Friday, 24 May 2013

No, There is No Pony. Never Was.

Worried that their son was too optimistic, the parents of a little boy took him to a psychiatrist. Trying to dampen the boy’s spirits, the psychiatrist showed him into a room piled high with nothing but horse manure. Yet instead of displaying distaste, the little boy clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to all fours, and began digging.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked.

“With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere.”

– Peter Robinson

Stop Being Such a Good Host

“An optimally adapted parasite takes as much from its host as possible without damaging the viability of the host. In order for us to stay viable hosts for the media parasite, we need only enough waking hours away from media to make money and to spend that money on advertisers’ offerings and/or media’s costs (and of course to feed ourselves and, like, stay alive). Media will gladly take all our other hours. Think about normal adult American life: After working, spending, and consuming media, how many hours do we really have left? Of course it will never get all of our spare time. But it captures more of our hours every year. Media is on an evolutionary trajectory, a curve bringing it closer and closer and closer to Infinite Jest.” – James A. Pearson

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Things I Assumed I Needed to Start a Consulting Business

Days into starting my own business, I sat down at my newly acquired desk and wrote down a list of things. Things I assumed I needed to purchase immediately to be in business. While I lost the list at some point in the past decade, I remember three things about it; it totaled more than $10,000, was quite lengthy, and I have yet to purchase anything on it. While I don’t remember everything on the list, I do remember a handful:

4 Things I Assumed I Needed But Didn’t

  • An office outside my house
    For the first few years I was in business, I toured office spaces and frequently spent days not working in my home office – always assuming that I’d find a place more comfortable and productive. I mean, all artists have a studio, right? It took 3 moves and 7 years, now my home office is my most comfortable and productive place.
  • A Chair
    For the last 2 years, since converting my desk to a standing desk, Markus has been in the closet, loaded with baby clothes. After losing the desk chair I also lost chronic neck pain and extreme late afternoon fatigue.
  • Buying Software from Adobe
    I’ve never been a fan of any of Adobe’s software, but always assumed I’d have to purchase Creative Suite, if not just InDesign, or at least a library of fonts. Turns out – none of it. Between open source software and far less expensive software – I’ve never actually needed to purchase anything from Adobe. These days, not even Acrobat Reader is on my machines.
  • Business Cards
    When I started out, I had a friend-of-a-friend letterpress some gorgeous business cards. Then I ran out, got distracted, and realized that capturing the other person’s info and following up is a more efficient way to initiate a relationship. After that -contact info is in the phone and email logs.

While this first list is pretty useful, there’s also a second, perhaps a more important, list. This is the list I wish I had when I started out.

4 Things I Didn’t Know I Needed

  • A Regular Schedule
    I start my day sometime between 8:30-9am, and I conclude it sometime between 4:30-5pm. Monday through Friday. Each days’ activities are scheduled at least 3 days in advance in iCal. This provides just enough structure to switch into my work mindset.
  • To Get Outside for a Walk Everyday
    Even a short 15 minute walk is enough to get some fresh air, change the perspective, and return refreshed.
  • A Hobby or Two
    Think of it as cross-training your brain. Different activities exercise different aspects of your grey matter. Creative solutions come from mixing different concepts in a new way. Hobbies build up other skills and insights that will only serve your work. Plus, they provide a nice place to rebuild small success when burnt out looms.
  • A Giant Wall Calendar
    All my most important milestones are on the wall calendar right behind my desk. I review it at least twice a day, so much more accessible at a glance than anything electronic.
  • Wednesday, 8 May 2013

    Data Baggage

    “Don’t collect data. If you know everything about yourself, you know everything. There is no use burdening yourself with a lot of data. Once you understand yourself, you understand human nature and then the rest follows.” – Kurt Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996

    reminds me of the Greek gnōthi seauton.