Episode 9: We're all going to be stardust

This week, the pros and cons of growing an organization and our philosophical blatherings about choosing work that is meaningful vs. doing what you love vs. finding meaning in your work.

The Name of the Wind - So begins the tale of Kvothe—from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend.

The Proto Board is back! -


The Seven Things You're Not Supposed To Talk About - Producer Sarah Koenig's mother lives by a set of rules about conversation. She has an actual list of off-limits topics, including how you slept, your period, your health, your diet and more. You don't talk about these things, she says, because nobody cares. This week we try to find stories on these exact topics that will prove her wrong.

In the Name of Love - Elites embrace the “do what you love” mantra. But it devalues work and hurts workers.

Mans Search for Meaning - Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

Spoiler alert: In this episode, we touch on communication, process, and required overhead. Marcia just wants to point out that in the two weeks since recording, there have been multiple communication blips that required "getting back onto the same page". But we filled in the spaces between teams and are better than ever before!

Episode 8: I got Anna Kendrick's phone number

Motivation is the topic with a slight dream-related detour. Jason waxes poetic about what may or may not motivate us and how he thinks about that in the context of what Khan Academy is good for. Marcia slowly wakes up during the podcast and questions his sanity.


The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile

One way of marking progress - the dev team protoboard with weekly milestones

One way of marking progress - the dev team protoboard with weekly milestones

Episode 7: I usually edit that out


In this episode we discuss giving feedback to your peers and others, and what KA's process looks like to do this each year. Also, a little self-indulgent segment on what last year brought us and what we're looking forward to in the new year.


I can see outer space!

I can see outer space!

Episode 6: Turn the lights down low


Happy 3 year Khanniversary, Jason! In this episode, we talk about three lessons learned, including how to be more empathetic with our users in the context of product changes. Change isn't always bad, or is it?


Power poses - TED talk by Amy Cuddy on the causality between body language and self perception. Spoiler alert: it goes both ways, so go ahead and stretch your arms out like a gymnast who just stuck a landing in the Olympics!

Trello - Fog Creek (see Episode 1) should start sponsoring us because we keep sharing our love for them and their products! Love isn't free, you know.

Learning dashboard on Khan Academy - We posted this when we launched the learning dashboard back in August. The dashboard has changed a bit since then, and we're gearing up for its next iteration's launch very soon.


Episode 5: High and Tight


This week, we get distracted by all kinds of things while we discuss keeping ourselves on task. One part quantified self, two parts work planning and discipline. 


Ostrich Pillow: For warmth, comfort, and breathability. Unless you're Jason, in which case you might overheat.

Oops sorry, we got distracted. We'll add more show notes soon!


Episode 4: Emotional Jam


What work do you admire and why, internet utilities, and more!


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: "The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in America, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology."

Charles and Ray Eames:  "American designers who worked in and made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art and film." There's a great documentary about their work available on Netflix.

Tomato search:

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Laptop Privacy "sock"

Episode 3: Achy Shins and the Grumpies


Overconfidence, self-doubt, and the impostor syndrome and how those things affect recruiting and the rest of our work. 


Stanford's CS/EE centric career fair :  Is it worth $21,000 / year to participate in this fair?

 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: Largest technical conference for women in computing and results in collaborative proposals, networking and mentoring for junior women and increased visibility for the contributions of women in computing.

Impostor syndrome:  Psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Thanks, wikipedia!


Episode 2: A Certain Degree of Uncertainty



Non-profit vs. For-profit, and the role of reinvention


Sueding Shoes:  Youtube explains it all! (PSA: this is not a video of Marcia performing said sueding)

Blue Suede Shoes:  Not the same thing, Marcia.

Swing/Lindy Hop  Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazztapbreakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family.

Share your show ideas:  Fill out this really fancy google form with all your great ideas for what you'd like to hear more about on the show!

Can of WormsThe evidence suggests that the original cans of worms were real cans with actual worms in them, collected as bait for fishing. (The can in this case being a smallish metal container with a handle and a lid.)


Episode 1 - Difficult Difficult Lemon Difficult

Our very first episode! We introduce ourselves to you and talk about Tetris, Fruit by the Foot, Lactose Intolerance, what Khan Academy is and why we work there.

Here are some useful links from this episode!

Khan Academy



Fog Creek Software


Ben Kamens


Fruit by the Foot