One of my new favorite podcasts is How I Built This on NPR. It’s a tightly edited 20-30 minutes each week with an entrepreneur about how they built their business. They done stories with the founders of Patagonia, Zumbra, Crate & Barrel and more. All of them are great.
The latest one I’ve heard is that of 5-Hour Energy Drink with founder Manoj Bhargava. I’ve never had the product and frankly have always looked down on it, but the story was fascinating and I found a few great nuggets in the episode. My favorite nuggets are:
The three best characteristics, according to Manoj, for someone wanting to start a business are (a) Common sense. Don’t get caught up in MBA-Speak. If it makes sense, do it. If not, don’t do it. (b) Determination. Don’t confuse passion with determination. Passion goes away but to be succussful you have to show up every single day. (c) Urgency. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Don’t wait.
I also like the part where he talked about leaving money to his son and why he’s leaving him almost nothing. Manoj a billonaire and he had the great quote of “If you raise your kid to be useless, than leaving him money is pointless. If you raise your son to be competent, leaving him money is pointless.”
I thought we were time constrained when Hunter came along. Well, with two little ones this year, aged 1 and 3, time really got sucked away from me. Less sleep, fewer workouts, fewer books read. All the things I like to do just for me basically went out the door this year. But, they were replaced with more time with my family, which was just fantastic.
He really became a full fledged person this year. He’s now funny and clever. He has a bit of trickery and deviousness in him, but he’s shaping up to be a very kind person. His teachers at school regularly remark about how genuine and kind he is. Also, his super power this year is his drawing. He’s very creative and can draw ridiculously well. Continue reading “The Lewhouses in 2016”→
As a product person, sometimes you prioritize incremental improvements instead of game-changing ideas because “the big swings” take too long. This almost happened at Tinder and the “swipe right” almost didn’t exist.
Here’s an article in Wired where the CEO and CTO recount how they talked about it. Jon Badeen (The Chief Strategy Officer) came up with the idea after seeing it done in flash cards in Chegg. He then showed the rest of the team.
Sean Rad (CEO): We had a five-minute conversation. It was a cool idea, bt jon thought it would take two weeks to build. So I said, eh, probably not a priority. That was right after we launched. We had a whole set of wings we wanted to do
Ryan Olge (CTO) chimes win with: We wanted to do read receipts, typing notifications, all these things
Then all of the sudden it showed up in the app. Apparently Jon worked on it over the weekend because he really wanted it.
Apple announced the new iPhone 7 yesterday and announced that they are removing the headphone jack. Some quick thoughts on that…
Short Term Pain
It’s annoying to have to live in a world where my phone does not have a headphone jack as I have many different headphones laying around and to use them I have to use an extra dongle that i have to carry with my phone. Also, for people who want to listen to music and charge their phone at the same time – a common use for Uber and Lyft drivers, this is now impossible (although i did see this solution). For all of these reasons, I think it will be a pain in the ass for many people – including myself in the short term.
Moving towards the future
I do think that the wireless technology of headphones is underrated and way more advanced than we are aware. By forcing the issue and making these headphones mandatory, Apple will bring more and more great wireless headphones available. I can imagine a world in 5 years where everything is wireless.
From my use of the Echo, I does seem that the only thing between the cloud and my is voice. Having a sweet set of headphones that can access it all of the time seems like the right way to go.
The use of the word “courage”
This was totally ridiculous. Apple, even if you think it, don’t say it. When you’re causing so much short-term pain to your customer, don’t get up on stage and pat yourself on the back. That was a dumb move.
The Apple eco-system
Now all headphone manufacturers who build a lightning connector are married to the iPhone. Doing this will result in more lock-in than ever before. This was definitely part of their thought-process when coming to this decision. Apple loves the lock-in.
Last year, on December 1, I decided to run, every day Mon-Friday for at least 3 months. It was part of a not-be-fat program that I needed to go on. It worked out really well and I hit new heights of running enjoyment. The miles also started increasing. I hit over 80 miles run in Jan, Feb, and March. All was good.
Then, disaster struck. A few weeks ago, I injured my left knee in a soccer match. I couldn’t walk at all and definitely couldn’t run. t went to the doctor about a week after the event and after an MRI, we had this conversation:
Me: What are my options, doc?
Doc: You don’t have to do anything or your can have surgery
Me: What happens if I don’t do anything?
Doc: Well, it’ll just hurt like it does now and you probably won’t be able to run
Me: For how long?
Me: When can I schedule surgery?
So, I went to get my knee operated on yesterday. As I was on my way to the hospital, I was pretty nervous as I’ve never has surgery before and I know of people who have had some really bad problems from routine knee operations. Then, I was sent this really great UnderArmor commercial:
This video inspired me and reminded me as to why I was going under the knife. Being active has become a huge part of how I live my life. I basically played soccer every day of my life for over a decade until I was 22 and since then have been working at at least 3 times a week. The thought of not being able to run or be active is very scary to me.
Here I am a day after the surgery and it seems to have gone well. I’m still on painkillers, so I don’t really know for sure, but I’m optimistic. I should be back up and running soon.
The next steps is to do some rehab and get back on the road.
My goal is 80 more miles in the month of August. Looking forward to it
I’m here in Paris for a work event with about 600 other co-workers. Last night we all had the night off and me and 2 colleagues decided to go see the France vs. Germany soccer match. We bought some tickets online and thought we were in for a super fun night.
Little did we know what would happen. In the morning, this would be the headlines from the papers:
The match started and our seats were fantastic. We were right on the left sideline with a great view of Martial. He was incredible and scored a great goal.
About 10 minutes before half, at 9:15pm, everyone in the stadium heard a massive BOOM. It was loud and I immediately said to Jon, “that sounds like a bomb.” Even the players noticed. However, everyone went back to watching the game and the players kept playing. Here’s how it sounded:
About 5 minutes later, right before half, another BOOM. It was loud. Having never been to a soccer match in the French stadium, i thought that maybe it was something that happens regularly. Nobody seemed to be miffed about it, so i thought it was just part of the scene.
At halftime, i was standing in line for the restroom with Jon. We saw all the security guards start to close all the gates to the stadium, locking us in. We thought that was pretty strange. We told our other friend Marc, who has lived in France before, about it. He said that it was typical so they can route everyone out a central exit when the game is over. Seemed like a logical answer. We went on watching the game. You can see from this picture that we weren’t yet aware of what was happening:
I really started to think things weren’t right when i noticed there were about 10x more security standing between the crowd and the field. At this point you would think we would be freaking out, but we weren’t. We asked the people behind us if they knew anything. Nothing. Nobody knew a thing and the game continued. Nobody knew that the two blasts were bombs exploding outside the stadium at a fast food restaurant and a brasserie. Nobody knew that the French President who was at the game was secretly evacuated.
About 15 minutes into halftime, at 9:40, there was another BOOM. Again nobody paid it any attention and continued to watch the game. When the game finished, we were walking out of the stadium when there was a general announcement that there was an incident outside one part of the stadium. There was a collective “hmm, that’s interesting,” and they continued to the exits. It was calm but you could lots of sirens going on outside the stadium.
As we were exiting, you could see hundreds of police and hear lots of sirens. Then, the stadium something happened. I’m not exactly sure what it was but the people at the front of the crowd turned around scared shitless and started running as fast as they could back into the stadium. Everyone else started doing that too. It turned into a stampede. Older people and kids fell to the ground and were getting trampled. We ran too. After getting away (about 400 yards) from the area that people were running from jon and I reconnected with Marc and walked the opposite direction. At this point, kids were bawling and sirens were blasting. It was clear that the world was not right. We were very scared, but still in the dark about what was happening.
We finally got out of the stadium and called an Uber. Miraculously one got to us and we told him to take us home as fast as possible. We got a call from another colleague was at a hotel. He was walking to dinner when he came across a man in the middle of the street waving a gun. He then saw someone who was shot pouring blood. He ran to a restaurant to get cover, but they weren’t letting people in so he kept running. Eventually he got inside and called us. Our Uber arrived about 15 minutes later to grab him and we all continued back to our listing.
My night wasn’t nearly as scary as his or some of my other colleagues but it was still unnerving. Not knowing whats happening and seeing fear on the faces of everyone in the crowd is terrifying.
When we got back to our apartment, we got online and devoured the news for hours. It was then that we learned the facts of the night. The scariest event being the massacre at the Bataclan music club.
At that club, a few gunmen entered with AK rifles and opened fire on the 1500 people. Most people ran to the exits. Many fell to the ground and tried to cover themselves. The gunmen continued to fire for 10-15 minutes on the people who were laying on the ground. They reloaded 4 times. Here’s a quote from one survivor,
Ten minutes … 10 horrific minutes where everybody was on the floor covering their head. We heard so many gunshots and the terrorists were very calm, very determined. They reloaded three or four times their weapons. They didn’t shout anything. They didn’t say anything. They were unmasked and wearing black clothes and they were shooting at people on the floor, executing them.
What we know now, the next day, is that there were killings in 7 different locations and about 160 people are confirmed dead. It’s still unclear how many are injured. We also learned that the stadium bombs were supposed to go off later, when we were exiting the stadium and not during the match.
We found out today that there were 3 terrorist outside the stadium. The first tried to get into the stadium and when security discovered the bomb on his chest, he backed away and detonated. Then the 2nd one went off 5 minutes later. The police then found the 3rd person and as they pursued him, he donated himself. This is why the police at the stadium wanted us to stay in the arena. I’m so thankful that their plan failed.
My company picked Paris in November as the time and location for our big annual conference to send 600 employees. We also choose Friday night as the night to spend out exploring the city. Almost everyone spent the night in and around the areas of the shootings. Talk about bad timing. While many of them were next to the events, luckily nobody was harmed.
I feel extremely lucky and now all my thoughts are around getting home and getting back to my family.
The film composer Tom Holkenborg talked about how he keeps getting film work in this article. He says:
If you talk to other film composers and to people who work in the industry, the fact that you’re an original, talented musician is a given fact. What is left then? It’s, how are you as a person in a room? Do you deliver on time? Do you make the movie better? Do you understand what the director wants? Can you walk that really fine line of politics when things get sour and you help solve the problem?
– Tom Holkenborg, aka JUNKIE XL, composer of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Black Mass”
I love this. This is how I feel about work too. The fact that you’re talented and can actually do the work really well has become a given. You have to be able to go beyond that and be both great at what you do and good at actually working WITH people.
I’ve been reading and listening a lot about cars and their evolution lately. It’s pretty fascinating.
It seems that three trends are converging to shape our future:
Electric cars are becoming a real option. This changes the game by making the hard part of building a car shift from making an engine to making a battery. This is a much different, and much easier, problem. Opens the market to many more and different companies.
Self-Driving cars. This has been happening at Google for over a decade. Now Tesla has one, so does Audi and BMW, and Uber has said this is the future and is pouring resources into it. Apparently the only hard parts remaining for self-driving cars to figure out is how to drive in bad weather and how to see through fog and haze. I’d say that lots of humans struggle in these areas too.
On-demand cars. You can call a car at the push of a button. Uber and Lyft’s come to me in under 3 minutes now. They are everywhere and growing.
The mix of all three of these make for some interesting scenarios. Some quick ones that i’ve been pondering about:
In the future, you own a self driving car. You go to dinner in the city and it drops you off at the restaurant. It then can drive around the city and pick up people (like an Uber) and make some quick cash. Will we allow just any self-driving car to do this?
What do the interior of these new self-driving cars look like? You don’t have to face forward and you don’t have to have a dashboard. You don’t even have to sit up — you could be lying down and sleeping while they drive. The extra sleep or productive time I would gain from a self-driving car is hours a day week and days a month. The found time would be incredible.
In the future, do people even own cars or are there just a lot of on-demand vehicles of them out there that are available on demand?
Self-driving cars have better collision detection that humans. They can communicate with cars around them and decide on where they are going ahead of time. In that case, do we even have lanes on the road anymore? Do we have stop signs and stoplights? Are there a lot more bicyclists because you know it’s 100% safe to ride your bike on the road?
Who makes all of these cars? The car industry is $1 trillion. To put that into perspective: the global advertising industry is $500 billion. The 3 luxury car manufacturers of BMW, Lexus an Audi make up a market about the same size of the iPhone market. There are very few things in this world that are as big as the car industry. So, you can see why it’d be enticing for Apple to get into this game.
It’s interesting that Uber thinks of the driver as a major cost issue in their platform and getting rid of the driver gets rid of 70% of the costs of a trip. This is why they are aggressively exploring “smart routes” and Uber Pools as 1.0 version of driverless cars.
I’ve noticed that some of the people I talk to about this are hesitant or resistant to this future. People love their cars. I know that i do. But i have to imagine that people use to love their horses too. In fact, i’m guessing that people liked horses back in the day more than we like cars now.