Inside and Outside the Comfort Zone

I really like this picture, because it makes me think about the meaning of leaving our Comfort Zone. I’m not sure that we always feel fear when we step outside our Comfort Zone. Very often I experience excitement when I have new challenges, and a lack of challenges causes boredom.

What I like the most is the idea that when we are in the Learning Zone we are actually expanding our Comfort Zone. This is a very powerful concept: if we want to grow, we must learn. Unfortunately many jobs require lots of effort but offer few learning opportunities, so that people work hard but don’t really grow.

comfort_zone

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On Realistic Expectations, Preparation and Adaptability

reality-article-2-640x460People like to list “success factors” and even “habits of successful people”. My personal observation is that it is essential to have realistic expectations. When a person understands the real challenges he is facing, he is able to prepare accordingly. But if someone expects that things will be easier than they really are, he does not prepare well enough.

Thus, very often a failure in execution begins with a failure in preparation. People may underestimate the difficulty of the problems they are facing, or they may be too optimistic, predicting positive scenarios and forgetting to consider the possibility of negative outcomes. Then, when things don’t really happen as they expected, they are completely unprepared.

But of course, it is not possible to be always prepared to every situation. In this case, if we are aware that these unexpected events may happen, we may develop an ability to adapt, or adaptability. This includes keeping some flexibility in our plans, and having extra resources that can be used in an emergency.

Strategic Inflection Points

only_the_paranoid_surviveAndy Grove, founder and former CEO of Intel, wrote the book “Only the Paranoid Survive“, in which he introduces the concept of Strategic Inflection Points. According to Grove:

“A strategic inflection point is when the balance of forces shifts from the old structure, from the old ways of doing business and the old ways of competing, to the new. Before the strategic inflection point, the industry simply was more like the old. After it, it is more like the new. It is a point where the curve has subtly but profoundly changed, never to change back again.”

“When an industry goes through a strategic inflection point, the practitioners of the old art may have trouble. On the other hand, the new landscape provides an opportunity for people, some of whom may not even be participants in the industry in question, to join and become part of the action.”

“When a strategic inflection point sweeps through the industry, the more successful a participant was in the old industry structure, the more threatened it is by change and the more reluctant it is to adapt to it. Second, whereas the cost to enter a given industry in the face of well-entrenched participants can be very high, when the structure breaks, the cost to enter may become trivially small.”

In Summary

When a person (or company) is prepared and able to adapt, the extraordinary events may become new opportunities. But insufficient preparation and lack of adaptability may transform any unexpected event into an irrecoverable failure.

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The Story of a Young Oleh – Taglit 2019

In  the beginning of the year I gave a presentation about my experience as a New Oleh (immigrant) in Israel. The audience was a group of young Brazilian professionals visiting Israel as part of the Taglit project. They were very interested in learning more about the startups ecosystem in Israel. Some of them were considering the possibility of doing Aliyah (immigrating to Israel), combining the Zionist dream with the opportunities to become an entrepreneur.

You can see my slides and video below.

Here is the video of the talk (in Portuguese):

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Data Science: Set Similarity Metrics

In this article I would like to present several metrics to calculate the similarity between sets of items. I’ve been analyzing diverse metrics as part of an investigation I’m doing to improve the targeting of digital advertising campaigns. These set similarity metrics are very useful to address the problem of audience expansion.

The basic idea is: we start with a set of users that have engaged with the ad, for example clickers. Then we try to find other similar sets of users that we can target. We have the expectation that, because of their similarity, the targeted users will also engage positively with the ad. These similar users become our expanded audience.

Jaccard Similarity

The Jaccard Similarity is defined as the size of the intersection divided by the size of the union of the sets.

Given two sets, A and B, the Jaccard Similarity is defined as:

The Jaccard Similarity ranges between zero and one.

Also called: Jaccard index, Intersection over Union

For more information: Jaccard Similarity

Sorensen Coefficient

The Sorensen Coefficient equals twice the number of elements common to both sets divided by the sum of the number of elements in each set.

Given two sets, X and Y, the Sorensen Coefficient is defined as:

The Sorensen Coefficient ranges between zero and one.

Also called: Sorensen–Dice index, Sorensen index, Dice’s coefficient

For more information: Sorensen Coefficient

Tversky Index

For sets X and Y, the Tversky Index is given by:

Note that  are parameters of the Tversky Index.

The Tversky Index ranges between zero and one.

The Tversky Index can be seen as a generalization of the Jaccard Similarity and the Sorensen Coefficient:

  • Setting  produces the Jaccard Similarity.
  • Setting  produces the Sorensen Coefficient.

Tversky measures with  are of special interest.

For more information: Tversky Index

Overlap Coefficient

The Overlap Coefficient is defined as the size of the intersection divided by the size of the smaller of the two sets.

For sets X and Y, the Overlap Coefficient is given by:

If set X is a subset of Y or the converse then the Overlap Coefficient is equal to 1.

Also called: Szymkiewicz–Simpson Coefficient

For more information: Overlap Coefficient

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My Workshop on Software Architecture for Agile Development

Yesterday I had the pleasure to present a full-day workshop about Software Architecture for Agile Development. The audience was composed of software architects, team leaders and senior software developers. This was the description of the workshop:

This workshop will be dedicated to the topic of Software Architecture in the context of Agile Development. We will answer the question: “How much Design Up Front should be done in an Agile project?” Hayim will present his approach of Adaptable Design Up Front (ADUF), describing its rationale, applications in practice and comparison to other approaches such as Emergent Design. He will explain why adaptability is essential for the development of complex software systems using Agile methods. We will also cover related approaches such as the Adaptive Object Model and Evolutionary Architecture. The concepts will be illustrated through practical software architectures such as micro-services, and examples of real software systems that were developed applying these principles. The workshop will also include exercises on the definition and evolution of the design of an interesting system.

What you will learn:

  • The Architectural challenges of modern software development
  • The need of Adaptability in the context of Agile development
  • The approach of Adaptable Design Up Front (ADUF)
  • The Adaptive Object Model (AOM)
  • The approach of Evolutionary Architectures

These are some nice pictures of the workshop participants doing an exercise:

 

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Doing difficult things for the first time

If I summarize the year of 2018 I can say that I tried to do many difficult things, and many of these things I have tried to do for the first time.

This is the reality for most entrepreneurs. When you are the founder of a startup company you have to do many things that you have never done before, and many of these things are difficult.

Actually, most things you are doing as an entrepreneur would have been difficult even for someone who has experience doing them:

  • Hiring the right people
  • Doing market research
  • Understanding your competition
  • Developing your go-to-market strategy
  • Defining your MVP
  • Writing a Business Plan
  • Talking to investors
  • Acquiring your first users
  • Contacting potential customers

Naturally, by doing these hard things for the first time, there will be many failures. You will make many mistakes. You will have to learn from these mistakes and adjust your plans very fast.

You will also discover what are the things that you like to do and what are the things that you don’t like to do. Then you will have to learn how to delegate tasks and trust your partners.

But you will also have some good surprises. You will experience success in activities that you have never done before. You will discover that you have strengths that you didn’t know before.

“Doing the difficult things that you’ve never done awakens the talents you never knew you had.” — Robin S. Sharma

So I wish that in 2019 I will continue to do difficult things, and I will continue to learn how to do them. Happy New Year!

Quotefancy-183740-3840x2160

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Networking is Overrated: Focus on Your Reputation

Network of peopleI’ve observed in recent years that many professionals became obsessed with networking. These are the people who constantly participate in conferences, meetups and other kinds of networking events. They like to collect business cards and feel excited whenever they connect to other professionals on LinkedIn.

I must say that in the past I also was a networking enthusiast. However after investing lots of time and effort into growing my network, I finally understood that this approach was not producing the results that I expected. My goal was to have more opportunities, but instead I was losing my focus.

It is very easy to meet new people, exchange business cards and create a connection. However, it is much more difficult to keep in touch with all these people over time. The natural tendency is to simply stop having any kind of interaction with our new contacts until we completely forget about each other.

To confirm this point, we just need to do a simple exercise. Do you have a business cards collection? Please select one of them randomly and answer these questions:

  • Do you remember where did you meet this person? Do you remember in which circumstances did you meet?
  • Did someone introduce you to this person? Do you remember who introduced you?
  • Do you remember the face of this person? Would you be able to recognize him/her in the street?
  • Did you ever communicate with this person? Do you remember when was your last interaction?
  • If you would see the name of this person somewhere else, would you remember that you once met and exchanged business cards?

If you don’t keep a business cards collection, you could ask the same questions about your contacts on LinkedIn. Actually, I’ve witnessed more than once the following situation which is quite funny:

Two people meet on a networking event. After a few minutes of conversation, one of them says: “Let’s connect on LinkedIn! What is your name?” Then he opens his LinkedIn app and searches for the profile of his new contact… when he discovers: “Oh! We are already connected!”

If this has happened to you, you can be sure that you have been doing too much networking recently.

Focus on Your Reputation

online-reputation-managementIn general the goal of networking is to create new opportunities. These may be business opportunities, partnership opportunities or job opportunities. But in my opinion what really creates new opportunities is our reputation.

Having a good reputation means that:

  • People will remember us. They will remember us for many years since we had our last interaction.
  • People will recommend us. They will introduce us to their own contacts whenever they think we may contribute.
  • People will constantly offer us new opportunities. They will invite us when they have a job opening, or when they need a partner or an adviser.

In other words, if you have a good reputation your name will be present even if you are not physically present. People will mention you in the right context, at the right places and at the right times.

There are many good articles and books about how to build your reputation. It is certainly something that requires lots of time, effort and dedication. But it will bring you much better results than meeting random people in networking events.

What do you think? Do you agree? What has been your own experience? Please share with us in the comments below.

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