18 December 2022

Current Links

There's quite a lot of drama happening on Twitter, so here's how you can find my public posts elsewhere.

Mastodon https://mastodon.social/@masonwong@mstdn.social

Post.news https://post.news/masonwong

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/masonwong/ 

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/masonwong/

I recently made my Twitter profile private and expect to keep it that way unless things unexpectedly turn around and stabilize.

It's been a few years already since I dropped my Facebook activity to a bare minimum.

Check out my cooking and other random content on Instagram.

Check out my LinkedIn profile for my professional info and occasional work related content.

We'll see if either Mastadon or Post.News achieves the critical mass needed to let network effects decidedly determine the future of microblogging.

19 November 2019

My Favorite Podcasts: November 2019

It's nearly the end of 2019 and I figure it's time to update my favorite podcasts list.

In descending order of preference.

1. Techmeme Ride Home It's become a personal daily ritual on my commute home from work to listen to Brian McCullough's take on the day's tech news. His New York City perspective on Silicon Valley is refreshing.

2. Upgrade Jason Snell hosts many podcasts, but this is the one that I find most interesting. Snell and his co-host Myke Hurley tackle the week's tech news, with an emphasis on Apple and the streaming wars.

3. Accidental Tech Podcast Three software engineers talk tech news, but sometimes go deep with certain topics and opinions. Their perspective on software development actually helps me with ideas on how to be a better business systems administrator and analyst.

4. The Talk Show With John Gruber John Gruber's podcast is consistently good, with each episode running well over two hours, which I always listen to in its entirety. His opinions and insights on Apple are solid. He almost always has a guest, so I've found the range in quality of his episodes depend almost entirely on the quality of his guest.

5. The Well: A Podcast about Creative Inspiration with Branan Edgens and Anson Mount is a very personal, yet well produced program with interesting guests from many walks of life, with an emphasis on the entertainment industry. Anson Mount is best known for his portrayal of Captain Pike on Star Trek: Discovery, but also his leading role on AMC's Hell on Wheels.

6. 60-Second Science by Scientific American offers bite-sized episodes covering a wide range of science topics in a light and breezy format, without any risk of going too deep. I enjoy listening with my kids in the car.

7. The Chad & Cheese Podcast: HR's Most Dangerous Podcast Setting aside the fact that Chad & Joel recently published an entire episode interviewing me, this firmly remains my go-to podcast for keeping up with the recruiting tech industry. Their production values have noticeably improved and they've diversified their show formats, ranging from their weekly news roundup, to startup pitches (Firing Squad and Death Match), news briefs (The Shred), practitioner interviews, and a recently launched series of marketing industry episodes (Cult Brand), in which the boys put away their usual swear words and deliver exceptional business interviews.

8. 16 Minutes on the News by a16z. Sonal Chokshi astutely interviews key players from Andreessen Horowitz on a variety of tech news topics with a nice balance of depth and brevity, and an interesting Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm perspective.

9. Subspace Transmissions: A Star Trek Podcast I've tried listening to various Star Trek podcasts and none stay as focused and insightful as Cam and Tyler. While I admit I skip over sections or even entire episodes when they discuss VOY or ENT (the two series I have yet to watch and don't want spoiled), I am eager to hear what they have to say with Short Treks and the upcoming Picard series.

10. I Drink Two Beers and Try to Tell You How To Run Your Business Gary Chou's first, sponsored podcast is exceptionally good right out the gate. Gary is a social acquaintance of mine who has blazed a unique path in his professional career. After listening to only the first three episodes, it's clear to me it's worth recommending.

11. Deconstructor of Fun This podcast's content is amazingly insightful for those interested in the world of video game production. Console, PC, and mobile games are a tumultuous industry with plenty of stories to reveal from between the lines of weekly news articles. The biggest knock on this podcast is the production value is very inconsistent, with lots of undecipherable cross-talk, embarrassing extended periods of silence, and clearly no effort to edit the raw recording.

12. WSJ Tech News Briefing I only started listening to this podcast when their weekly tech news podcast, Instant Message, was abruptly canceled (on hiatus?). This daily podcast has a good round of tech news, with an emphasis on the corporate and investment perspective, as you would expect from the Wall Street Journal.

Honorable mentions to

Land of the Giants Excellent documentary mini-series examining Amazon.

Talent Makers Studio by Greenhouse Software, for publishing an episode interviewing me.

19 August 2019

6 months at Lyft

Having reached 6 months of working at Lyft, it seems a good time to share why I joined and how things are going.

Back in December, as my year long consulting project at a global pharmaceutical company was scheduled to wrap up, I got a call from a Lyft recruiter, asking if I would consider taking responsibility of the company’s applicant tracking system. My independent consulting practice had focused on applicant tracking systems projects, so I appreciated the call, but would I consider a full time, in-house staff position? Normally, I would have immediately declined. Without any warm project leads in hand yet, I proceeded to interview with Lyft.

I was already aware of Lyft’s warm and fuzzy brand, but it was during my interviews that I learned how large and rapidly the company was growing in employee population size. It seemed Lyft was entering the realm of storied, emblematic Silicon Valley tech employers, particularly those of the FAANG cohort, with decades long reputations for epic hiring campaigns and respected recruiting teams. Better still, among current major tech brands, Lyft had mostly avoided controversy, especially when compared to its primary rival.

Independent consulting for over 6 years allowed me to make a satisfying impact with many clients and grow my expertise from working in so many corporate recruiting environments. Being my own boss also afforded me some personal flexibility to spend quality time with my family. Was I really ready to go back in-house?

The specified work at Lyft was on target to my expertise and I had confidence I could succeed in the role. It was when I realized that this would be a pivotal learning opportunity that my choice became clear. The chance to partner with a recruiting team an order of magnitude larger than I had ever worked with, to work closely with and learn from some of the best Workday HCM and Tableau BI analytics practitioners, and to have my expertise impact an impressively high volume and fast paced recruiting operations, were all serious considerations.

An even bigger factor was the opportunity to learn the Greenhouse platform hands-on in one of its most demanding settings, after having spent over a decade deep within the Jobvite ecosystem. (I am often asked how long I had used Greenhouse before becoming in charge of it at Lyft. Most are stunned when I say I was hired without ever having touched it!)

What sealed it for me was my onsite interview experience, which was the most organized and welcoming I had ever experienced (I’m well aware of how difficult it is to consistently deliver such a candidate experience). Meeting my potential new manager and colleagues was wholly compelling.

I started at Lyft in mid-February and appreciated the time and space given to let me ramp up with Greenhouse, Lyft’s Talent Team, and the company. My new hire orientation involved 60 other new hires and a strong emphasis on the critical importance of Lyft’s drivers to the business. Even though my role does not directly involve drivers, I was given a clear perspective of how everyone’s work affects what drivers experience and how they are central to the company’s success. Further, the first of Lyft’s three core values, Be Yourself, really resonated as someone not looking to compromise my perspective or priorities while joining a large corporation.

In taking charge of Greenhouse, I learned how its product design was very similar to other competing platforms, as well as how it differs. We all know there is no perfect system and they all have strengths and weaknesses. I also learned how it had already been implemented at Lyft to impressively support a recruiting operation that hires hundreds of new employees every month. I began to take inventory of improvements needed in the system configuration and the business practices involved.

With Lyft’s IPO in late March, I was asked to be a project’s key contributor to help prepare the company’s operations for an important process change. It felt great to provide expert advice at the beginning of the project and to execute the system changes on schedule. This was my first experience with an IPO. I had prior experience at both pre-IPO and post-IPO employers (from which my advice was based on), but never the actual IPO.

My role is on the People Analytics Technology Strategy team, which includes Workday and Tableau practitioners, and I work closely every day with stakeholders from throughout the 250+ member Talent Team.  Having prior career experience as a tech recruiter, a college recruiter, and as the head of global recruiting at a handful of Bay Area software companies, I believe I bring an understanding to the business processes that Greenhouse supports, as well as an empathy to the recruiters who come with many questions and concerns, often with the urgency of a candidate offer to be made or a hiring manager who needs prompt answers.

There is much still to do with scaling up Lyft’s recruiting systems, setting up integrations between internal and third party systems, and driving user adoption and training. As we support the company’s ambitious growth plans, we also have a shot at building a world class, reknown recruiting operation with some of the most innovative systems practices.

Many thanks to my manager for offering me the job, to the Lyft recruiter who found me online, to the recruiting coordinator who organized such a welcoming onsite interview, to the TalentOps and PATS teams for ramping me up, to the entire Talent Team for putting their trust in me, and to the company as a whole for being a place of rapid growth and evolution. I am grateful for the opportunity.

01 January 2019

My Favorite Podcasts

Happy New Year!

Let's welcome 2019 with a list of my favorite podcasts from the end of 2018, in descending order of preference.

1. The Talk Show With John Gruber There's just something about Gruber's voice that beckons me to look through my Overcast favorites for a new episode, which usually comes once every two weeks. Almost always with a tech pundit guest, Gruber never conducts an interview, but instead simply converses from beginning to end at a relaxed pace, often resulting in two, three, and on rare occasion, even four hour long episodes, without any music intros or gimmicky sound effects. Enthusiasm for Apple is the regular topic, with commentary on a wide range of other related tech topics.  Apple bias: 9 out of 10.

2. Techmeme Ride Home The perfect blend of tech headlines and brief, sometimes snarky commentary, this daily episode is the excellent round up of tech news that I was looking for a few years ago. Recorded in New York City, it brings an East coast perspective to what is often Silicon Valley focused news.  Apple bias: 5 out of 10.

3. Accidental Tech Podcast The best thing about ATP is the trio of hosts who bring a great mix of technical depth, clearly articulated opinions, and a dynamic of humorous banter.  Apple bias: 7 out of 10.

4. Upgrade A few things set this tech podcast apart. There are named, regular segments to the show, and co-host Jason Snell seems to straddle dueling roles of primary guest and secondary host. Snell is the primary host on many other podcasts, but this seems to be his weekly forum for being interviewed. Apple bias: 7 out of 10.

5. The Chad & Cheese Podcast: HR's Most Dangerous Podcast After listening to many HR recruiting related podcasts, I found myself always coming back to Chad & Cheese. They do their homework, they get interesting guests, they are consistently snarky, and most importantly, the show has gotten better over time. They have room to further improve (audio volume levels still inconsistent, the sound effects are still overused, overemphasis on vendors instead of practioners), but this is the go-to podcast for keeping up with the recruiting tech industry. Their heavy use of swear words means I can't listen while my kids are in the car.

6. Vector with Rene Ritchie The Apple analysis from Rene is always deep and rational, although his bias in favor of Apple is sometimes a bit much, even for me. Most of his episodes are scripted audio versions of his YouTube show, which are not as enjoyable as when he is in a more conversational setting. Most of his podcast guests are fascinating, although he has had a few snoozers. Listen for the occasional, brief and very subtle Star Trek: The Next Generation references. Apple bias: 10 out of 10.

7. Pocketnow Daily I find Jaime Rivera's broadcaster voice quality more compelling than the show content, because the very brief, daily episodes are mostly about Android smartphones which I will never buy (I use a carrier-less Huawei P20 Pro as my primary camera and my last ever Android device). He does cover Apple mobile tech, but with a somewhat healthy skepticism and occasional disdain. Apple bias: 3 out of 10.

8. Subspace Transmissions: A Star Trek Podcast This is my favorite Trek podcast that is still in production (Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast with Jordan Hoffman, my all time favorite Trek podcast, was unfortunately canceled). The co-hosts are dedicated fans of all incarnations of Trek. They were a bit more critical of Star Trek: Discovery than I would prefer, but their views are always fair and thoughtful.

I welcome your recommendations for other podcasts to try, especially those hosted by women.

21 November 2018

Seeking new consulting projects for 2019

Hello masonwong.com readers,

I am now scheduling new consulting projects with kickoff dates in Q1 / January 2019. If you know of any companies who could benefit from my expertise, please message me. Successfully completed projects include:

- Jobvite optimization, reconfiguration, implementation, integrations, training (worldwide)

- Advanced custom reports training, development & analysis of Jobvite data (worldwide)

- recruiting operations & process improvement (U.S. nationwide)

- interim head of global talent acquisition (SF Bay Area)

For more information, please see http://zwd.com

Thanks very much in advance for any leads on new projects.


13 January 2018

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Excellent summary of Star Trek’s Mirror Universe along with the major plot threads of the latest #StarTrekDiscovery episode.  https://youtu.be/c0Wq36aHT6A

31 March 2017

Hungry FDA Official Orders Massive Pot Pie Recall

An oldie but goodie.


Astronomical Odds Against Us

Computer illustration by Dana Berry, commissioned by National Geographic magazine for its July 2013 issue cover, depicting the formation of the Earth's Moon in a scientifically plausible visual style. 

The prevailing theory is the young Earth collided with a Mars sized planet in a manner that caused much of the Earth's material to eject out and eventually coalesce into the Moon, initially in a nearer orbit than today. 

I find it fascinating to learn that things we consider stable or permanent on a human timescale, such as the orbit of planets, the distance to the Moon, or even something as fundamental as sunshine, are themselves subject to gradual or sometimes devastatingly dramatic change. 

Life is precious, the Earth is sacred, and we are not just made of star stuff and a way for the universe to know itself, but we are also a unique opportunity to feel and show gratitude for having come into existence despite literally astronomical odds against us.

26 October 2016

The Next Big Thing in Tech

There is now a set of emerging technology that are competing to be the "next big thing" in tech.

Back in the '90s, the Internet rolled into all our lives, growing from a computer network used mostly by universities, government, and the military, to a full blown social, economic, and political revolution. It hardly surprised anyone. We could see it coming. There were even AT&T television commercials depicting everyday life with Internet powered services that we take for granted today.

Also during that time, we clearly could see that mobile technology would be big. Cell phones were proliferating, especially the Motorola flip phones. We knew that one day, computers would be handheld and merged with the phone. But we didn't know exactly how soon, nor how ubiquitous mobile tech would become. Of course, mobile tech extended and vastly expanded the reach of the Internet revolution.

Now we have some newly emerging technologies that are vying for attention. Namely, virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, chat bots, and driverless cars.

Virtual reality (VR) promises to immerse the senses of the user, in a manner most easily associated with playing video games. VR tech from decades before were heavy, slow, and expensive, but those constraints have been overcome, largely due to the advances in mobile tech. Sci-fi movies have glorified the promise of VR, yet today's news media regularly portrays users of VR as people acting clumsy in the real world while wearing VR headgear. Having to shut out the real world while using VR has its obvious disadvantages, which makes usage of VR a very intentional and inherently isolating act, not something to do for a few seconds or even a minute here or there, like glancing at a smartphone or casually playing a mobile game app.

Augmented reality (AR) trades the immersive aspect of VR with technology that overlays computer generated visuals with a view of the real world.  While avoiding the isolation of VR, the use of AR introduces additional complications, such as distractions from real life hazards, and expensive see-through display technology. I think in the long run, AR has more potential for both business and personal applications, than VR. Perhaps there will be a future hybrid AR/VR device that can easily switch between the two modes.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been envisioned for over half a century and has become viable as computing technology has accelerated in processing power and affordability. Many different emerging technologies are closely related to AI, including learning networks, speech recognition, natural language processing, speech synthesis, foreign language translation, and predictive analytics. There is a common fear, also frequently portrayed in sci-fi films, of AI, especially when combined with robotics, resulting in apocalyptic destruction and death, driven by soulless vengeance and limitless ambition for power. Some predict the Singularity will occur, when the machines develop their own intelligence faster than humans can control. Such fears may limit the trust consumers have with AI, which I predict will give initial prominence to AI related applications that only partially automate things, where people feel they still have some control, but enjoy some benefits of AI assistance.

Chat bots are a mashup of text messaging platforms and some aspects of AI. The shift in attention from disparate mobile apps to the stickiness of mobile text messaging platforms allows for software providers to refocus the entire user experience of an application to a text based natural language processing user interface. Customer service functions are leading the way. Other functions will likely follow. Chat bots, especially if voice recognition is mixed with the text interface, could possibly become the channel for AI to be accepted into daily mainstream use.

Driverless cars have garnered a lot of media and industry attention the past few years. Such vehicles are already in limited use under narrow conditions. Partial automation is also in use in Tesla cars, resulting in some fatal accidents. Truly autonomous vehicles which can navigate all roads under all conditions are still decades away. Fog, snow, and other foul weather hinder the sensors. Navigation maps are not always accurate or up to date. But the impact to the transportation industry will obviously be massive. It is yet to be proven there will be less traffic, but it is hoped that overall traffic safety will improve, while levels of car ownership, already on a downward trend, will likely continue to drop with both the convenience and cost of driverless cars.

What is possibly the most tantalizing idea is the likelihood that the next big thing might not be any of these things. It would not surprise some people, especially those of us in Silicon Valley, if some entirely new technology, built by a previously unknown, innovative teenage girl in her parents garage or basement or bedroom corner, rapidly emerges as the next big thing to change the world.

21 January 2016

7 Steps to Turn Every Employee into a Super Recruiter

Jobvite asked me to be a guest blogger, focusing on some consulting material that I have provided to my clients on building a robust employee referral program.  Please check it out:

7 Steps to Turn Every Employee into a Super Recruiter