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361: Building Things You Use

August 27, 2020

This week, we weigh the pros and cons of working on a product that you love to use every day. Is it really so bad to be your own power user? In The Sidebar, we discuss steps to take when exploring vague problem areas.

Golden Ratio Patrons:

Float is a resource management software for planning your team’s time across multiple projects. Companies like Buzzfeed and MetaLab both use Float to plan and track hundreds of projects more effectively. You can learn more about how they use Float at or learn more at

Latest VIP Patrons:

Huge shoutouts to our latest Very Important Pixels!

  • Jayden Tran
  • Jordan Jennings
  • Brandon Hite
  • Drew Rosier
  • Tal Cohen

The Sidebar:

The Sidebar is an exclusive weekly segment for our Patreon supporters. You can subscribe starting at $1 per month for access to full episodes going forward! Sign up at

In this week's Sidebar, we talk about how to begin exploring broad-space problem areas. How do you A/B test when the problem is too vague? What is the value of intuition and past experience? This, plus more!


Main Topic:

What are the pros and cons of working on a product you love?

  • Pros
    • It's fun and easy to get excited about the work.
    • You can feel like a user and encounter user problems.
    • It's easier to find bugs and inconsistencies.
    • Becoming a power user happens naturally over time.
    • It's often easier to stay at a company due to higher quality “work time” - there is potential for a higher quality of life overall. Work doesn’t feel like work, it’s play!
    • It becomes highly motivating to solve your own problems, or the problems of people you work with each day.
  • Cons
    • It can be easier to lose sight of problem areas, confusing flows, new user experience issues, and positioning/branding problems.
    • Power users can memorize and get used to awkward flows that would otherwise suck - it’s hard to identify and fix these.
    • It can make you stop liking the thing itself - it blends work and pleasure so that there’s less of a clear boundary.
    • Navel gazing: it's harder to see opportunities for order-of-magnitude improvements or innovations. It can be hard to kill the things you love using.
    • Potentially: slower skill development.
    • Potentially: easier to feel "trapped" - the golden handcuffs keep you at the place for longer than you would have otherwise stayed.

Cool Things:

  • Brian shared The Last Dance on Netflix, a 10 episode documentary about the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan's epic career. Even for non-sports people, like us, this is inspiring.
  • Marshall shared Robert Parker, a musician creating really wonderful 80's-synth, perfect for putting on in the background while working.

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