Day 43 – Jamming in Bangkok

April 6, 2019 · Posted in 1st Principles, mindset · Comment 

Today I rode my bicycle to EQ Studios to jam with my friend Sam & his friend Brad. Music improvisation is possible because of first principles. We followed a few basic rules so we can spontaneously make music without planning. The key point of first principles is anything that can be made or done can be assembled from a very small set of fundamental components and rules repeated over & over. This is the idea of fractals.

To add to the improvisational aspect I took the video of riding my bicycle to the studio and speed it up to match the length of the music. You can see and hear all of this because the video is composed of pixels, tiny dots of 3 colors arranged in a grid so you see the picture. You hear the music because it is also composed of a string of numbers or digits representing the sound level in very small time slices so when sent as electric impulses to the speaker it vibrates reproducing the original sound.

Riding a bicycle is also done following very simple rules. You balance by making small adjustments of the handle bar left or right. You also make very small adjustments of your body weight to help keep your balance. You move forward by pushing down on the peddle, first the right then the left. A bunch of small actions repeated over and over to achieve a fluid result.

All of the vehicles on the street in Bangkok are also improvising. They watch each other and adjust their current and future actions to spontaneously form coordinated motions to get where each wants without hitting anything.

When you look you can see the 1st Principles operating behind everything.

Where to Start? Always Start With Customers!

March 11, 2009 · Posted in business, economics, entrepreneurship, innovation, mindset · Comment 

I recently taught a short introduction to Predictive Innovation class for a group of design students at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). One of the students listed his biggest problem as, “not knowing where to start.” He had a product idea and hundreds of ways to approach it but he didn’t know how to begin to get it to market.

I must apologize to that student because I did not clearly answer his question. The correct answer of where to start is always, “Start With Customers!”

Outcome diagram the customers’ desires. Find the most pressing must be satisfied outcome then base your product and marketing around that desire. Make sure there are enough customers you can reach and who will pay for the product or service you plan to offer. If you can, pre-sell your product to them. Use their up front commitment to get financing to develop the product. That might mean actually having them pay or it might mean showing the width and depth of demand to investors.

Figure out what products the customers already own or use and try to use those as resources to develop your product. If they already own items that perform 80% of the tasks then its much easier for you to be an add-on rather than reinventing the wheel. For instance if they have a laptop with a USB connector then you can get power for your device from their laptop battery. Or you can use the keyboard and screen of their laptop to see and change settings in your small USB device.

Figure out all the desires that your product or future or generations of your product could satisfy. Look at the lifetime value of the customer relationship.

If you’re planning to partner with another company to get your product to market they are your customers as much as the end consumer. Draw the outcome diagram for all the desires related to buying and selling your product. Make sure you satisfy those outcomes.

The particulars of manufacturing or a design alternative over another are just details. The most important thing to remember, “Start With Customers.”

What’s Your Market Share? Yes!

December 19, 2006 · Posted in abundance, advertising, competition, copyright, mindset, sharing · 1 Comment 

When I was trying to raise money for my last business venture, Viral Video Solutions, the one question that always came up regarding the business plan was “What’s your market share?” And when they asked that question I knew they didn’t get it and that there was no point talking any further. We didn’t care about market share. Viral media is all about sharing. We had videos on Google Video, iFilm, Yahoo, YouTube, BitTorrent sites, iTunes, everywhere and anywhere. So our answer to what’s your market share was yes.

Old scarcity based thinking looks at getting the biggest slice of pie. In an abundance based model we make the pie bigger. We don’t compete with people we work together to make more for everyone.

Worrying about doing better than someone else is short sighted. Being king of a garbage heap still stinks. The path to exponential growth is setting your goals on doing better than ever before.

Fighting over a limited market or resource ends up causing diminishing returns. It’s really paying twice for something. If your competitor has created a market and built value then you spend time and energy taking it all you have done is paid for something that your competitor already bought. It might be cheaper for you than making it yourself but nothing new is being created. It’s a downward spiral that ends with you and your competitor loosing.

As Steve Rubel says, “Bloggers Should Think Co-op-etition, Not Competition.”

I’ve personally seen the benefits of co-op-etition. A website took one of my videos and posted it to Google Videos along with a link to their web site. They promoted it very well and that copy of my video received hundreds of thousands of views. I’m sure they got a lot of visitors to their site from doing that.

Was I upset at them using my content? No. I posted the same video two years earlier and now, no one was watching the copy I posted. This new copy sparked new interest and I received 20,000 extra visitors to my web site. It cost me nothing. The other site benefited, I benefited and a whole lot of viewers benefited.

Another example of co-op-etition is how I participate in Our videos have a short commercial play at the end. Revver splits the revenue with me. But if I share another Revver producers video I get 20% affiliate commission. There is a web video series that is a knock off of my show. I had been upset but when I discovered their videos were on I immediately posted their videos to my site.

If they copied my show then my viewers would enjoy their show. By offering my viewers more videos they might like I was increasing the value of my web site. Plus I get the 20% affiliate commission and I don’t have to produce the video. The competitor still gets their 50% commission. Everyone wins.

So, I look for ways to help everyone in everything I do. I much rather swim in an endless ocean than own a stagnating puddle. How about you?

Action Items

  • Find one thing a competitor does a whole lot better than you and tell others about it.
  • Identify ways to increase value or create new value for consumers
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