Category: Lessons Learned

Product Zeitgeist Fit in 2020

6 months ago, D’Arcy Coolican spoke about “product zeitgeist fit” at the a16z Summit and shared the importance of a product resonating with the mood of the times. If you’re vocabulary is anything like mine then it’s likely that you’ve never heard the German rooted term before. Well, thanks to Google, I’m able to share with you Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of zeitgeist which is, “the general set of ideas, beliefs, feelings, etc. that is typical of a particular period in history,” as well as the literal translation of the word: time (zeit) + spirit (geist) = “spirit of the time.”

But if you snorkel into the shallow waters of the interwebs, you’ll find an HBR article written in 2016 by Cass R. Sunstein titled, “Product Success is NOT about the Zeitgeist.” Sunstein writes that what you really need is cultural resonance.

So who’s right?

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Should I Stay (in NYC) or Should I Go Now (to Korea)?

As COVID-19 started to take shape in February of 2020, I looked at the state of affairs of my home neighborhood in Astoria, Queens, and the Greater New York City area.  Life was looking very scary with the sound of ambulance sirens nearly every hour of the day, not knowing what exactly the future had in store for me, my wife, neighbors, friends and family.  There was no playbook to follow, rules were being made up on the fly, and people had to respond the best they could.  Some responded with running to towns inland, others decided to bunker down and stock up on supplies as if waiting for a hurricane to knock out the power, but I was already stuck at home, forced to lay prone because of extreme back problems.  I couldn’t even walk. 

At the time, I was experiencing a back pain that came from the pits of hell, which forced me to lay down as if seated in a chair but flat on my back (has this ever happened to you?), and my doctor thought I had pancreatitis.  After a couple days of literally, not moving, I found myself drinking only water and crawling to the bathroom.  Getting in and out of bed was a process that I had to break down into single micro-movements.  Weeks would go by and I would steadily regain mobility, but eventually working from home would take over and I ended up saving myself from having to commute on trains where a nasty disease was violently spreading undetected.  As I settled into my new work environment, the pandemic worsened rapidly. Friends and family got sick, someone I cherished died, and I knew I had to address the question presented by The Clash.  My darling home and city that I love so much could give me double the trouble if I stayed, but I needed to set clear priorities, because these would be my guiding principles for how I would respond to this pandemic.

So Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? Click on read more!

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