Meetings Are An Inverted U chart

meetings

I think if you were to map out your perception of meetings over the course of your life, is and/or most likely will be an inverted U chart.  Here’s the life cycle.

  1. Youthful Innocence: OMG THERE’S FREE FOOD LET’S HAVE A MEETING EVERY DAY!
  2. Young Professional: Wow, I have a lot of meetings every week.
  3. Professional: These meetings are killing me!  How am I supposed to get any work done!?
  4. Young Manager: It’s really hard to keep track of what everyone is doing.  Let’s have a meeting.
  5. Manager: WHY WASN’T I INVITED TO THIS MEETING?
  6. Senior manager: We’re having this meeting because it seems like you guys are not having effective meetings.  This meeting will help you plan out future meetings.

Most of this blog post is my fear of facing my own obsolescence but man, I really hate meetings.  I really do.

 

 

How I did customer development while getting a coffee

Customer development while getting a coffee

I’m currently working on validating a SMS staff scheduling webapp called Shift SMS that lets managers push their calendars via SMS but also allow their staff to coordinate any changes on their own.  Shameless plug, please sign up for the e-mail list for the latest updates!

Today, I went to a local coffee spot called Manic Coffee when it was quiet and actually walked into their manager talking to their staff about their schedule.  What are the odds!  I immediately introduced myself and asked about their process when it comes to creating a staff schedule.  Here’s what I found:

What I already knew

  • They used paper
  • Their staff calendar was pretty consistent (a norm for places with less than 5 or 6 staff members)
  • Price sensitivity was high – they mentioned another app that cost $20 dollars with relative disgust
  • They knew of other apps which implies they might have tried to look for a solution in the past (great!) or they were pitched before (not that great)

What surprised me

  • They didn’t think that paper or excel was the best solution (great!)
  • They just didn’t think this was a problem that needed to be solved, even though staff changes were frequent enough to be a pain.
  • They asked if I worked in the service industry before I explained why I was asking (which makes this seem like a common pain point)

Overall, pretty interesting takeaways to go with my coffee.

 

10 minutes of Reddit made me smarter, 10 minutes of Buzzfeed made dumber, 10 minutes of Medium made me really dumb

I’ve been pretty open about my dislike of Buzzfeed.  I think I’ve actually tweeted that “Buzzfeed is the Fort McMurray of the internet”.  But there’s definitely a level of “kicking sand on the girl that you like”, because every time I’m on Facebook and someone posts a list from Buzzfeed, it does take a certain amount of will power not to click on it. I kind of want to know the “17 ways that horses are plotting to take over the world” or “8 things you’ll never believe were x-rayed in someone’s butt”, but I know that clicking on it would mean that the human race got dumber by a certain percentage point, and more importantly – it would mean that Buzzfeed won.

And just a side note, as a kid that grew up in the 90’s, I’m quite aware of the mainstream nostalgia that’s circulating around.  I don’t need another list featuring rehashed Fresh Prince of Bel-Air GIFs, no matter how ironical they are.  How about some “It’s Like You Know” GIFs, or better yet, some “Martial Law” GIFs?  And what about a GIF of that time that Jay Leno fought Hulk Hogan on a WCW pay per view and Kevin Eubanks did the Diamond Cutter (DDP’s signature move) and won?  WHY NOT MENTION THAT BUZZFEED? WHHYYYYYY!

Reddit on the other hand is a site I unabashedly love.  It’s become a daily staple of my internetting to the point where I don’t really know where I would go anymore if it were gone.  For some reason, even though both sites are just piles of content feeding my internal ADHD, Reddit just seems smarter.  It seems like a site for the geeks that played Magic the Gathering in the cafeteria and were made fun of and are now millionaires.

So I devised a test to see which site made my brain rot the most.

Methodology

  1. Read a site for 10 minutes.
  2. Immediately take a cognitive test.  I chose the “Rotation” test, which tests concentration from Cambridge Brain Sciences.
  3. Relax for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then on to the next site.

Results (in order of my execution)

Control:

control

This was the control for the test to establish the baseline of my concentration.  The test is actually pretty hard and really does take a lot of concentration as it ramps up.  I highly recommend that you watch the instructional video before you try it.

Buzzfeed

buzzfeed

Articles read:

Reddit

reddit

I was going to post a full list of Reddit posts, but there are way to many.  I’d ballpark the content to be approximately 50% Starcraft news, 30% front page, 20% pictures of adorable animals.

Bonus: Starcraft 2

starcraft 2

I played a quick 3v3 ranked game.

Bonus: Medium

mediumArticles read:

Conclusion

I want to preface this conclusion by saying that there is definitely no scientific weight to this experiment (I was the only participant, I have clear biases against certain websites, Heisenberg-ian surveying issues).  One thing though, is I think it’s interesting to see my score drop so dramatically after Starcraft 2.  I thought by playing a game of quick reaction time and visual analysis, I would have been primed to rock at the concentration test, but I actually made an extremely large amount of mistakes.  My guess is that I was too “click happy” and didn’t take the time to think of what the right answer was.

I think it’s possible that my Medium score is low because I was just groaning at the articles most of the time (some of the content on that site is surprisingly bad and pretentious), and there also could have been a recovery factor from my Starcraft 2 game.  As for my Buzzfeed score, I think there’s a level of passivity to the content (just because you’re really not analyzing a lot of information, just images and maybe a sentence to accompany it).  However, if that theory with Buzzfeed is true, I’m not entirely sure why the reddit score was higher.

Like I said before, this test is not meant to be scientific.  I just thought it would be fun to see the results.  Try it yourself and let me know how you did in the comments section.

 

The Death of the Company Blog

Imagine if you will, standing in the center of Penn Station (or your preferred hub of transportation) in the middle of the busiest time of the year.   A blur of people are zooming by, every single one rushing to get home to the comfort of their own home, to see their loved ones, or just relax from another long day at the office.  And for a split second, a face in the sea of hundreds from across the room catches your eye.  Just a flicker of light in your retina was all that needed to capture your attention, and it feels so familiar, even if you’ve only seen it for the first time.

Now imagine that was a blog headline (Ha! Gotcha!)

All dramatics aside, I seriously think that 37 Signals gets me.  Like, as a human being.  I randomly saw this article on their Signal Vs. Noise blog titled “When culture turns into policy” and their graphic hit me like Mike Tyson’s punch to the solar plexus.

1208-Culture-vs-Policy

I’ve been in multiple jobs where writing a blog was part of the description, and I have nothing against the concept of writing for a blog.  But what I do have a problem with is the churning process of “social media content”.  If you want to invest in having a blog, then great! But if a company literally says “hey, you got an hour – write a blog about x,y and z”, then the content is guaranteed to be awful.

It seems senseless to write a blog to make your company seem “cool” instead of actually just doing cool stuff.  Why force your coworkers to an after work gathering instead of just building the type of work environment where friendships would flourish any way?

Let’s just cut the bullshit.

 

#GIJENS is the best piece of marketing material ever

I think the best type of marketing is the type that doesn’t feel like it’s marketing at all.  Especially nowadays when we sort of live in a surreal world where everyone is a professional “brand” consultant.  I myself am guilty of looking at a marketing campaign and trying to tear it apart and critique it using a critical eye instead of just enjoying it.

Long story short, a photographer named Jens Lennartsson went on Alibaba and made a bunch of action figures of himself as promotional items to send off to potential clients to win their business.  The first thing I thought was, holy shit this is the coolest thing ever.  This guy jumped through 50 lazer beams and was able to access the dopamine receptors in my brain and turned them on.  I think it’s especially cool to me, because I’ve been studying a lot of portfolio sites (as research for my new site, which is going to be BAD ASS) and after a while they all became the same.

Breaking through the screen is sometimes the best thing you can do in digital.

 

I don’t know how I feel about The Berrics x Nike SB Lock-in

Screenshot of the nike sb lockin at the berrics

 

Competition in skateboarding is a really weird thing.  My favourite skaters usually aren’t the type to jump down the biggest flights of stairs or grind the longest rail but the type that does the most stylish tricks.  So here’s where the weirdness with the Berrics comes in.  The Nike SB team is camped inside The Berrics for 24 hours to nail 616 tricks/variations of tricks and recording all of it live on Youtube.

From a marketing perspective, it’s kind of the ultimate reality show and it’s a crap ton of content etc. etc. but I really don’t understand the point of it.  It’s kind of depressing that skateboarding can be encapsulated into 616 tricks, without any real consideration of how it looks.

 

“WHO WANTS TO PLAY WITH KOBE?!?” or “Why great leadership is more important than ever”

I hate Kobe.

There’s nothing specific that he’s ever done in the sport of basketball (totally bypassing his personal life which is a whole other story) that he’s ever done to make me dislike him.  He’s undoubtedly one of the best people to ever play the game.  But I hate him.

Along the same lines, I hate Mark Pincus.  I don’t know the guy.  Zynga was one of the most successful gaming startups to ever exist in the world of gaming startups at one time, but I hate him.  And for both of these legends in their respective fields, I am not alone in that hate.  So why is it important?

For me, this video of Nelly (ei ei uh oh) has unintentionally become the centerpiece of my thesis on hiring and team-building, which is the fact that you can’t build a great company without the talent.  There are 2 main ways to attract young talent:

  1. Guarantee that you are going to be a company that will make them extremely rich (Facebook, pre-collapse Zynga, pre-self-implosion Groupon).
  2. Provide mentorship and guidance for someone to be all that they can be (37signals, the old do no evil Google, the Chicago Bulls, etc.)

To bring our non-sports viewing audience up to speed, The LA Lakers were one of the greatest basketball dynasties to ever exist, with a lot of their success centered around Kobe and Phil Jackson (who had previously coached Michael Jordan).  For the Lakers, Kobe was a 1 in the sense that he was the dominant force in the Lakers team and would no doubt bring you as close as you possibly could to winning a championship, but he was what Webster’s dictionary would call a “horrible person”.  Phil Jackson on the other hand was the man who could provide the mentorship and guidance that you would need to become the greatest version of yourself that could exist.

The Lakers had it made.  Then Phil left.  Then Kobe mentality took over, and now the Lakers are completely fucked for 2013.  They went from a team that won back to back to back NBA championships to a team that most people think won’t make the playoffs.  Why? They don’t have the talent because Kobe isn’t the best anymore, but his attitude is the same.  My way or the highway and shut the fuck up while you’re at it.

Zynga is the same way.  Here’s a quote from the New York Times in a 2011 article about Zynga’s corporate culture:

Led by the hard-charging Mr. Pincus, the company operates like a federation of city-states, with autonomous teams for each game, like FarmVille and CityVille. At times, it can be a messy and ruthless war. Employees log long hours, managers relentlessly track progress, and the weak links are demoted or let go.

But that culture, which has been at the root of Zynga’s success, could become a serious liability, warn several former senior employees who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals.

Here is an image of Zynga’s stock price over the last 2 years:

zynga

Pretty nasty stuff.

The allegory for the Lakers and for Zynga is this – you can’t built a great company without a great team, and you can’t build a team without great leadership.