have no idea where to start.

Finding the right words is challenging enough in normal times. These days words can feel so… diluted.

So rather than relying on the written word, I shared my thoughts with Brandon on our podcast. We didn’t plan to spend a whole hour talking about current events, but it’s where our hearts and minds were drawn.

Brandon wrote the following summary for Episode 5:

We’re back to reflect a bit on what’s been going on in America over the past few weeks, what it’s caused each of us to think about as relatively privileged straight white men, and muse on what it might take to change the systems that perpetuate racism and hardship in our society. We want to be champions for public good, but it’s hard to figure out the right ways to do that.

You can listen to our conversation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast

New Job 👨🏻‍💻

After being laid off earlier this year, I went through a long job search. I’m glad to share I landed at Facebook, where I’ll be focusing on improving the small business advertiser experience as a product manager.

This is a strange time to be joining Facebook. The company has faced a lot of criticism, which is to be expected from a company with such large reach. I'm only in my second week but I’m extremely impressed with the amount of open discourse happening internally and wish the outside work could see it. I believe it would genuinely make people feel more optimistic about the future.

My onboarding has been entirely remote so far, which is a large deviation from the usual onboarding process at the Facebook campus in Menlo Park (where I’ll be based once we go back to campus — mostly likely not before 2021).

I’m excited to join the company for a few reasons:

(1) Having spent seven years in smaller startups (and being laid off twice) I’m looking forward to more structure around career growth

(2) Focusing on helping small business owners get back on their feet in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic sounds exciting and meaningful

(3) Learning how product management is done at a company with many hundreds of product managers will be an incredible learning experience

Joshua Tree 🌵

A few weeks ago, Carole & I drove down to Joshua Tree and spent some time in the Mojave desert. Carole mostly worked from the Airbnb during the day while I was out hiking in the Joshua Tree national park. The Airbnb was very private and we enjoyed the outdoors during the day and at night for stargazing.

We visited Palm Springs one of the evenings and had a sit-down meal at a restaurant outside. It felt like things were back to normal for a little bit (San Francisco isn’t set for restaurants to resume full-service dining indoors until mid July).

If you’re looking for any trail recommendations in Joshua Tree, feel free to check out this list I put together on AllTrails.

I did 3 main hikes, which were all fantastic:
(1) Barker Dam Nature Trail (1.3 miles) AND/OR Hidden Valley Campground to Barker Dam (4.4 miles)
(2) Willow Hole Trail (6.8 miles) -> same trailhead as Boy Scout Trail (7.8 miles)
(3) The Maze Loop (4.7 miles)

SpaceX 🚀

On the drive back up to SF from Joshua Tree, we live-streamed the SpaceX launch. It was incredible. I have a friend who’s been working on the crew mission at SpaceX in LA for the last three years and I felt a ridiculous amount of happiness and for him and humanity for hitting this milestone for space travel. It’s the first time we launched astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years!

With everything happening in our country right now, this was a well-needed piece of encouraging news. Humans are explorers and we should be reaching for other planets while continuing to improve things here on Earth. It’s not zero-sum.

If you missed it, here are highlights from Day 1 and Day 2 of the event.

  • Day 1: launch

  • Day 2: docking with ISS

Podcast 🎙

I already mentioned episode 5 in the intro to today’s newsletter but wanted to let you know we also published episode 4 since the last newsletter.

Episode 4: Always be useful

In which we try to make sense of the seeming hype of the Product Management field in tech, why everyone seems to want to get into it, and whether people have the same ideas of what makes for a successful product career. We run a little long, but cover some interesting ground, including why training courses seem to miss the point, the motivations for getting into the product life, and what success or the endgame of this career might look like. Brandon's dog Rosie interrupts a few times. 

It feels very weird to publish this after what's gone on this past weekend in America. It won’t help like this stuff will, but we hope it serves as a small bit of nerdy work escapism if anyone needs it.

You can listen to episode 4 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast.

Documentary 🍄

I watched a beautiful documentary about fungi a couple weeks ago called Fantastic Fungi. I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to learn about these fascinating agents of nature.

Book ⭐️

I’m almost done with The Orion Mystery, a ground-breaking book from the 1990’s that pieces together a compelling theory that ties together the Egyptian pyramids with astronomical alignments. This is a rare page turner about ancient history and astronomy.