Humans of Lob: Ami Wang

Humans of Lob is a project dedicated to getting to know our Lobsters on an individual level. For our first entry, we sat down with the second-longest tenured Lob employee: Product Manager Ami Wang.

You grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT… What about Lob made you decide to come west to San Francisco?

The location wasn’t the most important, it was more about what I would be doing when I started, the potential of the company, and my own personal growth potential within that company. What really struck me about Lob was that they still treated the interview process seriously and as if they were a big company.

At Lob, we’re always trying to be professional even if we’re still small. When Harry and Leore reached out to me, you could tell they wanted to build a company, it wasn’t just about grinding at a startup.

It was meeting them in person that solidified my decision. Leore and Harry were really transparent with me about every aspect of the business. They were open about funding, customers, current projects, and the general health of the company. Other small startups weren’t so forthcoming.

At the end of the day it was a good fit career-wise, because I’d be working on a product with clear responsibilities and tons of growth potential. Culturally, I felt they valued transparency and laying the foundation for a lasting company, not just chasing money.

What project are you most proud of working on at Lob?

The webhooks project. We knew that it was something people really needed. It was a powerful tool and a hard problem to solve — not just technically, but also from the design and product standpoint. No other API company is doing webhooks in the same way that Lob is. There were unique challenges because of the nuances of print and mail.

One of the things that came out of that was the debugger. We needed a way to trigger real life events for testing. Being able to get it out there and hearing all of the positive feedback was great. I also like it because people can do things with our webhooks that we didn’t think of.

You started out in design, but now you’re on the product team. What happened?

I started pursuing design because I liked using it as an avenue to solve problems for customers. As the Lob team started to get larger, a gap in communication began to grow between the stakeholders of a feature, myself designing, and the engineers building. So, I started stepping in as the product manager so that I could answer a bunch of the missing questions for myself and the engineering team. I recognized I liked it and that I was pretty good at it. As a PM, you’re still really in touch with the design team, so I won’t ever lose touch with design.

What are your hobbies?

Most days I like to leave work and go cook dinner. I really enjoy cooking. Cooking and eating. I’m not one of those people who plan out their dinners and meal prep and optimize it all. I like to think of something to eat and then go shopping same day. It’s less efficient, but I’m not optimizing for efficiency. Preparing the ingredients, cooking, and even cleaning after is fun to me.

You like cleaning?

Yeah! I also clean while I cook. I like having things neat.

Is it the creative aspect of cooking that you enjoy?

I don’t really come up with the recipes, so not really. It’s more of a nice release. Decision fatigue at the end of the day, you know? When you’re looking at a recipe, it’s like here’s a list of things to do and you just do them. Cut the onions, cut the mushrooms, cook this, do that. It’s kind of ‘mindless’. It’s fun and you get to eat it too, which is extra fun.

How do you handle work-life balance in such a fast-paced environment?

I would actually say I’m not very good at compartmentalizing. What I am good at is making sure that what I want to get done in a day, I get done. Before my most recent trip, I spent extra time working so that I wouldn’t have to work. For me, it’s more about planning and being productive during the day. What I’m bad at is disconnecting completely. I am always checking my email and Slack.

Is it FOMO?

Yes, I definitely have FOMO.

I’m one of those people that reads every single email I get. I’m an inbox zero person, even my personal email. I don’t delete any of them or archive them. I always mark them as read at the very least, so even if I don’t read the body, I look at the subject and mark it as read. I have this notification thing where I want them to be zero. If I have 300 Slack notifications and 20 emails after I get out of a meeting, I will read them all. I also have FOMO because I like knowing things. I don’t want to miss a funny joke or something when I’m gone.

Speaking of jokes, what’s your favorite Lob meme?

Well, just Marcus* in general is my favorite meme. Anything he says can be a meme. It’s hard to describe.

*Marcus is an engineer at Lob, and is definitely a walking meme.

What’s your favorite Marcus-ism?

I love when he says he has dyscalculia. Or he’ll completely slow poke something. Or when he misses lunch.

Is there something about yourself that you think someone new would be shocked to learn?

I guess that I’m really into Pokémon. Everyone’s played Pokémon or watched the first generation, but I’ve played every game multiple times.

As proof, you can find Ami’s (& Robin’s) side project here: Pokédex Tracker. If you’re like Ami and are also really into Pokémon, you can track your Living Dex using their well-designed service.