There's been a lot of really amazing tributes to Steve Jobs the past few days. This one by Eric Schmidt had a nice point -
What I remember thinking at the time is that you shouldn’t take a job unless you know how to win. I had no clue how to do what he did. When somebody tells you they’re going to do something and you say, “I don’t understand how you’re going to do that,” and they succeed? That is the ultimate humbling experience. My interactions with Steve were always like that. He was always ahead of me. When he started working on tablets, I said nobody really likes tablets. The tablets that existed were just not very good. Steve said: “No, we can build one.” One of the things about Steve is, he was always in the realm of possibility. There was a set of assumptions that Steve would make that were never crazy. They were just ahead of me.
We think of Steve Jobs now as the visionary he was. In 300 years, when people study this era, they'll all recognize his genius right away.
Most of them - our great-great-grandchilden, they won't realize how Jobs's vision was misunderstood, questions, derided, mocked for so long before he broke through. They'll remember the genius, they won't remember the struggle.
I knelt before the statue of the white wizard, the relic Magical Zero Stone glinting in front of it, radiating pure oblivion. In the cracks and recesses of the stone was a cold and beautiful emptiness, and yet a wholeness, a completeness. An end of all things past, and beginning all things anew.
My sorrow and agony lifted from my shoulders. Inspiration began to melt the hardness of my heart, and I knew what I had to do.
"Okay, Commander Marshall," I reassured myself, "Time to gird up your loins, take your holy shield of email template, and fill your quiver with Google Keyboard Shortcuts. There will be rampant destruction, and then were will be peace."
In my life, I've written a lot of people who do interesting things. You'd be amazed at how often they reply - I've had conversations with top businessmen, economists, investors and financiers, researchers, and all sorts of other interesting and fascinating people.
I was working with a client today who has a different mix of activities happening in his business - we crunched the numbers, and found that that he was frequently doing tasks that were worth 20 times less than his top value/revenue generating.
I created an audio at the coffeehouse in Beijing explainining the situation - it's a huge set of lost opportunities if you're capable of generating $500 in revenues per hour but wind up getting stuck doing $25/hour tasks.
You can click on this link to listen in most modern browsers, or right click and 'save as' to download:
After making this audio, I spoke to him later in the day and we calculated all the ongoing activities that he doesn't like doing in his business and found they'll only cost $1,200 per month to hire outsourcers to do. We contracted the first person today on Odesk.com to answer support emails.
Ah, the joys of being mildly unreasonable.
I found a neat little shop with some great shirts, suit jackets, and gloves that all had a nice design and fit me perfectly. I wasn't going in to get a lot of stuff, but their pieces were really cut just perfectly right for me. I picked a lot of stuff out to buy.
When I was checking out shirts and jackets, I wanted to see how one would look with a tie. I picked up a nice skinny black tie off a display mannequin and put it on. Verdict: The shirt looks good with a tie. But hey, this tie is pretty nice too. But there's no price on it. Hmm...
I go to check out, and the girl explains to me that the tie is only for sale with a particular shirt - it comes with that shirt. That shirt, however, is ugly and expensive. They don't sell the tie standalone.
She keeps trying to take it from me and put it back on the mannequin. I say, "No. Look, I want the tie. How much for it?"
After the ten millionth recommendation from another one of my highly intelligent and productive friends, I caved and got a Mac Air.
It's going to take me a while to replace some of my Windows-only applications (MyLifeOrganized isn't on Mac, so I'll need to find something else for tracking). And after 3 Toshiba laptops across seven years, I was fast with Toshiba's keyboard exact keyboard layout.
Those will take a bit of acclimation time, but I'm already impressed with some of the nice touches on the Mac. I won't gush and sing praises - you can get that in many places online - but it really does seem to work together cohesively more than Windows.
Anyways. The more interesting point for you is that I'm going to test the two computer setup - I'll keep my Toshiba for a while, and do any/all internet surfing, media, and things of that nature on the Toshiba. I'll use the Mac only for work and work-related things. I suspect it's going to be a huge productivity boost and procrastination-killer... or at least, the type of procrastination will improve some. I'll update you as time goes by.
Also, feel free to recommend any favorite Mac software in the comments.
A reader, Rask, just directed me to Anscombe's Quartet on Wikipedia.
It's very important for analysis - it shows how simple statistical measures can fail to show an accurate picture without graphing.
Wikipedia describes this image as "All four sets are identical when examined using simple summary statistics, but vary considerably when graphed" -
Very useful for thinking about. The Wikipedia article goes more into depth, which is important if you're doing numbers-driven analysis. Thanks Rask.
That's the question I asked to a very successful friend and colleague:
"What percentage of people do you think use money well?"
He asks back, "What do you mean by 'use money well'?"
I think. "However you define it."
I always liked First Corinthians 13: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I understood as a child. I thought as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things."
I read this riff on the passage by Edward D. Griffin and enjoyed it, it's all his words next -
In childhood the mind, pleased with every trifle and void of care, vacantly pursues its little pleasures, and, blessed with ignorance of the ills and disappointments of life, looks forward with sanguine hopes to fairy scenes of happiness; while the bright and tearless eye, resting on the outside of things, sees a paradise in every lawn and grove. A recollection of these childish delights is often cherished with rapture in future years, while the man, forgetful of the frettings and whining of childhood, indulgently inquires, Why were the former days better than these? But he does not ask wisely concerning this. A virtuous manhood is much more to be desired than the state of children. It is capable of far nobler pursuits, of knowledge, enjoyment, and action more congenial with the ends of our being. The child has no high and manly aim, no cares for great and dignified things, little thought for his future well being either in this life or the life to come. His understanding is feeble, his knowledge is small, his pursuits and pleasures are useless to the world, his years are trifled away in pursuing airy visions, and he is a stranger to elevated and substantial happiness. He speaks as a child, prattling unconnectedly of his little concerns; he understands as a child, superficially and contractedly; he thinks as a child, incorrectly and inconsistently; but when he becomes a man he puts away childish things. His taste relishes nobler objects; his conversation is more dignified; his conduct and pursuits are manly; his views and knowledge are enlarged. Spurning the shackles and toys of babyhood, he becomes perhaps a philosopher, and explores with astonished gaze the works of his Creator. His unrestricted fancy, not confined to the policies and interests of kingdoms, wanders among the stars, and delights itself with the numberless worlds which revolve above his head, while his faith and knowledge are employed on the great affairs of the kingdom of God.
Got a question from a reader having a "productivity slump" - the solution isn't difficult, it just requires focusing on and doing it. And if you do it, you'll feel better and get more done at the same time.
For productivity slumps, focus on re-gearing the fundamentals. It's almost always the following things -
How's your eating? Are you drinking enough water? How's your sleep schedule? Are you deciding the most important things to do for the next day before going to sleep? Are you reviewing and working on the most important things right away the next day?
Also think about if you've gotten fitness time, full relaxation/disengagement, and time in nature lately.
If you do those seven things - eat well, drink water, sleep on schedule, plan tomorrow before sleeping, start on what's most important, exercise, fully relax regularly, and get some time in nature - that almost guarantees busting out of a slump. If you're in a slump, you're almost certainly not doing one of those.
Got a question from an aspiring artist about what to do beyond just working on his craft. Now, I don't know personally, I don't have so much hands-on experience in the art world. He didn't specify what his medium was either, so I'm really just throwing something out there. If you're an accomplished artist, feedback in the comments is welcome. My reply:
So, you've probably got a medium and style of some sort. If there's a place where people with your style/medium congregate or gather or feature their work, go look there and see who is doing what you like. Write down their names, then hit Google. Find their websites /myspace/facebook/linkedin/whatever, and look for their bios. In their bios, note what they're proud of and what they feature - what galleries, magazines, photographers/photography... whatever... it's hard to be precise without knowing exactly what you're doing.
If you're doing your own unique medium/style, then look for people who you generally admire who are doing things that are relevant to you. If you're doing something very unique with sculpture for instance, then anyone else building any kinds of sculptures or similar might be relevant.
One thing that could help you if you're still working on your skill is to send a very short targeted message to someone you admire via email or even a call or letter. Make it very brief and do these things:
1. Say you admire them, and why 2. Say that you've got a quick question, ask something intelligent 3. Stress that you're a hard worker and will actually apply their advice 4. Be very grateful