This is not the area I work in, but understanding how what we think of as “service” and encounter every day, really informs how I view the way I want our services to be provided.
Zilinskas, who surfs occasionally with his family, says he’s regularly accosted at trade shows by people saying, “You screwed the industry and brought prices down!” He has a ready response: “I tell them, ‘How many of the hundreds of thousands of people who bought our board have moved on to higher-end product?’ Ask any surfer in the water about Wavestorm. They probably own one.”
We’ve thought about getting a Wavestorm for visitors and kids as well. But watching a whole carload of Wavestorms show up on a crowded weekend is a bit distressing. So many people coming in who have no idea what they’re doing and are a danger in the water – to themselves and other people. The thing is: there’ve always been these people it’s just before they’d rent boards. I think that’s who’s probably losing business: the rental shops.
A project to use Java to execute Sol LeWitt’s instructions in the browser. Solving Sol.
With the end of 30 Rock today there’s a lot of words being spilled online about what Liz Lemon meant for women or what Tina Fey’s female-lead show means for women in show business, etc. Maybe some of it is true, I think that’s something we’ll only know in hindsight. I do really admire Tina Fey’s general approach to her work and to her fellowship with other women.
One of the more interesting parts of watching 30 Rock for me was that while Liz Lemon was so scarily like me in enough respects that I would get emails from people on Fridays asking if I was SURE I wasn’t sleep-being-Tina Fey (but so did every late-30’s single professional women), it was Jack Donaghy who was the real teacher of valuable lessons. Whether Liz Lemon was really a thoughtful, if kind of insane, depiction of single professional women, the depiction of her work world was often painfully, dysfunctionally, true to my own and many others I’ve seen.
But the more I’ve thought about it the more I think… I’m not really the Liz in these professional relationships. I’m… the Jack! Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you never to go with a hippie to a second location because I trust that you wouldn’t even be around a hippie in the first location to begin with, right?
Some of Jack’s best business lessons:
Ambition is the willingness to kill the things you love and eat them in order to stay alive. Haven’t you ever read my throw pillow?
Jack maybe (probably… definitely) meant that literally but it’s true in a metaphorical way. Sometimes you fall in love with your own ideas or plans and they get in the way of forward progress – of meeting other ambitions. So you have to kill them and you have to eat them to move on or up.
There are no bad ideas Lemon, only great ideas that go horribly wrong.
Every idea is a great idea! At least to start out with. That’s why brainstorming and allowing yourself to at least entertain these thoughts is important. Don’t censor until you have to, which is really about the execution of your ideas not just the idea itself.
Working with creative clients, I guess I do often feel more the Jack to someone else’s Liz, than as Liz herself. As Jack said:
I’m not a creative type like you, with your work sneakers and left-handedness.
And when you need a pick me up, you could do a lot worse than this self-motivational speech:
The recipe for success overlaps from one profession to the other. It’s hard work and determination and focus. That’s true no matter the profession.
I want people to really recognize this. When I work with clients who are in creative fields and who think that the business operation part of their enterprise is beyond them, my goal is to bring them to this understanding. It isn’t at all beyond them if they’re already successful in one area: it’s just a different application of the same things that brought them that initial success.
I love Ask a Manager. It’s a great website and Alison Green gives really solid advice about the working world. It’s also, frankly, a little WTF?! I cannot believe some of the things people actually ask, like the one today. In this case, that person’s job might be saved by having asked the website and not the CEO.
Either the person who wrote that question is terrible at expressing themselves and is missing out on providing critical information (like, “I’m a Vice-President and all of the other VPs already have assistants.”) or they’re so clueless I can’t believe they really exist. I know that there are mysteries of the working world for many people and things like interviewing are fraught with uncertainties and anxieties and just plain WTF?! on the part of the businesses themselves but sometimes some of the questions make me wonder if we’ve really gotten so far away from common sense and professionalism. I guess we have and that’s unfortunate.
37signals builds great products sure but how they operate and how they think about how they are operating is actually more important. These are key questions for any entrepreneur but I’d put it this way: it’s the latter three ingredients that will bring you to the first (not always, it’s possible to make great products and treat everyone well but still not be profitable but in the long run it’s impossible to be profitable if you fail at these three factors).
What matters is: Are you profitable? Are you building something great? Are you taking care of your people? Are you treating your customers well?
There’s a lot that I admire about how Louis CK has been operating lately – his independent release of his latest comedy show and his upcoming independently produced and ticketed tour. But even more than that I love that he’s been so transparent about how he’s done these things and the results he’s had. I think he’s not unlike the majority of people I like to work with:
AVC: You’ve similarly talked about how you’ve run your company with a certain degree of pragmatism, but it also seems like in the way you conduct your business and your creative affairs, that there’s also a lot of idealism in that as well. Do you see yourself as a moral, idealistic person?
LCK: I don’t know. I’d be afraid to call myself that. I think I’m more just very curious. I do have a lot of energy, so I will try stuff. Doing stuff like this is really, really hard work. Putting this tour together was a huge amount of work, and it did mean being a little bit brave, because it’s scary. I don’t want to upset any of these people who do this shit. [Laughs.] You know what I mean? So some of it that’s not just practical is that I will try to do stuff that can be a little scary but feels right to me, even if it’s harder. So that’s what I would identify as feeling like that. Outside of just trying to get it done. It’s worth it. And also, it’s exhilarating.
This is a great overview of what I do at my regular job. I absolutely love product management because you get your hands in a bunch of different things and get to make a lot of decisions and talk to a lot of different people. I think he nails this part:
The product manager forms and maintains the extensive network of relationships required to make sure the team understands problems so that it can propose, prioritize, design, build, and test the right solutions. For this, you need diplomacy, time, and communication skills. And that’s on top of being able to relate to leadership, customers, writers, and developers to earn everyone’s trust.
From: Product Management for the Web by Kristofer Layon
This is exactly why I started BrightLight, because I wanted a place to play with ideas and succeed or fail entirely on my own decisions. It’s work, sure, but it’s fun work.
And this made me happier than doing nothing. This isn’t work, it’s play. It’s my place to try my ideas.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.