Brett van Zuiden

I write on things that interest me: product management, startups, and general tech trends.

Creating a Data-Driven Culture

Being data driven can help your company ship better products faster. You can cultivate a data driven culture in your company in four stages: stimulate curiosity, quantify past wins, estimate impact of projects in flight, and finally use data to prioritize future efforts. Read more ›

Push vs Pull

A good gauge for product success is whether customers are “pulling” the product into being with their requests, or whether the company is “pushing” the product along in search of growth. This is a easy, practical way of determining if you’ve found product-market fit. Read more ›

A framework for metrics

Most companies want to be "data driven," but there are few concrete, prescriptive guides to what this actually means. This is an opinionated framework derived from my experiences and conversations with other startups. Read more ›

Organizing teams around users, not features

For the last 6 months at Clever, we have organized our engineering teams around the type of user rather than the part of the product. The result has been increased collaboration, deeper insights, and an explosion of new product ideas. Read more ›

Disagreements

"If you assume both people are intelligent and rational, then the only way you can have a disagreement is if you are looking at different data." Read more ›

Data Driven Products Now

This is one of my favorite presentations, and forms the basis for much of the way I think about early-stage product management. I recommend going through it every few months to keep the lessons fresh. Read more ›

Complex topics explained simply: Hashing

Why is it that websites require you to reset your password, instead of just reminding you what it is? After all, they check your password when you enter it, can't they just look it up? It turns out the answer is no - websites actually don't know your password, and instead use a technique called "hashing" to check if what you log in with matches what you set when you created your account. Read more ›

Reviews: Identify issues instead of providing solutions

Giving positive feedback is easy; it’s much trickier to provide critical feedback in a way that improves the end result without diminishing the sense of ownership of the person working on it. In situations with designers, engineers, and direct reports, I’ve found one technique that works well is to focus on identifying issues rather than offering solutions. Read more ›

You can only make time

Time cannot be found nor had, it can only be made. The difference between the attitude of "I didn't have time" and "I didn't make time" is substantial: if you think of time as something you have to make, you assume ownership and responsibility for your time in a way that many people often avoid. Read more ›

Strong Opinions, Weakly Held

Express your ideas with conviction, but be willing to drop them and adopt better ideas as they come along. The best leaders and organizations are those that are pragmatic. Here at Filepicker.io, we say "Strong Opinions, Weakly Held" – a concise and effective way of encouraging active debate and the meritocracy of ideas. Read more ›

A Day without Programming

If you are a programmer working on a startup, force yourself to spend a day working where you don’t write any code. Seriously, do it, and make it a habit — you and your company will be greatly benefited. The time’s I’ve done it here at Filepicker.io have paid off in spades. Read more ›

Passing Pointers

A number of developers have asked recently why Filepicker.io passes around everything as URLs, and to me the better question is why more serivces don’t pass everything around as URLs. Read more ›

Why Files Exist

Many conversations about the future of computing revolve around the eventual fate of the “File.” After all, most tablets and phones don’t show the user anything that resembles a file, only Apps that contain their own content, tucked away inside their own opaque storage structure. Read more ›