Jody Mak

I build products that support ideas and stories of our changing world.

Jody Mak

Rest of WorldThe New York TimesHarvard Business ReviewTEDAcademic ResearchFreelance ProjectsAdvisory RolesTEDxUCSDVolunteer WorkArtworkReading, Watching, Listening

I'm a product person passionate about design, research, and technology, but above all – people and stories. Over the last 7 years, I’ve helped build a wide variety of editorial products supported by different business models – and organizational ecosystems that maximize both reach and revenue to further fuel mission-driven work. Experienced in all stages of the product lifecycle with new and mature teams, I believe great products start with purpose, people, and process. I’m deeply committed to product and design strategy in media organizations invested in shaping conversations, society, and our future.

Rest of World

2019–Current

Currently creating something new as Product and Design Lead at Rest of World, a journalism startup reporting on the impact of technology on culture and society in underreported, underestimated places.

restofworld.org

The New York Times

2018-2019

Readers turn to The Times for more than just news. They turn to The Times for guidance and trusted advance, in almost all aspects of daily lives – health, food, travel, finance, style, career, entertainment, home, relationships, and more.

At NYT, I managed a portfolio of products and storytelling formats that drove engagement to service journalism and evergreen content. I also led the product partnership with Smarter Living and other Features desks to develop editorial experiences meeting both business goals and reader needs.

Programs
Launched a habit-forming format to help readers make a plan to achieve personal goals. This format breaks down larger topics across multiple days, supporting topics ranging from health and wellness, digital security, to better reading. The team evolved a custom MVP to a templated format that demonstrated high reader return rate.

How to
Run a Faster Marathon
Meditate
Get a Better Night's Sleep
Make the Most of the Met
Run a More Efficient Meeting
Buy a Home
Win at Retirement Savings
Build a Successful Team
Solve The New York Times Crossword
Give a Great Gift
Buy Sports Tickets
Get Strong
Tell a Story
Raise a Reader
Pack a Suitcase
Watch a Solar Eclipse
Take Care of Your Clothes
Be a Modern Parent
Have a Better Relationship

How-to Guides
Readers have access to more information than ever before. NYT Guides help readers navigate a world of choices and information.

Our team maximized the value of an archive of 100+ guides drawing high return rate by packaging multiple pieces into larger experiences.

Tech
Coffee Table Books
Travel & Outdoors
Home & Design
Games
Music
Food & Drink
NYT Gifts
Fashion & Style

Buying Guides
Partnered with Wirecutter to develop Buying Guides and Gift Guides to help readers decide what to buy. Iterating on the product, the team significantly increased conversion rate of readers clicking buy now and time for editorial production by eliminating a step in the user flow.

New Products & Ventures
I wrote 3 standalone business and product opportunities in Travel,Books, and B2B/Management Service Journalism, and presented concepts to the CTO for investment consideration.

Harvard Business Review

2016-2018

Joined HBR as product manager to help further expand the richest source of ideas for improving the practice of management. Product lead for the article page, curated reading experiences, new subscriber-only features, and MyLibrary, a reader’s personal space for organizing content and account settings.

Spotlight
One of the first products I helped launch at HBR, Spotlight is a package of articles from the redesigned print magazine that explore emerging research and stories through multiple perspectives.

We launched with an experience that includes a persistent table of contents and a much more visual introduction. We also created an experience in the CMS that allows editors to easily reproduce this format.

In the new template, we saw longer time spent on page, increased bookmark rate, improved SEO, and higher engagement on navigation feature than compared to past implementation.

Reading Lists
HBR has a growing archive that spans almost 100 years. Curated products like HBR's Must Reads book series are incredibly successful and provide readers with editors' picks out of thousands of articles. However, when it comes to the web, readers on HBR.org have difficulty discovering content to help them solve their problem.

My team tested, designed, and developed an online curated reading experience, which launches later in 2018 along with other new subscriber-only products.

The Big Idea
HBR’s newest experimental editorial format featuring timely, big ideas each with lineups of articles, videos, assessments, podcasts, webinars, and events spread over a 2 week period.

Content released across multiple days encouraged readers to engage with HBR, which resulted in higher likelihood to register and subscribe. By launching with this new digital-first format, we received strong interest from high-profile authors like Adam Grant (Give and Take & Originals), Francesca Gino (HBS Professor), and Chris Anderson (CEO of 3D Robotics and Former Editor in Chief of Wired) to write with HBR

TED

2014-2016

Lead analyst for 2 teams, Editorial and Partnerships, dual-reporting to the Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Distribution & Format Innovation, overseeing growth of audience and revenue across 100+ editorial, foundation, brand and product partners of TED.

Part product analyst, part advertising analyst, part business intelligence analyst.

I analyzed TED content on partner platforms and partner content on the TED platform - I oversaw analyses in product strategy, content strategy, sales operation and digital advertising. My key responsibility was to identify opportunities through data that amplified reach and revenue to fuel TED's mission of spreading ideas.

TED Radio Hour
Co-production of a podcast program, TED Radio Hour is TED’s flagship “1+1=3” partnership model where co-creation not only helped TED and NPR reach new audiences, but also generate new revenue streams from sponsorships.

As TED Radio Hour headed into its 4th year renewal amidst a booming podcast industry, I was tasked to analyze the history of the partnership and current market trends to shape the future of the multimillion dollar podcast.

TED Institute
Working with partner organizations, TED helps companies identify internal innovators, connectors and creators using the same rigorous regimen as the main TED conference. The partnership culminates in an event produced and hosted by TED and the addition of TEDInstitute videos to the archive of ideas in business.

For each TEDInstitute partner, I created custom reporting on content engagement and advertising metrics. The metrics ranged from pageviews, video completion, cross-platform engagement, time spent on page, geography, demographics, psychographics, and social media interactions.

Academic Research

2011-2013

Research assistant in cognitive science, psychology, and management.

Atkinson Behavioral Research Lab
As a lab assistant at the Atkinson Behavioral Research Lab at UC San Diego Rady School of Management, I conducted research with over 2,000 research participants in a controlled laboratory setting for 20 primary investigators. Learned a lot about research design while conducting research. I also ran my own research study examining positive social media feedback on risk preference.

University of Sussex
While studying in the UK, I was a research assistant in the psychology department at University of Sussex. I helped conduct research for John Drury's lab which examined cognitive and behavioral reactions during mass emergency evacuations.

Vision Lab
The emergence of 3D videos resulted in a data and compression challenge – double the video, double the data. The lab explored different ways to compress videos that maintained a high quality threshold. This involved techniques like lowering the brightness, changing frames per second, and increasing the blur on one side. Turns out our brain is quite smart, and doesn't necessarily average the two pictures, but rather will lean toward the higher quality image.

Download the paper

Freelance Projects

Occasionally take on freelance projects in the following 3 product areas – strategy, analytics, and design.

Have freelanced for the following:

Contact me to learn more

Advisory Roles

Currently advising a nonprofit curating BIPOC children's books. More to come!

TEDxUCSD

Organized and curated UC San Diego's first TEDx conference. Since the first conference in 2013, TEDxUCSD videos have been viewed over 3.5 million times.

Download the report

Themed Innovation & Tradition, speakers included a National Geographic Explorer, former chief evangelist of Apple, Innovator in Residence at IDEO.org, UCSD's Dean of Arts and Humanities, a biologist-turned-comedian alumnus, a TED2009 robotics speaker, nanomedicine and nanoengineering experts, nonprofit founders, a rainbow-algae biotechnologist, 3 UCSD graduate students, and 1 notorious hacker. 

The theme represents opposite ends on the spectrum of change – the constant challenge to find balance between new and old.

A few select talks from TEDxUCSD since 2013. Many more can be found on Youtube.

Volunteer Work

Here are some of the places I've volunteered at. Looking to get back into volunteering – seeking opportunities in teaching, mentoring, events, and design.

Interaxon
Interaxon is an educational non-profit organization that strives to promote higher education in underprivileged elementary, middle and high schools around San Diego County. The organization travels to disadvantaged schools in SD County with poor science funding or schools that otherwise lack the opportunity to learn about the brain and share with them our enthusiasm for Neuroscience through engaging students with interactive presentations.

As Program Director, I coordinated educational outreach programs and trained over 100 undergraduate students with teaching strategies for a younger student audience.

interaxon.ucsd.edu

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Volunteered with the Salk Mobile Science Lab, which hosts interactive biotechnology programs in middle schools in San Diego county. I helped teach DNA to students through hands-on experiments such as food coloring gel electrophoresis and fruit fly DNA extraction.

salk.edu

TEDxSacramento
Produced a time lapse video for the TEDx group in my hometown.

Artwork

Inspired by woodcut relief prints of the late artist Bryan Nash Gill, I began hand drawing tree rings with brush pens in 2017.

I experimented with different color ink and paper combinations. Neapolitan RGB is a series of 6 tree rings both imagined and encountered. The series was displayed at Juliet in Somerville, MA, which Bon Appétit named as one of America's Best New Restaurants in 2016.

A limited number of artworks are available. Feel free to reach out to inquire.

Reading, Watching, Listening

Here are some things I've read, watched, listened to in product management, UX, design, teams, creativity, journalism, media, and behavioral psychology.

Mostly for me to reference later – Hope you enjoy as well!

An alternate framework for PMBalancing data with intuitionBalancing line length and font size in responsive web designBeating Henry Ford’s faster horseBehind every great productBrutalism: The ‘ugly’ web design trend taking over the internetConfusion online: Faulty metrics and the future of digital journalismCreativeMornings manifestoDesign words with dataDon't kill the modalEmbrace the shakeEmptiness – not minimalism – is the path to creativityForget big change, start with a tiny habitGetting to the next successful media modelsGood Product Team / Bad Product TeamGuide to automated journalismGuide to chat appsHear, All Ye People; Hearken, O EarthHow brands will survive in a post-screen worldHow to design wordsJobs to be Done: Theory to PracticeLaws of UXMotivating voter turnout by invoking the selfMuseums are finding creative ways to engage with their audience — a lesson newsrooms should emulateMust read literature on membership in newsProduct Manager vs. Product Owner revisitedRadical candor — The surprising secret to being a good bossShift Happens, Institutional Innovation, Scaling EdgesStorytelling: A brief intro to storytelling and the importance of storiesThe CMS is your first editorThe modern day Good Product Manager/Bad Product ManagerThe magic of microcopyThe need for Product Management in mediaThe overcommitted organizationThe paradox of choiceThe platform press: How Silicon Valley reengineered journalismThe rise of the journalist product managerThe secret(s) to company re-orgsThe surprising power of online experimentsThe traffic factoriesThe year of investing in processTypography mattersVirtual reality journalismWait, What?: And Life's Other Essential QuestionsWe can't leave the business to the business side any moreWhat makes something go viral?When do habit-forming products become addictive?When to define company valuesWhy AI can't write this article yetWhy chefs and soldiers make the best product managersWhy companies should have Product Editors, not Product Managers5 exercises that break down barriers6 must reads on pricing6 storytelling principles to improve your UX8 beliefs about diversity, inclusion, and belonging12 ways to add design thinking into your project19 web design trends for 2018