Paul Cothenet

“It doesn’t get easier. You just get faster”. Co-founder at MadKudu.

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A social media diet for the social media reticent co-founder

My friend and co-founder @anselmelevan is not very active on Twitter. I think he doesn’t see the benefits of the platform and still thinks it’s something where people talk about what they’re eating. On my end, I’ve been on Twitter since 2008 and still think it is one of the best things ever. I also think that it can be a great customer discovery channel for our company, MadKudu.

So I’m trying a 30-day pass/fail experiment to see if I can get him:

  • to enjoy the platform
  • a decent following

I could have sent him an email, but I’m pretty sure there might be other cofounders (or VP Marketing) out there with a similar issue. So, I’ve decided to over-share this.

We’re starting at 19 tweets, 27 following and 33 followers. Let’s see where this can go. I’ll probably amend this as the experiment progress.

Base rules

Rule #1: Make your...

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The day Amazon read my mind

This mind reading story started in a banal way. I forgot my Kindle in the airplane seat pocket. Banal because I’m sure that happens all the time (it just hides in that stupid pocket) and because it was my third time.

But this time I did not get it back. Air Canada never found it. Good news: no one else seemed to find it either. I waited a couple days to see if anyone would buy a cornucopia of trashy fiction with my Kindle. Nope.

Anyway, I unlinked it from my account and was now in the market for a new Kindle. The last Paperwhite model was 9 months old. And there’s one lesson Steve Jobs told me. Never buy any Apple products 9 months after the previous launch. You’ll hate yourself in 3 months. Amazon’s previous releases had followed a similar pattern. And the latest rumors were hinting at a March release. So I decided to wait a bit.

6 months passed. March flew by....

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Thank you AgilOne

“I know that, right now, you have no idea what we’re doing. But I’m pretty sure you’ll figure it out”

The day was December 16, 2010. I was meeting Omer Artun for the first time, in a completely empty office in Los Gatos. The company was called Agilone (still with a lower case o). I was one day from graduating and three days from flying back to France for Christmas. I really wanted to stay in the US for my first job, but pretty much all my tentatives had failed so far. I had not yet convinced myself that this was it. So I still had my car, my apartment, a hundred or so CDs and no plans yet to get rid of them.

At this point, there were a lot of things I was not sure of:

  • I was not quite sure about this “Analytics Associate” job. It was a client service position in “predictive marketing”, while I had just spent the past 2 years...

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For real feedback, use real data

This is the first (of an hopefully long series) of articles on my day hobby, Product Management. In this first installment, I discuss why, when working on a data product, you need real data to get real feedback

So, you’re building a data product. Could be a personalization engine, a business dashboard or a clustering algorithm (among some real-life examples). Something that deals with data and/or numbers. Big or small, doesn’t really matter.

You’ve made your initial assumptions, talked to users and validated your problem. You have an idea for a solution and need to validate it. Your next step is to build a prototype, show it to users and see if they’re willing to pay for it.

The catch with data product: if you want really actionable feedback from your potential users, you need to use their own data. You can get some bits of feedback from a fake/generic data prototype but...

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How I lost my edge

“You don’t know what you really want”

I didn’t ever think I would be able put a date on it. I was secretly hoping it would never happen. But I have to come to the truth. I’ve lost my edge.

It starts with the realization that it is something that actually happens to people. As a kid, you realize that old people have not always been old. You make yourself the promise that you’ll never grow old. As a young adult, you stumble into a copy of Trout Mask Replica in your dad’s vinyl collection and realize he hasn’t been listening to FM radio their whole life. You make yourself the promise that, this time, you won’t let it happen to you.

And then, of course, it does happen to you.

You go from doing monthly compilations of your favorite B-sides to making a playlist out of Rolling Stone’s year-end list. 18 of your top 20 bands last...

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Dear Journalism,

Here’s to 2013


A Life-or-Death Situation, Robin Marantz Henig, New York Times How the beliefs and convictions of a proponent of the “right to die” collides with her husband debilitating bike accident. Indispensable.

Bread and Women, Adam Gopnik, New Yorker A beautiful glimpse into bread. Must-read if you know someone French.

Join Wall Street, Save the World, Dylan Matthews, Washington Post Beyond, the witty title, the story of people revisiting how to help people meaningfully.

How James Turrel Knocked the Art World Off Its Feet, Leslye Davis, New York Times The most breathtaking art expo I’ve seen (ever?) and the article that made me want to see it

Slow Ideas, Atul Gawande, New Yorker For a change-obsessed Silicon Valley, a reminder of what it sometimes takes for important process to spread.

19: The True Story of the Yarnell Fire, Kyle Dickman, Outside This...

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