Builder & writer

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Builder & writer

Get my latest posts

Builder & writer

Get my latest posts

In June I completely redesigned my blog with the goal of trying to write and publish daily.

No matter the quality, nor the subject matter, I wanted to sit down for 30 minutes in the morning, and click publish on whatever came to mind. That was the goal anyway.

But then I forgot, I'm terrible at sticking to routine when on holiday. So my goal was to start upon my return. Then I got Covid! So now… that I'm starting to feel a little better, and (touch wood) think I'm recovering - I think I can publicly commit to writing a post a day.

Let's see how long my streak can last.

May 9, 2024

For the past few years I've been trying my best to integrate Stoic principles into my everyday life. I've got them saved so that I'm reminded of a different one each day in my daily journal. I wanted to share some of them here:

  1. Use setbacks as signposts - view challenges and setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth, not as obstacles.

  2. Focus only on what you can control - concentrate your efforts on your actions and attitudes, the aspects of your life you can influence, rather than external events beyond your control.

  3. Practice mindfulness of the present moment - engage fully with the present, minimising distractions from past regrets and future anxieties to enhance clarity and focus.

  4. Develop an attitude of gratitude - cultivate a habit of appreciating what you have, rather than fixating on what you lack or desire, to foster contentment and resilience.

  5. Accept the inevitability of change - understand and accept that change is a constant aspect of life, which helps in adapting flexibly and calmly to new circumstances.

  6. Reflect on your mortality regularly - contemplate the transient nature of life to appreciate the present and prioritise meaningful actions and relationships.

At a recent networking event, a product manager from a successful consumer app startup asked me about the key differences between building an AI product and a non-AI product. This inspired me to share insights from 15 years of experience as a Founder and in ‘Product’, with a focus on AI for the past 8 years.

Acquire technical skills. You should gain a solid understanding of AI technologies, machine learning algorithms, and data science principles. This knowledge is crucial for informed decisions and communication with technical teams. Without a PhD and with only a few hobby projects in 'Data Science,' I was able to make the move. I learned ‘on the job’ and ramped up my understanding by asking our ML/NLP scientists many questions.

Understand data management. Develop skills in managing and analysing large datasets, which are fundamental to AI product development. This includes understanding how to collect, clean, and utilise data ethically and effectively.

Learn continuous improvement and continue to use agile methodologies. Agile development practices won't be anything new to you. But make sure to focus on the specific parts that support rapid prototyping, testing, and iteration. These are key to the iterative nature of AI products, and can catch you by surprise. View the whole pipeline as iterative and understand how upstream data differences can impact the downstream product.

Navigate ethical and privacy concerns. I don’t need to write a lot, you see the news stories. Avoid being one. Address ethical considerations, data privacy, and biases in AI models. Understanding these aspects is vital for responsible AI products.

Collaborate across disciplines. Work closely with data scientists, engineers, and stakeholders. Effective collaboration ensures diverse perspectives are integrated into product development. In a large company, one of the key things to do is educate 'business stakeholders' about AI, brainstorming to build proof of concepts, and get feedback from users early and often. Make them part of the product team.

Engage in lifelong learning. Another obvious one, but as you can see from the initial release of ChatGPT to the version we have today, as well as all of the open source alternatives, this space moves rapidly. Stay updated with the latest advancements and trends in AI. Continuous learning is essential.

Adapt PM frameworks for AI. Utilise and adapt traditional product management frameworks for AI product development. Address AI challenges such as data quality and model interpretability.

Develop a vision for AI integration. Strategically plan how AI can be integrated into existing products or used to create new ones. This requires a clear understanding of AI capabilities and their potential impact on business outcomes.

Closing words: I'd recommend going through one of the many courses that are now online that will take you through, step-by-step, building a basic AI/ML product. A number of them also now have more advanced courses, if they align with your specific modelling, product or niche needs. It most likely goes without say, but I'll say it anyway — 'don't just try and square-peg round-hole an AI strategy or solution just because it's 'du jour'.

In the age of social media, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that everyone else has it all figured out.

Spend just ten minutes scrolling through your feed, and you'll be bombarded with posts of seemingly perfect lives – solopreneurs celebrating their latest revenue milestone, content creators hitting new subscriber records, and founders raising impressive rounds or exiting for millions.

But here's the truth: behind the carefully curated highlight reels, even the most successful people are still learning and making it up as they go along. The illusion of perfection is just that – an illusion.

It's a reality we often fail to recognise, especially when we're young. As children, we looked up to our parents and assumed they had all the answers. It's only when we grew older that we realised they, too, were figuring things out as they went along. The same goes for the celebrities, entrepreneurs, and influencers we admire from afar. No matter how successful they may appear, everyone is facing challenges of their own, learning as they go, and most likely climbing what seems an insurmountable mountain.

So, when you see someone online banging their chest about their achievements, remember that their success is not solely attributable to skill or their own doing. Luck, timing, and a myriad of other factors play a role, and even the most accomplished individuals are still learning and growing.

It's crucial not to let others' self-promotion make you feel disenfranchised or less capable.

The pursuit of status and external validation is a game that can never truly be won. As Felix Dennis once said, "Happiness? Do not make me laugh. The rich are not happy. I have yet to meet a single really rich happy man or woman—and I have met many rich people."

Constantly chasing after the next milestone or comparing ourselves to others is a surefire recipe for dissatisfaction.

Instead of getting caught up in the highlight reel, focus on finding joy in the little things – the small moments and simple pleasures that make life worth living. Savour that first sip of coffee in the morning, laugh at a funny TikTok with your partner, or admire the colours of a particularly stunning sunset. By cultivating gratitude and contentment independent of external factors, we can find a deeper sense of fulfilment.

To navigate life's challenges with grace and resilience, we must also develop a strong inner foundation. This is where the principles of Stoicism come into play. Stoicism teaches us to focus on what we can control – our thoughts, actions, and reactions – and to accept what we cannot. By mastering our inner world, we can face the outer world with equanimity and strength, even in the face of adversity.

In today's digital age, Stoicism offers a powerful antidote to the comparison trap. Instead of letting social media dictate our self-worth, we can choose to focus on our own growth and progress, cultivating self-awareness, self-discipline, and self-compassion along the way.

Remember, true happiness and fulfilment come from within, not from external validation or material success. By staying focused on your own path, finding joy in the little things, and developing a resilient mindset, you can rise above the noise and live authentically in a world that often feels uncertain and overwhelming.

So, the next time you find yourself scrolling through social media and feeling inadequate, remember that everyone is fighting their own battles, learning as they go, and that perfection is an illusion. Embrace your own journey, find joy in the little things, and trust in your own resilience. That's the secret to a life well-lived.

May 2, 2024

My first post on my new blog.