Paranoia won’t save you in the end

Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, implanted paranoia as a virtuous neurosis in a generation of managers with his famous quote: “Only the paranoid survives”.Since then, it’s been an article of faith amongst much of the business world that you should be working in constant fear and suspicion of the competition, or you just aren’t going to make it. What a tormented way to spend your working hours, always looking over your shoulder.But hey, Mr Grove grew Intel’s business from nothing to $20 billion over thirty years, so of course we can boil that success down to that one key neurosis: PARANOIA. Right? No. Not right.In The Halo Effect, Phil Rosenzweig discusses at length how we’re overly prone to attribute all manner of virtue to the things the successful do. As long as we can spin a sorta cohesive narrative, it’ll be compelling on its face due to the blinding light of success. But successful people are wrong all the time about all sorts of important issues.Steve Jobs may have been the world’s greatest product manager, but he also thought he could cure his pancreatic cancer on a “special diet” and that screaming at people at the office would make them excel. Let’s just say that reasonable people can disagree whether either of those proclivities were wise, productive choices for life and work.The same way that reasonable people should challenge whether developing a neurosis for paranoia is really going to help them stay or excel in business.What exactly are you hoping to cultivate through this primal draw? Out-working the competition, by putting in ever more hours? Doesn’t work. Productivity and creativity craters on long-term overwork. Forcing yourself to make an even better product? Well, why aren’t you already trying to do that? Stressing about what the competition is doing that you can’t change anyway? For what?For everyone Mr Grove and Intel convinced they survived on paranoia, there are millions of other business thriving on simply making the best product they know how and selling it at a fair price. Most markets aren’t the winner-take-all slugfests of microprocessors. Not every competitor is an existential threat, and, even when they are, you’re better off just focusing on your own work. Trying to copy or defend against what the competition is doing is going to put you on the back foot anyway.Besides, even the paranoid ends up relegated to history soon enough. Intel is now a shadow of its former imperial glory. It no longer sets the tone in computing, ARM processors in mobile do. Sure, they’re still a mighty and profitable enterprise, but paranoia couldn’t save their crown. And it won’t save yours either.Don’t subject your life’s work to paranoia. It’s just going to cause you stress and anguish over things you mostly can’t change. Double down on making the very best product or service that you can instead. Be inspired by competitors who do certain things better, don’t dread them. If they truly have a purely superior offering, they’re going to win regardless of what you do or didn’t do. Just ask Intel.Paranoia isn’t the only affliction causing things to get crazy at work. Jason and I are working on a new book that seeks to diagnose the lot of them and prescribe better ways of thinking about work. You deserve a calm company.Paranoia won’t save you in the end was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

Ditch the elevator pitch

If there’s true interest, there’s no rush — take your time to listen first and explain secondThere’s no shortage of lore about the importance of the elevator pitch.There’s the 1850s version, in which inventor Elisha Otis’s dramatic demonstration of his innovation — a safety brake that keeps elevators from falling during a cable failure — set a new bar for colorful, efficient salesmanship.There’s the Hollywood version, in which writers pitching scripts have just 60 seconds to capture the imagination of producers.And then there’s the rumored Jobsian one — if you worked for Apple and unluckily found yourself standing next to Steve Jobs in an elevator unable to describe your contributions to the company on that brief trip, you might have been sent packing.Today, the virtues of the elevator pitch have been codified by Silicon Valley. Get accepted to a startup accelerator and you’ll be drilled in the art of the two-and-a-half-minute pitch — because that’s all the time you’ll have to sell your life’s work to a potential investor. That’s fucking ridiculous.The message this sends entrepreneurs is that success depends on your reducing your company’s complex story to a few data points and sound bites. That’s why you so often hear “We’re the Uber of this” or “the Warby Parker of that.” Those are shortcuts leaning on people’s preconceived notions of how some business in a different industry defines yours. If you have your own company but require another company to make your point, you’re already headed in the wrong direction.For years, I’ve struggled to come up with my Basecamp elevator pitch — a succinct description of our product, in standardized, universal terms. But recently I asked myself: Do I actually need one? When you struggle for so long with something, it’s generally a good idea to question the purpose of your struggle. Does it matter anyway?Sure, in theory, the desire for a quick pitch seems reasonable. Who knows whom you might meet and how long you’ll have to make your case?Now, play out some realistic scenarios. When have you ever had to explain your whole business in 20 seconds to someone who was truly motivated to understand what you do? Certainly, there are plenty of times when you are forced to bullet-point your vision to someone who really doesn’t care, like a distant relative or a cab driver. But those who are genuinely curious about your business are willing to listen. It shouldn’t take 10 minutes to explain it, but you don’t need to jam your entire narrative into a couple of quick breaths. The rush of time is a false constraint.For me, context matters. Relying on a one-size-fits-all description of your business means missing an opportunity to engage people rather than just speak at them. Instead of blasting out your script, first show that you’re curious about your audience. Ask them about themselves, what they do, what they struggle with.That’s my approach. If I think Basecamp can be helpful, I define it in their context. I can cherry-pick something they’ve told me and weave Basecamp in as a solution. People get what your company does not because of what you tell them it does, but because of how they see it fitting into their world and how it can benefit them personally.On any given day, I might describe Basecamp a dozen ways. Business owners and project managers have different needs for Basecamp. A freelancer with clients needs something different from someone who just works on internal projects.So ditch the elevator pitch. Taking time to understand someone can be much more powerful than perfecting an overly concise spiel for that mystery person in that mystery elevator.This article also appears in the April 2017 issue of Inc. Magazine.Ditch the elevator pitch was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

Exponential growth devours and corrupts

There is no higher God in Silicon Valley than growth. No sacrifice too big for its craving altar. As long as you keep your curve exponential, all your sins will be forgotten at the exit.It’s through this exponential lens that eating the world becomes not just a motto for software at large, but a mission for every aspiring unicorn and their business model. “Going viral” suddenly takes on a shockingly honest and surprisingly literal meaning.The goal of the virus is to spread as fast as it can and corrupt as many other cells as possible. How on earth did such a debauched zest become the highest calling for a whole generation of entrepreneurs?Through systemic incentives, that’s how. And no incentive is currently stronger than that of THE POTENTIAL.It used to be that successful, upcoming companies would show a prudent mix of present-day profits and future prospects, but such a mix is now considered old-fashioned and best forgotten. Now it’s all potential, all the time.This trend didn’t start yesterday. We can’t blame the current crop for soil spoiled five harvests ago. No, this singular focus on potential, forsaking all present-day considerations, was cultivated by some of our current giants.It’s companies like Salesforce that have shown just how long you can live on potential alone. Just how large and sprawling you can become without ever bothering to show much if any profits. There’s a decade and more’s proof that growing like a virus, gobbling up other businesses to cling to the exponential, is how you can be “successful”.There’s always more potential. Always another idea or domain that can be devoured. But this is also the straight path to devolution and its distortions. Bright ideas boiled free of all that is good and left dry as bones.Angry Bird’s shake-down screenHave you tried Angry Birds lately? It’s a swamp of dark patterns. All extractive logic meant to trick you into another in-app payment. It’s the perfect example of what happens when product managers have to squeeze ever-more-growth out of ever-less-fertile lands to hit their targets year after year.It’s straight out of the split-pea soup parable. What if we removed just three peas? Nobody can tell. The factory can save a few million. The executives who pushed that idea can get their yearly bonus. No harm, no foul? But nothing ever stops at the quarterly win. There are four quarters to a year. Forty to a decade. Every one of them has to produce, exceed, and beat EXPECTATIONS.Because the core assumption is that growth is always good, growth is always unlimited, and if you’re not growing you’re dying. Swim or sink, no wading.It’s the banality of moral decline. No one person sits down and imagines that Angry Birds of 2009 becomes the Angry Birds of 2017. A fun, novel game turned into a trashy slot machine. Nobody is proud of work like that. But it happens. One pea at a time. Until the split-pea soup has no more peas.We cannot expect otherwise. It takes superhuman strength to resist the compound expectations of quarterly growth targets linked to an exponential moon shot. The list of comic-book heroes capable of such a task is so short that we’ve already deified the few, like Steve Jobs, who held the line. (And who knows where he would have gone given another decade or two?)Remember “Don’t be evil”? Google’s iconoclastic corporate slogan that slowly but surely accumulated so many caveats and exceptions that it needed as much legalese as a terms of service agreement. Principles are no match for the long-term corrosion of market realities and expectations. The levies will break, the good intentions will flood.But back to the incentives. It’s not just those infused by venture capital timelines and return requirements, but also the likes of tax incentives favoring capital gains over income.What sucker wants to earn $10 million/year at a 52.5% tax rate when you can get away with hundreds of millions in one take at just 15%? Nobody, that’s who.It’s hard to argue that boards, founders, and their financiers aren’t just doing exactly what the incentives are coaxing them to do.Which is why growth is now everything and residual value is nothing. In fact, the latter can be outright harmful to the former. When you’re being priced on the hopes and dreams of potential, reality can be a dangerous and undesired competitor. Best just to appeal to the exponential curve and let the imagination roam free. An epic capital gains score awaits!Given how pervasive this worship of potential and growth has become, it wasn’t surprising that when we pruned the product portfolio at 37signals a few years back, and left only Basecamp, the reaction was mostly one of incredulity, or even anger. Either we were cutting businesses that were devoid of financial merit, or they had merit, and we were thus per definition crazy to let them die. Crazy to turn down growth. To summarize the ethos of the comments sections back then: If something is creating revenue, it’s your solemn duty to keep milking and pumping until it’s done! Extract every cent, then move on to the next mining effort.The fancy word for that is fiduciary duty. To grow as fast as inhumanely possible is not just a goal, but a responsibility. A moral obligation to THE MARKET. And the theory goes, the market is all of us*. So you’re actually serving your community. All that is bad is good again once you change the tint of your glasses. If you sense something rotten, you just need a new prescription. Now you’ll see as clear as fog that this is ACTUALLY ABOUT ETHICS IN BUSINESS.The true puppeteer behind this homogenization of startup aspirations is diversification theory. Decisions are not driven by what’s good for a single company, its employees, and its customers. No, it’s what’s good for the basket.These baskets are known as venture capital funds. That’s the pipeline through which virtually all recent tech companies that have reached the public markets were sent. It’s a gladiatorial arena with the explicit goal that if enough businesses in the basket aren’t failing, the fund isn’t trying hard enough! Not dreaming big enough! Be more outrageous! Be more crazy!It’s a hyper-evolutionary process that rewards the most extractive, most addictive, most viral strain from the cohort. The key measurement is ENGAGEMENT. Who cares about the virtue of the endeavor, as long as your product is maximally addictive.Engagement, of course, is not a new pursuit. It’s just the latest euphemism for what we used to call capturing eyeballs. But I guess that was a bit too blunt and honest to survive the sanitization of the industry. The collective ecosystem learns and adapts at an incredible pace, including how best to position its image to incite the least amount of skepticism. They have better words now to hide the same scheme in plain sight. The normalization of questionable motives in the public perception is key to enabling the next iteration to proceed without obstacle.And iterate they do. At a furious pace. Every new fund is competing against the survivors of the last one and the more purpose-bred contenders of the current one. It’s what makes looking at the values and principles of today so fascinating and frightening. If this is where things stand in 2016, what does 2020 look like? 2024? 2030? The mutations will continue. And they absolutely will not stop until every last one of us has been through the funnel and converted to a servile consumer as ingredients in the sludge of growth.Innovation, risk, and morals are being packaged with ever greater efficiency through startup accelerators that take the raw ingredients, preferably pattern-matched look-alikes of Zuckerberg, and turn them into securitized batches of startups. Whole tranches of burgeoning businesses packaged into Spring and Fall cohorts. This packaging has turned out to be a great model for the packagers. Many small sums spent on 7% of ownership. If you package enough entrepreneurial product, your actuary tables will line up beautifully.And you get to indoctrinate these seeds with the values and practices of the most successful viral strains from last season. Genetically modified, cloned, and inoculated startup founders with all the right bits, flipped to ensure the greatest chance of the biggest yield.But what is a conscientious objector to do? Time waits for no one, and only the Luddites think that their home too won’t one day soon be configured with BUY NOW buttons for all the beloved BRANDS. Controlled by a friendly bot in the cloud that learns all your habits, preferences and titillations one command at a time. Data mining has also successfully been rebranded to the more palatable Machine Learning. Who wants to stop anyone, human or machine, from learning? What are you, the digital taliban?So too with the startups themselves: “If we don’t, we’re leaving money on the table!!”. Has there ever been a more gluttonous justification for guiltless business practices?Uber drones haggling drivers stuck in traffic in MexicoCould it be that perfecting the most viral superbug — until the final strain is discovered that really DOES devour the whole world — isn’t what the whole startup community should be focused on? What if we opened our eyes to non-exponential startups and the needs they may have instead.But again, don’t you know businesses are valued on future potential, not present reality? Yes I do. And that’s my objection. Surely a mix is prudent, but the spectrum has gotten out of whack. To the point where the present is entirely discounted by the lure of the future. And the past, what it took to get where we are, is either ignored or forgiven. Mistakes may have been made, but tomorrow is an entirely new day, divorced from any of the days that went before it. It’s a constant cycle of absolution combined with a community-induced amnesia to past transgressions. It’s just more efficient that way.Technology isn’t the only industry that grapples and struggles with growth, so we can learn from studying others suffering the same pressures. Take the drug business. It costs staggering sums to develop a new mass-market drug, and it’s a risky endeavor, so we reward the explorers with a patent monopoly when they strike gold. But it’s not a permanent one. There’s a time limit, and after that generics distribute the gains of progress widely without the yoke of a profit-maximization goal.What if we thought about how we could apply some of that to the world of software? How can we turn more of the Twitters and Facebooks and Googles into generics? What shifts in underlying technology and cost do we need to hit to make it feasible to run something like Twitter on Wikipedia’s budget (and fund it by donations rather than ads)? What if the next Big Idea looked more like email and less like the walled gardens of today?We’ve made this transition at the infrastructural level, to some extent. Technological and algorithmic advances from closed-source software have been turned into generics via open source. With spectacular commercial success, no less. As one boat sinks, a thousand new ones float. One software company or product’s death is easier to celebrate, rather than mourn, when you know the intellectual organs are giving life to ten new ones.Additionally, startup culture used to focus a lot on the personal risk of the founders and early employees. To a nauseating degree, yes. This heroism was the justification for all the spoils there were to come. These days, there’s a lot less talk of existential risk because there’s a lot less of it. There’s so much money floating around that for many founders, the risk is mostly gone. At least in the financial sense, if not in the moral and time-opportunity sense. Failure is celebrated to such a degree in part because the system needs to recycle able bodies as quickly as it can to keep the overall system growing. Spent three years on a startup that didn’t work out? No sweat, bro. Here’s a hug and a reboot and a new bag of money to try again. You’re here just in time for my next fund!Now some of that is clearly good. Less extreme risk means, at least in theory, greater access for more people to participate in the startup lottery. But it also has some clear downsides of detachment. If this go is just one of many, if you can always just hit restart, then you’re probably not as concerned about this specific go-around. So what if we step over the line a little here. ITS THE HUSTLE, BABY! And besides, if we miss, no biggie.Maybe it’s time we rediscover some personal liability. Limited, yes, none, no. Complete detachment from the consequences of your choices isn’t producing the kind of responsibility the world so dearly needs.But that’s hard. Of course it’s hard. Not the least because this whole adventure is so heavily medicated with foosball tables, game rooms, and bean bags of all colors. As many distractions as possible from having to consider the true nature of what we’re doing. What’s that about the rising automatron class? Sorry, I’m late for a nerf battle on the star deck. Later!Yeah, the automatron class. People treated as literal cogs in transportation and delivery machines. Complete with machine-like tolerance specifications for quality. Dip below a 4.7? You’re in trouble. No explanations. No room for a bad day or a bad week because the bills were mounting. No room for humanity, no room for frailty. Just put on your happy face and Have A Great Day.The Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” shows the logical conclusion of this ratings worldI’ve been as guilty of this as anyone. When I first discovered Uber, I was ecstatic. So much less human friction. No yucky money changing hands. Just in and out. Headphones on and let’s go. The less I had to deal with the humanity of drivers, the better. Or so I thought.But not all that is easy is better. Friction is interaction. Human psyches rubbing against each other. And in this friction-less society we wonder how on earth someone could vote Brexit or Trump. It wouldn’t be such a mystery if we didn’t do all we could to isolate ourselves from the world.Yet we go along with the euphemisms and fantasies. Oh no, no. These people aren’t cogs, they’re independent business owners! Able to set their own hours: Like whether they want to drive for 60 or 80 a week to make ends meet! Aren’t we liberating?And I think that’s the truly insidious part of the tech lords solution to everything. This fantasy that they will be greeted as liberators. When the new boss is really a lot like the old boss, except the big stick is replaced with the big algorithm. Depersonalizing all punishment but doling it out just the same. Maybe the old cabbie boss was an asshole, but at least that asshole had a face. Someone you could yell at. Have you tried yelling at an algorithm or a customer-rating average?It’s just another mass-scale exploitation project. And by exploitation, I mean that less in a shackles and bone-soup sense — although there’s a good discussion to have around that too — but more in a pennies for you, billions for me kind of way. Enormous wealth being extracted from people living subsistence lives. But rather than being seen as modern sweatshops, we are all cheering this on as unadulterated progress. Anyone who’s in opposition to this exploitive process is a crank, as Michael Foley would say. Any community that may have reservations about how this is happening is a shit-hole.Now that doesn’t mean that there aren’t all sorts of vested, crony interests in keeping innovation at bay. Surely there are. But there’s more than that. There are a whole host of legitimate reasons why we have government regulations around housing and transportation. Inconveniences to the march of Instacart and Uber to turn everyone into a temporary gig worker.This exploitation isn’t just for the workers of the Uber or the neighbors of Airbnb. It’s also all of us through the algorthimization of news at the House of Facebook’s behest. More engagement. More rage, more fake news, all resulting in more hours spent, more eyeballs fixated, more clicks and taps made.And this new world order is being driven by a tiny cabal of monopolies. So commercial dissent is near impossible. Do you want to be the weirdo without a Facebook account? The uncool stooge for staying at a motel or taking an old-school cab? Of course not. You’re hip, you’re with it. Everything worth doing is in an app.So it remains mostly our fault. Our choice, our dollars. Every purchase a vote for an ever more dysfunctional future. We will spend our way into the abyss.If nothing changes, we’ll continue to vest the tech titans and their lords with economic monopolies that grant them undue power. They’re too big to be conscientious. “Don’t be evil” is a slogan for an upstart, not a conglomerate. You simply can’t distribute such noble a moral codex across endless divisions, all with their own P&Ls.And don’t fall for the soothing charity by the extractive victors either. That charade is as old as time. It’s the process by which ruthless tech lords seek to rebrand themselves into noble benefactors for the good of society. By giving back some of their spoils as they see fit. Kings of plenty doling out gifts and mercy. Don’t buy it. And I don’t mean that in the sense that, say, Bill Gates hasn’t done good with his fortune. But that society isn’t better off when we have to rely on magnanimous tech lords to solve its ills by decree.Incumbent power centers will not go quietly into the night, though. Excuses will be aplenty, because unlike the robber barons of old, they’re not going to defend themselves with water canons and lock-outs. It’ll be cold war skirmishes fighting for fake moral high grounds. Natural monopolies! Network effects!Because competition is for the little people. Pitting one individual contractor against another in a race to the bottom. Hoarding all the bargaining power at the top. Disparaging any attempts against those at the bottom to organize with unions or otherwise. Ragging on that as “untapped energy”.When you accept this entire picture, it’s not so hard to understand why some people are starting to freak out. I’m freaking out. This is worth freaking out about.As Douglas Rushkoff says, we need a new operating system for startups. The current one will keep producing the same extractive and monopolistic empires we’ve gotten so far. No, what we need is a new crop of companies that are institutionally comfortable with leaving money on the table. Leaving growth on the table. Leaving some conveniences and some progress on the board, in order to lead the world into a better direction.The solution isn’t simple, but we’re in dire need of a strong counter culture, some mass infusion of the 1960s spirit. To offer realistic, ethical alternatives to the exponential growth logic. Ones that’ll benefit not just a gilded few, but all of us. The future literally depends on it.This essay is a follow-up to RECONSIDER. Right down to the genesis of being a conference talk I didn’t end up giving (sorry Webstock!). If you haven’t read that yet, you’ll probably like it, if this tickled your fancy. And you’ll probably also like my books REWORK and REMOTE. Oh, and I’m writing another one, The Calm Company, right now. Cheers!Exponential growth devours and corrupts was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

This is why we have working managers at Basecamp (and why Microsoft and Apple stumbled when they…

He knew how to work up a sweat for developers, I’ll give him that. But…This is why we have working managers at Basecamp (and why Microsoft and Apple stumbled when they lost their tech CEOs)Harvard Business Review studied what makes 35,000 employees from the US and Britain tick and found:The benefit of having a highly competent boss is easily the largest positive influence on a typical worker’s level of job satisfaction.Not the pay. Not the perks. Not even coworkers. Managers competent in the work of the worker. Bam.I hadn’t thought about it in such clear terms before, but the vague hunch is why we designed Basecamp to be managed by people who do the actual work, and are very good at it. We don’t have any managers at Basecamp who just manage. Everyone with managerial responsibilities also do the work, and then they manage on the side.I explored this approach to management in moonlighting managers ain’t got no time for bullshit, but didn’t appreciate the motivational value of working for someone who truly, deeply understands the work of the people they’re managing.Consider this at the grand scale as well. Not just our merry band of fifty at Basecamp. Now forgive me for wheeling out the specter of Steve Jobs, but I think this finding helps explain why Apple went awry under John Scully too. Even if it was Jobs himself who recruited him. Scully knew how to sell sugar water and run organizations. He was not a competent technologist. That shit seeps in until it rots out the core.Microsoft might well have been an evil empire under Gates, but at least there was some serious and formidable technology to underpin that empire with Gates. Once the sales sidekick took over the shop, the earnings might have gone up, but the core of competence started to rot there too.Perhaps this too is why VCs have retreated from the earlier idea of bringing in “an adult” to run the place once the technologist founders hit a few snags on their INCREDIBLE JOURNEY to 10x returns. Keeping someone in charge who actually knows what the work is about keeps the troops happy. And happy troops are productive troops.We all strive to do great work. It’s much harder to do that while working under someone who aren’t intimately competent in that work and what makes it great.This is why we have working managers at Basecamp (and why Microsoft and Apple stumbled when they… was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

So, This is Not a Love Letter to T-Mobile… … … … But…

This might sound (and be) a little bit crazy but after 14 years of being with the same phone service provider (AT&T) I walked into the T-Mobile store yesterday and walked out in a miraculous 50 minutes fully converted.
Yes. Insane. Our entire family of 4 (4 iPhones, 2 x iPhone 7 Plus, 2 x iPhone 6S Plus). If you would’ve told me even a few weeks ago that I’d be considering this and making the trip over to local brick-and-mortar to make a swap I would have looked at you funny.

I mean, I was a seriously-dedicated and loyal customer to AT&T and had been grandfathered into some pretty serious plan(s)! I stuck around. But, I couldn’t any longer and now, today, I am the somewhat proud owner of a new contract with T-Mobile sporting a 50% reduced monthly bill with better services attached.
Insane. And I feel honestly a bit awkward even blogging about this publicly because it really is the last thing I thought I’d ever write about.
So, what prompted this significant shift? An announcement I heard about via the recent CES – a new program via T-Mobile that seemed too good to be true.
But the longer story might be about John Legere and his influence as a communicator for his company and brand. You see, year after year I observed him raise his middle finger to the more established and bigger telcos and simply saying that there was a better way.

(You can google for videos of him really going at it. I’ll let you do that later…)
Now 99% of all of that might actually be straight-up bullshit, but there’s something very direct and even mesmerizing about his consistent approach to communicating value around his business.
In fact, I think that he, like Steve Jobs, knows well the power of “deciding on who your enemy is” and doing this very early on, which only establishes your position and, if done masterfully, makes it a competitive advantage in a commoditized market.
And he’s been very plainspoken about the broken system and even admitting his own participation in it (for a time). But this honest and forthright approach to the industry as a whole is powerful and it really grabs you. It’s, well… again… honest.
And so, in a way, it has really been a game of attrition for me; he wore me down and the continued increase of costs over time with AT&T and the consistently reduction of costs on T-Mobile’s side made the decision become more obvious and easy.
Finally, something broke the dam and I had enough conviction to ask the three ladies in my life to give me their devices, to full backups, and find a time when all four devices could be “out of commission” for a time for the swap. I wanted to be fully prepared for a “worst case” scenario. In fact, I believed that the change would be one of incredible pain.
Instead, the entire experience was “pleasant” – that’s even a weird saying it aloud. Within 50 minutes (I timed it) the full conversion was complete. I didn’t have to do anything with my existing devices, we got to keep all of our numbers, and the billing was setup and done with. I paid for an hour meter on the street and had time left over when I hopped back into my car.
Oh, and they even gave me $600 to switch the entire family over ($150 per line). All upsides I guess.
At this point it sounds like a ridiculous love letter to T-Mobile, but, it really isn’t. I’m just really happy at the experience and I won’t even bore you with any specific details around service contracts, comparison of features, and cost (which, again, is a big reduction). I’m just freakin’ happy.
Okay. So, that’s that. Please do not interpret this blog post is an advertisement or a prescription for what you should do. Instead, it’s just a story of a guy who stuck with one shitty for service provider for almost a decade and a half. Hopefully, I’ll die a T-Mobile customer because I just don’t want to have to do this again, even if it was relatively painless.
And that’s that.
The post So, This is Not a Love Letter to T-Mobile… … … … But… appeared first on John Saddington.

How to Differentiate Yourself in a Saturated Market, Using Steve Jobs Quotes

Starting a company is tough. Figuring out what to build, how to build it, and how to pay for the whole thing takes tremendous energy and conviction. And the kicker? These days, nearly every idea for a product has already been thought of by someone else. But what if you have an idea that’s better than the others? How can you convince potential backers, customers, and yourself that it’s worth the effort? We asked real-life startup founders how they differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace, both to investors and the public. As it turns out, their lessons learned, as well as the advice they give to others, map closely to the sage wisdom of the quintessential startup founder, Steve Jobs.
Jobsian Pearl of Wisdom #1“You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around.”
Understand your user and their challenges. This process becomes even easier if you identify a problem you’ve encountered yourself (you’re a user, too!) and design a solution for it. Hussein Fazal of SnapTravel employed this method when designing a tool to book travel via SMS, Facebook Messenger, and Slack. “We believe that booking travel is an unpleasant experience. While commerce has moved primarily to mobile, most hotel bookings are still made on desktop. The best way to move travel commerce to mobile, is to use messaging - as this is the most natural interface.” He adds that it’s important to “observe user behavior as opposed to trying to assume what people want.”
Matthew Cooper, founder of intelligent loan payment automation platform EarnUp, has similar advice with a philosophical bent: “Go out into the world. Go into the homes and workplaces and quiet places of real people with real challenges. Watch and listen. There we will learn what the actual challenges are we as founders can help solve.”
In a more general sense, your knowledge as a user can extend beyond identifying problems. Alex Bilmes of data visualization platform Reflect notes that a unique point of view is valuable in itself: “I would recommend that founders pull from their personal experiences, since it’s the one thing they have that nobody else does.”
Jobsian Pearl of Wisdom #2“You’ve got to have a problem that you want to solve; a wrong that you want to right.”
In the process of looking for a solution to a problem you (or others) have experienced, you might find yourself stumbling on an unaddressed need in the market. This is an opportunity not just to kill two problems with one stone, but to have a solid foundation for claiming your product’s value to prospective investors or customers.
The ease of identifying a problem, however, doesn’t necessarily indicate that the solution will also be easy. Sometimes getting a truly useful product up and running requires a combination of resource-light and resource-intensive features. Snehal Shinde of personal shopping app Mezi offers some tips for those considering a product with AI: “My advice to founders would be to focus on building a solid core technology that can scale with users, and not go the easy route of adding human experts too quickly, since that won’t scale in long run.”
Another important tip to keep in mind when taking on something as potentially all-consuming as a new business is not biting off more than you can chew. Dmitriy Rokhfeld of industrial equipment e-commerce site Machinio advises that founders should “focus on a single problem and solve that better than anyone else. Too often young companies attempt to disrupt new industries by solving every pain point and every inefficiency from the start.”

Jobsian Pearl of Wisdom #3 “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
Iterating and pivoting are essential parts of the product-building experience. Steve Jobs himself was the master of the pivot, evolving his opinions on what Apple customers wanted and needed over time and having those evolutions reflected in new products.
Alex Strunkin and Derek Richardson of IoT startup Deako explained to me that they actually started their company with a theory of what they wanted to make, then pivoted the company a number of times based on a combination of listening to their users and watching the market. This continual research is imperative, as Alex noted, “you assume someone’s already doing [what you want to do], but when you actually take the time to look at the customer segment, you’ll see who’s really addressing it and who isn’t.”
Madeline Fraser of interior design app Hutch confirmed that being flexible in tweaking your business model is crucial in a fast-moving industry. “When we started our previous design company, we quickly learned the home furnishing space was missing a mobile component to assist our on-the-go generation in a way that's personalized and affordable. Knowing the space was in need of disruption, we pivoted our business model to focus on a mobile platform.” She added, “our advice would be to trust your instincts,” which brings us to our final pearl...
Jobsian Pearl of Wisdom #4“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.”
Having passion, instinct, and some sort of personal connection to the problem you’re trying to solve is key to creating something that will resonate with others. On this point, Jobs also said without passion for your work, “you won’t have the perseverance to see it through.” This is especially salient when you find yourself toiling away for weeks (or months, or years) on end building a new business and trying to gain a foothold in a crowded market.
Passion isn’t a solely introspective component to entrepreneurship, either. The practical application of your passion as a founder has a ripple effect on all facets of your business. Michael Wayne of lifestyle content startup Kin Community explains: “Focusing on your passion and finding a universal purpose are key to building a strong company foundation. In addition, defining and articulating what values are important to you will help shape and guide your company, your vision, the types of employees you hire and the partners you work with.”
Adam Zbar of food delivery startup Sun Basket expands on this point by advising other founders to consider the larger effect of their work, and “focus on building a business that you are passionate about, believe can have a major impact on the world (in a positive way), and which has a strong, scalable business model.” Seeing a larger impact of your work, even if it’s only theoretical in the beginning, can serve as powerful positive reinforcement during tough times.
Lastly, strength of passion and strength of vision go hand-in-hand when navigating the world of startups. This conviction is contagious, and sends a powerful message when communicating the idea for your business to family and friends, potential investors, and prospective customers. As Brad Heller of Reflect astutely notes, “I think it's important to have a strong vision. If you have a hard time differentiating your vision from someone else's product, then that probably means your vision is indeed not unique!”
Keeping your users and the problems they need solved as a central focus, while maintaining the flexibility to adapt to changes, and always keeping in mind the passion that drove you to come up with the idea in the first place, will go a long way toward setting you up for success in the startup world. That said, it’s also always a good idea to seek out advice one-on-one from experienced entrepreneurs who are interested in sharing their knowledge. Regardless of the niche you might hope to address with a new company, heeding the advice of others who have been in your shoes can serve to make your life a lot easier. Good luck!

Source: VigetInspire

Apple vs. Adobe: The Saga of Flash

For many developers, the public feud between Apple and Adobe over the last couple of years has been hard. Apple's ban on Adobe Flash meant that integrationtime for the iPhone and iPad would cost developers extra time and money, along with the giant headache of using several technologies to develop one mobile project on several different platforms. But, just when it seemed like the headache was becoming too much, Apple suddenly changed their minds and reversed the ban last month.Read more