French Fries on Sandwiches are Cool & Other Thoughts

photo 1I recently completed a cross country drive with a great friend that included a lot of culture/people watching that you don’t get to see if you live in Seattle, Silicon Valley, New York, etc. In no particular order here are some of my thoughts…

  • In the great depression the government invested in serious forward looking infrastructure that included large scale projects from efforts like TVA. The best we can do with billions of dollars now is repaving highways that Eisenhower built? That’s not innovative and it’s not going to make a bit of difference in the long run to the US economy. Where are the massive forward looking investments at a national level?
  • photo 5Lou Malnatis makes some seriously good deep dish pizza around Chicago. I’ll be ordering some from to share with Gretchen.
  • Minnesota is covered with wind-farms on farms as far as the eye can see. It seems that they are encouraging it pretty well by making it worth everyone’s while. FWI – I felt a lot of wind around the rest of the country as well that wasn’t being used.
  • I will never complain about a 4-5 hour flight across the country again.
  • Chicago felt like a city with a lot of energy on the verge of a new renaissance. Looked like more high tech companies around the city than I imaged.
  • Cubs fans are at least as crazy as Red Sox fans. After a 2+ hour rain delay that everyone spends drinking in a bar (in team apparel BTW) and they still packed the house.
  • photo 2I didn’t see a single Window Phone 7 device outside of the one my friend had once we left WA state. I think all 1.3 million of them went to Redmond. A LOT more Android phones than iphones around though outside the cities.
  • In a west coast city Starbucks it’s 90% Macs. In the middle of the country it’s 90% windows. But they are starting to use iPads and Kindles EVERYWHERE.
  • If you want to know what it’s like to visit another planet… go walking around Yellowstone national park while it’s snowing photo 1outside. Crazy.
  • 3G coverage, even on ATT, was nearly everywhere. We streamed an MLB game all the way from Seattle to Missoula MT only a couple of hiccups. (Yes, it was the same game for nearly 6 hours. ) The worst coverage was in Yellowstone and, for some reason, upper Ohio. Those people seem to live in the stone ages. But I never expected to be able to stream audio consistently from coast to coast.
  • Other than the lack of cell coverage Yellowstone was awesome… even in the middle of what felt like a blizzard.
  • The best roads were not tolled. Where does all the toll money go?
  • If you can stream internet radio coast to coast why do we fund public broadcasting anymore? Can’t anyone have their own show on the internet for the price of internet access?
  • photo 4I still can’t believe how quickly local news can travel around twitter. Found out about the Cubs rain delay and official start times by just running a twitter search for “Cubs” and watching the chatter. There’s location based opportunity though since their “by location” feature sucks. It goes too narrow. Opportunity++? (Nevermind. Twitter told me they’d poke out my eyes if I built a twitter client. )
  • Searching for food is more fun on Foursquare than Yelp. Foursquare seem to index tips and user comments. Yelp sticks with the basic business description. Example: Search for cookies in both apps. With Foursquare you’ll actually find out where you can get fresh baked cookies.
  • photo 3Driving on the top of the Tetons was awesome.
  • Photosynth, on the iPhone from Microsoft is awesome. Just wish it saved in higher resolutions.
  • Thought I was standing in the middle of an Apple ad. In Pittsburgh I literally saw a dude put headphones on someone and play them his demo from an iPad 2 with garage 4

If I ever do this again I’m turning around after the Badlands in SD. There is nothing more to see after that other than this…

photo 5

What Do You Believe?

I believe there is value in the identification of ones beliefs. Knowing what you believe helps you find others that share your beliefs and it helps you crystalize what’s important to you in life. So here is portion of beliefs that have been cruising around my head lately.

Trends swing like a pendulum that slowly moves the center.

We are currently in the middle of a megatrend towards the simplification of software and in the infancy of defining a set of more natural user interfaces that will slowly replace existing software over the next 20 years. Gabe is only 9 months old and can’t fathom that a screen exists he can’t touch directly to play with.

Right now the pendulum is still swinging towards larger social networks and more connections between users, but it will swing back towards a set of more personalized “niche networks” that cut through the noise to help you focus on what is important to you at the moment. However the larger network will always be there for you to pull from.

Users will demand a more personalized experience with the software that runs on their most personal devices.

I can tell your there is absolutely a skill mismatch between employers and job candidates today. Interviewing these people makes me always think about the famous Seinfeld declaration that “90% of the world is un-datable”. And when Elaine asks how all these people get together… “they settle”.

Our work and personal lives will see a huge upshift in the number of geo-disperse connections and experiences. You will share goals and challenges with team members around the world and you’ll watch movies on your couch with your family across the country.

Waterfall development of any product is dead. Every aspect of product design, development, and packaging will be iterative and be directly connected to your customers.

We are going to expect and demand more transparency from our friends, co-workers, bosses, corporations, and government than at any time in the past. Facebook is already known as “the truth machine” amongst our friend group. This transparency will lead to more efficiency and collaboration than we’ve ever seen before. The best big business are asking themselves how they can create less private data.

Moore’s law for individual excellence has reached an end. The new “moore’s law” measures the number of connections and improved collaboration between software, devices, and people. This number is going to double each year and lead us to a more connected, efficient lifestyle. The win is in enabling seamless loose ties and tighter connections with smaller teams.

Product testing is ripe for reinvention.

We’ll have access to more data and statistics about our health, lives, and competitions than we’ll know what to do with. Solutions that cut through the noise to show us the important numbers will quickly become a dependency. Before Gabe was born we had access to more data about his development than had ever been collected about my own health throughout my entire life.

Being first is a good feature… just not the most important one… ask Microsoft.

The transparency and data available will serve to motivate individuals and teams to compete and evolve over time.

Amazon is setting the standard that is to be expected for a personalized application (kindle) to work seamlessly across devices and follow you everywhere with the combined knowledge of other readers. (popular highlights)

People can change and evolve themselves over time… But it takes determination to constantly challenge your comfort levels and reinvent oneself. Not doing this will lead to your eventual inability to do the things you love for a living.

Become Indispensible by Making Everyone Awesome

Barney-s-Poster-barney-stinson-859228_357_500 A lot of people have recently asked me a variant of the following questions…

What does it take to grow from a junior to a senior position?  

How do I become more valuable?

While every type of position (development, marketing, sales, etc) has it’s own set of hurdles you’ll have to overcome I think there is one universal truth:


You become indispensible by making everyone else awesome. 


You will not find a step by step guide to doing this.  If someone tells you there is one you’ve been lied to. It’s subjective and everyone’s path will be different.  But if you’d like some practical examples I’ll go on to prove the point: