Intro / Preface / Extra Words
Heyyy there, hope you had a wonderful holiday and that any resolutions you made after 3-4 adult beverages on NYE are still on track.
In honor of this being Issue 25 of Mark as Read and the first of 2018, we have attempted to make this issue a little more cohesive than usual. You could even say it has a theme. If I had to name the theme I think it would be "get back to work" (but not until you finish reading all of our words about articles we didn't write).
I do this not because I must, but because I wish to do so. | A Minor Motion Picture
My buddy Brian B. has a son, Cullen B., who makes music. The quality of what "kids these days" are doing on their computer boxes is astonishing. No wonder the music industry continues to struggle to monetize their content.
The main link is to his latest "atmospheric concept" album (which may or may not be your thing). I personally prefer his first album.
Our Consumption Model Is Broken. Here’s How To Build A New One.
If you like to worry about the future, this one's for you! – Calvin
All we want for Christmas is our old jobs back
Ten or twenty years ago a boom of moving manufacturing to low cost countries (basically labor arbitrage) accelerated with devastating consequences for low skilled manufacturing workers in high labor cost countries (like you know, the USA). Since then countries like China have seen their own labor costs rise to where in many cases the increased transportation costs are no longer offset by cheap labor. As a result we are now seeing the start of a boom in automation that will further threaten those same high cost workers. How do we balance the benefits of increased efficiency against the harm to real people?
The answer cannot be to turn our backs on automation (robots, AI, etc) as the global marketplace will continue to invest in this area and the USA (and other similar countries) will ultimately end up in a cold dark place. In my opinion we need to address the root cause here, which is that many workers are unable to generate enough value to justify their cost. Probably this looks like a systematic approach to re-training, worker development, access to education (technical and higher), as well as other mechanisms that allow workers to more easily transition from low-skill manual to higher-value work.
Furthermore I personally reject the mindset that automation will reduce the total amount of work needed; instead it just shifts where and what is needed. For instance, the average age of a skilled electrician in America today is 58(!) so in this area – and many other trades – there is a burgeoning need for skilled younger workers. In fact as buildings and power grids get smarter, the value stream of building them requires more and more higher skilled working hours to plan, build, commission and operate a new building. That work just isn't grunt work anymore; it requires a trained brain. Fortunately, mankind, when properly equipped, is really good at work requiring trained brains. Even though it is hard, it is the right thing to do to build up the brains that are conveniently attached to those hands that we no longer need.
A colleague at my company wrote an insightful analysis of this situation that I think is worth checking out. We definitely need open and productive conversations in this area. -Brian
How we Bootstrapped our SaaS Startup to Ramen Profitability
A fun new term for you to use in your next meeting with the big cheese: "ramen profitable". And just in case you've been skipping my fascinating links about startups, most of them could be boiled down to this: if you're starting something, talk to your customers (and potential customers) early and often. Don't build in secret then drop it like it's hot and expect people to flock to your genius new product.
I like this story because it's a very honest look at how long it took for a small startup to become barely profitable enough to sustain its creators. – Calvin
Work / Productivity
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Calendar
For all my friends who, inexplicably, still don't use calendar apps. Not going to name names, Gerry, but this post has several methods you can try to see which one works best for you. Everyone calendars (new verb) differently; I'm actually trying out his method of adding fixed blocks of time for recurring tasks.
You’re spending your time either way, but unless you’re planning how to spend it, the world will determine it for you.
Or said another way, if you don't intentionally plan your day then others will plan it for you. If you enjoy sprinting around from place to place and meeting to meeting, and getting nothing done, then you should continue to not use a calendar. But if living that life has gotten old, do yourself a favor and start planning your time. – Calvin
In Defense of Laziness
Watch out for your friends that are stupid and diligent. Get beers with them whenever you can and love them as much as you love everyone else, but don't give them anything really important to do.
Also just realized this link is also from that coach.me site. I'm not a Tony Robbins schmuck, promise. – Calvin
Would you be willing to offer me any advice on how to get involved in the design industry?
This is a popular time of year to take a step back and evaluate your job. If you're looking to make a career change, or you're still in college, check out this post that my main man James D. Graffam put together of all of our responses to a student who asked for a little advice. I think her name was Rory Gilmore, not sure. – Calvin
Jim Collins - Concepts - The Hedgehog Concept
A Hedgehog Concept is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be the best at. The distinction is absolutely crucial.
Aligning your business around maximizing profits will lead to less profits in the long run. For some reason it is required to instead focus on an ancillary goal, something that customers value highly, and strive to do that well. Outsized profits then often come raining down. And yet our shared experience in American business belies this and I'm sure we could all give example after example of the bottom line becoming the only focus, usually at the expense of stakeholders, customers, and employees.
The hedgehog concept from Jim Collins touches on this to some extent. If you haven't read Good to Great I do recommend it. It came out a number of years ago and may be a bit cliched but to be honest I don't care... recommending Good to Great is my personal hedgehog. -Brian
The Flight Routines of Super Travelers
I'm a bit concerned that I appear to travel more than these so-called "Super Travelers" profiled by the BBC. So in addition to a bonus article on jet lag, here are my "Super Traveler Tips":
- The best cure for jet lag is sunlight and excercise
- Worry less about when you sleep and just try to maximize how much you sleep – lack of sleep is worse than jet lag
- Never check luggage and never take more than 4-5 days worth of clothes (do laundry as you go, either with the hotel service or in your bathtub)
- Realize being jet lagged probably makes you a jerk and try consciously to be nice to everyone, especially your family and friends when you return
- To the extent you can, try to stay on one or at most two airlines, hotel chains, car companies, etc... having frequent flyer or loyalty status makes EVERYTHING about traveling easier
-Super Traveler Brian
I love technology (and science)
VR is so last year. AR is the new hotness. In the future we will interact with a blend of virtual and real realities simultaneously and seamlessley. But what if it all goes wrong?
That's it for Issue 25, folks. Hopefully we'll be back in your inbox at least once or twice more this month, and maybe by then we'll have gotten around to hosting our newsletter at our super-cool new domain we bought.
If you've shared a link recently, we haz it, we just haven't gotten around to using it yet. Keep 'em coming. And if you want a sure-fire way to be featured in this newsletter, write the commentary for us. We are lazy.
Until next time,