Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Getting a Gig

Posted: April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

More and more frequently people have been asking about tactics or ideas on how to land a job.  I think it’s a simple answer, I think… Below is a list of things that have helped me.  I’d love to hear what works for you.  And to be clear: getting a job, getting a date or getting a new client are pretty similar process.

#1 Be Interested – 

In news.  In your neighborhood.  In people.  Interested people are a great source of insight and ideas.  They also tend to be rare.  And they also tend to be liked, hugely. (Think about your friends, and who tells stories versus who listens to yours)

#2 Talk to People –

Not too complicated either.  Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Donate your time.  You get to help others and meet new people (normally genuine and interesting people, assholes don’t volunteer)
  • Go out to eat by yourself.  Find a restaurant with a nice bar, perch your buns and get involved in a conversation.  Good bartenders are also good at connecting people sitting alone at a bar into conversation.
  • Use social.  There’s no value in being the cool guy who doesn’t adopt the “new” thing.  Making friends on Twitter is way too easy.

#3 Build something –

  • A class that you teach for free.  Show your expertise and help others new to the field – Boom!
  • An organization that helps or supports a cause that you believe in.
  • An end table (building anything forces the learning of new skills, which always becomes a fun topic in conversation.

I agree.  No huge insight here.  But actually doing these things is the bitch.  So here’s the piece that will actually be useful.  Pick 2, and put them in your calendar. 

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The Story of Communities

Posted: October 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Maybe it’s the history or its ease of accessibility…  But as humans the output of writing has always been a communal activity, an opportunity for group learning.  We use stories to teach values to young children; often followed by discussions.  We go to book clubs to analyze a characters behavior, to understand their perspective and world-view.  It’s our shared experience around this writing that helps us to work through our ideas, and to redefine what we’ve already digested.

“The audience becomes the story”. – Kevin Slavin

It’s an interesting thought isn’t it.  And if you read the first paragraph and then overlay that quote it works, to some degree.  We take the lessons learned from writing and apply them to our own lives.  We stick ourselves in the shoes of the character and predict how we would have reacted.

As technology increasingly leads from solely topical conversation surrounding content to co-creation of content I can’t help but think about the implications that this could have on education.  Or marketing for that matter.

Kevin Slavin used an interesting metaphor this morning, speaking on a panel at the MOMA.  His belief is that we’ll see stories begin to mimic indoor rock gyms.  You’ll have a decided start point, a decided endpoint and a bunch of stuff in the middle.  The middle is the tactics that you use to get from A to B.  And in indoor rock climbing that path has already been thought through and planned.  As the climber you experiment, test and learn through multiple attempts until you figure out the steps.  But those steps are slightly different for everyone, although the beginning and end are always the same.

Trial and error.  With group discussion, and feedback.

So my question is what’s next?  As the story evolves to become a more immersive and participatory group activity, how will the community be engaged?  And not in the discussion but in the creation.

Just curious…

Inspiration vs. Efficiency

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

On occasion I delay the writing of a post (like this one) and they seem to run off and write themselves.  Or at least create situations that kick me in the ass enough to write it.

Today; while brainstorming ways to delay writing, I went out to lunch.  Because what writer doesn’t find inspiration in authentic Mexican food and inexpensive beers.  So off I go to the local mexican joint, maybe a block away from my apartment.

As I post up at the bar, I see another guy sitting solo and start a conversation.  He’s an Art Director taking the day off to watch Columbia play Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier.  We get into the need for time off to provide clear thinking and to derive inspiration for future work.  Ironically, our talk about the need to procrastinate is just the kick in the ass I needed to get this document opened.  And hopefully you’ve made it through the last three paragraphs and I can finally stumble to the point of this rant.

When being incredibly efficient you deliver on time.  You streamline process and increase output.  You focus on what’s important and you make time for the things that are necessary.  You also end up missing something.

There’s a great deal of inspiration in the world.  Outside of the office.  In random conversations, and unlikely observations.  Going through shitty experiences and inefficient processes can often be the greatest trigger to envision a better solution.  But it has to be seen as it is.

It’s a delicate balance, running this line between finding conversations that inspire ideas and allocating the time to deliver on those ideas.  But one without the other will leave you lacking.  So as you drill through task after task, don’t forget the accidental awesomeness that comes from walking out the door.

I don’t know…

It depends on a host of factors including what’s being built/created, how much is in the budget and who’s developing the thing.  Let’s start with what’s being built or created and work our way down the line.

There have been a few articles written recently around mobile being the resurgence of ethnographic research, especially for digital agencies.  And it doesn’t take to much thought to figure out why.  There are certain variables that hold true pretty consistently when we’re on our computers.  Based on the time of day, the site we’re going to or the way we get there, pretty strong assumptions can be made around our intentions and how best to fulfill those.

In looking at mobile, your phone might as well be a third hand or sixth finger.  It’s attached to our bodies in a way that might only be surpassed by our wristwatch.  So when we’re developing solutions that may be used in a limitless number places, times and situations understanding human behavior within those situations becomes exponentially more important.

Point number two isn’t going to be all that insightful to be honest.  If there’s no money for research than you can’t really do it.  There’s always the argument of saying don’t do something without understanding who you’re building for but if we’re being truthful here it happens quite frequently.  This can be fun, it’s a guessing game where we depend on our own assumptions and grab as much information as we can before taking a leap of faith.  Just make sure in this case, whether it’s your boss or your client that expectations are measured.  We can do this fast/cheap or we can do it right, and it’s your call…I just want to make sure you know!

Finally it depends on who you are.

Why are so many tech companies successful when launching new products or even entirely new businesses without a wink of research.  It’s because they eat, sleep and breathe their demo…hell they are the demo.  So are all their friends, probably their entire social circle.  They live in perpetual ethnographic research, it makes fulfilling real needs much easier when you have this sort of insight.

At the same time this can be dangerous for businesses that start with a small niche market that the founders truly did have an understanding of.  Often as the business grows, the market diversifies and that initial assumption about understanding still holds true when it shouldn’t.  Make sure to constantly be checking yourself.  As we all know, the world changes pretty darn quick.

That’s stupid…

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

No, really it is.  If we’re judging by what makes logical sense, as humans we’re utterly out of our minds. Today I was reading an article about a 61 year old woman who is swimming…swimming 102 miles through shark infested waters from Cuba to Florida.  It has nothing to do with escaping prison, avoiding Cuban civil unrest or a boat with a broken engine.  She turned 60 and felt that she needed a new challenge to feel alive.

Five of my now closest friends in NYC I met through running a half marathon in late November.  While the wind was blowing and the thermometer topped out in the low 40’s we dove into a frigid lake to begin our 13 mile mud filled run.  Our fearless leader of this knuckle-headed group just got back from doing an Ironman in the South of France.

Yet for all the “stupid” people I’ve had the opportunity to meet, doing an endless series of “stupid” activities they seem to not only have the most successful careers, but also are the happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve come across.

And while we’re at it based on this definition I think TED is probably the biggest aggregator of “stupid” people in the whole of the internet.  “Stupid” is a prerequisite to step on stage, or even to get invited.  Stupid is launching a business when 9 out of 10 don’t make it past the first year and 3 years later 9 out of 10 of those fail.

I’d imagine you’ve gotten the point.  Stupid isn’t really stupid at all.  It’s uncompromising, it’s living leaning forward, it’s enjoying seeing how large of a challenge we can leap.  I wish schools encouraged a bit more of this stupidity among their students, we’re raising far too many “smart” kids.

Disconnected is a low budget documentary I’m concepting over the summer and beginning to film in the fall.  Below is a basic one pager overviewing why I believe this film needs to be made, and a high level look at how it would be structured.  The idea is still fluid at this point and any ideas or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Theory: There is a massive gap between the skills being taught in University classrooms throughout the Northeast and the skills needed to be successful in the business world.  Why?

Overview: Feature 8 schools throughout the Northeast, 5 to 6 that are completely behind and try to understand where their struggles or roadblocks are.  Than focus on 2 to 3 schools that seem to get it and deliver for their students.  Now hold these schools up next to each other and identify what are the important variables, the ones that really make a difference in developing students for life after school.

Interviews: 

Students – The major question here is are students aware…  Aware of what will be important skills when they get out of school, aware that other resources exist to learn, aware that they can/should be questioning the school to see if it’s holding up its end of the deal

Professors – Understand the struggles that professors face, balancing teaching with research and is research around areas that are important to students success.

School Administration – From strategic direction to daily interaction with students is there a plan in place to deliver on students needs.  Where are the minds of the leaders of these Universities, what are primary focuses for them, and how is time being allocated?

Business Community – What do you see in millennials that you think is a positive change and where would you like to see improvement?  How has the role of Universities changed in developing the minds of young people to succeed in business?

Factors to Consider: 

  • Size and focus of the University
  • Urban or Rural
  • Tuition prices
  • Public vs. private


I don’t think this holds true across the board.  In the sense that it’s not the same for everyone. But for me I’ve found there has been one massive differentiator, something I’ve always done better than almost anyone else.  And it sounds simple but it’s taken a shit ton of focus and persistence.  And it’s surrounding myself with a really solid group of people.  Not just people who have made a lot of money or who have had a great deal of success in business, but genuinely good people.  People who are authentic and have a fire under their ass; people who love what they do and would take on a small army for their friends.

To deviate for a moment, I began writing this with no real goal outside of verbalizing how much of a difference (an understated difference I believe) having the right people around you really does make.  And in thinking about it I’m going to take this article in a slightly different direction than initially planned.  So what I’m going to do is cut this article off here and start a series of posts (once a week) surrounding how I came to meet the people who have changed my life in drastic ways.  They’re stories that I’ve never told before and I hope you find as much value in reading them as I plan to garner from writing them.

As a final thought, I certainly don’t thank my friends enough for all they’ve done for me.  Something I should be doing much more, might not be a bad idea to spend a week writing a letter once a day to people who have made a huge difference in your life.  I know I’d love to get a note like that from someone else.  And I have a pretty good idea who that first note is going to.