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7 Tricky Work Situations, and How to Respond to Them

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Jennifer Maravillas for HBR

You know the moment: a mood-veering, thought-steering, pressure-packed interaction with a colleague, boss, or client where the right thing to say is stuck in a verbal traffic jam between your brain and your mouth.

Sian Beilock, president of Barnard College and author of Choke, found that this analysis paralysis occurs when your brain suddenly becomes overtaxed by worry or pressure. Consequently, you find yourself unable to respond to a mental, psychological, or emotional challenge, and you fail to execute in the critical moment.

Many people experience this at work. But there are certain phrases you can keep in your back pocket when these moments come. Route your response with them, and redirect the situation to regain control.

Situation #1: Someone takes credit for your idea.

Katie is the COO of a hospitality company. She has a keen strategic mind. In a contentious moment, she recommends that the C-suite move toward a new talent strategy. The idea is met with resistance. Then Dave, the head of IT, restates her idea in his own words. The rest of the C-suite supports him in “his” idea.

It’s not a matter of if this situation happens, but when: You competently make a point. It goes unacknowledged or is tersely rejected. Minutes or days later, a colleague or manager misrepresents your point as their own, restates it identically, and is praised and credited for making it.

What you should say: “Thanks for spotlighting my point.”

Why it works: Spoken with composure, it:

  • prevents you from being trivialized by serving notice about the misappropriation of your contribution
  • allows you to reclaim your idea without aspersion
  • gives you the upper hand when addressing the matter with a manager
  • provides an opportunity for greater ownership, if delivered in front of others, by offering detail or clarification for impact

Katie didn’t skip a beat. “Thanks for spotlighting my point, Dave. There are a couple other topics worth considering in tandem with this. I’ll review those quickly and we can delve into more detail in the next meeting.” The group refocused their attention on Katie, and moved along to viewing her as the point person for the conversation.

Situation #2: You’re asked to stay late when you’re about to leave the office for a personal obligation.

Heather is a physician at a large urban hospital. Wednesdays at 4 PM she attends a one-hour clinic administration meeting. If Heather leaves by 5 PM she arrives home in time to allow the nanny to get to her own children’s after-school program on time. At 5 PM, Heather stands up to leave. One of the clinic administrators asks if she can stay a few more minutes until they are done. Heather dreads saying she has to leave to relieve the nanny, because she knows her colleagues may judge her as having a poor work ethic.

What you should say: “Excuse me, I have another commitment.”

Picking up your child from daycare, moving a parent into a care facility, or attending a surgery consultation with a dear friend are time sensitive, must-do things — especially when someone you love is depending on you. No matter how family-friendly a workplace claims to be, explaining family matters to colleagues can cause resentment.

Why it works: This sentence will minimize your risk of backlash because it:

  • serves as an implicit, respectable request for confidentiality
  • establishes an information boundary that puts anyone who crosses it at risk of appearing intrusive
  • eliminates oversharing about the reason for your departure

Gathering her laptop and bag, Heather said, “Excuse me, I have another commitment.” Another physician asked, “Where are you off to? Anything fun?” Walking toward the conference room door, Heather grabbed her water bottle with the parting phrase, “It’s just something I committed to long before this meeting was scheduled. I’ll swing by tomorrow to get caught up.”

You and Your Team Series


Situation #3: In a pivotal situation, a trusted colleague snaps at you.

Manuel and Alvin run their website out of their home. Manuel writes content. Alvin designs and formats. Manuel realizes Alvin’s work often requires longer hours to tend to. In appreciation, he frequently buys Alvin lunch, occasionally gifts him chiropractic treatments for chronic back problems, and sometimes surprises him with an addition to his wardrobe. One day Alvin approaches Manuel and tells him he wants to make a major career shift. Manuel says nothing. Feeling ignored, Alvin repeats his intention and asks, “You have nothing to say about this?” Dismissively, Manuel responds, “About what?” Alvin feels disrespected by Manuel’s lack of concern or consideration. Despite Manuel’s many acts of appreciation, Alvin regularly feels shortchanged in comparison with the focus, regard, and responsiveness Manuel shows to paying customers. When Alvin addresses it, Manuel snaps back, “Look at how much I do for you!”

What you should say: “This isn’t about what you do for me. It is about what you did to me.”

You know when a valued colleague, someone who almost always does right by you, damages your good rapport? Frustration follows when your attempt to address it is met with a retort and a guilt trip. Though their concerns may be valid, it doesn’t mean they should be rude.

Why it works: When stated without emotional inflammation, this sentence can quickly reduce frustrations by:

  • limiting the scope of the exchange to the isolated misstep, and not being derailed by an exchange about a history of mutual consideration
  • quickly dealing with the fact-based, cause-effect dynamics of the exchange
  • allowing for an opportunity to establish mutually affirming conduct going forward

Alvin took a deep breath. “This isn’t about what you do for me. It is about what you did to me.” He went on to acknowledge Manuel’s appreciation for his work, and then addressed his partner’s unresponsiveness. Manuel apologized, realizing he hurt Alvin by not being more mindful and considerate when Alvin came to speak to him.

Situation #4: You have to say “no.”

Sam sends Julia a text at 9 PM on Saturday night, with an idea that could give the company an edge in customer service’s call hold times. Julia has been asked to work more collaboratively with Sam, but she has been avoiding it because Sam is unreliable.

What you should say: “This is a good launching point.”

Saying no is tough to do, especially when trying to demonstrate you are hardworking and a team player. It often seems easier to say yes to appease others, flash the right optics, or get the task out of the way.

Why it works: Spoken with a tone of enthusiasm and flexibility, this positive statement allows you to bow out of the initial request, while protecting your reputation by:

  • reframing their idea as a starting point
  • allowing you to entertain the request without committing to it
  • creating the option to shape the request
  • doling out diplomacy not rejection

Julia texted Sam “This is a good launching point! I’ll get my team together to prepare the data, and reach out to you with ideas of how we can approach the call hold times.”

Situation #5: You have to give negative or awkward feedback to someone you’re close with.

Tony is a purchaser at a chocolate factory. For two years Jay has been both his manager and his friend. Lately, many other employees have asked Jay to tell Tony that he has halitosis. The situation has become intolerable for many, even off-putting to vendors.

What you should say: “I’m here to be for you what someone once was for me.”

When you are giving sensitive feedback, no matter how much you try to position yourself as an advocate, people tend to become defensive. It makes you question if giving the feedback is even worth it.

Why it works: Delivered in a calm and candid tone, this sentence can save a career, or life-altering moment, from becoming a decimating event with an alienating outcome by:

  • giving the other person a moment to brace themselves
  • leading by sharing a personal account of a tough feedback situation you experienced, which endorses the value of receiving and listening to criticism
  • instantly unifying you with the other person through your shared vulnerability
  • shifting them from hearing the message as disparagement to hearing it as encouragement or concern

Jay approached Tony at his desk and let him know he had some quick feedback. “Tony, I’m here to be for you what someone once was for me. You may have noticed that I take a step back when we talk. I and others have experienced, on several occasions, that your breath isn’t always the best. It could just be dehydration, but I’m concerned it could indicate something you might want to discuss with your dentist or doctor.” He handed Tony a pack of breath mints. Tony, though a bit embarrassed, smiled and thanked him. Jay shook Tony’s hand and headed back to his desk.

Situation #6: You need to push back on a decision you believe is wrong.

Mae-Li is a partner and the head of the most important research team at a pharmaceutical company. Her team is the only group in the company that is almost entirely Chinese and majority female. When the office is undergoing a redesign, a few top managers are tapped to decide which groups will be moved to the less desirable basement level. Without asking for her input, Mae-Li’s group is selected to move to the basement. She feels slighted.

What you should say: “This is my preference.”

Sometimes, when something bothers you, addressing it can leave you feeling apprehensive and conflicted. You can spend time analyzing and detailing a defense for your perspective, but it may just overcomplicate matters.

Why it works: It will allow you to direct the conversation toward a desired change, while still conveying openness for other approaches by:

  • clearly communicating your concern and what you want
  • reasoning rather than offering a defiant dictate
  • demonstrating you are willing to get involved with a potentially sensitive topic
  • giving others the heads-up that the outcome matters to you enough to track it as it develops

Mae-Li popped her head into her manager’s office. She explained that since she wasn’t consulted by the moving committee before being directed to move, she wanted to share her perspective, in the hope that her manager would share it with the committee. “I realize that some of the teams are going to have to move, but it’s unclear why mine was selected for the basement. I want my team to stay on this floor. This is my preference.” Her manager took notes, confirmed Mae-Li’s perspective, and let her know that he would advocate for her team.

Situation #7: You need to escalate a serious issue.

Eva is an engineer in Silicon Valley. While away at an industry event in New York, she returns to her hotel to find her manager in the hotel lobby. He tells her that he flew there to spend time with her because he has strong feelings for her. When Eva reports this to Abe from the HR department, he tells her that her manager is one of the top performers at the company, that he has been there for many years without incident, and that she probably misinterpreted what he said.

What you should say: “Your response gives me cause to take this further.”

When it comes to serious issues like sexual harassment, there is still inconsistency with how managers and HR departments handle complaints. This can leave you worried and troubled about being mistreated again, about losing opportunities for promotion, and even about losing your job.

Why it works: This serious statement, delivered in a calm and matter-of-fact tone, informs the offender and managers that you will not be complicit and compliant with misconduct, and that you will figure out a way to take further action, by:

  • establishing that the issue isn’t going away, whether they elect to handle the situation themselves or answer to someone else about it later
  • being transparent about your plan to escalate
  • demonstrating that you expect the offender to suffer consequences for committing the poor conduct, and that you will not suffer consequences for reporting it
  • empowering you in the moment, rather than demoralizing you in the aftermath

Eva was not deterred by Abe’s response. She wrote his words verbatim in her notebook and said, “I shared the facts with you. Your response gives me cause to take this further.” Abe raised his eyebrows and asked, “Are you sure this is a battle worth fighting with your manager?” Eva again wrote Abe’s words verbatim in her notebook. She responded, “Yes, I’m sure,” and repeated, “Your response gives me cause to take this further.” She thanked Abe and left the office to email another executive at the company, with the intent to pursue redress.

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5 days ago
Words you can use (especially since sometimes in these moments our words leave us.).
San Luis Obispo, CA
6 days ago
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Meet UCLA's hummingbird whisperer and her 200 colorful friends

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Researcher Melanie Barboni studies geology for a living, but as a side gig, she is known as The Hummingbird Whisperer (more…)

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19 days ago
<3 the best <3
San Luis Obispo, CA
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Keep the Kitchen Cabinets from Overflowing

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Don’t laugh. I’m sure you’ve done this before. At the office, there’s a refrigerator cleanup every two weeks. At least I think it happens every two weeks. The office administrator sends out an email or posts a note on the fridge, warning you that things will be dumped if they’re not labeled. You’ve seen these long-forgotten food containers of who-knows-when science experiments pushed up against the back of the fridge. Same with those things that start growing in your pantry…. Don’t ask. I won’t continue. Please don’t tell my mother I had so many potatoes left.

When it comes to explaining governance, the one in the kitchen is the best example to illustrate exactly what happens when you take a taxonomy for granted. Not only do you see it, you smell it. You’ll feel it if you consume the foods way past its best by or expiration date. You’ll taste the food quality deteriorate if the ingredients used are not as fresh as they could be. What better way to illustrate ROT analysis than the five senses? This kitchen analogy doesn’t stop at organization.

Previous articles in this kitchen taxonomy series went through outlining the business case for building a taxonomy, card-sorting to generate labels, and tree-testing to assess findability. At this point, it’s an overhead project at most companies.

However, this is an important reminder: Once you’ve developed and applied that taxonomy to your content, the project is far from done. Establishing a taxonomy governance is a crucial endeavor, one that makes sure that your content or application continues to be well-maintained and performing as well as the day it launched.

We’ve asked these questions before in part 2, Planning a Taxonomy Project. Why and what will the taxonomy be used for? Who is using it? How will it be built? How will it be maintained? How will we ensure that it is properly maintained? And—of course—who will do all of this?

In this part 6, we’ll be revisiting those questions and think about how to account for taxonomy management and quality control. Remember, taxonomy governance maximizes the ROI of the taxonomy project and prevents the moldy science experiments in the pantry in the first place.

For documenting these discussions and officiating them, you should consider drafting a document like a charter to keep these decisions in line. In this charter, include the following sections:

  • Purpose. What value does this taxonomy bring?
  • People. Who makes the decisions and who manages the taxonomy?
  • Process. How often and how does the taxonomy get updated?

Our kitchen taxonomy came about because we have many cooks in my household. We need to be able to:

  1. Know the name of the ingredient in English and Chinese. Specifically, we needed to know the regional differences in American English, Northern Chinese (Putonghua), Hong Kong Chinese, and even Chinglish!
  2. Know how to find unusual ingredients. Referring to the 80-20% rule, this is the 20% of things that we don’t use often.
  3. Know how ingredients are organized. This considers streamlining workflows so that we can find things easily when we need them.

Over time, this project has evolved. Talk about scope creep! From the initial physical classification of the items in my pantry, it has evolved to organize the printed recipes in my recipe binder and the digital copies of the recipes saved in a note-taking app.

The taxonomy scope itself has remained the same: spices and food items. Along the way, I learned that storage requirements should not be a limiting factor. There are cooking ingredients that one keeps refrigerated. Not all spices are kept at the same temperature. So now sauces, cooking oils, and other condiments used either before, during, or after cooking are also included in this scope.

Purpose: What value is your taxonomy bringing you?

Stating the value of a taxonomy in an elevator pitch is important to get everyone on the same page.

Here are some ways to consider the value of a taxonomy1:

  • Search. How would a taxonomy make search better?
  • Navigation. How would a taxonomy support site navigation?
  • Standardization. How would a taxonomy standardize terminology being used to categorize content? How would a taxonomy help create a common language?
  • Discovery. How would a taxonomy help users discover new terms or relationships?

A statement of purpose for my kitchen taxonomy could be:

  • We are creating a taxonomy to enhance findability for cooking ingredients at Grace’s house.


  • We are creating a taxonomy to standarize the terminology being used that comes from regional differences to describe the same ingredients.

Findability and standardization here are two different goals. Determine which goal has the higher importance for its success. At the same time, don’t forget to follow through on achieving secondary goals. Break the assumption that the interim solution is the permanent solution!

After a few false starts, I decided that findability is the primary purpose of this taxonomy.

A taxonomy usually has three phases of development, notes Mark Doane2:

  1. Set up. What you should do short term to get the taxonomy ready for use
  2. Launch. What you should to get the taxonomy up and running
  3. Maintenance. What you should do to keep the taxonomy relevant and useful

Once you’ve determined the primary goal, you can consider the taxonomy’s secondary goals by prioritizing users of your taxonomy and addressing their needs in a structured manner. Although most taxonomy projects tend to end at setup and launch phases of development, you should do your due diligence and keep the taxonomy as relevant and valuable with maintenance. Testing the taxonomy with each release helps validate and confirm the user’s expectation and search behavior. For more information about taxonomy validation, check out Alberta Soranzo and Dave Cooksey’s work.3

People: Who should manage the taxonomy?

When thinking about taxonomy stakeholders, consider the RACI matrix.

  • Who should be responsible (for the work)?
  • Who needs to be accountable (for ownership)?
  • Who needs to be consulted (provide input)?
  • Who needs to be informed (told after the fact)?

As people who live in the house all year long, the husband and I are responsible for the daily maintenance of the kitchen. We also participate in the daily upkeep of the pantry and kitchen activities. We do the shopping and the cooking.
We usually decide which type of soy sauce or fish sauce is purchased. Personally, I tend to pick up the brand my parents use. My in-laws don’t seem to prefer a certain brand of soy sauce over another since the brands are not what they are used in China, and they definitely don’t use fish sauce in their dishes … but they determine when it is time to buy another bag of rice. My father-in-law doesn’t go a day without rice.

As frequent users of my kitchen, my parents (who visit every once in awhile) and my in-laws (who live with us half the year) are consulted in the taxonomy. They aren’t expected to make taxonomy updates; they are consulted as subject-matter experts.

If my mother-in-law has a preference for a certain brand of rice, we’ll take it into consideration, test it, and determine whether it’s worth a long-term investment. A 25-lb of rice won’t last very long while they’re in residence, but we will need to decide whether to continue purchasing that brand when the in-laws return to China. It would not be a good investment to waste a bag of rice to feed the rice weevils.

For a small kitchen taxonomy, you wouldn’t need a full-time taxonomist, a team, or a committee to manage the taxonomy. However, you should consider the following for an enterprise taxonomy:

  • Editor/Taxonomist. Ideally an information architect, taxonomist, or business analyst who is familiar with the content and can manage updates, solicit feedback from end users, and integrate changes.
  • Team. Ideally 2-3 people trained in information architecture (from the user’s perspective) and search (from a technical perspective).
  • Committee. A small committee of 3-5 people to meet a couple times of year to discuss taxonomy changes and approvals.

Process: How often should the taxonomy be updated?

A kitchen taxonomy should be updated as often as necessary. That means it could change as often as every day while putting groceries away or during meal preparation.

In a company, however, this frequency could potentially cause chaos. An enterprise taxonomy should be updated on a regular schedule, according to defined rules set forth by a governance team or committee.

Part of this process is to set policies and procedures so that taxonomy updates are made in a consistent manner. This is important to prevent an arbitrary decision to move all the coffee to a new location.

I’d start with a few guidelines from Heather Hedden’s “Accidental Taxonomist”4 (pg. 317) and build from there:

  1. Rules for adding, changing, moving, or deleting terms or relationships such as hierarchical relationships, alternative terms, associative (or semantic) relationships
  2. Examples of types of changes to expect and the processes for handling such changes
  3. Specific guidelines for handling feedback and change schedules

Then, using Mike Doane’s top ten guidelines5, you’d be able to build a solid starter document for taxonomy governance. These top ten are important for starting out slowly and simply—keys for successful change management. If an organization doesn’t have a taxonomy in place already, having fully-decked out guidelines at the start is a sign of the taxonomy falling flat on its side.

When I consider my own kitchen taxonomy, the rules for adding terms are pretty straightforward. It occurs whenever the in-laws are here or whenever someone decides to try out a new recipe.

In the past year, I’ve tried and experimented with making a Chinese recipe for 8-Treasure Congee (八寶粥 bābǎozhōu). The ingredients are interchangeable and easy to put together, but it’s eight items. And you know what? There is a version of this with 18 ingredients that’s touted as an extremely healthy breakfast. Eighteen! The pantry is bursting at the edges, just thinking about it.

When it comes to indicating relationships with ingredients, it gets a little complicated. Imagine having to hunt through different places in the pantry for glutinous white rice, red beans, raw peanuts, and barley. These are all used in 8-Treasure Congee, but they are also used in other recipes, including soups, desserts, and rice dishes.

What’s the best way to add these new ingredients? Should they be grouped by their ingredient type? Or should I group them together as a special functional group as I currently do for baking ingredients? What would be the most optimal way to do this, considering workflow? If there is no good answer, is this another case where there should be two homes for an ingredient? Here, it’s time to consult the subject matter experts.

Next, I’ll talk about some best practices for enterprise taxonomies. But right now, I need to schedule another quarterly pantry cleanup session before the in-laws return from China. Somehow, our collection of ramen and spam has grown out of control while they were away…

Footnotes and further reading

  • 1. Doane, Mike. “Taxonomy Governance: Why You Need It, How It’s Done.” CMSWire (May 29, 2012):
  • 2. Doane, Mike. “What to do now: Immediate needs,” in Enterprise Taxonomy Governance: Practical Advice for Building and Maintaining Your Enterprise Taxonomy (Volume 1). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.
  • 3. Soranzo, Alberta and Dave Cooksey. “Testing Taxonomies.” Association for Information Science and Technology Bulletin (June 2015):
  • 4. Hedden, Heather. The accidental taxonomist. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, 2010.
  • 5. Doane, Mike. “Process,” in Enterprise Taxonomy Governance: Practical Advice for Building and Maintaining Your Enterprise Taxonomy (Volume 1). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.






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21 days ago
Good article. Makes tons of sense. Everyone should do this (if you work on enterprise type of site). (How could you not do it.)
San Luis Obispo, CA
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The coal miner’s coder

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How a Kentucky tech partnership is creating new job opportunities in ‘Silicon Holler’

Illustration by Christina Ung

Before Ankur Gopal’s grandmother passed away, he taught her how to use a smartphone. “I realized she felt unaware of technology and had kind of kept quiet about it,” he says. But when she got a grasp on it, she immediately felt empowered. “It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do because you’ve basically taught someone how to be relevant in today’s economy that may have had a tough time doing it otherwise.”

Ankur Gopal, founder of Interapt

As founder of the tech development startup Interapt, Gopal is a key player in Kentucky’s rural startup movement because of this empathy: his company is focused on teaching former miners and other residents of the region how to write code.

The students his startup serves through TechHire Eastern Kentucky (TEKY), its partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, aren’t so different from his grandmother. In Eastern Kentucky, the state’s Coal Country, not only is there is a gap in Internet access and fluency, there’s a cultural divide too that often leaves rural communities disconnected from employment opportunities in the tech field where middle class wages are growing while other fields shrink.

For generations, coal has been a way of life in Eastern Kentucky. Gopal says of Paintsville, where TEKY is located, “Education is viewed differently because you worked in the coal mines straight out of high school and you had a tremendous career opportunity and a tremendous way to provide for your family and that was a fact of life.” Or at least it was.

Students at Intercept

A recent segment of the Daily Show featuring Gopal and miners from the region made it clear that not only are coal jobs on the decline, they have been for nearly 100 years, and they aren’t coming back. Yet, in the lead up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, a frequent question in the news, “What about the coal miners?” seemed to present a narrative of a region resistant to change.

This hasn’t been Gopal’s experience — TEKY received 850 applicants for its first cohort. He’s found that the community is open to diversifying its economy with the expectation of “a honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

For Eastern Kentucky to make the shift from Coal Country to Silicon Holler, TEKY had to do more than just teach coding, and they had do it in less time than it takes to get a four-year degree. As previously mentioned, there’s a different mindset around education in the area, but also Gopal says TEKY’s program caters to the “87%.” Only 13% of college graduates are actually working in the field intended for their degree. So, TEKY removes the barrier of needing a college degree and, instead, focuses on the skills necessary to go straight into a tech role in six months.

Another must for TEKY was making sure there were local opportunities. It was one thing to ask Coal Country to relinquish the coal portion of their identity, but something totally different to ask them to give up their Country. Moving is expensive and it can be lonely, living in a city isn’t for everyone, and large extended families have ties to the land. Interapt made a commitment to offer employment to students who successfully completed the program.

Where work happens

And, most importantly, to create change in the region TEKY had to pay. Gopal explains, “You can’t have someone do something that they don’t find valuable. They don’t know why it’s valuable because there aren’t a lot of technology companies there, so they haven’t seen it.”

Gopal says the stipend has made all the difference. “We’ve had single parents who weren’t able to enroll in college because they had kids to feed or working two jobs,” he says. “But through TEKY, they were paid a stipend while enrolled in a program that taught them to code.” The stipends were made possible by grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of labor and will be available to support 200 Eastern Kentuckians enrolled in the program over the next three years.

The Bit Source team

Of the first 50 people admitted to the TEKY training program, 34 were hired into technical jobs. Gopal has announced Interapt will partner with TEKY for a second cohort and has plans to expand into other states. TEKY is also branching out and working with Bit Source, a startup founded by former miner Rusty Justice.

Of the effectiveness of TEKY to produce lasting change, Gopal says, “Several of our now-employees are teaching their kids to code on the weekends…. That’s how you break that cycle, that ‘[coal] is the only way.’” This is how in one generation, a community goes from coal to coding without losing their connection to their land or their sense of self.

Minda Honey lives in Louisville, KY where the locals judge you by how you pronounce the name of our city and whether or not you can hold your Bourbon.

Got another minute? Check out:

The coal miner’s coder was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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21 days ago
Sharing because "Silcon Holler."
San Luis Obispo, CA
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Home Improvement #8: Starting Over

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In one big, Home Depot-filled day, I replace pretty much every large item I own.
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34 days ago
I like this blog but I really liked this post. Why? I dunno. I found it all interesting. How would one decorate/make functional their home box truck. It's interesting. And, I really appreciate his spendthriftiness.
San Luis Obispo, CA
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You Think You Know Me


Five months ago, my wife Ami came to me and said, “I have an idea for a card game.”

This was a shock for a few reasons — we don’t play much tabletop in our family, sticking mostly to videogames, and Ami’s never shown interest in game design of any kind, tabletop or otherwise. (We’ve been married for 18 years, and you think you know someone…)

Her idea was You Think You Know Me, a card game inspired by the friends she followed on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and the people who followed her, and the lives that all of us have projected online. Her game would challenge what we thought we knew about our friends, and in the process, deepen our relationships with them.

Within days, she had a handwritten paper prototype, writing hundreds of cards on every conceivable topic. She started playtesting it with friends and family, in different sized groups, refining the game rules, seeing what worked and what didn’t.

It was clear there was something unique there — every time we played, it brought out laughs and surprises and led to interesting stories and anecdotes and little tidbits about everyone’s lives, over and over again. It was definitely a game, with rules and a winner, but it was much more about conversation than competition.

She finalized the design and rules, and I helped with the card and packaging design based entirely on her vision. She did all the research, and within three months, she had a full-color, 500-card professionally-printed boxed prototype in hand.

This is Ami’s first Kickstarter project, her first game, and, believe it or not, the first time I’ve ever written about her on I’m writing about it here because I think she’s made something great, and frankly, I want to see it blow up.

Her minimum goal on Kickstarter will let her print 1,000 copies, the minimum print run for working with AdMagic, the indie game printer behind Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, and countless others.

So take a look, watch the video, and grab a copy for yourself. Thanks!

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34 days ago
Cool! I backed it.
San Luis Obispo, CA
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