tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:/posts Jeff Vyduna 2015-05-06T22:13:09Z tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/823002 2015-05-06T22:13:06Z 2015-05-06T22:13:09Z Dear Matt - How your email to me could have gotten a response

Hey Matt- 

You're trying to reach out to a lot of people and I am one of them, but you didn't say anything personal about me or our company. Nothing in the FOUR sales emails I have ignored (the ones where you said, "Don’t mean to be a bother here") was actually personalized to me. You could have at LEAST talked about WePay since it is a YC company like mine. Instead, you're using ToutApp to pester me without unsubscribe links.

It's time for us to have a talk.

Your email seriously degraded my impression of you and your company. I'm gathering mental momentum behind the idea that my success depends on ignoring you repeatedly.

It would not be charming if you snapped a picture of your billboard and emailed it to me.

image credit

You have the tools, so sending this is a much better idea:

Don't stop. You wield a holy weapon and that weapon's name is "merge field".  I want to be paid a database-driven compliment. I am pleased that you mined Crunchbase to find me.

A/B testing is just a game. You're not playing games, you're mutating grammar with genetic algorithms. You've got that black hat machine learning guy. Let's be frank, you're solving the hard problems worth solving. You invented this dark pattern (this one weird trick) that hauls 'em in.

Now for the coup de maître: automated follow up. I'm a lead, and since I didn't reply, I'm desperate to be nurtured. Squeeze me a little drip email of that sales honey.

I just wanted to follow up to see if you received my email below.

Hit me again with that madlib sugar.

I know how busy things are at    Poll Everywhere, Inc    .

Remember, you don't need unsubscribe links. This isn't a newsletter! You're just reaching out. I shouldn't be so butthurt about it. You just earnestly thought I could benefit from your product. You were trying to bring me an opportunity for partnership

Let me drop the sarcasm. It goes beyond your word choices -- the entire experience is a euphemism. You're softening your emails with a synthetic personal touch, and you do that as an attempt to avoid the unpleasant truth that you're just another bulk-emailing asshole.

. . .

The lecture is over. The lesson is that you converted me from neutral to detractor. I now dislike you and the brand you represent. I'm speaking strongly about my reaction, and most of your prospects will never tell you when they feel the same.

This blog post is a ruse. It's not actually written for you, it's written for your kind. It's a deception of the same kind you sent me. The custom message at the top will change next week when I send it to the next clever salesperson, BD-er, or "Success Associate".

I'm not opposed to personalization or drip emails. My company sends them after a user signs up to try our product but doesn't succeed. The critical distinction is that you're doing cold outreach. I haven't shown any interest in you. 

Here's the solution: I was taught how to write an excellent prospecting email. It's 3 lines that include:

  1. Why you
  2. Why you now
  3. Call to action with an open ended question

I like Rainforest. Here's the prospecting email I would send to myself:

Jeff -

I saw your last blog post about the A,B,C keywords; that gif is clever.

If you're releasing big features that fast, are you using a mechanical turk / minority report QA tool?

Who's in charge of quality at Poll Ev?


An engineer might notice that this approach is like hashcash for sales. 

I hope this helps you. Please don't contact me again, even if you feel this was helpful. Life is too short to spend time on those who are unwilling to spend time on you. Like me.

Thanks for reading, I hope to meet you soon!


*"Wait, wait. I sent that email only to you! I promise this wasn't a mass email." That's even worse because it means you totally screwed up the dress code. You came to a barbecue in an IBM blue suit.

IBM Blues

Or perhaps it's more like your email showed up with the just-got-outa-bed-hair look. It looks like you didn't put any effort in when you actually put a lot in. Impersonal email just smells like mass email.

tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/639004 2014-01-07T19:35:11Z 2014-01-07T23:36:36Z Fatherhood So Far: Advice for the Next Guy
My friend Jason welcomed me to fatherhood with this:

For context, our daughter is currently 3 months old.

I'll skip the stuff that we heard from at least 3 other sources... Happiest Baby 5Ss (DVD more useful than book), UCSF classes, essential gym ball, ergo, French parenting craze.

For labor: Wise birth partners who came before me told me to "be a mountain" and that helped a lot. Mountains don't talk too much or problem solve, but they're unflappable and constant. That said, one problem solving episode really worked well: I had read books about labor, but it was too hard to integrate / remember it all. Months later when she went into labor, the contractions came on so strong that they put Rebecca out with morphine to allow some rest. For the 3 hours she slept, I re-read the labor coping techniques section of one of our other books, and Rebecca says that was one of the most helpful things I did. She woke up and I had a menu to form a plan from. If you can pack a book and find even 30 minutes to re-read... that's when it sticks. I also packed a electric heating pad as a surprise based on Brett's advice and it was appreciated for back pain and hot/cold flashes.

We also got professional help in the form of a home-visit lactation consultant referred by our pediatrician. She was really helpful. Rebecca always said she feared establishing breast feeding more than labor. I was skeptical but there's truth to that. Speaking of, our pediatrician is pretty awesome, especially for his office experience. He's in Presidio Heights.

It's hard to summarize advice for happiness at home because everything that worked changed after 2-4 weeks. We blazed through every swaddle, pacifier, bottle system, and white noise solution until we found favorites.

I noticed that everyone at the hospital had the same calming technique, and that worked really well for the first 2 months: shush while vigorously (amplitude, not frequency) bouncing her sitting upright, one hand under butt. This was slightly different from bouncing them on their side as Harvey Karp's 5S's suggested.

I took 10 days off work for paternity and am happy with that decision. I took them in small chunks across the first month and when family was not in town. Rebecca took 3 months off work and just went back to work yesterday. Although we almost did a nanny, we're doing a day care that's along Rebecca's commute. Today is day 2, so the jury's still out on this one.

Beck really likes this app. It's been surprisingly accurate at predicting difficult periods, which somehow makes it a little easier to know when tough times are expected. Beck also thinks that joining a mothers group was incredibly helpful.

For sleep, we're doing this tiny book's method semi-strictly. Listening to her cry for short periods outside her nursery at 2AM is the hardest part of the whole parenthood package. Beck says I become "Ffej", Jeff's angry twin. I'd say it's mostly working, as we've had about 8 days of sleeping 12 hours through the night, and ~20 days of only one wake-up. It's probably just her, not the technique, so we might just be lucky on this front.

Stay strong. I found that after the first two weeks and the visits from friends settle down, it's tough and the rewards really start to appear around 12 weeks. She tries to do things, anticipates bath time, responds to the stupid things we do with our faces, and laughs.

Good luck! Your mileage will vary.
tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31489 2011-12-11T21:05:18Z 2013-10-08T15:28:18Z Does anyone know Hebrew so I can access Facebook? ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31498 2011-12-06T02:05:44Z 2013-10-08T15:28:18Z [Defect #28361] hairs out of place on employee. Resolved using office tools. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31500 2011-11-21T08:51:40Z 2013-10-08T15:28:18Z Mist, rainbows and full-circle bows on a hike ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31510 2011-11-15T20:01:06Z 2013-10-08T15:28:19Z I love marketing!! "performance snack" ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31522 2011-10-21T20:37:07Z 2013-10-08T15:28:19Z The all-denim tuxedo looks awesome in Virgin's blacklights ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31532 2011-10-11T03:27:00Z 2013-10-08T15:28:19Z Halloween mummy-dogs! ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31558 2011-08-21T21:56:50Z 2013-10-08T15:28:19Z China Camp (notes to self) Tips / learned:
  1. Great for easy/fast mountain biking and staging for kayaking. 5mi loop casual hike.
  2. Two isobutanes ran out. Judge by weight vs empty/full weight, not slosh.
  3. Camp music (consider the Jambox) is really nice
  4. Get a drip pouch for coffee, the nalgene press is a pain

tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31570 2011-08-16T04:29:36Z 2013-10-08T15:28:19Z Gratuitous Rental Car Upgrade + Stumbling Across Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area = Awesome Yes, we had to buy the flag, permit, and carry 5 gallons of water to go out on the dunes. Yes, we got stuck and a little scared for ten minutes. No, the guy at the rental car return didn't notice a thing. Hey, we didn't damage anything!


tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31582 2011-07-18T03:17:28Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z [Mr. Anon] used my laptop to facebook and left himself logged in. I didn't know. A chat then happened. Black=girl, green=me. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31595 2011-07-17T20:28:57Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z Gun target...so you can prep for the niche yet dangerous situation of twins that abduct twins. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31605 2011-06-26T18:54:44Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z Mission Peak in Freemont is a good hike. Take the Peak Meadow + Horse Heaven trail. The "Hidden" Valley trail is a freeway. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31614 2011-06-06T22:32:00Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z A child being murdered, or just a restaurant making raviolini?

Since we live upstairs from a good restauraunt, we've dined there many times and love their food. The mandatory 90 minute wait? Yeah, I could skip that. But the food's outstanding.

Hold that thought.

Last night Rebecca and I couldn't sleep because of a horrendous, murderous noise all night long. Imagine a bloodcurdling noise that is a cross between fingernails on a chalkboard and a small girl possessed by lucifer clawing her own eyes out while shrieking her throat bloody. Sweet dreams.

The noise made a wonderful reappearance during my work day today, so I crawled up on the roof to see what the hell was going on.

(Note that in the video I name the restaurant. Turns out it's not their deck - see footnote below)

OK, so they have a hog or something on their back deck, knocking their flower pots over, rooting for truffles or whatever.

I check out the latest menu.



June 7: This was to make you laugh, because we wanted to cry. As it turns out, we were informed later that the deck and pet pig are not owned by the restaurant. While it is clearly the notion I comically suggest, I have to say that if you concluded they were raising, slaughtering, and butchering their own swine in the middle of SF, I'd call you an idiot. Now, let's move along. I smell bacon.


tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31625 2011-05-30T00:24:48Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z Ear candling?? ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31645 2011-05-29T06:57:39Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z Buxom Lips ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31664 2011-04-14T20:53:00Z 2013-10-08T15:28:21Z CAPTCHA of the day: Characters not found on a keyboard. Thanks, Stack Overflow!

tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31676 2011-04-12T18:32:00Z 2013-10-08T15:28:21Z Additional YC interview tactics
So, you got an interview for Y Combinator ("YC").

Congrats. It's always very competitive. I don't think the partners would like me revealing current selectivity, but the interview filter was about 10% back in 2008, and it's even more competitive now.

My friend Sam wrote a good post on the interview. As did David from Weebly. James from Listia has a longer narrative.  Here's several specific tactics I can add.

It's incredibly fast. You will deploy a very small fraction of what you prepare for, but you still need to prepare a lot.

One of their big turnoffs is if they think they can identify a problem or angle you haven't thought of, so have an answer for everything (avoid "I dunno - good point").  Therefore, in this regard, it's in YC's best interest for you to follow Sam's advice of, "If you don't have an answer, be honest", but not really your best interest. As a side benefit, thinking on your feet will reveal intelligence. You still have to be open to their proposed changes. PG's spoken before about the balance between confidence and being open to ideas in the interview.

Put yourself in their shoes: They are conducting so many interviews in a day. It's very repetitive and mentally tiring. They struggle to remember you, although they take pictures and video to try to combat this. Do something weird/clever/creative, give them something (snacks?), or wear something memorable. I believe the AirBNB founders brought their ObamaO's, demonstrating resourcefulness in a memorable way. PG notes "The best way to stick out is to seem like you deeply understand your domain and your users" but I assume every team is trying to do that anyway.

If you're an MBA, avoid MBA-ish answers and just use straightforward language. Have the hackers on the team speak as much as non-hackers. Know the typical boring answers for chicken-and-egg problems and customer acquisition, but definitely have an additional crazy idea prepared for both.

Show a LOT of determination. Back it up with evidence of commitment, not promises. The number 1 reason they lose their investment is a loss of resolve. Teams give up, lose cofounders, go [back] to school or move on in life, or lose motivation. I dropped out of MIT Sloan, for example. My cofounders had already quit their jobs. We were building Poll Everywhere, with or without YC. While I certainly want YC to be able to weed out potential flakes in the interview, I think escalating your commitment and reflecting on your past history of dedication is useful for both YC and interviewees.

Good luck!
tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31686 2011-04-11T22:42:07Z 2013-10-08T15:28:21Z No humans were truly harmed in this test of a modified nerf gun with 500% voltage boost. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31497 2011-04-09T17:53:16Z 2013-10-08T15:28:18Z GoDaddy's usability has increased 1% in the last few months. Be on the lookout for other miracles and signs of an impending apocalypse. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31519 2011-03-25T18:15:16Z 2013-10-08T15:28:19Z Dad was a hacker too. It's kind of like.. 1982 8-bit music.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jim Vyduna
Subject: YouTube - HP-3314A Plays the Hallelujah Chorus in 4-part harmony
Ron Riedel's and my handiwork, circa 1982.  Demonstration of then state-of-the art Arbitrary Analog Waveform Generation invented by yours truly.  This was an unauthorized late project clandestine activity that resulted in uncovering a number of firmware bugs prior to code release.  We demonstrated it to management the day after we shipped the code for inclusion in the ROMs.   They would have never authorized the activity if they knew about it ahead of time.

(It's a touch long, but listening to the beginning and end gives a good picture)

tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31556 2011-03-02T18:43:04Z 2013-10-08T15:28:19Z I wonder if all those stupid cash advance checks that get stuffed in with credit card statements are dangerous. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31559 2011-03-01T21:09:09Z 2013-10-08T15:28:19Z New Ingredient Alert ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31583 2011-02-14T20:43:16Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z Extreme programing? Wear protection. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31592 2011-02-08T23:40:50Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z Untitled ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31609 2011-01-26T22:23:57Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z The idea that we might have misnamed the company is a recurring theme. ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31620 2011-01-21T17:37:19Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z My Vail Powder Day and Cornice Crash

Jan 18 2011 gave us 16" new and clear, sunny skies. My brother and I go big and pay the price under the lift.
tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31629 2011-01-18T21:11:55Z 2013-10-08T15:28:20Z Sorry, just have to rub it in ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31639 2011-01-18T16:40:47Z 2015-03-13T22:02:57Z 16" fresh today and I'm going to have to rip this ]]> tag:blog.jeffvyduna.com,2013:Post/31663 2010-12-02T21:26:44Z 2013-10-08T15:28:21Z Argentine Cow and Friends ]]>