General

This World Is A Great Wiggly Affair

Alan Watts by Kristen Taylor Wright: http://wp.me/P1eLdD-2

Alan Watts by Kristen Taylor Wright: http://wp.me/P1eLdD-2

“This world is a great wiggly affair. The clouds are wiggling. The waters are wiggling. The clouds are wiggling, bouncing.

People- but people are always trying to straighten things out. You see we live in a rectangular box, all the time; everything is straightened out.

Wherever you look around in nature you find things often straightened out. They’re always trying to put things in boxes. Those boxes are classified. Words are made from some boxes.

But the real world is wiggly, if you can believe it.

Now when you have a wiggle like a cloud, how much wiggle is a wiggle? Well you have to draw the line somewhere, so people come to sorts of agreements about, ah, how much wiggle is a wiggle, that is to say a thing. One wiggle- always reduce one wiggle to a sub wiggles. Or see it as a subordinate wiggle of a bigger wiggle. But there’s no fixed rule about it.”

-Alan Watts

This quote has sat with me for some time. At first I enjoyed it because of the fun rantiness of it. One long deep thought about the world around us, which I often have, but never share.

As time has moved on I’ve begun to understand it more and more. We are always trying to straighten out nature. This is particularly true with the way we develop process and go about working everyday. Having a set process of what you do everyday is lovely, but it typically doesn’t change to take in the nuances that day brings. The process typically doesn’t try to learn how it can serve the client better. It offers the user an escape to zone out, but while the user is zoned out the world has wiggled out of sync with the purpose of the process. And that to me is how businesses are lost.

We can overcome this, not by less process but by building guiding frameworks that are broad enough to give us a path forward without detailing everything out. It  helps point out what to watch for. You build something, check it against your framework, and move on.

I work with teams on innovation which sounds super tech, but most of the time it’s the opposite. Most of the time it’s following a set of principles that helps us understand what we’re trying to solve. Not by adding tech or adding more process, but by getting in the groove of the wiggly. Which is my new mantra.

This is the perfect place to play Will Smith – Get Jiggy With It, but I have to play the song that introduced me to original quote…

STRFKR – Florida

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General, Observation, Project manament

No, I agree

I’ve had this one in the hopper for awhile, and silly enough I wasn’t sure how to write it. It’s about communicating.

My Biggest Struggle, Communication

I have to say my biggest struggle, and I think for most people, is with communication. This plays such an important role in everything we do from interacting with families, coworkers, and helping people solve problems, yet we’re all so good at sucking at it.

I realized just how bad I was when I heard myself say, “No! I agree.” Which is it Catter (my friends call me Cat), No or I agree?

In this situation, it’s always I agree.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for me, and is a little communication deal that can be solved just by changing my personal habits. A much bigger struggle  though lies in the same realm, framing the problem.

Frame the Problem

You can conquer nearly anything in this world if you can do one thing, frame the problem. What does that mean? This means that you can take a problem that you’re trying to solve and change your approach based on who you’re talking to. You frame the situation for them in a different way that speaks their language and get’s them emotionally involved in what you’re solving for. Simple…I know.

There is a short blog post here that explains techniques to do this in more detail: www.idea-sandbox.com, and a great video from Clayton Christensen called “Jobs-to-be-Done” that shows this working for a company that wanted to understand why people bought their milkshakes.

Clayton Christensen- Jobs-to-be-Done

Did you catch the reframe of the milkshake problem? The reframe is in the, “Why did you hire this product?” This tilted the problem and gave a  different view to the customers. It took them out of the  process of thinking what they’re doing, and put them in a state of why this milkshake was in their life.

This means that as a product owner you  need to change your messaging for every person involved. You need to nail the problem of your customer to the customer in their language, you need to frame a customers needs to a developer in their language, and you absolutely need to speak the language of your investors.

This is all simple stuff, but we struggle with it – all of us. If we didn’t, then we would understand every product ever created. My hope is that by writing this I can revisit it and understand how poorly I explained it ;)

The Delfonics – Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – Live 1973

I chose this song because I finally saw Jackie Brown last night and because honestly….Didn’t I Blow Your Mind? :)

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General, Project manament, Story

A Letter to Enterprise Product Development

Dear Enterprise Product Development,

I hope this letter finds you well and development on that 3 year project is moving smoothly. I understand you’re very busy, so I’ll make this short.

Do you remember that small company that you read about a year ago on TechCrunch? It was run by 3-4 guys, they only had a few hundred thousand dollars in funding, and were charging only half the normal price of the industry.

Remember how we joked about how all the startups in San Fran operate in a bubble, only provide services for each other, and just exchange each others resources.

I thought you should know they just landed one of your competitors top clients.

You may be saying, “Ok, now what?”

I say IgniteWithUs.

Sincerely,

Anthony Catanese

———————

I heard feedback that this didn’t make sense. Maybe I tried to be too deep and obscure. I thought of this letter when I read about a startup that’s starting to make headway and it happens to be in a similar space as the company I work for. A year ago I read about them and I shrugged it off. They’ve grown, pivoted, and now they are competing with our competitors head-on…they’re changing the industry conversation.

That’s where the the last 2 lines of the letter come in. You say, “Ok, now what?” As in, what can I do about it?  Make better PowerPoints? I say you create a new group that innovates, which is what we do: IgniteWithUs.

———————–

Le Loup – We are Gods! We Are Wolves!

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Project manament, Story

Tales of a PO: Week 7 – Hacked…Growth Hacked

During the last few weeks, the hot topic around the office has been focused on growth hacking. We’ve each been learning as much we can through researching, experiments, and  sharing how the latest startup was able to pull it off. These articles were the most helpful so far: 21 Actionable Growth Hacking TacticsGrowth Hacking, Email and Mullets and then there this is one: The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking.

The following is what stuck out to me the most, especially since I work in a intrapreneurial startup incubator:

There are some areas of growth hacking that larger companies cannot get away with. Some growth hacking tactics flirt with the boundaries of either legality or good citizenship, that are really only employable when you are small, scrappy and easily forgiven.

It’s all so Machiavellian, growing users by any means possible.

Machiavelli

It then struck me…I’ve growth hacked in the past. It was 16 years ago, but whatever…. I did it like a CHAMP! In the span of one day I grew the users of my first website by 900%.

This is the rest of the story.

It was 1997ish when my family bought our first REAL computer, a Micron. I remember it really well because it came with a PC game that absolutely blew my mind, POD. My interest in PC games quickly grew from there, as well as my interest in learning to build websites.

Building pages became my life. Making text flash, marquee, and animating GIFs was the jam, as well as using MIDI files to set the page’s mood. I hosted on either AOL or Geocities, and I remember the first time I had to upload everything to a site… with no clue or understanding of what I was doing. I thought I was essentially building a complicated MSWord document.

Age of Empires Horse

Animating my own GIF’s. One of my life passions…one pixel at a time with screenshots

The site was called “The Basement” (I so wish I had some kind of screenshot). It encompassed everything I knew about my favorite PC games; Command and Conquer, the Neverhood, Age of Empires, Resident Evil, and Diablo. I posted cheats, videos, saved game files, and there was even a hosted crack for Paint Shop Pro  6…dumb kid.

What does this have to do with growth hacking?

With all the content, tips and tricks, and even cracks I was sure somebody was going to find it. But how could I tell? Google Analytics didn’t exist yet.

The answer was a sweet/tacky web counter.

A week into having the counter, I reached a whopping 7 hits. I’m pretty sure they were all me too.

Really…7….I didn’t get it. The page covered lots of topics, provided great content. I even had an amazing navigation system using frames ;) I was so sad.

I was now focused on one measure, how many hits can I get. I started posting links in chat rooms, forums, and spamming every source I could find, but it wasn’t working.

While researching (cheat codes for Quake) in the school library, it hit me that security on the schools computers nearly didn’t exist. Operation: Get Hits, was now in effect. There were a ton of library workstations and students used them constantly.

My solution, change the Internet Explorer homepage on every computer in the library to point to my site. BOOOM!

That evening my counter read 108. I was a happy guy…until the pesky IT guy in the library realized what happened and changed the security.

I didn’t care though…I started getting regular visits from kids in school and even made friends from it. It was my first growth hack.

Lesson learned

Act as if…..you were a 14 year old kid who has nothing to lose.

Diablo – Soundtrack

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General, Story

Okinawa

I recently changed the name of my blog…I’m now on version 4.0….that’s right, 4. Here they are in order:

  1. Zoozical
  2. Catknees
  3. Anthony Has Ideas
  4. OkNowWhat

Each name represents a different phase in my life, but I was never really happy with any of them until now. Why? What’s in a name?

What “is” in a name? Who really gives a crap?

I do.

I was very proud of the “Anthony Has Ideas” moniker…because it was given to me.  But, it was given to me…something felt fundamentally wrong about the title “Anthony Has Ideas” and it wasn’t my idea. It was more like “Anthony Rides On the Waves of Others.”  I was really self-conscious about it. I felt like Jimmy from Seinfeld, and  it went against one of my life learnings – if you have to say you’re cool, you’re probably not.

That brings us to the current name.

The other night I introduced my wife to the original “Karate Kid” and the wisdom of Mr. Myagi (Pat Morita).  It’s awesome to re-watch movies that you grew up with. You pick-up meanings and stories within the main plot that weren’t caught originally. In the Karate Kid, there’s a subtle but important point about the origin of Karate, Myagi, and Okinawa.

That’s when I was able to use my super powers and mishear Okinawa as “Ok Now What”. Yes!…that’s it!

It felt right, especially when the following lines came up during the bonsai tree scene.

Mr. Myagi:  “Trust the picture.”
Daniel: “How do I know if my picture is the right one?”
Mr. Myagi: “If it comes from inside you, always right one.”

Then I knew it was right.

Bat For Lashes – Daniel

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Observation

Pasting

The world is a weird place…a wonderful, funny and weird place.

Pasting

About 2 months ago I discovered something I really didn’t want to. I was writing something for work and for some reason I had to use the word “pasting”. It just didn’t look right. It looked like past-ing. Which in my world is the act of dreaming of the days that were. So I did what any person does. I Googled it to see if it would correct me. It didn’t correct me . I won the spelling bee!!! Wooo, but then I stumbled on a definition I wasn’t expecting.

According to Urban Dictionary:

Pasting is the act of putting toothpaste on one’s nipples with the intent of getting lightheaded or high.

Drugs are not my deal. I just don’t get them, especially when it involves household chemicals or needles. I’m not judging those that do use. I’m just curious about that first time it happens, when they think it’s a good idea to inject something…I feel the same for Botox.

I was so curious about pasting though. How was this discovered? Are my children going to have to be 18 to be purchase toothpaste one day? Does it have side-effects?

This was a real problem. Facebook pages and outraged parents against the awful tooth-whitening menace are all over the place. Such a readily accessible drug just feet from your children. What’s your family to do?

As I kept reading, I noticed that all posts where all from early 2012 and that was it.  There are videos, tutorials, forums, and everything you could think of if you wanted to get your paste on, but nothing new. I was so confused. If this was so awesome what happened? Why isn’t this all over the news? I can’t even buy Aleve-D without a pat down, thanks a lot meth.

Then I learned that the whole thing was a prank. It was started by a couple guys who tricked the media into helping spread the craze.

Makes me really think of the line:

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.

If the media is able to fuel a hoax like this without proof or investigation, what’s to say they get any of the important reporting correct?

Oh media, how I don’t miss you.

Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit

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General, Story

Dirty Deeds…Thunder Cheeks?

For the last 10-12 years I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to my best friends family reunion every summer in Welaka, FL. It’s a small town outside of Palatka, FL, which is equivalent to comparing grains of salt by size (they’re small).

Every year it’s a blast. There’s lots of food, friendly people, and boats….ohhhhh the boats. We ski, tube and enjoy way too much food. It was great every year, but one year I gained a super power. The power to mishear things.

{Flashback}

About 5 years ago I was enjoying this yearly outing as much as any other. We had good beer, lots of food, and we even decided that in our old age of 24 we would go tubing. Three person tubing to be more accurate.

What you think tubing looks like.

What you think tubing looks like.

We climbed in ready to go. Three best buds holding on for dear life while our good pal towed us around the glassy lake.

Reality of tubing

Reality of tubing

We lasted about 40 seconds.

We regrouped and this time we had a game plan. We would work together as a team and ride this thing out. We would defeat them.

It started off fantastic. First turn, check. Second turn across the wake, no biggie. Third turn, no sweat. Fourth turn, WTF is that! A sea of churn laid before us. Four foot swells bouncing around the lake waiting to launch us. Our so-called friend kicked in high-gear and raced towards the waves at about 30-40 mph. I said screw that. I bailed…I jumped out to take the safe route. Why would I want to smack my face against my buddies skulls or why would I want break my neck? I bailed to be safe…

FishEar

I should of stayed on. When I ejected myself from the tube I happen to hit the water at the perfect (sucky perfect) angle and I blew my right ear drum out. 1/3 of the sweet little drum gone. Fish food. Sweet sounding fish food. Makes me wonder if the fish that ate it now have impeccable hearing as I once did (that’s not true…)

How did this give me a super power?

Well I now have an awful time mishearing things and it cracks my wife up to no end. She can say, “pass the butter” and I’ll think, “Are you a globe trotter?”

Lyric’s are the worst. I mishear things on the radio and instead of thinking, “that lyric makes no sense.” I try and explain why it would make sense.

For instance (a real world example mind you) ACDC – Dirty Deeds. The lyrics are, “Dirty Deeds. Done dirt cheap.” Which makes total sense. Or you can go with my thought of, “Dirty Deeds. Thunder Cheeks.”

What the hell is a thunder cheek? I thought it was maybe a motorcycle gang who were up to no good. Maybe they were riding big Harley’s and their cheeks would thunder down the road…because that’s what any rock band would sing about, dudes that are jerks with jiggly loud butts.

After surgery and a few years later, things are a bit better, but the moral of the story is…don’t be a quitter…(or avoid water sports where the purpose is to hurl you across a lake).

AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

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Observation, Project manament

Tales of a PO: Week 6 – Ask for Help

You don’t win friends with salad, and you certainly don’t win friends by taking a really long time to solve problems.

The lesson for this week is to ask for help to get it done. This is especially important when it affects the ones around you. I know simple simple advice, but it’s the simple things in life. I finally accomplished a task tonight that has taken nearly a year. It took 9 months to accept help.

Outside help was brought in about a month or so ago and it was great working with them. There were some troubles though with  equipment failure. I felt bad to continue to ask for help, and because of that, it just drug out instead of just getting it done. Tonight was the end of it…wooo! I felt accomplished for about 5 minutes until I realized how long this whole thing took. Then I thought about the lesson.

Leaders put people in the position to get things done properly and don’t pretend to know everything. Get it done by letting others do what they do best.

The Beatles – Help

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Project manament

Tales of a PO: Week 5 – Band-Aids

How did the telephone get traction?

Seriously. I thought of this while watching Downton Abbey with my wife. I know…but it’s pretty good.

Image

They install a telephone and the younger generation is completely taken by it, but the older sir’s and madam’s are unsure of it. They just didn’t get how it could be used, but there is one comment that I thought was interesting.

“Who are we going to call if nobody we know has one?”

Yeah, who would they call?  When you’re trying to grow users in a social way, how do you grow your early-adopters? The first installs of the phone weren’t cheap either. Lines were not run, there was no wireless. There was also stiff competition: telegraph, couriers, and letters. These are people that are set in their ways.

So how do you spur traction? On Quora, http://www.quora.com/How-did-the-telephone-gain-initial-traction, it’s a pretty simple answer: they sold to businesses first.

They found their true early adopter. Businesses make money by being ahead of the game and information is money. The person who receives information faster makes more money. They found a pain, and they solved it. The phone first spread in large cities, then the high-class began installing, and then they told two friends…and so …and so on.

You have to find the people you are really solving problems for, the rest will follow.

The moral of the story for this weeks PO lesson is: business problems are business problems no matter what time period you’re in.  If you’re not selling band-aids to the people who bleed then you’re the one that’s going to run out of life. Solve real problems for people and others will find cool uses for the same technology.

Architecture In Helsinki – Heart It Races

“and we’re slow to acknowledge the knots in our laces”

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