Having good ideas when you’re young

When you’re young, your ideas often times look strange. Especially to those around you. They’re dismissed as being naive, innocent, or ill informed. The unfortunate side affect is the sense that you’re wrong or your ideas will not spread. Then you either give up or adjust your idea to match how others perceive the world.

Of course, what’s great about being young and having young ideas is that you are actually more in tune with the current conversations going on in the world. It’s should not be about changing your ideas or molding them to be more palatable. It’s about finding the people who will listen. People who want to hear from you.

As adults, if this is true, what can (should!) we do? How can we help? Sit back and listen.

How Balsamiq Makes Application Loading Enjoyable

I love this little UX gem. Every time you open a new Balsamiq project, instead of a boring loading screen, you are welcomed with a new UI/UX quote:


If there is no way around something that’s annoying, may as well find a way to make it enjoyable. Better yet, turn it into something people anticipate and look forward to.

Funny enough, I get aggravated when the app loads too quickly and I don’t have time to read the quote!

Uncomfortable travel

Why is travel so enjoyable? Is it the desire to experience something new, or the need to leave something behind? If we’re always on the go, could it mean we are always on the run?

Maybe we just want to experience more. More environments, more languages, more food, and more people. Maybe we want to better understand who we are. But we can’t do this if we’re always traveling to the same places.

The more we interact with things that are different than ourselves, things that make us a bit uncomfortable, things we have never experiences, the more complete we can become.

Mobile web is dead?

Tony Haile writes in A correction around the death of the mobile web about the mistake of conflating time spent on the mobile web with time spent in a traditional browser. That users spend tremendous amounts time accessing the mobile web through social apps in-app browsers.

Knowing the ‘where’ helps us focus on where to place our efforts, if it’s where our customers want us to go. But it does not substitute for being who we are to our customers.

The Seattle Great Wheel

Something romantic about going round and round, up and down, at the water’s edge. Something about ferris wheels make them more impressive than skyscrapers. I don’t know what it is.

The Seattle Great Wheel

Smarter than…

Comparing two things based on a seemingly common denominator gives the allusion of a fair assessment. Comparing math test scores of one set of kids in one district, in one state, with those in another district, in another state may seem like a good way to assess each, but tests ignore way too much.

Comparisons at most times are completely arbitrary.

What does it matter if someone is smarter than you. Faster than you. Stronger than you. There will always be someone x than you.

Better to use those around you as motivation for improving the things you care about.

Better to see and track where you where just yesterday and be better than that. To be better in a areas that matter most to you. Why let comparison get in the way of what you really want and need.

Content strategy resources

Figuring out your content strategy is not a simple task. You want to make informed decisions about the current state of your content, and where you want to take it. Luckily there are countless resources out there to help you along the way. Here are a few I’ve been using recently:

Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach
Content strategy classic.

Content Strategy Alliance Best Practices Handbook
A fantastic resource of guidelines, tools, and templates for seeing your content strategy from start to finish.

A Content Strategy Template You Can Build On
A template created by Isla McKetta at Moz. Focus is on three elements: 1. The present state of your content. 2. What your content should look like. And 3. Your contents governance.

10-Step Checklist for Your Next Website Redesign
Fleshed out checklist, but highly focused on the core elements of a content strategy.

How to Create a Content Strategy (In Only 652 Steps)
Great resource and tips on content inventory and goal setting.

The importance of making new thoughts

It’s easy to think about the same things everyday. To have the same thoughts everyday. Thoughts on life. On time. What to read. What to write. Who to interact with. What to focus on. Unless your putting forth the effort, your thoughts can become formulaic.

This is ok for the mundane and the things that don’t matter, but detrimental if you want to grow and learn. Making new thoughts is great because it snaps us out of any mental doldrum we’re living with. It’s a fresh perspective that gets our mind working in new ways, rewarding us in new ways. It’s exercise for the brain.

A great way to make new thoughts is by interviewing people. People at work, your friends, or family. Inquire as to their thoughts on topics that interest you, or problems they have at work, how they overcame them, or have them teach you something they are an expert in. Look for the differences in their mode of thought. Something you can latch onto and develop into your own.

Do people need apps?

It’s not the app that matters. It’s the service or problem solved that we care about most. I didn’t download Letterspace onto my phone because I needed a note taking app. I needed a place to jot down ideas, clarify my thoughts, and track to-dos. The app itself is irrelevant. It’s just the vehicle. If I was aware of the app, it would have failed at its job.

I wonder if apps are still necessary. I wonder if they’ll start to disappear.

Entering the stream

I generally do not spend a lot of time scrolling through streams of information. Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. It’s too easy to get sucked in, giving it more than it gives back. Scrolling and scrolling to find interesting or relevant information I can delve into.

If time is all we have, I’d rather have a highly focused and relevant stream enter my psyche with as little effort on my part as possible. Even automatically. How could this work? Is this possible? Do machines know enough about me to put the correct information in front of me?

Maybe it’s playing more games. Maybe it’s just picking something to read, digging in, almost blindly. Maybe scroll prevention. If I only get x scrolls a day, would I use them wisely?

It’s not that streams are evil. It’s that the format encourages the mediocrity. Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. We’re waiting for a spark. Not realizing that it’s better to make your own spark.

So, maybe it’s not the stream. It’s this constant focus on searching. Searching for something of interest. Peeking around one more corner, hoping something is there. But there never is and never will be. It’s better to tip the scale in favor of output. To enter the stream.

Stopping at good enough

When is ok to stop at good? When is perfect the wrong stopping place?

Doing nothing is easy, but so is obsessing to the point of never finishing.

It’s deciding when good enough equals done and when doing nothing are the best options at hand.

When your mind is lying to you

Getting back from a run, the weakest I’ve been in awhile. Weak legs. Weak lungs. Weak mindset. As long as I kept putting one foot in front of the other I knew I was that much closer to finishing. Not that I was going through the motions. Rather, I was pushing through the pain towards a successful finish. Forcing my legs to wake up. Forcing my lungs to expand. Forcing my head to get in the game. It was at the final stretch when everything finally came together. I had not let my weakness win.

Sometimes it’s ok, even best, to listen to your body and mind when it’s telling you to stop. It’s at rest when they heal and grow stronger. However, if they’re lying to you, trying to convince you to stop for all the wrong reasons, beating them into submission is the only way to convince them to get on board. Then they become and asset, helping you get to where you want.

Leveling up requires getting up on your tippy toes

Continually putting yourself in front of challenges that are just barely within reach, that require great effort, is the easiest way to level up. Whether it’s a new language or new trade, if you are reaching too low or even too high, you will remain stagnant.

It’s when you are up on your tippy toes, the next level up just within reach, just far enough away to require great effort, is when your chance and ability of progress increases.

If you’re always winning, then all your doing is teaching. You’re not learning. Chesscademy.com does this really well. Progressively the AI opponent increases in difficulty, putting success just barely in reach. This makes it easy to get hooked because the carrot is so close you can taste it. Just barely working reach, if you just willing enough to reach out and grab it.

The most expensive cheeseburger I ever ate

When I was younger, about ten or eleven, I happened upon a small pile of cash in the street on my way home from the park. It immediately caught my attention, I stopped, looked around as if someone was watching me. My mind began asking the questions, “Why is it in the middle of the street like that?” “How could no one have noticed it before me?” “Who does it belong to?” After some contemplation, I snatched up the bills. I’ll never forget the feeling of joy I had running home as fast as I could, where I counted up my bounty. $17.

At home I obsessed with what I had found. Counting the bills over and over. Organizing them. Pressing the creases out. Thinking of all the things I could do or buy. Rather than hiding the money and keeping it, I decided to put the money in my pocket and left to bike around the neighborhood.

For no particular reason, I stopped in to the local food shack and bought my self the most indulgent lunch I could think of. A cheeseburger with fries and vanilla milkshake. It was phenomenal. Not the food, so much, but the feeling of independence. While I did not earn the money, it gave me such a sense of power. I got to decide what I wanted to do with the money. I got to decide where I wanted to eat. No one could stop me.

These feelings, however, did not last. The last sip of my milkshake washed away any sense of independence. It felt odd. I felt a little sad. I had something that made me so excited and I practically threw it away. And because I had found the money, I had no way of getting more. I saw no way of getting that feeling back.

I discovered that it was not the money that made me happy, but what it could bring me. Freedom and independence like never before. And I had sold it for a cheeseburger and milkshake.

A hole in the boat

A hole in the boat wants to widen. It wants room to let more in. The wood weakens and bends and snaps from the weight of the pressure. So we help the hole widen. We eat one more dessert or watch one more episode of some new tv series. The hole knows we’re weak and knows how to enlist our help. We think it has power over us so we fuel it more. But the hole has a weakness. This hole isn’t conscious. The hole is our weakness, blossoming. When we identify the holes, we know where to put our efforts.

Plugging the holes in the boat means putting that cookie down. It means writing one more letter to a good friend. It means learning one more new thing of worth. We don’t need to plug all the holes. We just need to plug the holes in a way that encourages weakness to flow out.

Unconscious motivation

If I was raising a child, one of the things I would try to impart would be the need to find perseverance and purpose. To find meaning, a reason to continue, a reason to live. It is not easy to find, so it’s important to get good at looking.

I would teach my child that when you are persevering without thought, then you are on to something. You are in a state of happiness. You will not notice it at first, but after time you will drift towards things that take so much of your attention that you leave time behind. One hour feels like seconds. Days like minutes.

I would teach my child that life and work balance does not exist. There is no such thing. The meaning of words no longer exist in todays world and economy. Work at one time was fastening widgets onto a box, but that role no longer holds value. It’s all just life.

I would teach my child that it’s ok to go alone or with no resources. That in fact, going alone and without resources is the best way. To not worry about finding people to help you because if you help others, they will want to help you in return.

I think I would also kick my child in the butt a bit or put them in unsettling situations knowing others would kick them in the butt. Have them start a company and have them sell door to door. Maybe I’d, push them out of the bus in a foreign country and tell them to meet back at the hotel. I don’t want my child to think everything will be taken care of for them. That they have to learn decision making techniques. How to listen to and understand people. How to get things done.

I would teach them that it’s easy to talk, and write for that matter, but doing is the only way forward. That the only way to achieve anything, is to allow absolutely nothing else to taste as sweet.