First post, and a new beginning for me. My goal is to post the 5 best things I have come across and describe a certain theme each week and hopefully end with something funny or cool.

My observations this week across the US and Europe have revolved around understanding the importance of the individual as the product.

You Are The Product

Many people will be familiar with this concept in relation to the proliferation of free internet services like Gmail and Facebook. If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product. Most of the world has made an uneasy peace with this. However, Ben and James at Exponent this week discussed how that has wrought havoc on the traditional understanding of monopoly. I consider this their best ever episode to date.

Link 1: Exponent 111 (http://exponent.fm/episode-111-lamentation-not-condemnation/)

It is a tragedy when companies that have willing users as their product don’t even realize it, fumbling their biggest advantage. Nowhere was this clearer than in this week’s analysis of Twitter’s failures:

Link 2: The Pulse of the Planet (https://exponents.co/the-pulse-of-the-planet-flatlined/)

In Twitter’s early days, its APIs offered third party developers nearly unmitigated access to the product’s core features.

A large number of developers used that access to build and monetize their own Twitter apps, search engines, and aggregators. Some of these products ended up becoming more compelling than Twitter’s own.

But then, in August of 2012, Twitter changed the rules. It placed a hard cap on the total number of users any third party Twitter client could have. It also added strict requirements to the functionality these apps included. And as Twitter added new features to its own web and mobile apps over the next few years, it generally did not include access to them in its APIs.

In Sethi’s view, Twitter’s decision to stifle its developer ecosystem was likely its fatal mistake, and its fate of eventual stagnation was sealed right there.

Productize Yourself

While the cultivation of users as products is relatively well understood now in online services, I think there is a parallel theme that is still emerging in the labor market. Professionals of all stripes need to think of and manage themselves as products instead of workers. By thinking about themselves as “product”, I mean literally to reconsider everything about how you work as though it were just another thing being made by a company you run, from how it is branded, to how it is distributed, to how it is paid for.

In case it isn’t clear: Rethink how you are branded, how companies and clients get access to you, and the basis on which you get paid.

While the tech industry is very familiar with the appeal of productized services, this concept is only just arriving to other professions like legal services, and is actively discouraged in my home turf of financial services.

The benefit to the individual is clear: a career identity that can be bigger than that of the employer’s, inbound job interest, maximum leverage on time, talent and interest.

Other Links

Link 3: This startup investing framework from Ann-Miura Ko is extremely well thought out

Link 4: Freakonomics investigation into why the visual effects industry is going bankrupt at the same time it is entering a massive boom

Link 5: Wait But Why explains Elon Musk’s NeuraLink project

The Weekly LOL

 

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