Archive for November, 2011

Things that are Perfect
November 28, 2011

Jimmy Vaughan’s guitar tone
Ray Allen’s jump shot
Keith Moon on “baba oreily”
Jack and Seven
“Timebomb” by Old 97’s
Tony Stewart’s outside passes
The lyrics to “broken bottles” by sons of bill
Ken Griffey jr.’s swing
Air on a G String
Matt Hoffman’s 540
Rudy’s sausage and egg tacos

Nothing’s Shocking
November 4, 2011

In honor of Jane’s Addiction releasing a new album last week, we have a post called “Nothing’s Shocking.” As a note, much of this blog and my professional aspirations can be summed up by Jane’s front man Perry Farrell who once sang…

“I am skin and bones, I have pointy nose…but it MOTH$*%#*FU(%RING MAKES ME TRY!”

Well said, Perry. Well said.

Anyway, I read a post on Hacker NEws today detailing the trials and tribulations of a startup that was, essentially, trying to find a way to match people with each other for “unique experiences.” So you would use their site to find someone to teach you how to knit or to guide you on a hike or something. This idea sucks. And after a few months of spending investor money and wondering why no one used the site, they realized it sucked also. So they went back to their “original” idea of making it easier for people to book/reserve services and experiences online. The idea is to give people a way to sign up for Kayak lessons or canoe rentals online. They are essentially trying to improve scheduling for services that don’t really have a huge online presence.

The founders are insistent that this new thing they have built solves a real problem. Well, gee whiz, don’t let serious problems like cancer and depleted resources and over-priced college education get in the way…make sure you solve a REAL PROBLEM!#!@#@! like the countless frustration experienced by BILLIONS every day as they try to schedule when a boat tour guide will be available.

I swear, its almost as if people are starting “businesses” without any idea of what they are actually going to accomplish. SOlving a problem isn’t enough. There are lots of problems out there and NOT ALL OF THEM NEED TO BE SOLVED. We’ve learned to live with the fact that gas pumps will try to upsell you with a car wash even when it is raining outside. We’ve learned to tolerate inefficient drive thru packaging at Burger King. We have adapted to a lot of things and i’m fairly certain that if the Yoga instructor I want to take a class from doesn’t have a good schedule online then I can probably CALL HIM AND GET A DECENT ENOUGH RESULT.

Then again, nothing shocks me anymore. More people can name the 7 dwarfs then the US Supreme Court. More people can name Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband then can guess the unemployment rate with any accuracy. There are careless people, unfocused people, people with no perspective all around you.

Which makes this the perfect time to do what you want to do and change the world. The level of competition has never been lower. How do I know? Because whatever idea you are working on is bound to be better then the guys who spent a year figuring out how to make it easier to schedule an afternoon with a beekeeper…

Ed.
November 3, 2011

On my flight from Austin to Chicago this morning I sat next to an interesting guy named Ed. Blah blah we had some common interests, and at 6a.m. you can either sleep or shoot the bull. We scattered about the latter.

Ed is a self taught programmer. He is passionate about his skill, if not about his work. We agreed that being able to make software “do what you want” is the new literacy. In twenty years there will be two types of people: those that respond to the machines and those that control the machines. No, seriously.

Ed gets it. He was a joy to talk to.

Even more interesting were his ideas. As a caveat, I think of cool new shit all the time. Things I want my water heater to do…things I want my car to do in cold weather…things I want to do myself to revolutionize the industry that recycles Diet Coke cans. I think of a LOT of stuff. Some of it is good. Some of it sucks. But I think of a lot of it.

Ed thinks of a lot of cool shit too. And some of his cool shit that he thinks of is REALLY good. Like “I wish I had thought of that before you” good.

Anyway, Ed had an idea about developing software that would fit in to a big-budget private sector and would clearly solve a pain point. We talked about pricing and I told him, frankly, that he was underselling the value by a factor of ten. He thought he could charge $100 for a monthly subscription. I told him that, if his product was done well, he could charge $1,000 a month.

He was shocked.

But I am right. I understand the point at which “value” becomes “too expensive” just as I understand the inflection between “commodity” and “value added service.” His customer base would spend a fortune for a solution like he plans to offer.

All in all it was a great talk, riding at 30,000 feet talking to a complete stranger…no work tasks, no bills or obligations, no one to report to, no customers to satisfy. No internet connection. Just a couple guys trading ideas, brainstorming, changing the world figuratively (or literally..?…who knows?) over Southwest Airlines coffee and pretzels.

There is an unappreciated peace of seeing the sun come up through the window as you go somewhere….go somewhere to accomplish something. Seeing the sun rise off the horizon of a jet window is a signal of possibility….the chances of the day…the potential of the hour. What could be better then an open door that welcomes the impossible in to the realm of the possible?

I was going to work, Ed was going to a wedding. What was possible for me during a busy Chicago day? What was his possibility during a layover to the next bar drink, next boarding pass, next passenger sitting next to him, the next flight?

Here in a week or so I’ll track Ed down in Austin. WHy? Because he shares the wavelength..he thinks in terms of what could be, what should be…instead of the confines of what is. Those are my favorite kind of people and they are rare. Very rare. “Is” people bore me. “Could be” people are awesome.

Which are you?