Ancient design features

Today I read this in a book about sea glass:

“In the early half of the 19th century there were numerous household cleaners available or substances needed to kill mice and a host of other pests. Unfortunately, many Americans remained illiterate at that time, so evening trips to the medicine chest resulted in a growing number of accidental poisonings.”

The American Pharmaceutical Association mandated that bottle manufacturers put the word “poison” on their bottles, but that wasn’t enough.

The solution was making textured bottles. Weirdly shaped bottles with spiky bumps and harsh lines.

Once you get over how sad it is that people consumed poison because they didn’t know how to read, you can appreciate that it was a clever use of design.

The bottles are treasured by sea glass collectors now. A relic of an ancient design feature brought about by unfortunate circumstances.

Water and meditation

Yes, as every one knows, meditation and the water are wedded forever.

-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

It’s hard to think otherwise after spending an evening in Boothbay Harbor. Smelling the ocean and knowing it will be there in morning. Meditative and magical.

Promises might get broken

Your reputation is a series of promises. If you’re someone who keeps promises, you’ll be recommended and admired. If you’re someone who sets expectations too high and disappoints, the picture might look different.

It’s okay to say “this might not work” along the way. People like experiments. If you claimed your new thing would change the world before anyone ever used it, people might see you as a lunatic. But, if you say “I’m not sure this will work, but if it does, it would be amazing.” That’s a promise people can get behind. There’s a path that incorporates preserving reputation while taking risk at the same time.

That’s what Seth Godin has done. Slowly building his way to more disruptive models for education. Scaling up the impact every step of the way. Project after project that might not work.

Talent is the new capital

The old school mentality said that you should get some experience, save some money and then start something of your own. Wait until you have some capital in the bank. Or, try to get an investor because you need money before you can start. That was true in the past. Before free websites, social media and on demand services, there were huge upfront costs to start anything.

But now, talent is the new capital. Forward progress, charisma and iteration spur buy-in. You don’t need any capital to meet up with five friends and come up with a new idea. You just need the daring to go out there and make it happen.

When I say “talent” I don’t mean it in the way that people do when they refer to talented athletes, or chefs. I say talent to refer to human potential matched with boldness and generosity. We’re all born with an incredible amount of human potential. Now, we just need to pair that untapped potential with the boldness and generosity that our community needs.

That is what the world needs right now. No amount of capital infusion gets people to care and connect on a human level. The capital is out there in abundance. The people with capital are just waiting for the talent to step up and say they’re committed to executing a bold vision.

Don’t worry about the capital right now. Build your talent because that’s what we’re missing.

The ubiquity of meditation

It’s incredible how many top performers have meditation practices. Athletes, chefs, musicians, entrepreneurs and many others have all discovered the benefits of taking a little time each day.

When you listen to Tim Ferriss’ body of work and hear from his guests, it makes you question your own habits. Do I have what it takes to be world-class?

I think the answer to that question is in your habits, mindset and focus. In all of those areas, meditation can only help.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Try it out for a week. Try it out for a few minutes. See how you feel and I think you’ll be happy with the results.

From dreaming to doing

“In every department of life [beginning] marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing.”

CS lewis wrote this in The Screwtape Letters and it rings so true. Everything looks and sounds good on a whiteboard. But once the implementation phase begins, you never know what will happen.

To me, the ideas and the dreaming is the easy part. I could do that all day. But, if that’s all I ever did, I would never make any progress or have any impact. The challenge of any project is pairing the dreaming with the doing. That’s the sweet spot where change happens.

The cure for getting used to things

No matter how cool something is to start, the effect always wears off. Whether it’s the new piece of technology or the beautiful office in which you work, humans are adaptable creatures. We get used to things.

I’ve seen this happen countless times. It’s easy to notice with tour guides showing off something amazing, yet seeming unenthused. Why is that? Because they got used to it.

There is a cure, though. The cure is variety. New experiences to put yours in perspective. New people to challenge your perceptions. And new risks so you feel alive instead of feeling like a robot repeating the same pitch for the 80th time.

I notice this most phenomena most with the Venture Development Center where I work. It’s a beautiful, open and creative space. But when I go there every day of the week, the effect starts to dull. It’s not until a new guest is visiting and I see the amazed looks on their faces, that I remember just how remarkable the VDC is. Or it’s not until I visit another innovation space that I can walk back into the office and cherish the community that happens there.

Seek new perspectives, new people and new experiences. Those things will all make the boring feel fresh again.


280 characters

280 characters might ruin Twitter. It might not.

Many people have jumped to the conclusion that it’s a terrible decision. It’s interesting because no one has lived in a world with ubiquitous 280 character tweets.

Who knows what that world looks like. It might be great. It probably isn’t. But no one knows yet.

You’re never off the hook

Just because you worked out today doesn’t mean you can slack off next week.

Just because you gave to charity doesn’t mean you don’t have to be generous.

Just because you ate a salad for lunch doesn’t mean the rest of the week can be full of french fries.

You’re never off the hook. The only solution is to fall in love with the process of waking up and doing it every day.

Cloudy motivations

“Get them in the door for the wrong reasons, and get them to stay for the right reasons.”

That’s a phrase I’ve always felt conflicted about. Does it really work that way?

If you host an interest meeting with pizza and advertise the pizza, you’re going to get people who want pizza. If you host an interest meeting and advertise why it’s so interesting, you’ll get people who like what you do. You’ll probably get more people with the former, but higher quality with the latter.

Which do you put forth?