• Inspiration

    "We are the music-makers,
    and the dreamers of dreams"
    - “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy (and Willy Wonka :-))

    On taking risks and living a full life

    Lesson for today (a poem by my grandfather, L. Fred Austin)


    There once was a very cautious man

    He never romped or played

    He never smoked or chewed or drank

    and never kissed a maid.


    Then one day he passed away.

    His insurance they denied.

    They said that he never lived,

    and therefore never died.


    On privacy

    "Saying you don't care about online privacy b/c you have nothing to hide is like saying you don't care about freedom of speech b/c you don't have anything to say."

    - Edward Snowden

    On calling BS

    "With only one flower you cannot say that it's Spring."
    - Arshd Ahmad, Lyft driver from Afghanistan. We had a fun conversation about life on the way to the airport.

    On mindfulness, self-control, and keeping a growth mindset

    “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
    - Lao Tzu



    "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

    - Viktor Frankl, from Man's Search for Meaning



    "There is nothing Noble about being superior to your fellow man. True nobility is being superior to your former self."

    - Earnest Hemmingway



    "Delayed gratification is the single most important skill to master for achieving a successful life."

    - Darren Austin :-)

    On aging

    At age 25, a shower at 6:30pm on a Friday portends a date at 7pm. At age 45, a shower at 6:30pm on a Friday portends pajamas at 7pm and a glass of whiskey at 7:05pm.

    Dad quotes

    "This guy doesn't know whether to sh*t or go blind."


    "Busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest."


    "Higher than the balls on a giraffe."


    "I gave him a price that was lower than whale sh*t."


    "It can't get any worse. I mean, you can't fall out of the cellar, right?"


    "Slow down. You're all over the place. You're like:

    Roses are red,

    violets are blue,

    I like ice cream,

    Can you skate?"


    "How did I shoot today? Well, I couldn't hit a bull's ass with a bass fiddle today. I was terrible out there."

    Just for fun

    Growing up, I loved to watch and listen to comedy. HBO's One Night Stand was one of the best source for talented up and coming comedians. The comedy special by The Higgins Boys and Gruber was one of the funniest I remember and the skit of the beatnik reciting his poem "The Lovesong of J. Frederick Flintstone" was one of the best ones in that show. I can't seem to find the video of this skit, but I did find a transcript of the poem.


    The Love Song of J. Frederick Flintstone (by The Higgins Boys and Gruber HBO One Night Stand comedy special circa March 1991)


    Let us go then, Barney and I

    As the Bedrock sun is spread out against the sky

    Like a Brontoburger laid out upon a table

    And in the cave the women come on through

    Speaking of the Great Gazoo

    I am not Joe Rockhead nor was I meant to be

    A stone quarry worker willing to bowl a frame or two


    I grow old, I grow old

    Shall I wear my saber-toothed tiger suit rolled?

    Shall I prepare bronto ribs to eat? Power a car with my feet?

    I hear Pebbles and Bam-Bam singing each to each

    And in the cave the women came on through saying




    My list of "Most interesting man" commercials that I'd like to see... (queue the music)

    • He has never missed a putt, the ground trembled at his presence and sent the ball astray. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • During the running of the bulls, the bulls run from him. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • He free-dove to the Titanic. He has a home in Shang-Ri-La, and El Dorado, the lost city of gold. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • He is Godfather to the Dali Lama. Daylight Savings Time was designed to match the rhythm of his personal wristwatch. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • The Raven quoth him. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • Fathers have been known to steal their daughters' iPhones just so they can swipe right on his Tinder profile. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • Melania Trump Snapchats him. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • Disney has invited him to Orlando to lead the alligators out of Florida. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • Raul Castro voted for him to be the leader of Cuba in the last general election. He is the most interesting man in the world.
    • His bad hair days become the new look promoted by all the fashion magazines. He is the most interesting man in the world. 
    • He has never lost a coin toss - even when his opponent is using a double-headed coin. He is the most interesting man in the world.


    My advice for new product managers

    1. Your job is to maximize a product's business value by identifying customer needs, framing the problem, and setting priorities.  
    2. Frame the problem. Don't prescribe the solution.
    3. Don't solve for edge cases.  Find ways to eliminate them.
    4. "Small batch" delivery is better than "big batch" delivery.  Ref. The Lean Startup 
    5. You are probably not representative of your target users.
    6. Quality > quantity.  Your solution doesn't have to provide EVERY feature your customers ask for, but the features it does provide MUST work well.
    7. Simplicity & intuitiveness > complexity & advanced functionality.
    8. Ship the API before the UI.
    9. Find ways to pleasantly surprise your target community and your product will seem magical to them.

    Darren's rules to live by

    1. Give others the benefit of the doubt.
    2. Optimize for speed of learning.

    3. Think ahead. Solve tomorrow's problems today.

    4. Be proud of what you produce.

    5. Strive to be 1% better every day - benefit from the compounding interest of small improvements.

    6. Play to win. Don't play to not lose.

    7. Lead by example.

    8. Listen at least 2X as much as you speak.

    9. When faced with a difficult problem, always ask, "how do we make this easy?"

    10. After thoroughly developing a plan of action to achieve a particular objective, ask yourself, "what are the different ways we could screw this up?" Whatever the answer is to that question, make sure you do the opposite.