By the way… looks like I’m getting married! Details soon to follow.
By the way… looks like I’m getting married! Details soon to follow.
Okay, Okay… chill out. Just a heads up on why the new stuff coming from this blog is greatly delayed:
1) I am in fact writing (quite a bit actually)… however, I am trying to put the majority of that into longer term projects. Specifically, I’m trying to refocus my effort on longer pieces, and on a newsletter that should send at the end of September (hopefully).
2) Spare time at the moment is harder to get than a rifle out of Charlton heston’s (finally) cold dead hand. Currently in the mix is a full time gig, Storm Cloud, a software product, 3 meetup groups, a GF, and a long list of smaller things/ projects that can’t even get mention but still take up a bunch of time.
3) This blog was originally constructed on WordPress, as much as I love WordPress for what it is… it is absolutely holding me back from doing some more fun things with the blog like data visualization, applications, and surveys. Total bummer! I’m looking at a bunch of different options including writing my own little thing, but the short explanation is that technological decisions are also holding me up.
4) My writing seems to be getting slightly more deliberate and elongated. I’m just not digging shorter pieces or quick one-offs as much. They were fine for blowing off a little steam or putting up some resources online… but these days I’m really preferring longer, data-heavy pieces. I think everyone is actually. I’ve been tracking the articles that I’m reading these days and I’m almost completely ignoring pieces below 500 words. The vast majority of what I’m really getting into AND bookmarking (the true litmus test) are above 1500 words.
5) A lot of my opinions suck. I have gone back and read stuff I’ve written a couple of times now. Frankly the quality was lacking. Ideas/ Originality are where I want to be… but the production value was like Michael Jordan’s baseball career. I’m not going to take the work down (for now) because it was definitely a moment in time, and I like having people get some infusion of the weird in their lives, but future work will be more refined.
Soon… super soon…
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently published: “why self driving cars must be programmed to kill” http://www.technologyreview.com/view/542626/why-self-driving-cars-must-be-programmed-to-kill/ in their technology review, and putting it lightly its become cocktail conversation for the tech world with people generating very strong opinions either for or against. These have become Large passionate debates about the morality of artificial intelligence, and what the moral implications of how “SkyNet” will affect our lives…
Killing people through computer programs is certainly a topic worth talking about but I’m going to go ahead and say that it has little to do with autonomous vehicles. I’m going to further go ahead and (while preparing myself to be blasted by internet scrutiny) say that this article in the MIT Technology Review is probably the dumbest article written by smart people this year.
Quite simply, because of our cognitive bias’s created by being human, we have difficulty realizing that there is no reason why a autonomous vehicle would even need to be in the situation to kill people. This would be akin to deciding whether or not to abort a pregnancy when you are a virgin (mother mary, and incubus aside), or what to do if you are struck by lightning on the moon.
The difference between Autonomous vehicles and people is that an autonomous vehicle would just not put itself in the situation where it would have to make a decision to kill a person.
Fair enough its a great mental exercise, but the automobiles just don’t have to make the same decisions that people do. If doing A leads to having to choose between two bad options: B and C, just don’t do A. Its that simple.
You may argue that we can’t control everything and you are right… but because there are enough factors that can be consistently controlled to mitigate an extremely unlikely outcome, there is no statistically significant probability that an incident need occur. It isn’t technically impossible, but it will be “impossible” in terms that utilizing proper logical analysis won’t allow.
So for the love of god… get autonomous cars on the street already… I’m sick of people dying in drunk driving accidents or having to pay $100-$200 a month for car insurance because people like to text when they are driving. CARS don’t have to kill people at all … they won’t. People certainly do a fabulous job of killing other people though- 30,000 to 50,000 a year if memory serves correctly. Those are 50,000 lives saved and countless other lives of handicapped, elderly, injured, etc that will be improved exponentially.
But before I dig into it… I want to specify that “web designer” is different than “web developer”… for me, I had to move into the “web developer world”- I still love design and have a healthy appreciation for it, but “web design” alone didn’t fit my personality. In short I care more about doing things, compared to the concept of how things are done.
For Starters, Freelance is different than Business owner, which is different than Employee. I have done all. This is not to say that Freelancers are lone wolves out there doing everything themselves.. those type of people will fail. Don’t believe me? Prove me wrong…Find me a person that does Design, Development, Content Generation, SEO, SEM, Research, Social Media, Editing, Sales, Marketing, etc All on their own, with no help, and makes more than $50/hour Consistently. You won’t, I promise you.
What you will find instead are individuals that have resources for all of those things and executes well enough for most of those things. Friends, other freelancers, vendors, etc… all play a part in a freelancer’s work. So in many ways it is a business… but the difference is the business has an individual as a lynchpin. (Many Real businesses may really be “freelancers” masquerading as businesses)
A freelancer work flow starts with Sales… I’ve been blessed with a lot of sales experience, so I won’t go into the tactics, but I will say that the hardest part for freelancing in web design isn’t getting work… its actually very much the opposite… the hardest part is turning down projects/ knowing when to say no.
I’m actually quite a pussy on that front, so like a bad girlfriend I just make it too expensive to be around me if you are a bad project. Thus I don’t ever say “No” I just bump the cost 20% above their max. For those of you that are unfamiliar this is called price discrimination.
Inherently people don’t like price discrimination… but a funny thing happens when you practice it. People become easier to work with. You take your normal awesome client… they make life so easy that you unconsciously will forget about it sometimes… those are the clients that I always put extra hours in for. I time track everything so I’ll give a 20% to 30% addition on the time that I spend compared to what I bill for. Now the Bad clients, when you charge them normally… they suck 20%-30% more time than you will account for- it sucks. But if you charge for that extra time… for whatever reason they see you as more valuable, and will listen to you more. Crazy Right???
Thus my Balance works like this:
Great client = Give for free 20% to 30% more time to a project.
Bad Client = Pad your Estimate with 20% to 30% in what you charge.
If an expected bad client is really a good client you will spend more time on the project. If they are a bad client they will take more time from you by force. I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “where the normal pricing comes in?” Thats when someone is expected to be a good client and turns out to be a normal/ mediocre client.
So again… the (for me) the hardest part of sales was saying no. Clients won’t understand this… but you need to evaluate your own projects and what the quality is compared to what is out there… then charge a fair rate for what you are building. And then know when to say no.
I should probably say something about marketing your business… but then again. If you don’t know how to market your business with all the resources out there, you probably shouldn’t charging to market other peoples businesses. I will say… don’t be cheap, the second you can afford to spend money marketing start doing it and do it well.
So Lets say you land a client what next?
Well don’t forget to track your time… but a general work flow looks like this:
One of the most disturbing aspects of design trends over the last decade or two is the cult of Apple, and the various sound bytes that they use to be able to convert people into their design aesthetic => my specific issue is with this hyperbolic “minimalism” mantra that they have been spoon feeding Americans for the better part of 20 years now.
Now its important to note I am not against “minimalism”, “simplification”, “usability”, or any of the other things that Apple likes to focus on with their products and marketing. In fact, I actually see them as very important design aesthetics and mantras. What I am against is the notion that minimalism is the sole design aesthetic, and that it is somehow the greater good thus a reason to build a dogma around it.
Minimalism should be in context. Where would we be without Picasso’s cubism or Cézanne beautiful use of color or Van Gogh’s deep detail that required careful consideration. It was only later in Pop-Art and Minimalism movements that we felt the need to reduce twice over as an “antithesis” for many of the busy and colorful artistic movements from before.
Thankfully, when I was reading Purple Cow it Came to me that one of my all time favorite companies, Burton Snowboards is actually an exact opposite to Apple inc. Here are some examples:
Plain high contrast colors
“easy to use”
Design over Technology ( consistently a technology laggard technically by specifications)
Very few products
Larger than life CEO
Products that are harder to use => Snowboarding over skiing
Technology leads to design
Many products and varying features to each product line
CEO that prefers to be out snowboarding
Burton’s approach is pretty much the exact opposite to Apple but their brand and products are every bit as strong as Apples (they just function in a smaller marketplace). For Example, Burton is aggressive about creating the best technology where as Apple traditionally sells technology that is 20% slower, less powerful, and smaller in capacity than the existing marketplace. Burton is very “active” with their designs and they consistently out design their competition (competition that focuses on Minimalism). Additionally, they have tons of products- yes they primarily sell snowboards but you have many choices within the Burton environment.
I think there is a lot to what Burton is doing that other Companies could learn from, and I would urge people to consider their design Aesthetic in context.
Apple is great, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones that can get it right.
For the invitee list:
I’m celebrating my 30th birthday November 4th. I am completely flabbergasted that I have lived this long. So in honor of my 30th I’d like to put out to the world a list of things that could have killed me, or could have led to situations that could have killed me. * Fell off a cliff at a rock quarry into a foot and a half of water * Broke my back snowboarding (later broke my clavicle snowboarding) * Fist fight at our christmas formal that Heavy B saved me from having a 1.75 bottle of Jack Daniels smashed through the back of my head. * Having a old guy crash through the window into our retail location with his car. * 3 car accidents * 1 near car accident because we were having a 6 person Nerf gun fight in a mini-van I was driving, but its okay because we won * Almost hit by a NYC subway * Food poisoning in Tianjin China. * Almost drowned surfing hurricane swell at Salt Creek (double overhead) * Guy at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown pulled his gun on us * Almost drowned by pod of dauphins * Hit a deer with a car in Minnesota * United almost crashing the plane on my way home to California (totally not kidding) last December * Not really life threatening but I feel like its worth mentioning I was almost Deported back to Canada (I have dual-citizenship) * Fell off a rooftop in Philadelphia
I’m skipping articles about these topics because they have already been written about widely but I think they are really worth mentioning:
1) The Seinfeld theory of productivity:
When Jerry Seinfeld was starting off he had trouble writing and subsequently created a method to be more productive. “Don’t Break the Chain” as the theory goes… The concept is that you will be motivated by the current size of your accomplishment to continue accomplishing more… so long as it is well documented. What Jerry would do to make this a reality is take a big calendar and draw a huge red X on a day, so long as he wrote (for a certain amount of time) that day. After a certain number of days there was clearly a streak going and Jerry would try extra hard to not break the streak. Crazy thing happened- He did more work and consequently became more productive.
2) The Anne Hathaway Effect
When Anne Hathaway stars in a new movie, Warren Buffet’s net worth increases due to the buzz on the internet about Anne Hathaway… this is related to the name of Warren Buffet’s company being called “Berkshire Hathaway.” Theoretically, modern financial instruments are plugged into big data on the internet so well that they can pick up activity of people searching and talking about “Hathaway” online. Since Warren Buffets choices literally shift market dynamics that information is worth a lot and people want to be the first one to make moves.
Couple of things… Nothing substantial enough to make into a longer piece.
First of all, it is absolutely insane that Tesla is opening up their patents. Fucking amazing- and I’m continually amazed that Elon Musk can even walk around considering the size of the balls he has to carry. Remember the scene in “Glen-Gary” where Alec Baldwin pulls out the brass balls? Elon Musk manufactured those in his own likeness and “sold” them to Alec’s character in that movie.
It’s worth noting that I own stock in two companies right now Tesla and The Storm Cloud Group. Both continue to surprise me.
I don’t know what all of this means as far as intellectual property and whats going on with open source versus proprietary but the word is “sea-change” kids
Next, I’ve had some weird experiences with recruiting/ hiring lately. For Starters, I haven’t really ever done it but I’ve watched a lot of people fuck it up, and a few people do it okay… and I’ve watched it closely. Here’s my official perspective:
In order of importance to me: 1) Hustle 2) Talent 3) Heart 4) Skills 5) Experience.
Hiring shouldn’t be a finite thing… good people will make you money, bad people will suck away your money and spend it on stupid things like drugs, or big screen televisions. I don’t understand why more companies don’t just make it a performance based situation if they run into someone good? We are going to run commission only as long as I have a choice… my question is for all these other companies- why wouldn’t you take a chance on someone if you think they could be good
Also… Why the Fuck does being a small company mean that we aren’t professional? I work way too fucking hard to have to explain to someone that a Linkedin account, a C.V. / Resume, and professional correspondence is a minimum. None of our collateral/ marketing materials would indicate that we’re amateurs. My team represents our company really well… I’ve hired 2 amazing hires this year, I’m actively recruiting (on a long time-table) 4-5 other people, but I recently had 2 possible recruits seek us out (which was flattering) that couldn’t even meet more than one of the aforementioned minimum criteria. What gives?
Lastly, our team has decided to work on and develop a Structured Markup or Framework for expressing Interpersonal Transactions with Motives. What does that even mean? Basically, the large body of literature and oral history surrounding “sales” is going to be restructured and rewritten by some kids working in a small tech company in Southern California.
Why in god’s name would we waste our time working on a project like this? In short, to help. I’m a major champion of building intrinsic value, and there is no better way to do it than to create a better system to build it, index it, and teach it. “Sales” which is a really shitty word for the larger concept of interpersonal transactions when there are motives involved, is relatively unchanged from the way that it was 100 years ago. It is poorly taught, researched worse, and fragmented to the point of being incomprehensible. I’ve read hundreds of sales books and quasi-sales books to realize that the majority is a regurgitation of old information that isn’t backed by data that lacks innovation, creativity, and synthesis. 100 years ago polio still existed, there were no computers, many people still remembered the US civil war, and “modern” sales philosophies, tactics, and concepts were born. Yep just like the auto industry, its over due for some fresh ideas.
On a Elon Musk side note: The Ford Model T in 1908 got 16-21 miles to the gallon. As of 2011 Ford, GM, and Daimler-Chrysler were still all at or below 21 miles to the gallon average fuel economy for their cars.
I’m going to open this up with a question: Why is possessing motivation binary? Meaning, why is motivation something that you either have or don’t have?
I can’t think of any other facet of life where people are perfectly comfortable with something being non-malleable. [Side rant: motivational quotes are almost entirely sports/war based… WTF?]
Here’s a great quote from Lou Holtz on the topic of motivation:
“Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated.”
Here’s my thing… I totally get that from a football coach’s perspective. You work in an environment with finite resources, one of which being time so you can’t really be working on creating motivation with individual people. It is way easier to just replace the people that aren’t hustling. A football team is usually 120 people and you only need 11 on the field at once after all.
That quote to me is short-sighted. I have to imagine people’s motivation to be fluid, just like any other emotional or psychological construct. However, I don’t have any proof or research to show otherwise. We don’t insist that people with depression are just fucked… we try to help them. I am totally willing to say that I am under-informed but the best resources on motivation I have seen are Dan Pink’s “Drive,” and the pseudo-science work on “Neuro-Linguistic-Programming.” Nothing particularly concrete.
Here are some of the normal references to what motivated people: Control, ~Hedonistic values(pleasure seeking), autonomy, mastery, purpose, money, sex, pain avoidance, and competition.
While I can see these elements as stimulating factors, maybe useful tools, they are an incomplete set. There is clearly something else at work that dictates the interaction of these elements with a human being- that’s the thing that we should be looking for. When I was reading up on motivation… I started running into the new round of pills that treat lack of motivation and was wondering exactly how you test animals to see if they are motivated. Similarly, how can we justify research in this area or work with it? Seriously? Just imagine one scientist saying to another scientist: “wow did you notice that lap-rat’s motivation seemed to improve when we gave him this pill”… sounds almost like: “its amazing how much more religious that rat is now that we have injected him with this mixture.” A similar consideration… If we are able to work with people that are UNMOTIVATED, shouldn’t there be an upper limit for people that are TOO motivated?
I am particularly curious about this for when I am fighting burnout. Burnout is a real thing. It is something I have loose models/ paradigms that I work with for myself (ex. utilizing stress cycles)… but I don’t fully understand it nor do I have a particularly good way to study burnout in myself (how exactly to you put effort into keeping metrics about something that keeps you from wanting to do anything. lol).
Anyway… Totally open question for high performers: what besides the aforementioned gets you motivated?
Ultimately, the question that I am wondering is how do I manipulate motivation in myself and others? How do I MAKE IT HAPPEN?
Noted: Yes this blog article lacks direction… Please email me @ email@example.com if you have some insight.