When I think about how to gain traction on a product or a service, I don’t often look at the copier as the cornerstone expression of innovation. It’s cooler and more user friendly than a printing press, but honestly, it is the 2nd most hated thing in every office space. Still I think it just might hold the solution for every person striving to accomplish more with the help of others.
Stop and think about the last time you used a copier. At it’s best, it makes a near exact duplicate of the original. You don’t put a piece of paper filled with numbers and turn out a picture of the Mona Lisa. Whatever is on that page is what comes out the other side, 100 times over. Keep that in mind next time you find yourself at a point of frustration with your co-workers or employees wondering why no one can get traction to your goal. It might not be them that is the problem. It might be what you are (or are not) duplicating. Blank pieces of paper are great for painting, but there not so good for making copies.
Jo and I recently had the pleasure (and by pleasure, I mean painful realization) of reorganizing our family budget. There are two reasons for this, we want to be debt-free (including our house) and we have a non-governmental level spending addiction. We’ve realized that, though we aren’t bad stewards of our finances, we have the potential to do a lot more.
So here is our experiment. For the next 30 days, we are going to limit ourselves to one…no matter what, one purchase a day. One purchase. One receipt. Seems pretty simple, right? Well we’ve made it 4 days and here is what it has forced us to do so far:
1. We have to plan meals. There are no last minute runs to the grocery store or last second decisions for take-out.
2. We have to C.O.M.M.U.N.I.C.A.T.E. We operate pretty independently as a couple, so we have to constantly talk about our planned expenditures. She can’t go grab Starbucks on the same day I have a lunch appointment. It’s not just food either…it’s doctor visits, clothes, utilities…this is harder than you’d think. We’ve already failed once at this by accident.
3. We have to buy in a single location. We don’t chase the sales, we just get what we need and get out of whatever store we are in. You’d be surprised at how little you spend after pre-planning the shopping.
These are just the first few lessons we’ve noticed, but I’m sure there will be many more. The big question is, in the end, how much money did we save…maybe a lot…maybe none. In any case, we are going to have fun trying to best our spending driven culture.
Starting on October 2nd, Northstar will be doing a 5 week teaching series focused around your financial health with topics and resourcing about being/getting debt-free, starting a business, financial planning, and even changing the outlook on unemployment. I’m stoked about it and sharing with other people whether or not this experiment was a flop or a success.
Feel free to join in the experiment if you like!
Tonight I purposefully released a hand full of concepts that outside designers have been developing (http://99designs.com/logo-design/vote-8is4y0). I released it without a clear explanation. I did that because a logo isn’t ever really afforded a conversation or instruction. It is just there and open for interpretation. So maybe that was stupid, but it was perfectly executed stupid. Aside from the negative things that normally come from activities like this, there are a lot of positive things one can learn. I believe there are two kinds of feedback. The first is what people say or type with me paying particularly close attention to statements “this makes me feel this”, “this reminds me of”, or “maybe change this”. At least to me, statements like “I love” and “I hate” don’t seem to communicate all that much anymore.
I am not a design feedback specialist and I could be completely wrong, but would think the second type of feedback is probably even more important and the one that is easiest to decipher. It’s the one in which there is no reaction, no reason to want to be included, and no reason to want to share an opinion (like 200 people viewed, but only 20 left options). Maybe they hate you, maybe they just hate all the designs and just gave up choosing, maybe their computer crashed right at that second, or maybe they just don’t care. Either way you didn’t register or relate and that means they were looking for something not on the page.
Special thanks to all the designers submitting work on 99 Designs. It was greatly helpful for feedback and outside influence. Please if you haven’t left feedback I still want it and you can find it at (http://99designs.com/logo-design/vote-8is4y0).
“All you have in comedy, in general, is just going with your instincts. You can only hope that other people think that what you think is funny is funny. I don’t have an answer but I just try to plough straight ahead.”- Will Ferrell
Everything is a risk. Just find something worth all the failures and you’ve gotten all the reward you’ll need to keep doing it.