14th May 2013
On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit’. As soon as you touch this limit, something happens and you can suddenly go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.
And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel. Not only the tunnel under the hotel, but the whole circuit was a tunnel. I was just going and going, more and more and more and more. I was way over the limit, but still able to find even more.
— Ayrton Senna, who famously stretched that limit beyond comprehension while qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix.
Whether it’s in business, fitness, love, or life, we all run into limits. Limits of knowledge, strength, mental ability, or emotion. Sometimes real, sometimes self-imposed, these limits exist in our minds. Acheivement is about finding those limits, and pushing beyond them. Success lies on the other side.
2nd Apr 2013
Corporate behemoth buys innovative startup in a talent acquisition…
It’s happening more and more. A small team of people create something fantastic and a giant company dangles a carrot so large and enticing in front of them they decide to abandon their customers and join The Borg. The innovative product gets shelved, and the talent gets pointed at some large project where the likelihood of having an impact greater than the product they originally made is diminished with each passing day.
Can we blame them? No. They have every right to make the best decision for themselves, regardless of how it impacts the markets, their customers, or the long term goals they originally set out to achieve when that idea was just the spark in a conversation between friends. Good for them. They’ve succeeded. Both sides have accomplished something great. Or have they?
I can’t help but see the parallel between this takeover strategy and the anti-trust flavored way companies muscle their way into markets. Image if Microsoft had just purchased Netscape instead of leveraging their OS marketshare to release a competing product.
There’s a difference between buying a company for the talent on staff and buying it for the value of the product produced, and it’s a scary one.
1st Apr 2013
The great George Orwell knew how to write. He knew how to capture—and hold—your attention. In 1946 he penned “Politics and the English Language,” an essay about effective writing, among other things. You should read it.
In case you haven’t, here are his rules for better writing:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Great writing is more than fancy words. It’s lingustic craftsmanship.
20th Feb 2013
Last night, at a slightly upscale restaurant in Midtown Atlanta, six of us were seated at the booth in the photo above. We were enjoying light conversation about Web technologies, the future of service businesses, and how our various companies could work together.
We’d been there about 10 minutes, but had hardly glanced at the menus in front of us. Our waiter, a gracious mid-twenties chap with a toothpaste commercial smile, entered the scene and asked if we had any questions about the menu or were ready to order.
“Are there any specials we should know about?” Bridget asked.
“No. No specials.” said mid-twenties guy. Full stop.
His words lay floundering on the table just long enough for us to notice how awkward they were. But not to him. He just stood there. Smiling.
I was stunned. Not because he was rude. He wasn’t. In fact, he just answered the question honestly (as you might expect). And he did it with panache.
But still, I was stunned. This was such a missed opportunity to create an experience. An experience consistent with the surroundings. Regardless of whether specials were available, he missed an important point in the interaction. He could have said “everything is special tonight, ma’am”, “not tonight, but the scallops are very fresh and the lamb is delicious”, or almost anything other than what he said.
No amount of smiling can make up for a fumbled experience. Sorry, mid-twenties guy.
19th Feb 2013
Ask about their favorite color. Find their favorite food. And the song that always makes them smile. Ask about their childhood. Listen to their stories. Discover what they wanted to be. Ask who their heroes are, what they admire most, and what brings them joy.
One day they won’t be here to tell you, and the hole it leaves inside you cannot be filled by anything else. Ask them. Know them. Love them. And make sure they know you do.
Nothing lasts forever.