CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Entry Level Engineers Cutting Their Teeth

I found myself drawing a distinction between code school graduates and Junior Engineers. It’s not to diminish the effort or credibility of code school. It is to elevate the importance of real world experience. Deploying to production software is key to the Junior Engineer distinction. Beyond a brochure site or public facing test app, a Junior Engineer needs time spent on a system with daily active users. Realizing it’s often hard to get the opportunity to work in a live environment, our apprenticeship is designed for Entry Level Engineers. What do you look for in an apprentice? This is by no means a comprehensive list, but we have found patterns that define solid apprenticeship candidates. Proactive learner. Pursue a deeper understanding rather than waiting to be tasked it. Action oriented. A default to ‘jumping right in’ rather than waiting for complete clarity. Inquisitive. The ability to ask good questions and digest…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Aligning Software Pricing and Value

Not everything is worth a subscription. We all know what it’s like to start using a software product only to see the paid plan is $20 per month. It’s one small feature we use but the cost is twice what I pay for Netflix. It doesn’t feel worth it. The value of the tool and what it costs are misaligned. The Flip Side While some technology feels overpriced, there are others than feel like a deal. At polar notion, we spend over $300 a month for Slack. Our team and clients use Slack as a continual communication tool. It facilitates all conversations. Slack saves us hundreds of hours combing through emails and tens of thousands of dollars in efficiency. We pay a lot for Slack, but we get more than we pay. The Tension How do we reconcile this when building technology? Someone has to pay for it to get built.…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Clarifying Company Values at Polar Notion

As a company grows and evolves, values become indispensable in guiding decisions. I’ve found few things to be more impactful in facilitating a healthy culture. Values govern how we operate. They summarize what matters most. Sometimes however, it’s helpful to dive a bit deeper into defining what they actually mean to us. While values like ‘passion’ and ‘innovation’ can be telling, they fall on deaf ears without context, explanation, and examples. We pursue excellence, not perfection. Rather than pushing for perfection, which is illusive, we pursue excellence. For us, excellence is exemplified in 4 ways. We produce quality products. Is the work we’re doing quality in the eyes of our clients and our peers? Not everyone has to ‘get it’, but our attention to detail and thoughtfulness should be evident. Standards change over time but we want to set the bar ever higher. A great example is our Client Handbook. It’s…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Swing, Swing, Swing

There is a restaurant down the road from our office. We’ve eaten their quite often but they always manage to get our order wrong. If I had to guess, they get it right about 30% of the time. It’s abysmal. It’s low on our list of lunch places. In baseball, they have a name for players who only get their job right 30% of the time: Hall of Famers. That’s right, the best players in the world hit the ball less than half of the time. Over the course of their career, a baseball player will strike out thousands of times. Taking swings Conversations about failure are everywhere. They cover the importance of failure, trying things that might not work, doing things that don’t scale, moving fast while breaking things, and so much more. Almost as popular are counter points about quality, excellence, and seamless experiences. Witnessing this trend, it’s clear they aren’t…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Start Smaller

In 2016, we built a streamlined recruiter management system. It allowed candidates to connect via LinkedIn, recruiters to post jobs, and employers to filter prospects. The interface was clean and polished. The value was well defined and benefits were obvious. For months prior, the client also had been working to build an email list. Every week a newsletter would be sent to job-seekers with top jobs in the industry. Employers would also receive an email with top candidates. It was basic and simple. Engagement In the end, their email list was 30x more effective at connecting people to jobs. It wasn’t much, but it worked. It wasn’t sexy, but apparently it didn’t have to be. When he approached investors, they couldn’t reconcile investing in an app when the traditional email was working well. “Comeback when you have a plan that capitalizes on the effectiveness of that email list.” The technology…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Estimating Completion via Hill Charts

In high school, I ventured out with two friends to hike on the Appalachian Trail which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The plan was to hike for 5 days, covering about 75 miles. The distance would have covered the entire section within Georgia. On Day 3 a massive mountain was expected to be the highlight of the trip. Looking at the map and using some rough calculations, I estimated we would eat lunch atop the mountain in a few hours. We’d heard from others that it was one of the state’s best views. As you might guess, I was wrong. Ascending the mountain took twice as long as expected. Conditions were rough and visibility was poor. We were exhausted by the time we reached the top and our lunch was devoured hours before. A thick fog left us with mere inches of visibility. No view and no highlight. From the…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Strategy Feeds Execution

Strategy is among our most valuable work. In technology, it’s easy to get caught up in apps, features, and how it looks. We must consistently stop and consider if we are building the right thing. As I look back over years of building products and millions of times of code, my proudest moments involve software we avoided having to write. In contrast, the greatest disappointments involve a tremendous amount of time, energy, and effort spent on something that was ultimately wrong. It comes back to strategy vs execution. Doing the work or deciding on the work to be done. Great technologists are able to align technology with business objectives. This alignment shouldn’t only be at the beginning of the project. It must happen over and over as conditions evolve. This is typically the role of the technical cofounder on smaller teams and Chief Technology Officer within large or growing organizations.…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Valuing What Matters

In 2017, we bag pushing harder to remove the barriers that prevent our team from doing great work. We are creating a transparent work environment from project management, to educating clients, and beyond. The goal is to do remarkable work and inspire others to live remarkable lives. As part of this push, team member compensation races to the forefront. Compensation is an area riddled with confusion and chaos. To combat the tension, we introduced transparent salaries. With that, we’ve been working through clearly defined expectations for each level and per role. After much deliberation and great advise, we identified 8 key areas. Each role without our business has requirements around Culture, Evangelism, Values, Experience, Leadership, Client Interactions, Industry Involvement, and Domain Knowledge. Culture Our team comes first. We spend most of our lives at work, so building a place we all enjoy is of primary importance. Contributing to the culture…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Send Shorter Emails

A professor in college would tag every email as important. Upon opening the first few, I quickly realized it wasn’t as important as she thought. Each email was painfully long, poorly organized, and uneventful. After the 2–3 weeks, I didn’t read any more of them. When you write less, the content is actually consumed. Communication is two sided: information sent and information received. If you expect it to be read and thoughtfully digested, keep it short. Long emails often contain too much, which makes grasping the point even more challenging. While it may seem like most emails include a lot of valuable information, that’s simply not the case. Short emails have higher readability, are more deliberate, and respect the time of others. If you don’t have the time or energy to write a short, clear email… summarize at the end. That’s right, include a 2–5 bullet list at the end…

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CEO @polarnotion. CTO @newstorycharity. Coowner @tenrocket & @sharpp. Run fast. Stay strong. Go boldly forward. Godspeed :: morgan@polarnotion.com

Write Now – WordPress Theme

When I first began writing, Medium was a perfect fit. A well designed, distraction-free interface proved useful while developing the discipline of writing was my focus. I didn’t waste time nitpicking something custom. Within the first year, I posted hundreds of articles and drafted hundreds more. Unfortunately, the limited interface became a barrier. Without a way to search drafts, there wasn’t a simple path of identify recurring trends in my writing or expound upon unpublished content. My drafts continued to compound without an easy way of reducing the load. I also noticed my dependence on past writing began to increase. Sharing links with clients, students, and peers I felt the tension of becoming so dependent on someone else’s platform. The advantages I enjoyed while dipping my toe into writing had become an impediment to continuing the habit. So, after much deliberation, it became clear that it was time to move…

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