2018 Film & TV Roundup

This year I saw 73 movies (down from 111 in 2017), and 25 full seasons of television (up from 18 in 2017).

Interestingly, the quality of the movies I watched was nearly identical between years. My average review score increased from 73% to 75%.

Top 5 Films of 2018

These are movies I watched, but weren’t necessarily released, in 2018.

5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

I went into this movie without having seen any trailers, and not knowing that it was the first of two parts. Besides the stunning visual effects, I left the theatre shocked at how it ended! It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realised there would be a “resolution” to follow-up in 2019.

4. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

A touching film about an Italian Jewish family, and a coming-of-age romance. This was the first full film I experienced in a virtual theatre, through Bigscreen.

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

I’ve avoided Spider-Man movies, because they’re generally poorly reviewed, and I know that if I watch one, I’ll have to watch them all. It took a while for my eyes to become accustomed to the 12 FPS animation style, but once they did, this film was sensational. I can’t wait for Talia to see it, because I think she’d just love the art-style.

2. Francs Ha (2012)

Talia and I watched all of Noah Baumbach’s films this year (in chronological order), and Frances Ha is my favourite of the lot. Greta Gerwig will always be Frances to me. If you haven’t seen it yet, please add this one to your much watch list (great for a date night!).

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2018 was the 50th year anniversary of the Stanley Kubrick’s pièce de résistance. This is the greatest film ever made, by the greatest filmmaker to have ever lived. I saw this movie twice this year: once on an old 70mm reel full of dust and scratches, and once on Christopher Nolan’s remastered 70mm film.

I also got to meet Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood (the astronauts Dr. Dave Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole) in person, and got their autograph on a limited edition 2001 art print.

Top 5 Television Seasons of 2018

5. Legion (Season 1)

You wouldn’t know that this mind-bending sci-fi / thriller / horror series is set in the X-Men universe. It is bizarre, hilarious, and sometimes even scary. The best part is Jemaine Clement as Oliver Bird (Jemaine usually is the best part, isn’t he?), who brings a little levity to an otherwise serious endeavour.

4. Black Mirror (Season 4)

Who could forget the USS Callister – my favourite episode of any TV series I saw this year. This season was consistently dystopian and harrowing, which is what I love about Black Mirror. The bonus Black Museum episode was a nice touch, too.

3. The Expanse (Season 3)

The best sci-fi on TV right now. I’m a huge fan of James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse book series, and delighted to see such a great adaption for the screen. Shockingly, Syfy announced it would not renew The Expanse for a fourth season! Fans (including me) petitioned on-demand services, and in the end, Amazon picked the series up for additional seasons.

2. Star-Trek Discovery (Season 1)

Whether you’re a Trekkie (like me) or not (like Talia), Discovery is a great, modern take on Star Trek, which stays true to the original vision of progressive positivity. I couldn’t have hoped for a better start to a contemporary refresh (visual style, not story) on Trek.

1. The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel (Season 2)

Is this the only non-sci-fi title in my top 5? I guess so! If you haven’t seen it yet, this Amy Sherman-Palladino series is just hilarious, though it’s not that same brand of slapstick comedy as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or The Office. Think Gilmore Girls, but Rory is Jewish and grows up to be a comedienne.

Quantum Leap

Small changes to our product can lead to large changes in user behaviour.

The colloquial phrase Quantum Leap or Quantum Shift means to make a very large improvement or change. Ironically, this is the exact opposite of  Quantum’s scientific definition, which refers specifically to the smallest possible change.

When operating at scale, we find that small changes to our product can create large changes to user behaviour. A good question to ask ourselves is: What’s the smallest possible change I can make to my product which will result in the largest possible returns?

The answer will give us a hypothesis: I believe that moving the advertisement into the sidebar will increase my email subscription rate by 10%.

Now, test, measure, and iterate. Aim to achieve a huge quantum leap by implementing a tiny quantum change.

 

Data Means Nothing

Data can mean anything, therefore it means nothing. How, then, can we extract meaning from a dataset?

Two shoe salesmen were sent into “darkest Africa” to feel out the potential  shoe market. The first telegraphed home saying: it’s hopeless stop nobody here wears shoes. The second telegraphed back saying: it’s wonderful stop nobody has any shoes.

As Product Managers, we work with a lot of data. Sometimes we even hire a data scientist to go through our data and tell us what it means.

Framing is the lens through which we view data. Since we all have different brains (and hence different frames) the same data will always represent something different to different analysts. Data can be objective. Recommendations based on that data can never be.

Data can mean anything, therefore it means nothing.

How, then, can we extract meaning from a dataset? One very effective method is to look hidden assumptions.

Suppose your analytics show a temporary downtick in traffic during February. One might assume that this is simply a natural ebb, another may assume that February must be a low month in your industry, a third may assume that there was a technical error has since been resolved.

To extract meaning from these analytics, ask yourself:

What assumption am I making,
That I’m not aware I’m making,
That gives me what I see?

Challenging this assumption will help you learn something new about your product (a competitor launched, an industry event, a political influence), which you can then leverage to your advantage.

Props to Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander for inspiration.

Minimum Viable Marketing

Most marketing campaigns, aim to reach as many eyes as possible. Here’s another approach: Minimum Viable Marketing.

We’ve all heard about lean product development principles: Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), measure its performance, and iterate.

We could apply this same principle to many Product disciplines. Take marketing, for example. Often, a Product team will hire a marketing manager or consultant and launch a campaign, aiming to reach as many eyes as possible.

Here’s another approach: A Minimum Viable Marketing (MVM) campaign.

Define a small campaign targeted only at the early adopters amongst your market segment, using words like Innovative, Pioneer, Breakthrough, Private, Limited, and Now. Choose just one channel to reach them on.

No need to build out every asset for every medium. No need to get the alignment just so. No need for pixel perfection. No need to wordsmith.

Since you’re starting small, take the time to get to know your audience. Talk with them, without any hint of self-promotion. Show them your marketing materials and gauge their thoughts and reactions.

Then iterate.

Choosing the Right Metrics for Distributed Teams

Office environments have a built-in productivity tracking tool: Visibility. But how do you keep remote teams accountable?

There’s a temptation to burden remote workers with a tonne of metrics.

When managers don’t trust their staff to be productive at home, the staff are often closely scrutinised with daily standups, daily roundups, and to-the-minute time tracking.

Continue reading “Choosing the Right Metrics for Distributed Teams”