Sunday, May 11, 2008

Go forth and OBSERVE

The only question you should ask your customers is: What is your problem?

Customers tend to censor out solutions that they don't know about, they can't imagine new solutions, and they tend to focus on functional fixes that already exist.


There is absolutely no substitute for observing your market.

In order to create a culture of innovation, you have to create bandwidth for innovation. People need time to think and tinker and imagine and experiment.

Innovation = the constant search for something better.

Innovation = new application of something old.

Innovation = the search for new value.

The extreme users and extreme non-users are the ones we need to learn from. The mean are the customers we earn from. Go talk to BOTH extremes.

What is your value proposition?

Friday, May 9, 2008


Tami and I are discussing how women choose or not choose who we are attracted to. We were debating whether we have choice over the people we are attracted to. There are good guys/girls and bad guys/girls. We end up attracted to the bad guys/girls, even thought we want the good guys/girls. Why is this and do we have any amount of control over it?

And then Tami says:

"Let's hope that if we did have an Aiden in our life, we would know it."

In order to understand this, you need to have seen Sex & the City. Aiden was the perfect good guy.

How to Live Consciously as a Woman

Here’s 12 ways to live more consciously as a woman:

1. Take Care Of Yourself and Your Own Needs, Before Taking Care Of Others

When you fly on a plane, the safety instructions are very clear that if you are flying with small children and the oxygen masks become activated, you should put on your own oxygen mask, before you put one on your child. This is true in all aspects of your life. In order to be well equipped to take care of the people you love, you first need to take care of yourself.
If you take care of others at the expense of your own needs, you will become resentful and bitter. Your life will be unhappy, you will age prematurely, you will be cranky, and you won’t be very much fun to be around. And that doesn’t serve anyone well.
A conscious woman is attuned enough to herself to know what her true, core needs are, and she takes clear actions to fulfill those needs. Your needs might be physical, intellectual, or emotional. You might need time alone, or more intimacy, or a physical workout, or a challenging occupation.

But no matter what you find yourself needing, you know how to clarify the need, and you know how to act on it. You don't depend on someone else to magically fill this need. You feel comfortable depending on yourself. Only then are you well equipped to focus on the other people in your life. When you create the things that sustain you, your energy magnifies, and things feel effortless and smooth. The more consistently you take care of yourself, the more resilient you become.

2. Respect Your Self and Your Own Sexuality

A woman knows that her sexuality is a vital expression of her being, and she make intentional choices about where and how she expresses her sexuality.
A woman does not use her sexuality to manipulate others, or to compete with others. She knows that any such competition is shallow and meaningless and hollow.
A woman knows that the sexiest thing she can do is honor herself and her own integrity.

3. Love Yourself Unconditionally

There are always things that you will want to be different about yourself, if you choose to think that way. Don’t make yourself feel bad about that extra 5 pounds, or the email that hasn’t been answered, or the groceries that need bought, or the laundry that needs folded. Don't focus negative energy on what isn't perfect. Feeling bad only leads to more feeling bad.

Instead, just accept yourself in all of your infinite perfectness and let yourself love yourself. Let go of ALL the self judgements. You don't need them. You just need acceptance and love. It really is that simple.

4. Make Informed Life Choices That Reflect Your Values

Some women want a large family. Some women want a career. Some women want both. Some women want neither. Some women want a house with a picket fence. Some women want a plane ticket and a passport. All of these paths are perfectly ok, but a woman knows which paths are most important to her and she never apologizes for which of these she wants. A woman doesn’t feel guilty for her choices, she doesn’t have regrets about her choices, and she doesn’t owe anyone an explanation for her choices.

A woman knows her most important values and she feels comfortable and confident to make choices aligned with these values. And she comfortably makes these choices every day.

5. Own Your Own Power

Don’t shrink yourself to make others feel more comfortable around you. Don’t shrink yourself to feel safe or avoid risk. Don’t play dumb. Don’t diminish yourself. Ever.

You are a woman, and you are powerful and beautiful and smart and unique and talented. Let yourself bloom. Let yourself be smart. Let yourself thrive. Stand tall at your real height. Speak with a full voice. Command attention. Command respect. Wear those red high heels or those purple Birkenstocks, or whatever shoes make you feel strong and grounded walking across the street.

6. Commit Yourself To Something Greater Than Yourself

There is an intense joy and satisfaction that comes when you commit to something significant in your life. Only you can know what will bring you satisfaction, but it is probably something more important than finding that perfect pair of shoes. Shoes are exciting, but no matter how fabulous they are, they always wear out. Your contribution to the world never wears out. It only magnifies and increases. And your contribution will feel effortless when it is aligned with your natural talent.

7. Live Fully In The Present

Lots of crappy things probably happened in your past. Your parents left you too often with that boring babysitter or your boyfriend in third grade dropped you on your birthday. You never got the pony you wanted, or you didn't get invited to the prom. Get over it. It is all in the past and you cannot change it. Let it go. It's over.

This is today. Today is new. Today is a blank page that you get to make up. You get to create this day new. Every day. Embrace it.

8. Take Responsibility For All Aspects Of Your Life

You should know how to manage every single aspect of your life, no matter how strange or unfamiliar that feels. You should know how to manage your own investments, how to maintain your house, how to eat nutritiously, how to write a strong resume, how to communicate clearly with your doctor, how to buy a car, how to travel safely. Yes, there are a million details to life that no one ever taught you when you were growing up. If you are like most women, you weren't taught everything you need to know to be a fully indpendent strong mature woman. For some reason, they don't teach that class in school. But if you learn how to learn, and you embrace your independence, and you ask lots of questions, you will get there. You will get over the scariness and the unfamiliar feelings, and you'll figure it all out, one task at a time.

And then one day all that responsibility won't feel overwhelming and scary. Instead, it will feel like freedom.

9. Create Your Own Ideal Community

Some women are close to their birth family. Some women are intentional about creating their own family by having children. Some women adopt. Some women don't feel compelled to raise children. But every woman has a need for some sort of connection to a strong community, be it a community of blood relatives, or a community of chosen friends.

Know what sort of community is most important to you, and know how to find or create community in your life. This might happen naturally, and it might require extra intentional effort.

10. Embrace Risk

It is amazingly easy for women to go through life allowing others to make decisions for them. Parents are convenient deciders. As are husbands. When others make your decisions for you, this might feel safe and comfortable. But no one will ever be able to make better choices for you than you.

Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your life is to embrace risk as you evaluate your life choices. Don't settle for what is safe if it's unlikely to be satisfying. Don't let others choose for you.

Risk leads to growth. Risk leads to learning and discovery. Risk leads you into your own best life.

11. Love Others Unconditionally

Love is its own unique reward. Don't tie strings to it. Don't have expectations for receiving something in exchange for what you give. Give freely. Give frequently. Give without expectation. Accept others and embrace them and love them. Love them without conditions. You will reap what you sow.

12. Exhale

Don’t wait for what is missing. Don’t wait for permission to exhale. Don’t keep your breath all tight and locked up inside. Let it out. Let it all out now. Breathe fully. Live fully now. Live with your arms wide open. Take a deep breath and let it out. Inhale. EXHALE. Breathe. Live.

on Happiness

from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

"...the best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile."

from John Gardener:

"We are designed for the climb, not for taking our ease."

from Tal Ben-Shahar:

"Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way to a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Today, Like Every Other Day

by Rumi

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry...

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Nature / Nurture

The more we understand our nature, the better we will be able to nurture.

- Steven Johnson
Mind Wide Open

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Immerse Yourself In The Doing

Some insightful quotes from Uncommon Genius, by Denise Shekerjian, related to creativity:

  • Creative people seem to have a greater tolerance for the ambiguous circumstances that begin most projects and are more accepting, even welcoming, of unstructured time.
  • The person who can combine frames of reference and draw connections between ostensibly unrelated points of view is likely to be the one who makes the creative breakthrough.
  • Paying attention to the conditions likely to enhance one's creative impulse is something that each person has to sort out for him- or herself.
  • Money is not nearly as important a condition to doing creative work as maintaining the confidence and the courage to keep at it.
  • Strong communication skills help, in the effort to bridge the gap between what the culture will tolerate and the innovator's vision. The package of skills includes the ability to explain ideas cleanly and neatly, the sense to know when and how to do it, and the wit and good manners to do it with charm.
  • When a work or idea is made or presented in such a fashion that it is accessible to the viewing public, not only does the work stand a greater chance for survival,... but there is also a ripple effect to enjoy - from your new thing a viewer gains the insight or the confidence to develop his new thing, and from his new thing another person goes off and discovers yet another new thing, and so on. Thus we progress as a culture, inch by inch.
  • The act of doing is an act of faith. If the creator is capable of the seriousness of the commitment and approaches it with an unclouded mind he may be rewarded with the store of knowledge that will enrich every one of his creative urges.

Part I Summary:
1. Find your talent.
2. Commit to it and make it shine.
3. Don't be afraid of risk. Or even failure, which if seen in its proper light, brings insight and opportunity.
4. Find courage by looking to something stronger and better than your puny vulnerable self.
5. No lusting after quick resolutions. Relax. Stay loose.
6. Get to know yourself - understand your needs and the specific conditions of your favor.
7. Respect, too, your culture.
8. Then finally, break free of the seductive pull of book learning and research and the million other preparatory steps that could delay for the entire span of a life and immerse yourself in the doing.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Life is mostly about finding a way to contribute.

-- James Flaherty

Wisdom from Maya

The most I talk to you, not only do I learn about you, but I learn about myself.

-- Maya Angelou


Rather than paraphrase, I am just going to include a long exact quote from the fascinating book: A Whole New Mind, by Dan Pink. Read this book!

We are our stories. We compress years of experience, thought and emotion into a few compact narratives that we convey to others and tell to ourselves. This has always been true. But personal narrative has become more prevalent, and perhaps more urgent, in a time of abundance, when many of us are freer to seek a deeper understanding of ourselves and our purpose.
More than a means to sell a house or deepen a doctor's compassion, Story represents a pathway to understanding that doesn't run through the left side of the brain. We can see this yearning for self-knowledge through stories in many places...
What these efforts reveal is a hunger for what stories can provide--context enriched by emotion, a deeper understanding of how we fit in and why that matters. The Conceptual Age can remind us what has always been true but rarely been acted upon--that we must listen to each other's stories and that we are each the authors of our own lives.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


We are all prisoners of what we know. What we know can prevent us from learning new things.

Or said in a different way...

A young Samurai swordsman entered the house of a famous Zen master. He looked at the master, bowed and said, "Master! I have reached a deep level of Zen, both in theory and practice. I have heard you are great so I come here to bow to you and hope you can teach me something." The Zen master looked at this proud young man. Without a word, he went into the back room and brought out a teapot and a teacup. He placed the cup in front of the young man and started to pour the tea into the cup. The tea filled the cup quickly and soon began to overflow. The young man looked at the old man with a confused expression. He said, "Stop, master! The teacup is overflowing". The old Zen master put the teapot down and smiled at him. He said, "This is you. You are too full already. I cannot teach you. If you wish to learn, you must first empty your cup."


The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions. -- Ellen Glasgow