• Deep Thoughts

    Habits > Commitments

    Seth Godin’s blog post today on “Streaks” is rather apropos given my objective of returning to blogging. He’s blogged daily for 11 years, and he makes the point that “streaks” create their own reward. Streaks create internal pressure that keeps streaks going. Streaks require commitment at first, but then the commitment turns into a practice, and the practice into a habit. Anything worth doing typically takes time and a commitment to consistency. The easiest way I know how to do this is to build habits that don’t require you to constantly tax your willpower or decision-making reserves. Instead, automating desired behaviors by building habits is a far better approach. Habits…

  • Payments

    A Response to Pricenomics

    [read this post’s disclaimer below] Priceonomics Blog, a publication I often read with interest, recently posted an article alleging that the major card networks (Visa, MasterCard, Amex) are a “tax” on the United States. You can read the post here. Now, that’s a pretty strong allegation, and while the author spins a tale that sounds both dramatic and nefarious, he also omits crucial context and facts relevant to the discussion.

  • Apple,  mobile

    6 Reasons Why I Switched to an iPhone After 7 Years on Android

    1. Better Hardware – the build quality of Apple is better than any other phone, irrespective of OS. Period. 2. Fragmentation – just give me stock Android, dammit! And stop the bloatware. HTC Sense was particularly bad (and the battery life was horrendous… which brings me to my next point) 3. Battery life – it’s just better. Integrated hardware & software gives Apple the advantage of being able to optimize battery life. 4. Google now has excellent iOS apps – except Google Voice. My life is on Google, and finally I can function on iOS fully (including Calendar push/pull, contact syncing, Google Drive, etc.) The only thing I miss is…

  • Business,  Deep Thoughts

    Do things youre unqualified for, and dont be afraid to try something new

    Having been in the workforce now for a while, I can tell you that this is excellent advice. Famous physicist Freeman Dyson has it down: Advice to people at the beginning of their careers: do not imagine that you have to know everything before you can do anything. My own best work was done when I was most ignorant. Grab every opportunity to take responsibility and do things for which you are unqualified. Advice to people at the middle of their careers: do not be afraid to switch careers and try something new. As my friend the physicist Leo Szilard said (number nine in his list of ten commandments): “Do…

  • Business,  Design,  Internet

    The Devil’s in the Details – Frictionless Checkout

    Recently I’ve become a fan of Lot18, a flash sale site for wine lovers, which works much like Gilt Groupe for wine. Like Gilt, they offer quality products at a discount to standard retail, and their site features rich descriptions and photos. They’ve also taken advantage of some best practices in flash sales, including: Daily emails to introduce the latest offering and drive traffic Limited quantities Time-limited sales Countdown “expiration” timer after you’ve added something to your cart The last item is key, as I believe it’s one of the things that makes Gilt so successful: urgency. Items are reserved for a limited time (10 minutes) when you add them…

  • Business,  Marketing,  travel

    Uber Bummed

    The good, hard working folks over at Uber just sent out an email to some of their best and earliest users to inform them that the 15% FoundersCard discount select customers have been enjoying is being phased out. For those unfamiliar with FoundersCard, it offers founder-types and entrepreneurs select deals on everything from travel to business services. Uber had set up a discount for 15% off the first 100 rides for FC members. The goal was to entice early adopters who would evangelize Uber’s service. From my anecdotal experience, it worked beautifully. My friends and I sang Uber’s praises far and wide (and drummed up quite a bit of business…

  • Business,  Event

    Less is More

    The most recent SF Beta this week was very popular. In fact, it was so popular that the venue was packed to the gills and made it quite difficult to move around or talk to anyone. Apparently, lots of people complained to Christian Perry, the organizer, and he sent a very nice email apologizing for the situation (see below). In it he generously offers those who were inconvenienced free admission to the next SF Beta for them and a guest. It’s a nice gesture, but I don’t see how offering TWO admissions for every one previous attendee is going to solve overcrowding! Attendance caps obviously help, but free tickets will…

  • Design

    Clipper Card Website and Autoload Fail

    Leave it to the government to take an otherwise brilliant idea and disfigure it so badly that it makes you want to just put it out of its misery. If it’s true that a camel is a horse designed by committee, then the Clipper Card is the three-legged, syphilitic camel of public transportation payment systems. Clipper Card is the three-legged, syphilitic camel of public transportation payment systems. If the agencies that birthed this malnourished horror of a baby bothered to consult a product designer, that designer should be publicly flogged for crimes against the citizens of the SF Bay Area. I recently switched to the new Clipper Card system which is supposed to unify…

  • Business,  Marketing

    Tell Me Where You Spend Your Time, And I’ll Predict Your Next Purchase

    Om Malik wrote an interesting piece yesterday on where he sees the future of social commerce moving. In a nutshell, he says that the first phase of e-commerce was fairly utilitarian and started with staples (Diapers.com, Amazon.com, etc.). E-commerce then moved to recreational shopping (Gilt Groupe, Groupon, etc.), which made it more fun and social. The next phase, he maintains, will leverage people’s interest graphs. He specifically mentions Hunch’s prediction engine, Apple’s “Ping” platform for social music sharing and discovery, and Facebook’s social graph as potential predictors of interests and spending habits. I think Om’s on the right track, but I’d take it a step further. I believe that the…