I am joining Assist
One of the major reasons why I use Twitter regularly is to get access to a lot of people that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to or even know about. I can get news and entertainment on other networks, websites, and apps. But, the communities of interesting people and the discussions and communications amongst those communities on Twitter are irreplaceable. Twitter, as a company, is struggling. But, Twitter as a concept of enabling anyone to connect with others in an appropriate fashion is what has kept the struggling product beloved to its power users. Honestly, “live” doesn’t interest me as much as the people aspects of Twitter does.
Tweets Pay Off
I don’t think I have even a speck of doubt in my mind as to why I use Twitter and why I give it a disproportionate amount of my time and…
I have a list of interests. I find the best and interesting people associated with those interests. For instance, I am currently learning a lot about Product Management. I made a list of PMs of all the products I really like or are doing well in the markeplace. I filtered out the people who are not active on Twitter. From the remaining pool, I determine who tweets insightful things. I follow that subset of people and make a Twitter list associated with PMs.
One of my newfound interests is the conversational products space. Everyone in the tech communities seems to be at least slightly interested in that space given its potential of becoming the next big thing. When too many people are interested in something, there is generally too much noise. I am very selective in whom I count on for information and insights on this nascent space. I follow tweets of very small set of people working in that space.
One of the people I follow is Shane Mac. I had been engaging with him over the past couple months. He is building a company in the chatbot space. I would ask him questions, pick his brain, and learn as much as I could about his take on the space publicly on Twitter. I always found Shane’s thinking and approach to chatbots very differentiated than most. I had come to trust his judgement. Over time, I had gotten more and more context on who he is, what he does, his values, and how he thinks based off of his book, online presence, and blog. I also found his usage of Twitter similar to mine. We both look at Twitter as a learning, relationship-building and communication tool. Not a broadcasting tool. He published a blog post talking about how Twitter has helped him advance his career and relationships. I found it very relatable since I agree with all the points he made and have published a piece with similar sentiment myself. I had come to respect him as a thought leader in the chatbot space. But, more importantly, I had come to respect him as a good person with values similar to mine.
A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in the conference room at betaworks in a discussion with Kevin Rose and all the botcamp teams. I got a DM from Shane Mac asking if I would like to explore a work opportunity with him.
I was honestly shocked (He didn't follow me on Twitter). I was pre-occupied with all the discussions going on in the meeting. I was talking to Kevin Rose about about the notion of feature vs business in the context of chatbots. I really felt humbled to be reached out by someone I respected and looked up to for knowledge. It was funny how he though I worked full time at betaworks at the time.
We jumped on a call the very same evening. He asked me about my work, my goals, my interests, what I could learn from him and how I could help his team. I was very confused as to why he had reached out to me in the first place. So, I asked him that question point blank. He said he saw me engage with him a lot and he saw how interested I was in the space. The experience at betaworks and my blog surely moved the needle in my favor. After our call, I sent him an in-depth email about all my past work experiences, learnings, my writing on the space, and how I thought I could add value to his team.
A couple days ago I had another call with Shane. He walked me though their approach to chatbots and showed me some 0n-house technology they have built over time. He later connected me with Stephane, the head of product. We had a call the next day. We talked about our experiences and how we worked. He asked about my goals, interests, and time commitment amongst many other things. He told me that he keeps up with my blog posts. It was a great conversation.
And, here I am with a new gig. I will be working on product. I have always wanted to work on product. My experiences at betaworks and my writing on the bots space prepared me for this role. I know there is so much more to learn. But, the flexibility at betaworks helped me craft a job that created a foundation for the skill-set needed to excel as a product person. I couldn't be more excited to join the team at Assist.
I cant help but think what would have happened if my twitter DMs were not open. The friction for reaching out to me would have been a bit higher for Shane. It is funny how Twitter helped me build relationships with key people who eventually ended up hiring me at both SoGal Ventures and betaworks. Same with Assist.
I am glad I use Twitter. I am glad I worked in the bots space over the summer. I am glad people in tech communities are so approachable. I am glad I wrote consistently for months on the bots space. I am glad I took this role. I am glad to be making some impact on a very nascent space. I am glad to be working in the tech industry.
Thank you Shane Mac and the team at Assist. Thank you Matt Hartman at betaworks and Elizabeth Galbut at SoGal Ventures for trusting me with roles I had no experience in and help prepare me for future roles.
PS — I am a product “intern”. But, I don’t like to focus on titles. Thinking about titles limits our thinking about our roles and impact. I am going to assume I am a full time employee and just give my best. At the end of day, it’s all about building influence, not authority.