Monday, August 26, 2013

Dating and Leading: Does Height Matter?

(This post is backhauled from July 2007 but still dedicated to the late, great Dave Rossi.)

Many years ago I was sitting with my friend, Dave, in a bar in Cambridge when he looked across the room at a pretty young lady and said, “I’d like to ask her out, but it’s no use.”

“What makes you say that?” I asked.  This was a guy with a 150 IQ who had spent the summer before business school being a cowboy on a Texas ranch.

“Well, she’s a 7 and I’m only a 5.”

“Come again?” I asked.

“It’s dating by the numbers,” Dave said.

“Tell me more.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

History, Food and Screaming Goats in San Francisco (A Few Notes From Vacation)

There’s a huge difference between visiting a city for business, where the sprint to the next meeting consumes all available time and energy, and visiting on vacation.  We were able to spend a few days in San Francisco recently catching up with family and actually enjoying the life and times.  I made a few notes along the way, in between bites.

1. This was the first year a living survivor of the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake was unable to attend the annual memorial ceremony on April 18.  The city knows of at least three living quake survivors.  One, 107-year-old Winnie Hook of San Jose, was slated to appear but decided the trek would be too much.  Meanwhile, the ceremonial spraying of gold paint on “the fire hydrant that saved the Mission District” at 20th and Church streets went off with only slight delay. 

It's proof that we're now watching the first decade of the 20th century transform from current event to history book.

2. And while we're watching, all hail the Munchery!  Download the app and then purchase excellent, affordable meals from great San Francisco chefs (but do it by 10 a.m. or you're apt to be shut out).  The delivery fee is a pittance.  Wow.  We need this in Boston.  North Shore Boston, to be precise.

3. Like the Neanderthal, wireless only seems like progress.  It's destined to replace the battery as the new technical laggard.  Please, Mr. Innkeeper, give us back our dependable wires.  I am nostalgic for the little clicking sound of the cable nestling into the wall.  I am tired of endlessly spinning WiFi.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Makes For Success? (Hint: It's Not the Bathrooms)

If I’ve seen it once I’ve seen it a dozen times—the article about the genius stroke Steve Jobs had in locating the bathrooms at Pixar.  He “insisted there be only two bathrooms in the entire Pixar studios, and that these would be in the central space. And of course this is very inconvenient. No one wants to have to walk 15 minutes to go to the bathroom. And yet Steve insisted that this is the one place everyone has to go every day.”

The moral of the story is that Jobs “wanted there to be mixing. He knew that the human friction makes the sparks, and that when you're talking about a creative endeavor that requires people from different cultures to come together, you have to force them to mix. . . And so his design was to force people to come together even if it was just going to be in the bathroom."

Now I ask you, does this really make sense?  

Do you really believe, had there been four or six or eight bathrooms spread throughout Pixar, that somehow Toy Story would have suffered?  

Do you really believe that a healthy company needs to force its employees to attend mixers near the toilet bowls?  (For that matter, do you really think, except for maybe the Pentagon and a NASA facility here or there, anyone actually has to walk 15 minutes in any office to find a bathroom?  That would certainly limit my Diet Cokes.)

By this theory, incidentally, the smokers in a company should all be wildly creative because they gather together in a little smelly place about a dozen times a day.

I would propose to you that this story is a function of 1) Steve Jobs’ halo effect, and 2) the fact that when a company is successful we back-attribute everything they did to that success.