Archive for the ‘craft’ Category
Great article in the Times Magazine last week. Here’s some video from “Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up“. As far as I’m concerned it a familiar theme. While creativity can flow regardless, the pro learns to work the craft. To get repeatable, high level results. Anyone can make a shot from mid court. It doesn’t make you Michael Jordan. You’re still a chimp in the dirt playing with sticks.
For quite a while I’ve had something that I’ve wanted to say, or talk about somehow. I have touched on it in the past but never really taken it head on.
You would all do me an amazing service if you would entertain the notion that the fight metaphor may not be the most helpful one. Or maybe it’s not as helpful now as it was in earlier stages. It’s difficult to change the language around something when it is so engrained. “Fighting cancer..” “died after a long battle with cancer..” etc. But this implies that there are winners and losers. That if we die we have lost. But we ALL die. No one makes it out alive. That shouldn’t make us all losers. The most pernicious part of the fight metaphor for me is the notion that if someone dies young from cancer they simply didn’t fight hard enough. That if someone decides to forgo treatment, they have “thrown in the towel.”
I don’t see any grace in the desperate clinging to life that we call fighting in this metaphor.
[A bunch of years ago I was looking for some nice fenders and stumbled across Ezra. And the small bit of his life shared through his blog has been inspiring and enlightening. He continues to inspire and inform. So much energy has been poured into his survival. Ezra: "Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fighter all right. I have been from the start. Walking around barefoot with fists cocked. But this isn’t a fight. I do want to live. I’m not nearly done eating up stuff yet. I’m just starting to get good!". Earlier this week a local mom received a stage 3 brain cancer diagnosis. 5 kids, from teenage to littlest. A lovely family. I'm gonna go cry for a few minutes, and then get back to it.]
The best case scenario of ceramic bearings in a wheelset is 1 watt at 30 miles and hour. We sell ceramic bearings and they’re $1000, but we’re honest: “guys, it’s 1000 bucks for a watt”. Tony Martin, at the worlds, rides thousand dollar ceramic bearings. For the consumer, you can buy a better tyre and you’ll save twice that. You put latex tubes in there you’ll save 6 times that amount. A new chain on your bike can be as much as 6 watts compared to a worn chain. Just cleaning your drive chain is a couple of watts. 1 watt of ceramic bearings is about 3 seconds per 40 kilometres. I can find you a minute for the 40k for very little money.
[It would be nice if more people in the industry were this honest about where the gains can be found.. great article!]
If I tell you the greatest thing about the iPhone 5 is how it “feels,” you’ll accuse me of being a superficial aesthete who cares more for form than function. You don’t care how a phone was built or how it looks; you just want it to work. But I think that argument misses something important about what it means for a phone to “work well”: When you’re holding a device all the time, how it feels affects its functionality. Or, as Steve Jobs might say, how it feels is how it works.
[I know this to be true from objects I craft myself. If people are going to touch it, how it feels is a huge part of how it works. I recently built some objects that were "so nice" that the folks they were built for refused to use them as they were designed. In short, they put a cover on them. An utter failure.]
The reason is that these numbers demand that you start tweaking. You can tweak a website or tweak an accounts payable policy and make numbers go up, which is great, but it’s not going to fundamentally change your business.
I’d have you obsess about things that are a lot more difficult to measure. Things like the level of joy or relief or gratitude your best customers feel. How much risk your team is willing to take with new product launches. How many people recommended you to a friend today…
What are you tracking? If you track concepts, your concepts are going to get better. If you track open rates or clickthrough, then your subject lines are going to get better. Up to you.
[Agreed. Now that measuring things is getting easier, deciding what to measure is important. In world where people espouse "measure everything" that firehouse quickly needs some arbitration.]
Source: Seth’s Blog
Fairness also dictates that the length of a line should be commensurate with the value of the product or service for which we’re waiting. The more valuable it is, the longer one is willing to wait for it. Hence the supermarket express line, a rare, socially sanctioned violation of first come first served, based on the assumption that no reasonable person thinks a child buying a candy bar should wait behind an old man stocking up on provisions for the Mayan apocalypse.
[Great article. Not to be missed by folks who deal with any form of waiting time…]
The media has missed a much larger, much more important point: Steve Jobs was the first CEO to bet the company on the user experience. From the very beginning of Apple, and renewing his efforts when he returned as interim CEO, Jobs was constantly focused on building products that would deliver the best possible experience – rather than the most up-to-date chipset, or the best partner arrangements, or the most horrific monopolistic lock-in scheme.
[Anyone else notice how Zappos has not improved since they were acquired? Great experience is hard to maintain and scale.]
But one of the things that marked me the most today was Mark Cavendish. At one point on the first climb I think, I saw him fading back. At first I was like, “Oh, is he getting dropped?”
Then a few minutes later I saw him coming back up with his world championship jersey just stuffed with water bottles and I was like, “How cool is that?” It is not every day that the world champion is working for the common cause. But it also scares me because if the world champion is a domestique, just how good is the team?
By the looks of Sky’s performance today, very, very, very good.
[David: "Don’t let your company culture become one where certain people are too good to do the jobs that need doing. Making shit work is everyone’s job." Clearly the case on this team. Allez!]
Source: Hardly Serious with Jens Voigt
Much like inbox bankruptcy, simply running away from email overload doesn’t solve the problem. What does work is to engage email as described in Bit Literacy (free Kindle ebook, free iBookstore ebook). To summarize: move your action items to a todo list, and archive or delete everything else. The inbox should be empty at least once a day.
[Mark's been talking about this for as long as I've known him. Just do it already. You can thank me later. BTW, the email client I've been using for work has an setting that shows only unread mail. Very useful.]
Source: Creative Good
If I had one bit of advice to someone thinking of a startup—including myself, at times—it would be this. Solve a genuine problem, even a trivial one, that you actually have, and that isn’t being adequately solved by an existing solution. Then think about how you can get money for solving that problem. Be wary of scenarios in which your revenue base and your customer base have no overlap.
If I had a second bit of advice, it would be this. Is the elevator pitch for your new startup—no matter how sincerely you believe in its fantastic future—at its heart a variant of, “Think [well-known service name] but with [added feature or new twist]”? If it is, you’d better know somebody willing to call bullshit.
[Seems like right fine advice...]
Source: Coyote Tracks