Like to travel? Yup. There’s a gene for that.

14381860924_p0_v2_s260x420Every time you see a story like this you can’t help but think about Ethan Hawk in Gattaca. Our lives, actions and – self – broken down into a perfectly predictable set of genes we can architect for birth.

Elite Daily recently reported the discovery of a gene identified as DRD4-7R ,dubbed the “wanderlust gene”, that gets us yet another step closer.

You can read more about the findings of the Genetic Basis to a Globetrotting Fanatic here. It explains how the gene is carried by an approximately 20% of the human population and is linked to restlessness and curiosity.

Here’s a fun question, if we ever were able to gain complete control of our genetic make-up would you choose to have the Travel Gene?

wanderlust-large-msg-132647107444

 

Fly in the Asian Pacific: $160 for 30 days of travel

The word on the street Asia_Pacific_Mapis you can fly between Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam as many as 10 times in 30 days for just $160.

To put it in perspective, a flight from Bangkok to Singapore ranges from $84-$124 one way.

This is not only a cost effective travel deal, but, as you may know, many countries require a proof of “onward travel” to show you’ll be leaving your destination country before you board your plane. This pass would be a great tool to grab some last minute “proofs” when the time comes.

You can read more about the deal on Thrillist here:
http://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/crazy-cheap-deal-fly-to-10-countries-in-30-days-for-160

Or just bite the bullet and book your travel with AsianAir Pass here:
http://www.airasia.com/ot/en/book-with-us/asean-pass.page

Gyms as a service (GAAS): Finally, better gym options as product services

imgres-1Five years ago I walked into my 24 Hour Fitness Gym and filled out a cancellation form.

“Are you sure that’s all I have to do?”, I asked the front desk rep. “Yup, you’re good to go, good luck with your move!”

Six months later I got a call from a collections agency telling me that I had six months of unpaid membership fees needing collection. Needless to say, it was an awful experience. I am sure many customers end up foregoing upwards of $200 or more in that situation all the time – not me. After hours of phone calls and emails, I was relieved of my “obligation,” but vowed never to use 24 Hour Fitness again – what else could I do than that, right?

In a world when Taxi’s treated you like crap but you still rode in them every day, there wasn’t much you could do with companies like this. Except turn around, take it and walk away.

When I moved back to the area I was a bit hesitant to sign up at any gym, given my experience. I stayed true to my vow and avoided 24-hour Fitness (even though it was cheaper) and signed up at Crunch Gym instead. I had options! Or so I thought.

lsThe sales staff was friendly at Crunch and, as expected, paying for the initiation fee and last month’s dues upfront was a piece of cake. I was instantly a member and assured by the sales staff that, “there won’t be any hassles if you decide to cancel – anytime.” Since then, two years of dues that would have gone into 24-Hour Fitness’ pockets went to Crunch Gym; I had no complaints.

Then moving time came again and I went in to cancel my membership.

“Sorry, you can’t cancel your membership *in* the gym. You have to call this number.” The Gym rep handed me a card. It was a bitter tasting sentence to hear while watching sales staff effortlessly input credit card numbers for the Gym’s newest members.

I called the Crunch cancelation number. “We already charged you this month…” (I come to find this was NOT true) “… and we’ll use your deposit to pay for your last month starting in April. Plus a $2 charge for any differences remaining since we’ve increased membership fees.” It was March 2nd and I was now paying until May 1st.

robber_MGBasically, in one sentence, my “easy cancelation” turned into about $120 of dues over two months toward a gym membership I just canceled. Jackie had the same experience except with a higher monthly membership fee. Crunch Gym robbed $270  from our household. Poof, just like that, Crunch now has the money and we do not. There is nothing the service agent can do about it and he gives me an email address so I can contact a manager to “have it explained to me further.” Sorry, there is no explanation that justifies being fleeced. I asked for a write-up from him explaining why I am being charged for a service I am canceling so I can submit it to the BBB with my complaint. He said he couldn’t do that. He thanks me for my call and hangs up on me. Note: The things they can and cannot do at these Gyms seem heavily skewed in their favor. Weird, huh?

Jackie said let it go, but that very sentence gave me a pit in my stomach. How many Gyms use this tactic to make up the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue they see each year? They know most customers will let it go, so they keep doing it. I told the story to a few friends, and, not surprisingly, they tell me that it has happened to them with Crunch and other gyms as well. Have gyms formed a Mafia? I guess they have the muscle for it…

The problem that occurs when companies become monopolies (like Comcast) or mafias (like Crunch Gym and 24-hour Fitness) is that customers don’t have much choice in the matter. In this case, either take it or don’t work out.

Uber and Lyft finally gave us the tools to allow us to ditch Taxi cabs (poor customer service standards and all.) And Netflix, Google, and Yahoo are finally causing Comcast to AT LEAST start honoring their “maintenance window” as they try to prove their worth before judgment day. (Gosh, I sure can’t wait for the day Comcast cries about how unfair it is that Google is taking their business.)

Well America, good news. The new world is being filled with products that focus on value, access, customer service and quality. They are starting to aim their slingshots at the Goliaths we know as gyms.

You have options! You can ditch your P.O.S (and/or overly priced) gym and actually get more for less in the process! A membership where your patronage goes toward the local gyms, you’re experiences are of higher quality and customer service is a tent pole. Now that the game has changed, your “gym membership” can get you into specialty studios, access to activities like Kayaking and sports, and a truly “cancel anytime” philosophy that ensures people that have to leave do so as happily as when they joined.

Here are a few:
fitmob_color.fw_1) FitMobfitmob.com – For about the same price as Crunch (and way more friendly cancelation policy and service) this company offers a membership to a multitude of different gyms and activities. For example, you get access to a awesome yoga studio, or (like me) you can head down to the shore and go Paddleboarding for the day. All free with the membership.

Currently Serving: San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Portland, Philidelphia, Austin, Dallas, Seattle

imgres2) ClassPassclasspass.com – Founded by Payal Kadakia ClassPath offers access to a variety of studios you can register online for free with your ClassPass membership. What is great about this experience is  you don’t get a class thrown together by amateurs working for a corporate gym. Instead, you get to go to the best studios in town that specialize in an activity for whatever you want to do. ClassPath is on to something having just raised $14M in funding and growing exponential into more and more cities month after month.

Currently Serving: NEW YORK LOS ANGELES/ORANGE COUNTY SAN FRANCISCO CHICAGO MIAMI BOSTON WASHINGTON, DC SEATTLE ATLANTA AUSTIN CHARLOTTE COLUMBUS DALLAS/FORT WORTH DENVER HOUSTON MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL PHILADELPHIA PHOENIX PORTLAND SAN DIEGO LAS VEGAS RALEIGH BALTIMORE TAMPA ST. LOUIS ORLANDO NASHVILLE KANSAS CITY LONDON TORONTO VANCOUVER

Sorry Crunch, you had your day and just like the Taxi mafia – your time is limited.

More comments available on the public FB post here: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10152976618217107&id=704372106

**UPDATES***

March 3rd – Still no charges (or pending charges) on my credit card bill from Crunch. The support rep told me it was already charged and there was nothing he could do about it as a result. Nice tactic – untrue after 2 full business days.

(March 2nd) Crunch asked me to contact a store manager – this is what I sent:
Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 5.42.53 PM

 

Update March 4th: If you’ve had a similar experience you can contact Jasmine <Jasmine.Vega@crunch.com>. Below is her email and my reply.

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March 4th

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong is deeply integrated with western culture. Although its foundation began with China, it became more influenced by British colonialism and, as such, has developed an identity all its own.

You’ll notice this unique mixture immediately when you arrive. Street signs that line the city are printed in plain English with names like “Queen’s Road” or “Russel Street”. We quickly learned, however, that you can’t count on the English versions of the roads to get around.

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None of the cabs we took spoke a lick of English, nor did they understand the English version of our destination’s cross-streets. Even more complex, as we learned from some locals, is the Chinese version of the streets don’t directly translations to the English ones. In essence, many streets have two distinct names.

Tip #1: Always take a picture of the local Chinese text of the destination you want to go (or write it down) so you can show it to the cab driver. Learning a nearby landmark’s local name won’t hurt either.

Other than that, getting around town was fairly easy with Google Maps and English (remembering, of course, that it is always a good idea to learn a few local phrases out of respect for your host country.)

times-squareThere is a constant sense of old and new while walking through Hong Kong. A trendy bar filled with young business people dressed to the 9s is placed directly next to a tiny old-style market with burlap bags of dried foods displayed on its stoop. You’ll see bamboo scaffolding next to an ancient temple with rising incense smoke flowing into the neon lights of a brand new bar, only a block away from a two story aluminum-plated Apple store. The city is somehow both completely foreign yet comfortable and familiar.

Tip #2: You’ll notice symbols such as “11/F” on some signs. The pattern refers to the floor an establishment is on. In this case the “11th floor.”

ho-lee-fook-4-818x535On our first night, we stumbled through a neighborhood filled with expats. It took a moment for it to register, but rows of restaurants and bars were completely filled with non-Chinese locals. In a way, it was like Hong Kong’s American-town, nicely balancing out our China-town back home.

The concept of culture fusion continues into the world of food. There’s a continuum of tastes ranging from the very pure and authentic Chinese dishes, to its modern interpretations, all the way to an east-meets-west blend. The first restaurant we stopped into was brand new and, sadly, we were drawn to mostly on name alone. It was called “Ho Lee Fook” and it had a 1-hour waiting list. We used the time to visit some local bars and grab a drink before dinner.

Jackie has an amazing sense of finding “good spots” when we travel. She is an instinctual Yelp database. On our kill-time-before-we-eat bar-cruise her spidey-sense drove us into a small bar called the Three Monkeys. No exaggeration, we had the best drinks we’ve ever had in our lives. Perfectly blended and absolutely delicious. At this point we also began to realize that Hong Kong was not cheap by any means – each drink was around $15+ USD.

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We finished up and headed back to Ho Lee Fook. The hostess led us down into the basement; Jay-Z and Jimi Hendrix’s music filled the rooms. Once we sat down and got comfortable we realized the restaurant was filled with Americans and Brits. We stumbled into another ex-pat bunker.

Restaurant_0

Tip #3: When you are visiting other countries and time is limited you can sometimes get a slight feeling that you’re getting cheated out of your adventure when you get surrounded by tons of your own people. But, in this instance, we recognized that these ex-pat areas were very much part of the local culture and we embraced it. It helped that the food was amazing. The final bill came in around $80-$100.

We hit the must-do list.

27712944We took The Peak Tram up the famously steep climb to the top of The Peak Tower. There you get a 360-degree view of the city, 396 meters above sea level. Walking around the small town at the top of the hill finally gave us a sense of the beautifully lush, island-rich landscape that is Hong Kong.

1.1.1.2-Peak_03

Tip #4: Don’t waste your money on The Peak Tower’s 360-Degree View entrance fee. Wrap around to a nearby building’s rooftops and get pretty much the same view for free. Also, sometimes it’s foggy and you can’t see anything up top anyway. Try to go on a clear morning.

We also headed to see the “big buddha” by the way of gondola and got even more breathtaking views of the country.

hk-cablecar

But mostly we ate.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 1.39.42 PMI’m not sure, but I imagine it’s quite rare to visit two of the least expensive Michelin star rated restaurants in the world back to back. We had dim sum at Din Tai Fung, which was good but not mind-blowing – and a bit pretentious. Even more memorable was the savory gravy biscuits we had at Tim Ho Wan on the bottom floor of a mall for about $1 each. They close early so make sure you check the hours before you go. We got there a bit late, but they were nice enough to make a few to go boxes for us take out. We shared one biscuit from the bag as we walked away and they were so good I ran back to the restaurant to get six more.

My biggest food fumble was made by my weakness to marketing propaganda. Everywhere we went we saw a McDonalds promoting “the prosperity burger.” I had to know what it was so I finally gave in and ordered it on our last day. All it was was a McRib with onions. Yuck.

prosperity burger

Finally, I want to give a shout out to the awesome stay we had at Hotel LBP. They staff was friendly, the rooms were super nice and we got it at a great price (possible from a promotion.)

Thanks for the invite Emma Watson! I support “we” through He for She

Below is Emma Watson’s “He for She” campaign speech. If you haven’t seen it yet it’s a worthwhile 8 mins of perspective. As she said,

“How can we effect change when only half is invited?” …

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.”

She does a great job in helping reset perception, open the door for conversation, validate both sides, and convey a strong message for change. All the components that make for a great ambassador.

 

As Macklemore said in his popular song “Same Love” that will ring true in spite of the generations of people delusional about any inequality they thinks is “right” or “appropriate” at any particular time – be it race, economics or gender bias – it’s simple:

“It’s human rights for *everybody*, there is no difference!”

 

Sure, we could say “who are these entertainers think they are?”. But I think it’s more important that we appreciate their choice to use their influence for good, to support those around us for their basic civil rights, and most importantly giving us a moment to ask ourselves,

“maybe it’s time it I spoke out and influenced change to help those around me too.”

Sean Shadmand Presents for NewCo’s Yahoo Content Series


Last year we really enjoyed opening our office up to OpenCo and revealing how we think and work as well as how we see technology transforming the world we live in. We ended with a look at “2023” and what all that may mean over the next decade. This year, after we were asked to present again under the new NewCo brand we took a different approach. In our talk today we hosted a thought experiment, taking a philosophical journey into what is content, how we know the difference between good and bad content, and how we can use that information to create the next set of products (or just appreciate the ones that come out a bit more.)

A talk about content in only one form of t would be sadly ironic. So, if you missed it we recorded and are presenting a few forms of the talk for ya.

 

I used this snazzy little tool that records voice on my iPhone and syncs the slides as a remote while giving a preso. Check out the tool at  http://penxy.com/ or the final resulting “talking slides” at http://penxy.com/hyw

 

 

Slide Notes

(Min 14:00 in Slides Above)

This year for NewCos new track named Yahoo’s content series we’ll take a different approach and start off by asking a more fundamental (seemingly obvious) question.

What is content?
For the most part we know it when we see it. It’s the substance or material we deal with in a speech, images, tweets, or memes. It can look like this [Essay], or content can look like this [Donald Trump tweet].

As we have access to more and more content in our daily lives the question that becomes more and more important to viewers is whether this content is worse or better than the previous one? Many will say the latter is awful, yet we read content like this in droves everyday. Why?
Let’s upgrade the question a bit and ask:

What is good content?

That’s a pretty tough question to answer but an important one too. As more and more innovative products come out we can get caught up in critiquing or dismissing one from the next. One super popular dismissal is the “I don’t care about you eating waffles on Twitter – I hate twitter it’s just noise”. When we take this point of view we can miss out on some amazing developments in our culture not to mention some amazing opportunities that come from that level of access.
Fair warning this discussion is gonna get philosophical. We’ll keep diving deeper into questions like that around content.

I know – we all love a presentations structure that involves action items, best practices or check lists ready to go by the time we leave.

Sometimes though it’s important to step back before you ask, or answer, a deeper question. After all the concept of “good” and “bad” is one of the oldest philosophical conundrums in existence. Furthermore is it even the right question to ask at all? Let’s see what we discover…

So let’s get dirty and start our philosophical journey by restructuring a very – very old question:

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?

We may be quick to answer: “of course it makes a sound. I’ve heard a tree fall and heard its sound – my presence is not required.”
But the question’s more of a thought experiment than anything else. What makes the question interesting isn’t the science of sound but the philosophy behind observation and reality of what sound is without an observer. Thought experiments like that can uncover new questions that may live beneath the surface that are able to more directly answer more monumental questions.

So let’s use our time together to dive into a thought experiment around content and see where we end up

If information is created but is never shared for others to see it is it still content?

I mean if content can stand on its own without the communication aspect…
Would you say then that all the hundreds or thousands of ideas and thoughts locked in our heads are actually hundreds or thousands of pieces of content then? Maybe.
Or maybe content is so inextricably tied to sharing that the two can’t maintain the definition on their own.

Hmmm.. Okay…if that’s the case then what side is more important in determining goodness? How well it’s distributed OR how well it’s formed and presented?
On one hand can we determine how good or bad content is if no one ever sees it? And, on the other hand, how worthwhile is content that everyone sees if it’s not useful or actionable? Content is more than text, sound, or an image in and of itself. In its most basic form it’s a projection of our thoughts that we thrust out into the world. As Maslov would probably put it: it’s a basic human need that makes us social and allows us to self-actualize.
If Descartes was alive today he may devise a whole new Cogito (“I think therefor I am”) to “I Share Therefore I am.”

We always hear there are no good or bad questions. And we are all unique – all our thoughts are important reflections of ourselves (which you may realize after thousands of dollars of therapy.) So why are we so driven to deem content good or bad if it is fundamentally a projection of self? Hmmmm… Interesting but I don’t think we’ve dived deep enough yet to form an answer… Let’s take another dive…
Let’s deconstruct content even further and ask

WHY is content?

(Min 23:00 in Slides Above)

(not a well formed sentence I know but you get the idea.)
Content is a transferring of our minds and being into an everlasting form.

It gives us eternal life and has so for thousands of years. In that regard it is one of the most advanced technologies ever created in the world. Our short finite lives are made infinite!

As the acronym YOLO so eloquently states, “You only live once” – but with the entire world filled with all these projected minds in the form of content we can live many lives vicariously through others.
If those concept are too abstract for your fancy and you’re more of the practical type then let’s frame it this way: Content gets stuff done more quickly. The faster we communicate the faster we can act between us.
I give you information locked in my head – you give your version back to me –
and like DNA all our contributions result in a greater overall result that may have taken ages had we attempted to think through it all on our own.
So with that I present my first thesis: The figuring out how to label content as good or bad comes from entirely the wrong place. The real question should be how do we use THIS content or THAT content? Where can we put each bit of content to allow our thoughts a chance to live in the open so that anyone can get the value from it if they so choose?
Content is simply a medium we use at the moments we have thoughts to overcome our inability to be able to be inside one another’s head.

The real endeavor is to cut out the middleman completely and just exchange thoughts. And until we can do that our goal is to shorten the time it takes to transfer our emotions, ideas, and – our lives – as much as possible. Ultimate efficiency, eternal life, and dare I say maybe even peace will be achieved in that final move. It won’t be about us dealing with good and bad content it will be about us accepting all thoughts as a chance to achieve those ultimate goals.

If you appreciate the reality that a single mind is the ultimate goal then it will give way to clues to foresee what product, or content society will embrace next. I’m not saying we will achieve singularity tomorrow,
nor am I here to rally everyone to start making change so we do something – because it is inevitable whether you like it or not. I am here to help add to a map on how and why content exists so we can navigate what comes our way, or create useful products along the way.

The real problem we are attempting to solve in almost all products created today is: how do we decrease the inefficiency impeding us from what can be called a mind meld. Each new product attempts to close that time-gap from one persons mind and emotion to the next.

Still not convinced that is the ultimate direction?– lets take a break from the abstract and look at our known history for validation…
In the beginning it was the lack of the written word, passing down information through story. It got the job done but it could take a lifetime or more for anyone to have a chance to see ones work or hear ones thoughts in order to make use of them. It was also super lossy – changing with each storyteller and generation. The written word helped us set those words in stone so although interpretation was still at play the base from which we worked was identical to those that could read the original. Unfortunately there was only one original so it still took a while to get it circulating and – you break, you buy.
Then, boom, the creation of the printing press! Anyone with an idea could have a shot of distributing their thoughts in ones lifetime – rich or poor, academically educated or not –– well, as long as you could read or had someone that could read to you. An example of how powerful an easily copied text can be is seen in the 1500s when the Christian world’s perception of their religion was altered because of a German Friar named Martin Luther and the content he shared. Powerful yes,

but it still took 2 YEARS for his thoughts to circulate in his community. Could you imagine waiting 2 years for your questions or ideas to be circulated?

How frustrating for us to imagine?! At that time not only did communication work on a schedule like that but the perception was that not everyone needed to read or share content in the first place because the common folk were too dumb to make use of it. What value could they bring to the table?

We look back then and see a travesty around the freedom of information – but does our generation think all that differently? When we created AppMakr the same objections came up – “not everyone needs an app.”

The prediction was we would maybe make 4 apps a month. In our first day we had requests to make thousands. Against all doubt we knew that it has always been true that the power of distributing content should be given to the people “good” or “bad” – it was our guiding principle. … But I’m jumping ahead …

We’ve seen the drive to democratize content and speed its ability to be distributed for hundreds of years since the printing press.

Getting our thoughts out to the world in years
to weeks, to seconds with radio and TV. But then a problem still remained – instant is great but everyone should have a voice and the access to hear it – not just the privileged – we still wanted more.
And so the Internet was born: Instant transfer of anyone’s thoughts to anyone willing to access it. It was given the perfect term: “getting connected.” And our path to do so continued.

From dial up to Wi-Fi, from PC to laptop, from Laptop to phone. We are decreasing the time it takes for each of our thoughts to get out there.

The iPhone was also thought of as a fad by critiques after its release – for years large corporations wondered how they succeeded. Many missed that its main achievement was to further decrease the time and complexity it takes for us to create, share, and ingest content from anyone saying anything more instantly.

Whether it’s a lifetime to years or 3 seconds to 1 second. If you can decrease the time it takes to get ANYONES mind into the open you are on to something.

Of course we all hear the call to arms that everything is so different now, and bad, and chaotic – we are so much worst and impatient than in the past! I offer a different perspective, things are only different in the tools we use but our yearning and desires are exactly the same: “Hear me!”
Or, may I please have access to what is going out there.
Our heads are no more immersed in that desire today.
Than it has been in generations before us. We are just able to achieve those goals more practically.
Data has always been thrust upon us.

We are simply trying to make it ALL more manageable from one person to the next.

What we’re driving towards is a moment where my thoughts are yours in the same moment. Think of the frustration you’ve ever felt when you just wanted someone to understand what you were trying to convey but left only with words and gestures and maybe a white board. How awfully inefficient it is! Just get in my head for a second so we can move on! The channels we’ve seen are just manifestations of that desire we have. It’s still far away but that IS the direction we’re headed and have been headed since the word “I”.

Anything that shortens that gap for ANYONE to get ANYTHING to ANYONE ELSE is following that trajectory and delivering goodness.

Is it asking too much? Are we really so much more impatient than the past?

Why is a month too long to wait but a minute juuuuust short enough?

What is it compared to?

Cutting the time in half is cutting time in half when you move forward – period. And it will always take twice as long as it does now to those looking back. It’s not time thats a problem – time is relative. 

All content that is caged is bad content because it doesn’t have the chance to allow someone to try and make their mark, live vicariously through shared story, or help them self-actualize. Sure with this digital tool there’s great power, fear and concern in how we will handle it all but it’s not about getting rid of some of it based on it being good or bad. Content is a tool to convey our thoughts – and we have all kinds of them that seem like garbage or gold from one person to the next.
It’s the difference between this
and this. Same tool different purpose
This is a knife
and so is this. And there are tons others out there. More and more a minute with a better edge or handle or metal or balance. They’re the channels we use to express ourselves with one another more quickly.
We connect in less time by decreasing the physical distance between us and our technology.
We connect with less clicks or gestures.
And yes sometimes that stream of consciousness means we trade breadth of connection about something trivial and seemingly painful to read
for accuracy and depth of critical information that is otherwise caged. Never the less, in both instances we are connecting more effectively. Believe me when we do end up truly “connecting” our thoughts it will be scarier and far noisier than today but innovators will be propelled to figure out how to appreciate and allow for that connection to build from – not work on tearing them down. And each passing generation will have a higher bandwidth they can handle than the last.

So. Maybe it’s not about whether the content is good or bad quality, heck maybe it’s not even about how much it gets shared –

maybe it’s always been purely about how many people are connected and how quickly they can achieve that connection.

Content and sharing are the two fundamental ways we are able to do it today – they are the means to the ends. They are our rocks, and knives, and arrows for lack of any other available means. But they themselves is not the goal. So, maybe good content could be defined as ANY-THING that connects ANY-ONE in less time or complexity then what is currently out there.
From stones
to books
to TV still lacking the option to connect or comment
To the websites and blogs where interaction intertwined itself with the content being shared.

Once communication and distribution became instant we shifted our strategy to decrease the time-gap between exchanges by limiting the amount of content exchanged when conveying a thought in the first place.
Those thoughts, emotions and ideas were created and deployed more quickly and frequently with statuses, and 140 letter max tweets – a real stream of consciousness was born. And that consciousness was further fed with the ability to post even if you weren’t by a computer.
So who are we to judge even shorter content still?

The end goal is about getting a feeling, thought and/or emotion to whom ever you want or as many people as you want with the least amount of friction.

So why is Yo so surprising?

Less characters and a quick intuitive interface has created a quicker connection between people. In first principles we aren’t searching for depth in substance – we are searching for a mind meld.
With 2 clicks I can convey “yo I’m thinking of you”, or
YO “I’m in town” – if the message is received and the minds are linked then it is content and it is valuable and it is good.
Yes, there is beauty in the creation process and that shouldn’t be forgotten, but let’s also recognize that the PROCESS was originally created to convey the idea with the tools available at the time. Losing site of one is as destructive as the other. The art comes from the need and some of our needs are satisfied within the art.
Which could be why memes are so powerful. Quick, efficient, creatively assembled, instantly connecting complex an otherwise tough to describe moment of humor or feelings with others through a shared experience we can relate to.
We can have taken the concept of video and trimmed it to its essence in a 5 second clip.

if you are afraid to share because to many people will see it then
a product removes that barrier so your security can be guaranteed with ephemeral storage.
We want to be closer still and our tools are extensions of that. Now we are cutting out the middleman entirely (pun intended) and letting our body do the communicating for us – instantly.

It’s amazing – in the pursuit of closing the time-gap between us we’ve managed to jumped right over our stream of consciousness and found a way to release what our body is saying even before our consciousness realizes it; a whole new level of getting connected.

So I that I think our thought experiment has yielded a conclusion for the question on what is good content:

GOOD CONTENT IS: ANYTHING THAT CONNECTS ANYONE’S THOUGHTS EFFECTIVELY IN LESS TIME OR WITH LESS COMPLEXITY THATN IS CURRENTLY OUT THERE.

So if nothing else keep that in mind when you see the next best thing and wonder why.

 

Thank you for keeping an open mind.

=============================================

We used the Google On Air tool (basically Google Hangouts but for public live streams that are also automatically uploaded to Youtube when the broadcast ends.) This is my 3rd attempt to use On Air in some live stream capacity and it finally worked well! The trick was setting up a second computer than from my own with more memory. Long story short, here is the presentation using that product:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_64IZjmIY8&edit=vd

On Air Event Page: https://plus.google.com/events/c1ginlf8oufe9pkl6mcq38tb1mc

The 6 Books That Shaped How I Think and Work

gettintoyes
Getting to Yes
The first biz related book I read as a child. I learned early on that negotiating wasn’t just an art of cleverly persuading your counterpart  to yield to your will (which I believe many old and young try to do) but instead it taught me the notion around doing your best to find a situation that benefits both sides of the fence. This book is also filled with tactics and lessons that give you a whole new perspective on what is really happening when a buyer and a seller meet and a tool belt too.
thedipThe Dip
The first startup book I read almost a decade ago. It is a short book but a frank and honest one too. The dip sets a tone and map for what’s in store when creating a startup. I remember when I ended up facing a dip or two  along the way there was comfort in knowing that the rollercoaster ride was just a necessary step in a path towards…?
5tempsFive Temptations of a CEO
This book was suggested to me by the (former?) CTO of Zynga. Unlike most business books that are bullet point lessons and biographies this one is written as a fictional story of a man that has the conversation of a lifetime with a stranger on the subway. Often times when making harsh and rash decisions about setting expectations with employees, or when trying to manage my emotions or ego, memories of this book are triggered. It has helped me more than once find my way back to center.
madetostickMade to Stick
Fantastic book for those of us that didn’t come from a marketing background (although I am sure it is valuable to those that did too.) Often when I write letters, blogs, taglines or give presentations I use the lessons from this book to get a feel for whether or not it will “stick” with my audience and use some tactics to drive a message home.
reworkReWork
By the time I read this book  I had already learned many of its concepts through my own trial and error. Nevertheless it made my top 6 list because of how well it articulated those learnings. Reading this book is like sharpening your knives if you know the lessons of a startup already or it is a great set of building blocks to work from if not.

stumbling-on-happinessStumbling on Happiness
Boy did I love this book. It was given to me by my good friend Daniel and it was probably the fastest book I ever read. Dan Gilbert combines psychology, philosophy, history, and science beautifully to give a candid and thought provoking look at what happiness really means and why is it so different for everyone. I find myself referring to the lessons in this book quite often around relative happiness, how our imagination can be terribly misleading – but being aware is a big help!
Some other books of note:
The Fountain Head: A controversial book that seems to be either hated or loved. Which ever side you chose to be on I would be surprised if it was not called powerful. You don’t have to believe in the writers philosophy benefit from a perspective into  the power of ideals, confidence, and certainty in oneself.
Thinking fast and slow: A large dry read at times but making it through was worth it. I learned a lot about how great and poor the mind can be all at once. I learned not only to be more cautious with my assumptions  but a sense for where that cautions is needed more and why letting go can be a powerful tool as well.
Freakenomics: To see the world through the eyes of an economist is a gift. Thinking in terms of noise reduction, drawing data from samples and parallels and using statistics to prove how powerfully wrong our assumptions can be was thoroughly entertaining the whole way through.
The tipping point: I didn’t fall in love with this book like others but it definitely deserve a read for its historical observations around business that have succeeded and failed and the factors and people that contributed to them.
 4 hour work week: I hold the lesson passed down in this book around work/life balance with me. I truly believe that we should be working to make less work and using that reduction as a badge of honor instead of the more classic concept that more hours equal a better output.
Hard things about hard things: A glimpse into the mind and life of a entrepenuer that almost lost it all on more than one occasion and the lessons he learned about running a company are packaged up nicely for us to lern from with far  less scars

Book Review: Thinking Fast and Slow

ThinkingHow do the implications of how quickly you can add 3+3 and how much time you will take calculate 11*27 have on your daily life? Well – quite a lot says Daniel Kahneman, the writer of Thinking Fast and Slow and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics. The fundamental occurrence between the “think fast brain” (which he calls Version 1) and the “thinking slow brain” (called Version 2) dictate how well we are able to make decisions at large. This book helps lay down a more clear understand of how we are able to, or unable to, make decision as they relate to specific topics such as finance, bias, regret, politics, happiness and more.

In it Daniel describes how the Version 1 brain allows us to make quick decisions using heuristics so that we don’t freeze up (like our Version 2 Brain would do) when we are asked a complex questions. Unfortunately although effective often times those heuristics are very wrong and we rarely are able to notice when they are. How can you slow your brain down when it is thinking fast and speed it up when thinking slow? It starts first with an understanding of how they fit together. It helped me understand why I have always created “rules of thumbs” and “red flags” in my life while having a desire and fascination for also creating “repeatable processes” and my love for making “extreme theories” that guide me through my decision making process. Based on the book it is a fairly optimal way of allow yourself to think fast as often as possible with an backup system to slow down and challenge what sounds good with what has been predetermined to be an irrational thought pattern.

This is a great foundational book for understanding how the mind interact with the world around it through a mix of psychology, statistics and probability. It is Freakonomics meets Tipping Point meets Stumbling on Happiness (all of which I greatly enjoyed reading). Where as each of those books are more focused on answering questions for a specific subject matter, Thinking Fast and Slow is a far more robust book that jumps into all the inputs and outputs surrounding life. Think of it as A History or Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson for the human condition.

 

I’ll leave you with another example of the fast thinking heuristics and the slow deliberate one battling it out:

A man drives a gas guzzler that gets 10 miles per gallon and his more environmentally friendly friend has an economic car that drives at 30 miles per gallon. In an effort to improve their carbon footprint they both upgrade from 10 mpg to 12 mpg and from 30 mpg to 40 mpg. Which upgrade has a greater net effect to the gallons used if they both drive an equal number of miles?

Let your quick mind answer, then grab a calculator and check your hunch. In the example the 10 mpg person improved by 10% where the 30 mpg increased by 33%. The difficulty is in the use of miles per gallon as the metric which does not work well for this comparison.

Now calculate them both before and after the upgrade traveling 3,000 miles.

3000/10=300
3000/12=250
50 less gallons used

3000/30=75
3000/40=50
25 less gallons used

The gas guzzling friend made a greater improvement to the world twice as much than the Eco friendly one.

You can see my running read book list on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/sshadmand/books

Work. Life. Love. Balance. Stories From Startup Folk

Startup LoveI saw this article posted by a friend on FB by Scott Weiss a VC at Andreessan Horowitz called Success at work, Failure at home

To me pulling back the curtains behind a life, relationship or personality allows us to see the truth: that there is no such thing as the “perfect life” to aspire to. Instead we are all simply working hard on the goal of being the best people, friends and mates we can be. So don’t be so hard on yourself, learn a little, and share a lot.

With that in mind his post inspired me to post this learning from my own life as a serial startup/”entrepreneur guy” in a relationship.

 

Why You Can’t Optimize for Intimacy

The style of conversation that helps drive interaction, trust, and motivation within a business and its employees doesn’t translate completely with a person you have an intimate, loving, sensual, and sentimental obligation to.

Some things do translate well. For instance, the patience and even keeled temperament required to maintain a level of respect and openness is important to both work and home lives. On the other hand the levels of distance and tone you employ can have a stark difference between the two environments.

As an example, working on an emotional issue with a significant other doesn’t work well with checkins, progress updates, and check lists (which can be cold to a person you sleep next to every night.) While on the other hand focusing deeply on emotions doesn’t work well when communicating clear objectives and goals with peers and employees (that you hopefully don’t sleep next to – ever.) Again, there is some overlap, but the differences are monumental.

For me, being a startup guy in a relationship is a constant lesson in understanding those differences; not focusing on “optimizing” for your relationship but simply nurturing it together.

So in short as the title says: do not optimize for intimacy. And I know if you are a startup person you are thinking right now “I disagree, of course I can if I just…” Stop right there. I know you “can” – but don’t. — I know you think you can – but don’t! The other person may be feeling more focused and diligent (yay!) for now, but probably feeling less connected, heard, loved, or nurtured over all. Even worst they may be feeling like they are at work – and not in a “intimate relationship.” (boo!) :-p

 

 

Super Nerdy “traceroute” fun

star-wars-episode-iv-opening-shotOkay, fair warning this is, as my friend Kanad would say, “Nerdy Gigabyting” stuff.

For all you Star Wars fans out there, and even some op engineers that may not like Star Wars check out these hops in your terminal shared with me my friend and co-worker Jason P. 

 

#> traceroute 216.81.59.173

For those of you that are curious about what the hell a traceroute is, it is a way to see the set of network hops taken to get to the destination in question. For instance, when you visit http://www.seanshadmand.com from your computer the request is sent to your local network, then a nearby network and then the next switching and moving between networks until it arrived at the network that holds my website. Just ike taking multiple roads to get to and from work your request must travle through different “intersection” to get to a web page.

Here is an example of doing a traceroute to my DNS http://www.seanshadmand.com

Sean-Shadmands-MacBook-Pro:~ seanshadmand$ traceroute seanshadmand.com
traceroute to seanshadmand.com (54.245.121.115), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
 1  10.4.11.1 (10.4.11.1)  3.884 ms  1.013 ms  2.993 ms
 2  10.4.1.1 (10.4.1.1)  0.842 ms  0.977 ms  1.194 ms
 3  50-0-241-217.dedicated.static.sonic.net (50.0.241.217)  9.055 ms  8.422 ms  10.212 ms
 4  gig1-28.cr1.colaca01.sonic.net (70.36.228.97)  9.576 ms  6.047 ms  7.426 ms
 5  po3.cr1.lsatca11.sonic.net (75.101.33.166)  8.560 ms  9.594 ms *
 6  * * *
 7  0.xe-6-0-0.gw.equinix-sj.sonic.net (64.142.0.185)  6.043 ms * *
 8  * equinix01-sfo5.amazon.com (206.223.116.177)  13.506 ms *
 9  * 205.251.229.173 (205.251.229.173)  49.171 ms *
10  205.251.232.70 (205.251.232.70)  38.752 ms
    205.251.232.112 (205.251.232.112)  32.057 ms
    205.251.232.68 (205.251.232.68)  34.793 ms
11  205.251.232.141 (205.251.232.141)  29.312 ms  32.983 ms
    205.251.232.159 (205.251.232.159)  41.429 ms
12  205.251.232.165 (205.251.232.165)  34.375 ms  35.858 ms  64.349 ms
13  ec2-50-112-0-241.us-west-2.compute.amazonaws.com (50.112.0.241)  41.451 ms
    ec2-50-112-0-163.us-west-2.compute.amazonaws.com (50.112.0.163)  30.499 ms  28.531 ms

Here you can see the request working its way from our local network to our Sonic.net provider all the way down to the network hosting my site, Amazon.

Okay, so here is what the original traceroute I mentioned above did in 64 hops – the following is a spoiler alert, do not scroll down if you want to try it yourself 🙂

 

 

 

Sean-Shadmands-MacBook-Pro:~ seanshadmand$ traceroute 216.81.59.173
traceroute to 216.81.59.173 (216.81.59.173), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
 1  10.4.11.1 (10.4.11.1)  1.586 ms  0.751 ms  0.748 ms
 2  10.4.1.1 (10.4.1.1)  0.863 ms  0.922 ms  0.976 ms
 3  50-0-241-217.dedicated.static.sonic.net (50.0.241.217)  9.179 ms  7.557 ms  11.639 ms
 4  gig1-28.cr1.colaca01.sonic.net (70.36.228.97)  9.738 ms  8.369 ms  6.678 ms
 5  po3.cr1.lsatca11.sonic.net (75.101.33.166)  7.323 ms  50.077 ms  7.756 ms
 6  0.xe-5-1-0.gw.pao1.sonic.net (69.12.211.1)  6.980 ms  12.417 ms  6.569 ms
 7  0.xe-6-0-0.gw.equinix-sj.sonic.net (64.142.0.185)  5.534 ms  5.873 ms  5.865 ms
 8  10gigabitethernet2-3.core1.sjc2.he.net (206.223.116.37)  6.746 ms  13.966 ms  12.247 ms
 9  10gigabitethernet14-7.core1.lax2.he.net (184.105.213.5)  26.900 ms  20.975 ms  22.262 ms
10  10gigabitethernet2-3.core1.phx2.he.net (184.105.222.85)  74.895 ms  40.622 ms  29.217 ms
11  10gigabitethernet5-3.core1.dal1.he.net (184.105.222.78)  56.980 ms  55.502 ms  54.686 ms
12  10gigabitethernet5-4.core1.atl1.he.net (184.105.213.114)  75.773 ms  74.998 ms  72.689 ms
13  216.66.0.26 (216.66.0.26)  73.062 ms  74.324 ms  72.802 ms
14  * * *
15  episode.iv (206.214.251.1)  116.403 ms  130.009 ms  112.626 ms
16  a.new.hope (206.214.251.6)  111.127 ms  112.484 ms  109.912 ms
17  it.is.a.period.of.civil.war (206.214.251.9)  109.559 ms * *
18  * rebel.spaceships (206.214.251.14)  112.966 ms *
19  * * striking.from.a.hidden.base (206.214.251.17)  114.395 ms
20  * have.won.their.first.victory (206.214.251.22)  114.337 ms *
21  * * against.the.evil.galactic.empire (206.214.251.25)  136.658 ms
22  during.the.battle (206.214.251.30)  116.953 ms  115.696 ms  112.170 ms
23  rebel.spies.managed (206.214.251.33)  110.094 ms  112.563 ms  114.632 ms
24  to.steal.secret.plans (206.214.251.38)  110.638 ms  109.706 ms  109.454 ms
25  to.the.empires.ultimate.weapon (206.214.251.41)  110.453 ms  114.561 ms  114.792 ms
26  the.death.star (206.214.251.46)  113.295 ms  115.245 ms  115.005 ms
27  an.armored.space.station (206.214.251.49)  163.362 ms  113.893 ms  114.685 ms
28  with.enough.power.to (206.214.251.54)  115.263 ms  111.979 ms  117.865 ms
29  destroy.an.entire.planet (206.214.251.57)  114.727 ms  113.755 ms  126.718 ms
30  pursued.by.the.empires (206.214.251.62)  115.042 ms  116.474 ms  110.436 ms
31  sinister.agents (206.214.251.65)  113.995 ms  115.831 ms  115.973 ms
32  princess.leia.races.home (206.214.251.70)  111.079 ms  131.545 ms  115.804 ms
33  aboard.her.starship (206.214.251.73)  111.702 ms  116.699 ms  113.923 ms
34  * custodian.of.the.stolen.plans (206.214.251.78)  120.468 ms  116.254 ms
35  that.can.save.her (206.214.251.81)  112.573 ms  117.197 ms  123.432 ms
36  people.and.restore (206.214.251.86)  110.282 ms  119.757 ms  114.538 ms
37  * * *
38  0-----i-------i-----0 (206.214.251.94)  134.709 ms * *
39  * 0------------------0 (206.214.251.97)  131.887 ms *
40  * * *
41  0----------------0 (206.214.251.105)  116.773 ms  114.683 ms  111.513 ms
42  0---------------0 (206.214.251.110)  114.764 ms  111.789 ms  114.402 ms
43  0--------------0 (206.214.251.113)  111.076 ms  116.629 ms  111.154 ms
44  0-------------0 (206.214.251.118)  112.852 ms  114.205 ms  111.433 ms
45  0------------0 (206.214.251.121)  115.202 ms  112.044 ms  114.663 ms
46  0-----------0 (206.214.251.126)  201.307 ms  111.747 ms  117.750 ms
47  0----------0 (206.214.251.129)  116.196 ms  111.185 ms  110.688 ms
48  0---------0 (206.214.251.134)  110.780 ms  114.799 ms  113.196 ms
49  0--------0 (206.214.251.137)  113.402 ms  115.738 ms  114.843 ms
50  0-------0 (206.214.251.142)  113.381 ms  111.589 ms  116.851 ms
51  0------0 (206.214.251.145)  116.478 ms  111.657 ms  116.318 ms
52  0-----0 (206.214.251.150)  115.002 ms  115.580 ms  116.904 ms
53  0----0 (206.214.251.153)  138.367 ms  115.620 ms *
54  0---0 (206.214.251.158)  113.654 ms  111.288 ms  111.488 ms
55  0--0 (206.214.251.161)  117.350 ms  118.801 ms  147.315 ms
56  0-0 (206.214.251.166)  114.342 ms  120.037 ms *
57  * * 00 (206.214.251.169)  118.554 ms
58  i (206.214.251.174)  117.896 ms * *
59  * by.ryan.werber (206.214.251.177)  150.234 ms *
60  blizzards.breed.ccie.creativity (206.214.251.182)  115.374 ms * *
61  * please.try.again.tracerote.to.obiwan.scrye.net (206.214.251.185)  120.250 ms  146.107 ms
62  read.more.at.beaglenetworks.net (206.214.251.190)  116.038 ms *  115.467 ms