Thinking Caps

Are we anything but the roles we play? Be it at home, work, or play, we wear a dozen hats: Parent, friend, volunteer, manager, peer, runner, stamp collector. We might be more than the sum of our roles, but the hats we wear determine our perspective. Thinking about our roles as hats lets us change […]

Frankensteining

I hope you’re enjoying spooky season. With Halloween around the corner, I thought I’d spill some ink about a season classic: Frankenstein. Kitbashing Adam Savage, the former host of MythBusters and famous maker, started his career in set-making. To craft realistic-looking props for films like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, he took hobby modeling kits (for trains, […]

Crawl, Walk, Run

Remember being a baby? Of course not! But let’s pretend we remember how it felt to drag our little bodies across the floor for the first time. None of us knew we could do it, but we tried anyway, making our blubbery arms hold up our chests in what must have felt like a Herculean […]

Baseline vs. Target

How many words do you write each day? If you don’t have a clear and precise number, the answer is zero. To make progress on any metric, you need a baseline. To create a baseline, you need a measurement system. For instance, if you’re trying to measure the words you write daily, you could have […]

Dogfooding

Dog food is a $56B industry, only $11B short of the $67B baby food industry. Given declining birth rates and an ever-growing preference for dogs over people, it’s not hard to imagine dog food outgrowing the baby food industry in coming years. Pretty wild, considering dog food was hardly a business until World War II. […]

Localhost Trap

In the 2000 film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Jim Carrey recited his to-do list, and one item was especially salient: “Solve world hunger, tell no one.” What a concept! Only someone with a heart two sizes too small could create a beautiful and necessary thing and then deprive the world of its value! Creators owe it […]

Vocal Minority vs. Mobile Minority

Two types of minority groups could drive majority change: one that exhibits perceived change and one that creates actual change. The Vocal Minority is the loud voice, like angry people on Twitter. They talk incessantly and pollute your feed with extremist content—making you perceive their views as commonplace when they’re mostly noise. Imagine a Vocal Minority of weirdos who […]

The Tokyo Effect

Tokyo has ~14M people, making it the largest city on Earth. It has thousands of unique stores, like Ma-suya Azabu-Juban—a shop that only sells salt. A store like this couldn’t exist in an average city (like my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan) because the place wouldn’t get enough foot traffic to find customers interested in its […]

Warrior vs. Soldier vs. Police

A “marketer” in a year-old, ten-person tech startup will vastly differ from a “marketer” in a fifty-year-old, five-thousand-person Fortune 500 conglomerate. Even other teams may have different expectations for the same role. The organization’s size, scope, and maturity dramatically influence jobs with the same title. Knowing the position you’re in (or interviewing for) can set […]

Maker vs. Manager vs. Minder

Investor Paul Graham once argued that a maker (such as a software engineer) requires long bouts of uninterrupted time to create valuable work and cannot be incessantly interrupted by a manager (such as a project lead)—whose primary job is orchestrating the activities of others. Cal Newport expanded on this idea, adding a third persona: a minder. This administrative profile (such […]

Faster Horses

People claim that if Henry Ford built what people asked for, we wouldn’t have cars; we’d have faster horses. This statement is more myth than truth, but the idea holds water. When I worked at GE, my users wanted “more storage” or “faster file transfer” when designing gas turbines. But these solutions were costly and […]