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?


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