Reading Speed.

Basically everything we’re involved with today is text based. One key skill I see all the time that’s lacking is the ability to consume that text and be able to retain it. I see people reading word-for-word, or moving their mouth while they read. Even if you’re not mouthing every word, you may be “saying” that word in your head, a technique called “subvocalization”. Your brain gets bored quickly, if it’s not intaking information fast enough it will wander. And subvocalization causes that. But here’s a great video from Tim Ferris that can teach you a simple technique (that you need to practice) that will help you increase your reading speed.

Give it a try, give it a chance. Good luck.

Athletes and the State of Flow.

Aryton Senna

“And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension.”

-Aryton Senna

This may seem like an odd post for someone who usually writes about innovation and entrepreneurship, but.. too bad.

When I was 10 or 12 years old I played baseball, either catcher, pitcher, once in a while I played 2nd base. Second was my favorite position because I got some pretty good plays. What was weird was, and I didn’t really consider it at odd at the time, I knew where to stand. Not in the “you play 2nd, so you stand about 5-10 feet off 2nd base” but in a very different way. There was this odd thing that I’d experience – as the batter got settled into the box I’d shift around a little bit: left; right; front; back; back a little more. The best way I can describe it is feeling like you’re standing in a small depression in the field. A little to far left and it wouldn’t “feel” right, I’d feel like I was out of the “groove” and I’d move back. I’d then test it a little bit, move to the right. Same thing, out of the groove. I somehow “knew” where to stand. And once, just once, I heard the crack of the bat… and the ball was in my glove. I never saw the line drive that got fired straight at me. I don’t recall ever having moved my arm to make the catch, and I didn’t know how the ball got there. As a kid I didn’t know to question it, I got the out and that’s all that mattered. I didn’t want to sound like a weirdo to my team so I didn’t talk to them about it.

In they 90’s I found a copy of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book “Flow” which goes through the psychology of optimum performance. I’ve since lost the book book but did pick up a copy from Amazon lately while I researched this post. What he describes is the state of “flow”. The disconnect between the body and the consciousness. How athletes and others see events before they occur. A transcendence between what is going on around you, and what is about to happen. Schumacher described it as “the perfect lap” where you literally don’t know how you just did what you did. It’s not a result of just training, it’s not a result of great reflexes, it’s not luck. It’s well beyond that. Senna had the seeming ability to bend the car around the armco at Monaco. You’re at 120 mph and 2 inches from the barrier. How do you bend the car around anything?

Flow is where everything becomes effortless, you’re a super-human, you have no limits, you can go all day, and you become one with what’s going on around you. It just happens. You can’t force it. It’s a Zen-like state that when you experience it, leaves you in tears and in awe. If you’re lucky, even pro athletes may experience it 2-3 times in their life. I’ve experienced it twice, once in baseball, once in cycling.

There’s a level of performance above that which most of us experience, what most of us know about. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience it once in your life. It is a humbling “that wasn’t me doing that” experience.

If you’re an athlete at any level, I hope you experience flow at least once. If will change you. If you’re a young athlete, you’re more prone to these types of moments. There’s still some research going on to try and identify exactly what’s going on in the brain. But I think we’re a long way from being able to explain it.

I think one of the biggest challenges we face…

Sketch3 & InvisionAppIs that people that have a “good idea” (aka, recognize a true pain point) don’t know how to get a prototype in people’s hands in order to test it. Most think you need a developer, a “technical co-founder”. That’s shit. If you can’t write a single line of code then you have two options:

Both require effort and effort is table stakes. Resonate will help you learn how to tell a story so start there. Sketch and InVision will turn that story into something tangible that people can play with and you can begin to get feedback.

First, start with friends and family. Explain your idea to them, if they can’t tell what the hell you’re talking about then you need to re-craft your explanation. If they “don’t get it” it’s not their fault, it’s yours. You’re unable to explain what you do or what you solve.

Once they “get it” most of them will say “it’s great”. You’ve reached the end of their usefulness. Your next challenge is to build a prototype and this is where Sketch and InVision come in to play. There’s great videos out there that will help you with Sketch.  The InvisionApp will help you turn the images you create in Sketch into a clickable demo.

You really don’t need a developer or technical co-founder just to get a prototype together and start getting feedback from people. You just have to put some learnings into practice.

If you expect somebody to do all this for you then you should just describe your idea on Facebook, sign over all future rights, and let others run with it.


Shit I am tired of seeing.

48c2647d2c10ac37e34569a289d1e64bIf things, like a product for example, aren’t going the way you want, you’re either 100% at fault or you should take a bigger, stronger role. If you feel you don’t yet have the skill set to pull it off, you’ll develop them as you go. Who gives a shit if you’re stepping on someone’s toes. What matters is whether or not the [new] customer is going to say “Holy shit, I LOVE THAT!” Don’t be one of the people standing around looking at a problem saying “somebody needs to do something”. That somebody is YOU. Jump in. Help. Don’t be a 9 to 5 ham & egger collecting a paycheck and then going home.




light-dark-bed-lampCrank out as much as you can as fast as you can. You may think quality matters, but recent studies show that it doesn’t. Quality ideas are a function of a quantity of ideas.

Ever sit in “brainstorming” sessions and absolutely NOTHING of value comes out at the end? I’m willing to bet that someone(s) shot down quite a bit of ideas that were only in their infancy.

Do this. Grab a copy of “Originals” by @AdamMGrant. You’ll find that when organizations are asked for ideas, on average, 87% of those ideas generated are original.  Eighty. Seven. Percent. What would your organization do with an inflow of 87% of new and original ideas? Could you test them fast enough to see if there was consumer adoption? Could you implement them fast enough to recognize the cost savings in the current fiscal quarter?

Originals is easily my favorite book I’ve read this year. Quantity over quality. Be prolific in your output. Stay up late. Get up early. Write everything down. I think you’re going to shock yourself.



Why “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is complete bullshit.

02113341300The only Tom Peters book I own is Re-imagine! from 2003. The biggest lesson I took from this was that business was expanding exponentially from decade to decade. At the beginning of the Industrial Age we were a massive manufacturing labor force. Today, due to innovation in both technology and business models, the inverse is actually true. One of the benchmarks of performance is employees/revenue, and the hands-down winner of this, I believe, is Craigslist.

In the early 2000’s we were accustomed to long software development times, huge up-front cost outlays, and if we were lucky, something that was close to what we wanted. Sometime after I’d read Re-imagine! I told the head of SDLC initiatives that we would need to decrease our development time from 9 months, to 9 weeks, to eventually 9 days. I got laughed at. He was a “ain’t broke, don’t fix” kinda guy.

In 2015 I attended a meetup heavily attended by PMPs but the topic was around Agile Adoption and how it accelerated delivery and improved the interaction between the “business” and “IT” (hint: both groups are “the business”). I sat next to a CFO-type who I don’t believe listened to one goddamn word the panel said because he asked “What’s the ROI of adopting Agile?” I don’t believe that’s the right question. Look around you, are your competitors learning to execute for their customers faster and more effectively? With shorter turn-around times and with higher customer satisfaction? If the answer is yes, then you go figure out what the ROI of Agile Adoption is. Stop using the “What’s the ROI of…” argument to duck change. Do your damn job.

Through the use of tools like Sketch and Invision we can get MVPs in the hands of prospective clients in a matter of hours to get their feedback. Can we conceptualize and iterate on a day-to-day basis? I don’t see why not, it may already be here. But if many people continue to adhere to the ain’t-broke-don’t-fix mentality, they’ll get left far behind.

By the way, I got the last laugh, he’s no longer in charge of SDLC and the organization is beginning to deliver in 9 day increments. Although I had nothing to do with that transformation, that’s mainly due to @iamagile.

Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Good Design

Good design is…  hands-people-woman-working

  1. Innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  6. Honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
  8. Thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. As little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

And then there is

11… Difficult and time consuming – It takes effort to make anything seem effortless.  It takes great effort to simplify, to edit, to truly focus on one key feature you want someone to use. Taking the easy way out is just that, easy. You don’t have to have the difficult discussions telling people that their pet idea isn’t going to make the cut.

St Pete Open Coffee

I’ve recently started St Pete Open Coffee which meets weekly at Kahwa on 204 2nd S in downtown. Why? Because I’m sick of hearing people say “I didn’t know that was going on or I OpenCoffeewould have come.”  Who knew that BitPay was in downtown St Pete? How about Squaremouth, one of the fastest growing travel insurance comparison websites and recently voted as one of the top 20 places to work in Florida? That’s here. Iron Yard is here too.

St Pete Open Coffee is a consistent place and time where developers and entrepreneurs can bump into each other and learn about what’s going on in St Pete. Think of it as Steve Jobs’ concept of “unplanned collaborations,” how people unexpectedly ran into each other that they hadn’t seen for months, and the often dramatic creative output that resulted. Now apply that specifically to developers and entrepreneurs and you’ll understand the concept behind St Pete Open Coffee.  The real Open Coffee Club went a bit further but this is early stage and maybe we get there, maybe we don’t. But it wants to get started.

Update. And.. then I killed it. Because apparently it didn’t want to get started.  And mainly real estate brokers showed up. Srsly.

What Local Governments can do to Help Startups and the Entrepreneurial Community

Somehow I get involved in these discussions from time to time, usually a local politician is doing research on what they can do to help the startups or grow the entrepreneurial community. Usually what they’re looking to do is provide some sort of access to “funding” or get office space for the entrepreneurs. But recently I found some comments by @fredwilson to be dead-on the best answer I’ve ever heard for what local governments can be doing to help grow the community. There are five main areas that Fred identifies in his talk with Andrew Ross Sorkin:

  • Good schools
  • Good parks
  • Good transportation
  • Safe streets
  • Good places for people to live

Politicians, focus on those five things and that will attract talent and growing companies. There’s a lot more to it but those are the basics and those are the things that elected officials should be focusing on. I’d also add here a quote from Brad Feld, “paint a big spotlight on what’s going on in the entrepreneurial community.”  Just stay away from trying to figure out who to get funding to, who the next great companies are, just get out of the way, this isn’t where you can add value.

Still committed to helping startups raise money? Angel investment is the catalyst for any entrepreneurial community – it gets things flowing. But as you’ll hear Fred say in the video, there has to be a more “cowboy” mentality when doing this. The mindset has to become one of “not missing the next big thing” rather than “I don’t want to look like an idiot for investing in (x).” We’re probably a long way from doing that here and it will probably be very small steps at a time as we get this going. As Fred points out in the video, get the wealthy people out of investing in bonds and into investing in startups. Angel capital is THE MOST critical thing necessary to get this moving.

How to Attack a Gordion Knot Problem

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 8.32.01 PM

I recently had the great opportunity to speak at TEDx Tampa Bay and I loved it. I got to cut loose, have fun and discuss something that really matters to me. I spoke about Tom Wujec’s “Got a Wicked Problem, First, Tell Me How You Make Toast” TED talk. If you haven’t seen it then invest the next ten minutes and let Tom drop some knowledge on you. It’s one of those talks that’s not obvious at the time you watch it, it’s a talk that’s only obvious when things fall apart and you need a Gordion Knot-cutting knife in your pocket kind of talk.