Friday Updates: Back from Paternity Leave

Photo by Sergey Shmidt

I took it easy for most of June to help out with Owen and generally try to make things as easy as possible for my wife. We now have 4 kids – ages 6, 5, 3, and the newborn, which means there’s rarely a dull moment in the Mazur household.

Preceden

I put some time into Preceden during the break, knocking out a few small product improvements here and there.

One of these included integrating Headway, an in-app changelog notification widget that lets me keep users informed about recent updates to the Preceden:

In addition to being able to read them directly in the app, Headway generates a public page where anyone can follow the changes. I also hooked Headway up to Preceden’s long-neglected Twitter account where it shares updates when I publish them:

Recent updates include:

And yes, I do need to resume marketing initiatives one of these days.

Help Scout

I took June completely off from Help Scout. As a contractor, it’s not paid time off, but I put in extra hours in May in preparation for the time off in June so thankfully didn’t have to forgo any income to take the time off.

With the hire of Michael, the new Data Lead, in May, my work at Help Scout is changing: I have more bandwidth to tackle bigger data projects because Michael has taken on a lot of the other day to day responsibilities.

The big project I’m starting is building out a Likelihood to Close Score that uses machine learning to help us estimate the probability that a trial will go onto become a customer. It’s requiring picking up some new skills because it’s one thing to build a scikit-learn model locally in a Jupyter Notebook, another thing to get a model in production and have the score available in our data warehouse to use in Looker and other analyses. I’ll write a post down the road sharing how it all works, assuming I can figure it out.

What I’m listening to

Lots of podcasts thanks to some long car rides during my break + listening in the morning during yoga:

  • My First Million with Sam Parr and Shaan Puri
  • Lex Fridman, a polymath who interviews lots of brilliant folks in technology, science, and entrepreneurship. I’ve listened to his interviews with Vitalik Buterin about Ethereum 2.0, Bryan Johnson about building brain-computer interfaces at Kernel, Sam Harris about consciousness, Silvio Micali about Algorand, Jason Calacanis about angel investing, and Clara Sousa-Silva about her work detecting phosphene on Venus which might be a sign of life there.
  • Indie Hackers with Courtland Allen
  • Art of Product with Ben Orenstein and Derrick Reimer

What I’m reading

Hope all is well with you all πŸ‘‹.

Friday Updates: Say hello to Owen Mazur

Last Friday my wife and I welcomed this amazing little guy to the world:

Fortunately Owen’s birth was the easiest of our 4 kids and both he and my wife are doing well.

I’m taking it easy most of June so probably won’t resume regular Friday updates until July.

Hope everyone is doing well πŸ‘‹.

Friday Updates: Search & Filter, Jupiter’s Legacy, William Green, Gratitude Journaling

Preceden

Big update from the last two weeks was shipping a search & filter feature on Preceden:

Hat-tip to Milan for the excellent UI work on the search field.

Also did some more performance work that has had noticeable improvements:

Including realizing that jQuery has been loading unminified for years (damn):

I’ve been going pretty hard on product work the last two months and probably should start putting more marketing work (or at least hiring a contractor who can help there), but for now I’m still excited about the product roadmap and will be focusing on it for a while.

Help Scout

This month we hired a new data lead and I’ve been busy bringing him up to speed on all things data at Help Scout. The training is all somewhat rushed because my wife and I have a baby due at the end of May (in 8 days!) and I’m going to take about a month off and want to make sure the new lead is set up for success before I head out.

Watching

Jupiter’s Legacy on Netflix – not bad.

Reading

Richer, Wiser, Happier by William Green:

The author is a journalist who has interviewed dozens of incredibly successful investors over his career. He compiled a lot of their key investing and life advice into this fantastic book.

I’m more of an index fund kind of guy myself, but I’ve really enjoyed reading about how these folks think about investing, bubbles, long term thinking, volatility, quality, and a lot more.

Experimenting

Gratitude Journal – every night before bed for the last few weeks I write 3 things I’m grateful for in a small moleskin notebook that I keep on my bedside table. I’ve experimented with gratitude journaling in the past using the 5 Minute Journal but I didn’t like the format of the 5 Minute Journal and wound up abandoning it (daily affirmations, ugh). Now I’m just doing the gratitude journaling and have seen a noticeable improvement in my baseline happiness level. My entries are not super deep or anything, but do serve as a good reminder that I have a lot to be grateful for.

Some samples:

  • Grateful that Mason (my oldest) is curious about everything
  • Grateful for the chirping birds outside every morning
  • Grateful for the time spent reading to the kids every night
  • Grateful for a warm bed
  • Grateful for lazy Sundays at home
  • Grateful for working with Eli at Help Scout

Writing a few of these each each day will start training your mind to start noticing them during the day which is an easy way to improve your mood and be more grateful for what you have.

Friday Updates: Editor Redesign, Product Analytics, Waking Up Early, Delta 8, Catch Up Calls

What I’m working on at Preceden

Editor redesign

With help from Milan, Preceden’s front-end developer, we launched a big update to Preceden’s editor.

Here’s what it looked like before:

And here’s what it looks like now:

Beside the aesthetic improvements to the buttons, we moved some of the functionality into other areas of the UI eliminating the need for some of the buttons:

  • Reordering layers is now possible when editing a layer
  • Editing the legend is now under settings
  • CSV Import is now under settings (it’s not really a setting, but doesn’t fit well anywhere)

We also moved all of the export and sharing buttons that were below the timeline into a new menu:

Overall this takes the editor down from 16 buttons to 5, simplifying the UI a ton.

Multilayer axes

In the past Preceden tried to put all of the axis labels on a single line like this:

Notice how for January it just displays the year. This is because including the month and year won’t fit in that space.

Introducing a secondary row for the axis labels helps clean this up:

Also spent some more time on performance and bug fixes. Really happy with how the product is coming along.

What I’m working on at Help Scout

I’ve been working a lot with Help Scout’s PMs on product analytics, an area of our BI reporting that historically hasn’t gotten as much attention as finance, marketing, and sales. Over the last 18 months Help Scout has hired a lot of talented PMs and with that has brought lots of questions about how users are interacting with different areas of the product. We recently signed a contract with Heap which has helped PMs self serve a lot more than in the past, but a lot of the analysis still involves wrangling backend data which has me working with dbt and LookML most days.

Some examples of analyses I’ve worked on recently:

  • What % of users have sent a response in the last 1/7/30 days?
  • How does activity change with role (Account Owner, Admin, User) and number of users at a company?
  • What does weekly retention look like for our live chat tool? How does user count and industry impact it?

What I’m listening to

Balaji Srinivasan on the Tim Ferriss postcast as well as him on the on the My First Million podcast. Love his outside-the-box thinking on so many topics.

What I’m experimenting with

Four things:

Wake up early – for the last few years I typically wake up when my kids get up around 7am. Recently it’s been my 2-year old banging on his door and shouting “daddy daddy!”. For the past month I’ve been setting an alarm at 6am (using my Apple Watch so it doesn’t wake up my wife) and trying to establish a better morning routine. At the moment, it usually consists of making breakfast for myself then either doing a 30-minute HIIT workout or yoga. During breakfast and yoga I’m usually listening to podcasts. If I finish before the kids get up, I just chill on the couch and keep listening to podcasts. I’m only doing this on weekdays. It’s got me feeling a lot more energetic during the days.

Delta 8 – I’ve struggled with sleeping well for the last few years, so decided to try edibles. I take half of one of these Delta 8 gummies about an hour before I want to sleep and then when I lie down I fall asleep almost instantly. I’m not doing this every night, just when my mind is overly active from whatever was going on that day. It’s made getting up earlier easier since I’ve gotten enough sleep most nights.

Weekly catchup calls – A friend of mine reaches out to me once a year to jump on a Zoom call and catch up. I recently asked him about his process for this and he mentioned he keeps a spreadsheet of old friends and acquaintances with when they last chatted and some notes about them. He makes it part of his routine to do these calls often, allowing him to stay in touch with a lot of folks. I really liked the idea so have been making an effort to do something similar. My goal right now is to either reconnect with an old friend or meet with someone new once a week. I’m not a huge fan of meetings in general, but am enjoying these 1:1 conversations with people I normally don’t interact with day to day.

Savvycal is making it easy to coordinate these calls:

Hope all is well with you all .