Since Launching MindSay in 2003, I’ve accumulated half a lifetime’s worth of experience about how to build a product, in particular a web based products like this.
I have learned quite a lot about how to do things better, and some of those are technical related, for example new technologies and other great things.
But the truly important parts haven’t been technical learnings. It is about understanding and connecting with users in a collaborative effort to build a service they find truly valuable. That sounds like a lot of marketing mumbo jumbo, but the words have real meaning to me. It is a completely different way of thinking.
For example, gone are the days of grouping together a bunch of changes and releasing them at once. Instead, features will be developed one-at-a-time, alongside the user’s trying it out. If something doesn’t seem like a good fit, a change can be reverted (like a week or two ago with the home page design I proposed but ultimately trashed per the advice of you all – which in hindsight was absolutely the right move, sometimes you just need more eyes to look at something).
I may try different things out on the site. You will always have the opportunity to speak up about the changes, good or bad. Ultimately, not everyone will like every change, but I believe you will like the new approach better.
Another example, you all pretty much beat your way to my door, demanding Account Backup feature with pitchforks :) I did it. Perhaps the 2003 Brian would have thought that such a feature could only result in people moving off the platform. But the 2016 Brian knows that building trust between the site and its users is critical. Providing a Backup feature gives people freedom and security knowing they can export if they wanted to. And perhaps will be more likely to stay, respecting that we have done such a thing.
I’m also going to personally connect with the product in a way I had not before. My Facebook is deactivated and it’s only MindSay and Instagram. And Midnight. That’s my dog.
This article I found to be inspiring:
Q: Tell us about your first day at the Pine Street Inn [a New England homeless shelter].
O’Connell: I went in thinking I was going to be cherished. Because I’m a doctor, right?
Anyway, I walked right smack into the nurses’ clinic, and Barbara McInnis—who eventually became the person I admired most in the world—sat me down and read me the riot act, as only nurses can do. She said, “Look, we’ve been doing this for a long time, without the help of doctors or hospitals.” And also, if I wanted to learn how to do this, I would do well to just watch them. And she gave me this apprenticeship, where I had to soak patients’ feet in the waiting room. And she took away my stethoscope.
Q: Is that true?
Oh yeah. She said, “You have to stop thinking like a doctor. This is not about doctoring. This is about getting to know people.”
Q: How did that make you feel? Some doctors might have walked out in a huff.
I was devastated. But I was determined. It was like, if you’re trying to test me, I’m going to win this test. So I started to soak feet. And soon I realized it was quite extraordinary, because it reversed the power structure. It puts you at the feet of the person that you’re taking care of, and it respects their personal space. So I learned to just soak feet and say hello to people, and some people would speak to me, some didn’t. Over time, almost everybody started to speak to me, and I understood by then what the nurses were doing. They were trying to make me part of the fabric. I had to be present; I had to be consistent. And then people opened up.