• SwipeGood is Right

    SwipeGood is Right

    So excited to hear that SwipeGood, a startup that rounds your purchases to the nearest dollar, then donates the spare pennies to the charities of your choice, is finally set up to work automatically with credit card companies.

    I'm so dang enamored with this idea - simple concept, low-effort involvement, powerful implications. Check them out (and sign up)!

  • Bad design comes in many forms. Things that are unsafe. Things that don’t work properly, or are unnecessarily complicated. Things that are ethically or environmentally unsound. Crimes against design are different. They deprive us of the joy of great design, by wrecking or replacing it.

  • Peter Panables

    I love it when people drop quotes from kids movies in everyday conversation. That person is never me - though I'd kill for that repertoire - but to feel the words with the weight of a grownup's respect for them is such an awesome example of evolving perception and comprehesion. Like J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan. Total weirdo. But God he was good with words.

  • On Matching Normals


    A few days ago, someone I very much respect said something that very much made me want to break his neck. 

    I'll save you the conversation's peripheries, but in effect we were discussing normalcy - specifically, his opinion of a situation that he found to be very normal. This wasn't an interpersonal situation, but a work situation, interpreted according to his standards in regards to performance and quality. It was also a work situation that we shared.

    It was also a situation that I saw as a hot, hot mess, and I was on fire with frustration from his blockheaded unwillingness to confront, discuss and fix it.

    Traditionally, me and this fellow had seen very eye to eye, but a gradual parting of our individual perceptions had been digging a pretty foretelling gulch between us. I'd attributed the parting to outside factors - stress, time constraints, etc - but still wore the lazy communication hangover of one of those relationships where you read each other's minds and finish each other's sentences. 

    This conversation delivered a seriously needed sucker punch to that hangover (super messed up, those hangover sucker punches) because in the midst of wondering how best to conduct a clean murder in a coffee shop full of hippies, my heart broke a little. I'd suddenly realized just how seriously our shifting perceptions of normal - and our failure to communicate them - had seriously impacted our ability to work as a team. He saw market ready, I saw mockup.

    This isn't to say that my opinion about what we should have achieved was right, or that his comfort with our performance was slovenly. My tiff with Mr. Disagreable was beyond the point where one of us was definitevely right. It was purely a matter of standards, of our own personal definition of normalcy.

    Sharing a similar set of norms is one of the best efficiency tools we've got. It cuts out communication time, guards against miscommunication and acts as a natural corral for aligning goals and expectations. When norms match up, it's smooth sailing. When norms differ, there isn't a sail, just a bunch of people paddling off stroke. If you catch my drift, it's the difference between Apple and Microsoft.

    But the tricky thing about normal is that there's no such thing. There's a level where stuff is undoubtedly horrific, and a level where stuff is undoubtedly amazing, and all the stuff in the middle is sort of - open to interpretation. What are the industry standards? What are the standards of the audience? What standards are specific to your individual business and employees? Are you German?

    Settling on an unchanging definition for normal is impossible, but entertaining the same interpretation of it is imperative to a company's ability to fully realize a common goal. Standards and expectations make up the invisible bar for performance that we are accountable to, and when they differ within the same walls - well, no wonder we get frustrated. 

    Here's some stuff I learned from this near bloodbath:

    • Good teams aren't so much the matching of minds as the matching (and guarding) of normals. 
    • Efficiency increases when perceptions of normal are the same, and decreases when they differ.
    • Opportunities for miscommunication increase when perceptions of normal are different.
    • The feeling of frustration is one of the best clues that you might be dealing with normalcy differences.
    • To keep your team on track, consistently take the temperature for their standard of normal, for everything from broad company vision to per-project success metrics. Then make sure it's widely communicated.
    • This stuff is absolutely as applicable to interpersonal relationships as it is to business ones.

  • Solange Azagury-Partridge, You Minx


    Sometimes I miss the days when I got to loll around in my undies, get jacked on huge pots of coffee and write about stuff no one really knew about yet. Especially times like right this effing second, when I feel pretty washed up for having just found Solange Azagury-Partridge - some impossibly individualistic jewelry designer who's clearly been badassing around long enough to have opened a flagship store in New York City. And god is it the blessed antitheses to Tiffany's. And holy god is it possible that this jewelry designer is also a former interior designer that hand crafted the preposterously and unreasonably amazing space below. Shivvver.


  • Are your kids creatively fkd?

    Research shows that the creativity of America's children, specifically those between the ages of 5 and 12, is declining. Just to clarify: this doesn't mean that our kiddos are showing reduced skillz with crayonz, it means their ability to solve problems without pre-defined answers is fading out.

    It would be nice to correlate this decline in creativity with a decline in overall intelligence, indicating some nasty flaw in the education system. However, the same kids with decreasing creativity scores are delivering increasing IQ scores - which is considered by many as a fair indicator of schools' health.

    Meanwhile, creativity has become the #1 sought after trait in today's executives (that's all executives, not just those in advertising), and our future depends on the ability of tomorrow's leaders to think in ways we've yet to fathom. Is our "fill in the blank" style of education destroying our kids' ability to think outside the - blank?

    The debates over education are dirty, political and rightfully complex, but at the end of the day, teachers can seem to find agreement in the following point of angst: today's educational system isn't making it easy to teach creatively, let alone teach creativity.

    What the system does seem to be doing (and what those declining creativity scores seem to confirm) is perpetuating the idea that for every problem, there is an answer, and if you don't have that one answer memorized, you won't just be wrong - your future might be at stake.

    It smells a lot like fear-based education. And nothing kills creativity like fear.

    Teachers are fearful that their kids won't make the cut if they don't fill in the right bubbles. Parents are fearful that their kids' futures will be sabotaged if they don't measure up to the given "standard." Kids, like grownups, are just fearful of failure, and when creativity goes unrewarded - or even punished - that's what it becomes associated with.

    Creativity is about taking risks, tenaciously pursuing something undefined, and feeling gratitude for the lessons (ie, the failures) we learn along the path to our answer. Some might even define creativity as the opposite of fear; a sort of open-minded courage to attack real problems without the safety net of pre-defined conclusions. In other words, creativity doesn't mesh well with the rules inherent to today's education system.

    There's an interesting challenge flying around the advertising world this week that hopes to directly address this problem. Dubbed No Right Brain Left Behind, the challenge is a sort of open source, pro-bono problem busting event, which you can learn more about here (and if you'd like to get involved, the group I'm part of is still accepting participants - hurry over this way for more info).

    The ideas born from this challenge will be interesting to review, but the implementation of those ideas is what's really gonna keep the creative zombies at bay.


    This article was written for The Denver Egotist.