In which we move to little thoughts in little chunks of words

It’s 2021! And I had every intention of writing an ode to the New Year, something warm and comforting with a touch of spice, like a good gumbo.

But then my toddler decided that his favorite thing to do now is open every drawer in the house and bulldoze the contents. Then, there was the insurrection to process, and the sea shanties, and the gamestonks, and what do you know the month is over. Oh, and interspersed in there somewhere is a tale of company building. People used to tell me that company building was all-consuming. They’re absolutely right.

Occasionally…


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by René Gademann

My first full-length novel, The Shadow Gods, was a story about a modern-day goddess of love who becomes a pawn in a high-stakes political game.

My second, The Chances, was about a cat-mouse-game between a pair of identical high school twins, one a detective and the other a thief.

My third, Neath, was about a forsaken underground kingdom plotting its revenge in the last days of civilization.

And lastly, Game of Chances was a combo concept: a pair of identical high school twins, one a detective and the other a thief, discover they are modern-day gods in a high-stakes political…


What happens when you acknowledge all aspects of yourself — even the flaws

Confident senior woman in green against a violet background throwing up a confident pose.
Confident senior woman in green against a violet background throwing up a confident pose.
Photo: Flashpop/Getty Images

Over the years, I’ve encountered my fair share of trolling, and what I’ve learned is that it’s an art. What the finest trolls know is that in order to really get under someone’s skin, the attack must fulfill two conditions: 1) some tiny part of the person believes the message is true; and 2) they’re ashamed of it.

Suppose you tell me you’d rather eat dirt than my cooking. That’s rude, but I’m not going to get defensive. This is because I’m not ashamed of my cooking: I know the insides of my pots are scorched from many a kitchen…


Ask the right questions to unearth a wealth of insights

👋 Hi! I’m Julie Zhuo. I help companies scale and build people-centric products informed by data. I’m the author of a popular management book. I used to lead design for the Facebook app. The Looking Glass is my once-a-month-ish musings on products, teams, and our journey as builders.

Image for post
Image for post

One glorious thing about having an almost six-year-old is that we’ve started to read some of my favorite childhood books together.

Recently, we read Matilda by Roald Dahl. When I first encountered this story as a wide-eyed immigrant kid, I loved the idea that a smart, resourceful little girl could one-up the…


Is Tiktok good or bad? Should Rick be fired? Should designers wear top hats? Also: How can social media systems better incentivize informedness?

👋 Hi! I’m Julie Zhuo. I help companies scale and build people-centric products informed by data. I’m the author of a popular management book. I used to lead design for the Facebook app. The Looking Glass is my once-a-month-ish musings on products, teams, and our journey as builders.

One of the great gifts of social media is the way it expands our understanding of the world.

It used to be that our exposure to facts and opinions came from the dozens of people we see regularly in real life — besties, those colleagues we do Taco Tuesdays with, our parents and Uncle Paul and Cousin Maria, those high-school bandmates that we see once a year — along with…


What makes you tick? And what ticks you off?

👋 Hi! I’m Julie Zhuo. I help companies scale and build people-centric products informed by data. I’m the author of a popular management book. I used to lead design for the Facebook app. The Looking Glass is my once-a-month-ish musings on products, teams, and our journey as builders.

Image for post
Image for post

Once upon a time, I received an important email in my inbox that alerted me to some distressing news.

Every six months, our company ran a wide-scale anonymous satisfaction survey that pretty much every single employee answered. If your team was big enough, you’d get your own breakout of the results for…


Doing something “racist” does not automatically mean that you are a morally horrible person. It means you’ve said or done things that perpetuate systems benefitting certain races — your race — at the expense of others. Instead of hearing You said something racist as You just called me a shitty person, we need to retrain ourselves to hear it as we would any other useful criticism — Your statement had a negative impact on X person or group. If you’re embarrassed about having that kind of negative impact, great! It means you care to do better (and are not a morally horrible person. )

👋 Hi! I’m Julie Zhuo. I help companies scale and build people-centric products informed by data. I’m the author of a popular management book. On the side, I’m currently match-making designers to start-ups. I used to lead design for the Facebook app. The Looking Glass is my once-a-month-ish musings on products, teams, and our journey as builders.

Image for post
Image for post

I’ve had a number of different essays bouncing around in my head over the past few months, on the topic of personal kryptonite and social media context and product frameworks and some-such.

But the truth is, I’ve found it hard to write about…


What Makes you Different is also What Makes you Super

👋 Hi! I’m Julie Zhuo. I help companies scale and build people-centric products informed by data. I’m the author of a popular management book. I used to lead design for the Facebook app. The Looking Glass is my once-a-month-ish musings on products, teams, and our journey as builders.

Image for post
Image for post

Quarantining at home during a pandemic is, as I’m learning from my friends and the Internet, a great time to bake bread and meditate and remind ourselves why Michael Jordan is GOAT and adopt a new pet (in our case: chickens.) …


So your key metric went up… but at what cost?

Image for post
Image for post

One of the most repeated conversations I hear in my product-building history sounds something like this:

A: We need more people to sign up/try this feature/engage with this content/convert to payer.

B: Okay. Let’s add more call-to-actions and make them more prominent.

Conversely, it can also manifest like this:

A: I’ve hidden this action behind a secondary menu.

B: Hmm, that’s going to affect our metrics negatively. Are you sure you want to do that?

This type of conversation always left me wanting. It felt like we were doing the intellectual equivalent of recommending that one gets good grades in…


Collected tips on working from home during lockdown.

👋Hi! I’m Julie Zhuo. I help companies scale and build products of value. I’m the author of a popular management book. I used to lead design for the Facebook app. The Looking Glass is my once-a-month-ish musings on products, teams, and ourselves.

Image for post
Image for post

I read over the past weekend that about half the world is in lockdown — nearly 4 billion people asked to stay at home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. That’s a mind-boggling number.

For those of us lucky enough to be able to do our work from home, this means getting thrown head-first into the…

Julie Zhuo

Currently: Inspirit. Former Product Design VP @ FB. Author of The Making of a Manager https://amzn.to/2PRwCyW. Find me @joulee. I love people, words, and food.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store