Projects & Interests
Entrepreneurship and Start-ups
I am active in advising and investing in startup companies and even pursue several startup opporutnities of my own at any given time .
I have given several public talks on Innovation Culture and Entrepreneurship, and participate as a member of some entrepreneurial clubs, universities and small companies. Below are just a select few which are on YouTube...
In 2017 I presented a talk on Machine Learning Insights for Human Learning at TNW Europe. This is a talk I had given before, but, as always, I tweaked it for this audience. My general message in this talk is about the irony embedded in recent progress in Machine Learning... as we improve machines abilities to learn and solve unpredictable problems, we continue to hard-code our kids to follow directions, do well on standardized tests and memorize solutions to known problems. Let's fix this.
I gave this talk entitled "Killing the Save Button" at TNW Europe in Amsterdam in 2016. This talk focused on product management lessons I learned in the creation of products like Google Sheets, Docs and Drive. I lean in to the importance of making product decisions, listening to customers and sometimes ignoring their aversion to change (as in the killing of the save button in Docs).
In 2013, I spoke to students at SUNY Albany (UAlbany) about the skills of Innovation - starting with encouragement to discover their passion and learning from failure rather than avoiding it.
This talk had special meaning to me, since I was a Computer Science major at UAlbany many years ago.
... and here's a montage of some titles of other talks I've given...
I share my experiences and insights to help inspire others in their mission, but never expect my stories to be treated as "advice" - just shared experiences.
For 3 years (2015 - 2017), I was a member of the Board of Education in Chester, NJ K-8 School District. In 2014 I was a write-in candidate for the Board Of Education.
I stayed involved in the "Tech Club" in our middle school and worked on the Board of Ed Tech Committee in Chester, NJ during the 2010-2018 years. I often volunteered in the club and help kids with technical projects. I often volunteered to help teachers and students use technology effectively in learning, by participating in Career Day at various local schools, and helping with teacher professional development and community events.
I was very active on Twitter on education topics and try to both learn from educators, administrators and students - and help them with topics related to Google and EdTech products that I know well.
HomeStudioStuff.com: A Business That Started As A Learning Experience
When I was CPO at Zapier, I wanted to learn more about automating small business processes - so I could relate directly with our customers, who were often running small businesses. Since I was pretty passionate about physical design, laser cutting and electronic music, I decided to combine all those things into an Etsy-style business selling wooden and acrylic stands for electronic music devices and instruments. I made a couple for myself already and figured if I loved them, perhaps others would buy them too.
People did buy them - and a year later, I had sold more than 700 stands on Etsy and my own site homestudiostuff.com.
I got my brother-in-law into the craft and set him up to run the business - and now I focus on designing new products and he does everything else (and designs things too!).
MkrClub.com: My 3D Printing and Maker Journal
I am always a Maker - and was very active in 3D Printing in the early years of that technology - both creating hundreds of designs and helping entrepreneurs in that space find product market fit in education and other markets.
I currently still stay pretty active making products using my tools, laser-cutter and 3D Printer - but mostly focus on lasercut designs for home studios (see above).
JRsays.com: My Personal Blog
JRsays.com is where I (used to) write... I don't write that often, but when something strikes me related to entrepreneurship, innovation, product management, leadership or life - or even a tip for one of the products I know - I'll jot it down (or write a longer post) on JRsays.
I think everyone should have an outlet for sharing their ideas, even if it seems only important to themselves - since it just might be relatable someone else on this planet.
My most popular post was by far my thoughts on how Social Networks Might Be Semi-Anti-Social... and then my pseudo-rant on the plastic recyclable rating system... proving how random my blog (and my thoughts, at times) can be ;) - Enjoy at your own risk.
Other Places to Find Me