Nadia Eghbal

Community Programs at GitHub

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 04, 2016

Discussion

Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
Hi! I'm Nadia and I work on community programs for open source at GitHub. I've done a lot of writing and research on open source projects, so would love to talk about about open source, software collaboration, and my time at GitHub. I also used to work in venture capital at Collaborative Fund, so happy to talk about funding, VC, and everything in between.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hi, Nadia! 👋🏼 You've had a diverse career as a founder, VC, and now at GitHub. So many people struggle to figure out what they really want to do. How did you decide what to do next? Any advice for those "soul searching". 😀
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@rrhoover ah, so much soul searching. 😉 It's helped me to think of my career more as a book than an escalator. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have every next opportunity be objectively "better" than the next, whether it's to impress our friends, family or ourselves. Instead, I've started thinking about "what do I want to work on for the next 5 years?" After VC, I thought about which project I wanted to work on next, like an artist. Thinking of it as a project and not a "career move" took a lot of the pressure off and forced me to focus on what I was actually passionate about. Projects have a beginning and an end, and they don't each have to be tied to each other. I love what I'm doing right now, but when I've said what I wanted to say here, I'll close this chapter and start another.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@nayafia I love this answer. Thanks, Nadia. 🙏🏼
Stephen Rodriguez@stephn_r · Software Engineer
Seeing that you recently joined Github this year, what is the most exciting part of your job that energizes your day to day activities? > Relevant article: https://medium.com/@nayafia/im-j...
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@stephn_r Hi Stephen! I'm most energized by the people I get to work with, both in open source communities and here at GitHub. There's a shared set of values around community, authenticity and the human experience - people coming together and making amazing things that power the rest of society. I feel lucky to spend my days thinking about how to make that even better. Shout out to some of the amazing and accomplished people on my team: Brandon Keepers (@bkeepers), Arfon Smith (@arfon), Katrina Owen (@kytrinyx), Lee Dohm (@leedohm). All of them bring valuable experiences from the trenches to GitHub. I'm super inspired by all of their work.
Ju Hae Lee@juhaelee · builder of things
What happened to the Github Community podcast? I loved the one and only episode
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@juhaelee I'm so glad to hear you liked it! The Community podcast was an experiment in engaging with developer communities and upleveling their stories. We're trying a lot of new things this year, and might revisit the podcast again, but right now we've been focusing on other community efforts. It's good to know it was well loved though, I'm sure folks at GitHub will love to hear that. P.S. If you liked that style of podcast, I'm gonna give a shameless plug for http://rfc.fm, the Changelog podcast I currently co-host with @mikeal :) We're similarly trying to focus on the human side of open source.
Leo Polovets@lpolovets · Partner, Susa Ventures
If you could wave a magic wand and make one specific change to the venture capital industry, what would that change be?
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@lpolovets ooh, good question. Does adding more asset classes count? :) I think VC as a system is actually pretty good for what it's intended to do, I just don't think it's suitable for every opportunity in tech. Within VC, I'd love to see more public data. Plenty of firms get "lucky" with a good hit, others go 7-10 years without significant returns, and still others have had consistently good returns over decades. A brand on a portfolio is meaningless without knowing the stage or circumstances of investment. So much of VC is hand-wavy, and that can breed a lack of accountability: in investments, but also culture more generally.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Nadia, thanks for joining us today! What's one piece of advice you've received during your career that's had an impact on you?
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@ems_hodge The best piece of advice I got was from @hnshah (surprise surprise 😉), as a founder: a LOT of people will try to give you advice, and you don't have to listen to them. You're starting a company because *you* have something you want to share with the world. Nobody else can do that for you, and their advice will always be skewed by their own experiences. If you don't trust in yourself and your intuition, then why are you even here? Why should you do this work over anyone else? That's really helped me filter the advice I do receive from others, as well as figure out what I should be working on and how to do it.
Tyler Hayes@thetylerhayes · Bebo
You've worn a lot of hats, seen a lot of problems, a lot of solutions. What's the biggest problem currently cooking your noodle when you wake up in the morning? What frameworks do you use to work your way through that problem?
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@thetylerhayes Right now, my biggest focus has been, well, learning how to focus. I think I've benefitted from saying yes to a lot of things in previous years, but right now I'm in a stage where I want to execute on the things I'm excited about. So I've started by defaulting to "no" on every opportunity that comes up, then if I do want to say yes, having to articulate the benefit to myself. And blocking off my most productive hours (8a-2p-ish) for just me, no meetings. The other side of it is figuring out how to make big changes in incremental stages. That requires a lot of listening to and observing others to figure out where our needs align, so it's not just me pushing what I want to do onto someone else. Patience is something I've also had to learn. 😊 And I think there's also an element of humility, i.e. recognizing when I might not have full context on a situation or where there might be competing priorities to my own, rather than assuming my interests are the most important ones. I think most revolutionary work is 99% observing and 1% knowing when to strike.
Manasi Vartak@datacereal · PhD Student, MIT CSAIL
What advice would you have for researchers working on systems they plan to make open source? For instance, we're working on this particular system at MIT CSAIL (http://istc-bigdata.org/index.ph...) that we'd like to make open source, and we'd like to figure out how we can build a sustainable open source community around it. Thanks!
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@datacereal woot! I'm glad you're interested in open sourcing your project! A few principles I'd pay attention to: 1) Document everything, the more you write down and make public, the more people know how to pitch in. That goes for conversations, contribution processes, product roadmap, etc. 2) Let people help how they want to help. Contributing to your project doesn't always mean contributing code. Maybe someone wants to help triage tasks, review PRs, write documentation or tutorials, design your website. Give them as many opportunities to help, even in the most trivial of ways, bc that will engage them early on. 3) Spread the word - at conferences, to your peers, events, wherever you can. Just like any product, it requires a fair bit of marketing to make sure people know about your project. 4) Even the most active community projects still have someone at the helm. Expect that you, or your team members, will take on maintainer roles to steward the project and probably make the majority of contributions. P.S. We've got a great resource on this topic coming out soon at GitHub, so keep an eye out! :)
Manasi Vartak@datacereal · PhD Student, MIT CSAIL
@nayafia Fantastic! Thanks for this really great set of guidelines! They make a lot of sense and will keep them in mind. Looking forward to checkout out the resource you mentioned :)
Chintham Chetty Avinash@ash_royalc · Student
What are the challenges for building push notification server, what languages do u prefer to use and why ?
Hi Nadia I am Rohit, and I am looking forward to start a startup with 2 of my friends. And all that I am stuck up with is how to collect appropriate amount of fundings?
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@iam_r3l Hi Rohit! It sounds cheesy, but I'd start with focusing on what value your company uniquely provides to the world. That might translate into generating revenue from the start, or just a really interesting and compelling story. Either or both of those things (revenue or a big mission) will make it much easier to attract funding, if and when it's appropriate. But you don't need funding to start a great company.
@nayafia Thank you Nadia, the last line is all I needed to keep my team motivated.
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@iam_r3l ❤️ This article about MailChimp just came out today. You might enjoy: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/0...
@nayafia I use MailChimps myself, never knew the story behind it. It's really interesting and one that gives a lot of intuition into how to lead into things.
Amanda Tessier@amanda_tessier · Marketer at Altisource
Hi Nadia, what's the best mistake you've ever made? We often learn more from our failures than from our successes.
Nadia Eghbal@nayafia · GitHub
@amanda_tessier ooh, best mistake. I think I make mistakes all the time, and they generally fall into two categories: 1) doing something because I think I'm "supposed to", vs. doing what I actually want to do, and 2) being overly focused on what I need and missing what others need. In the first instance, I have *always* been happier doing what I find interesting, even if it's a tough decision in the moment, so I have to keep reminding myself of that. In the second instance, I think all humans are naturally self-centered (we only have our own experiences to go by!) but we still have to work with others: in relationships, friendships, work situations. Getting hard feedback from others has forced me to become more collaborative and vulnerable, even when it's not always easy to hear.
Amanda Tessier@amanda_tessier · Marketer at Altisource
@nayafia thank you! You're very insightful. I find myself in the first bucket often - I appreciate your honest answer.