Unstuffing Your Life – My Progress Report

I made a post earlier about the audio book, Unstuff your life by Andrew J Mellen. As far as Audiobooks go Andrew is a highly entertaining speaker and falls into my favorite category of audiobook. Super smart author narrates their own material so you feel like you are having this amazing one on one conversation and they are talking just to you enthusiastically sharing what they know.

Andrew even makes it playful and interacts with the listener. An adult version of Blues Clue’s.

My first project applying the book was to tackle my storage closet. I wish I had the before image, but really, who takes pictures of overcrowded junk? Let’s just say when I started I could not even walk into the closet. But when I was finished (it took a weekend), not only could you walk in, but there are actually empty shelves!

UnStuff Your Life: Storage Closet

UnStuff Your Life: Empty Shelves

Unstuff Your Life: The Rules to Clean All Your Living Spaces.

After listening to the audiobook, I have come to distill the book down to three core rules.

  1. The One Home Rule
  2. The Like with Like Rule
  3. The Frozen Rule (Let it Go)

Andrew publishes his three core rules on his website, so I don’t feel like I am giving anything away from the book. Besides, I could not possibly capture his energy and enthusiasm in a blog post. The man is worth listening too.

The One Home rule and Like with Like

Scott Adams wrote about how important it is to have Systems for Success, not just goals. Andrew Mellen’s book is just that, a system and the core of the system are the twin rules, One home for everything, and like with like. The idea is that you live in one home, so should your stuff. There should be one, and only one place your things live. When they are not in use, they belong in that home. It’s corollary however, is that similar things belong together. Why is this profound? Because when one kind of object can be in many places, that means it can be in every kind of place. It is intrinsically lost.

There is another brain science reason why this is very powerful. In his book Smart Thinking, cognitive scientist Art Markman points out that similar memories compete with one another and more importantly suppress one another during the recall process. When your brain remembers one place to find an object, that process makes it harder to remember other places to look!

Keeping like objects together reduces the chances of memory suppression.

Blue Masking Tape.

If you had asked me before I read this book, how many roles of blue masking tape were in my house I would have said, “One, possibly two, in fact I should probably stop at the store on my way home and pick up another role.”

UnStuff Your Life: Like with Like

After sorting my storage closet, and gathering my masking tape with all of their brethren I discovered eight roles of tape. Yes. Eight.

Apparently, I really like blue masking tape.

The Frozen Rule

The key to unclutter however is what I call the “Frozen Rule”. The hit song, “Let it Go” has been sort of my mantra since I started this process. In chapter one of the book, Mr. Mellen pleads with the listener to go through the process of getting clear about his or her values. In short, if I wanted to unstuff my life, I had to get clear about my values. It seemed like a waste of time until I did it. That key piece of information gives you a foundation for knowing what is valuable in your life and what is not.

If you know what you value, then you can measure every object you have surrounded yourself with and decide if it means anything to you. I see lots of calls for minimalism, I study stoicism, and austerity always sounds like a virtue. In my experience however, I was shocked by how many things I had – if not collected at least gathered into my life that I did not care about.

The Rocks

When I hike if I see a cool rock I pick it up. During this process of unstuffing, I started to go through my rocks. Two things jumped out at me. I was shocked at how many rocks I just flat out could not identify. No idea where they came from, or what they meant. Secondly, I was shocked at where they all were. On my desk, in drawers, in the garage, in my closet (apparently I needed rocks to keep my clothes company) even in the bathroom. Don’t ask what I was thinking, I don’t know.

I point that out because these were free. Not the product of consumerism. Just things I had “gathered”. They didn’t qualify as mementos, because I had no memory to go with them. And yet I held onto them and filled my space with them. The first lesson I started to learn is that when something has no meaning, there is no reason to hold on to it.

Hence my rule: Let it go.

Do I still have any rocks? Yes. A few. Ones I exactly know where they came from and what they mean. The collection if you can call it that is down to exactly three.

I still have a long way to go, but for the last two weeks my desk at home and at work has been clear, and I can find my wallet, my car keys, and my phone within 30 seconds of looking for them every time. I mean every time.

Malcome Gladwell in his book Tipping Point, points out that your environment can have a huge impact on your behavior. One small, but significant way to change your environment is to “Unstuff it”. I need to get better at before and after pictures, but so far, I can see some of the value in freeing up some space by “unstuffing it”.

How To Shoot Video That Does Not Suck – doesn’t suck.

How to shoot video that doesn’t suck – doesn’t suck

It is quite the opposite in fact.  Another audio book from Audible, author Steve Stockman does an amazing job of reading his own every entertaining and informative work.  He brings it alive with clever pauses, smart tonality, and lively emphasis in all the right places.  The man knows how to deliver entertainment.  However, more than that he knows how to give you quick smart tips that will make your video shooting, editing, and final product immediately better.
 

My personal experience applying Steve’s tips is that they made an immediate impact on my own videos in a relatively short period of time.  Here are just a few of the suggestions that made the biggest difference for me:

  • Think in shots.
  • Keep your shots short.   I have found 2,3,4 and 5 seconds are best.  He suggests nothing should be longer than 10 seconds.
  • Shorter is almost always better.  In Everything.
How did that effect my videos?
Steve tells us that the eye is constantly scanning, looking wherever our interest takes us.  However, with video you can only look where the camera points.  Therefore we get bored quickly.  Using many short shots to show even the same information from different angles can stimulate the eyes and the brain in the way a long static shot can not.  
 
My experience was that when I handed my first couple of “short shot” videos to friends, they did not look away.  They watched the entire thing through without taking their eyes off the screen.  I can’t say I’ve ever had that happen before.  By giving my audience lots of different views of largely the same scene, they have more visual variety and they were more entertained and engaged.
 
His book is loaded with many many more tips, and his first dozen key ideas alone are worth the cost of the book, but if you don’t have a subscription to Audible you should check it out now.  Steve is extremely entertaining and worth a listen.  
 
— Scott
<iframe style=”width:120px;height:240px;” marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ src=”//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=ss_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=httpscottnoco-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B0051NHJFU&asins=B0051NHJFU&linkId=3X2TSHVIVEPW6Z4Z&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true”></iframe>

Franchise Concepts – Pizza 585

Clever Concepts – Pizza 585

I have no idea if this is going to work, but that is beside the point. When I first started GameTruck one of the first things someone asked me when we started to talk about franchising was, “Is it Pizza?” I was taken aback. “No,” I replied quickly. “Good,” The advisor replied. “I never want to hear another Pizza Pitch.”

That question reminded me of a time when I was sitting in a meeting with a very young vice president of Autodesk in England. At the time I thought the guy was ancient as I was only 24 and he was… like 30 or something. One foot in the grave.

We were peddling a software add on to AutoCAD called GTXRasterCAD. It let you scan your drawings and convert them into editable blue prints. At the time that was like magic. But the Vice President demanded, “It’s not a tablet is it?” He had seen a thousand tablet pitches. There was zero chance of standing out.

Every day entreprenuers face the impossible challenge of creating something new and familiar. If you make something that is too far outside peoples everyday experience, you have built yourself a problem. It’s called “Concept awareness.” Tivo suffered from this. People loved the device – the digital video recorder – but they could not evangalize it. Customers would say things like, “It lets you watch more TV!” Who the hell wants to watch more TV? The people who would most benefit from a Tivo did not understand what it was. They were not familiar with the concept. Today we take it for granted that you can pause live TV and rewind it, or skip the commercials, or record a thousand shows, but when Tivo came out, concept awareness was a major hurdle.

And then you go to the other extreme. We all know what Pizza is. How do you create innovation in Pizza? Or sandwhiches for that matter? This is one of the reasons I admire Jimmy John’s so much. They demonstrated there is still room for innovation in sandwhich shops. They demonstrated there is tremendous room to innovate if you can be new and familiar at the same time.

Pizza585

That brings me back to Pizza 585. A few weeks back I wrote about the Fractured Prune, a donut shop built upon the Cold Stone Cremery model. Well, welcome to Pizza 585 (much better name by the way). It is a pizza, pasta, salad joint built on the Subway model.

It is a clever innovation on two familiar principles. First, that people want choice, and secondly, that they need to move people fast. Here’s the concept. You walk up to the counter, order your pizza and you have unlimited toppings (sound fammiliar?). They take your personal 10 inch pizza and cook it in 5 minutes.

That is not a type-o. Five Minutes

How?

Because the crusts are thing, the toppings are precooked. They essentially figured out that a pizza can be little more than toast with melted cheese on top. Their oven is designed to toast and broil simultaneously. Have you ever seen toast that takes longer than 5 minutes to make? Or cheese that takes longer than 5 minutes to melt in a broiler?

But the real magic is what I could call the YC Mongolian effect after my good friend and owner of YC’s. He talked about one of the best things is how people love to share their meals. They are proud of what they make. Pizza 585 plays on that idea. By having a wide range of base ingredients, Pizza 585 makes your pizza interesting, something you want to share. “here try a bite of mine!” the kids all said after their pies came out. Everyone was different. Every pizza delicious. It was more than eating, it was sharing.

The addition of Pasta and Salads were in hind-sight obvious. All the things we love on a Pizza also taste great on a Salad, or a pasta for that matter. What is Pizza sauce? It’s Pasta sauce on flat bread!

The pricing is spot on with what you would pay for a sub sandwhich.

Does this mean they will be successful?

I have no idea. Jimmy Johns has become a national phenomena as stores explode all over the United States. Jimmy Johns “So fast you’ll freak” gives them another amazing advantage. They have unbelievable throughput. They can move people through their lines. Consequently their revenue per square foot is unbelievable. What’s more, they have conditioned their clientel to keep moving. They won’t kick out out, but the vibe is get it, eat it, go. This churn gives them a fantastic revenue model. According to their latest FDD the average store can do $100,000 a month in revenue. That’s the average.

So will 5 minute pizzas make 585 a hit?

I am sure the owners will settle for just being profitable. But it’s too early to tell. What I do know is that it is the first new concept in Pizza I have seen in a long time, and that alone makes it worth checking out.

Clunkdroid- Why does Android Still Feel Unfinished?

Is it Just Me?  Or does Android still feel unfinished?

Recently I had to switch to owning a connected a google device for one simple reason.  I needed my Google Calendar when I was on the road.  I don't know what's going on or why, but my Apple Calendar will not sync with my Google Calendar and we pretty much run our whole company on Google Apps (gmail, calendar, docs). 

While  I could use the google iOS apps, for reasons unknown I am required to login every, single, time.  This is a huge problem for me as I use a complex password with lots of symbols.  Try typing a 16 character (4×4) password with symbols and case changes on an iOS keyboard.  It's PAINFUL to impossible.

Therefore, I went to the AT&T store and they tried a couple of things, but nothing seemed to produce the consistent sync I need.  This has been made worse given a recent change in the way we operate.  Our new task management process relies heavily on Calendar scheduling.  So not having my schedule has become a very real problem.

The most cost effective mobile solution for me is the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 eight inch tablet.  While the Galaxy Note phone looks appealing, the cost is more than twice as much ($700 instead of $300) and the monthly charge is was < 1/4 – about $15 a month to add to our business plan instead of $65 for a new phone line.  So here I sit and type. 

It works.  Mostly.

Well, the number one critical feature I needed works like a Champ.  I can get my Google calendar but with one caveat.  The Samsung application does not fully sync with google either.  So the default calendar from Samsung is almost completely useless.  Changes made to the default calendar app do not propegate through the Calendar ecosystem.

Despite that, I now have reliable email and Calendar for the road.  But what about my other critical apps?

The quality of Apps for iOS really seems to outshine Android.  I have not one, but 3 decent Markdown editors on my iPad.  My favorite right now is Editorial because of the power it has to format your markdown into HTML you can paste into web apps like WordPress and so on.  ByWord is another classic editor that is extremely powerful.  What I really like about both of them is

  • They format the markdown in the text.
  • They have lots of options like setting the font size, or saving to dropbox.

These features really make these applications easier to use.  The formatting is like syntax highlighting.  It's eye-candy, does not change the actual content but helps you catch mistakes in real time. 

The options like setting font sizes let older folks like me concerned with eye strain pick a comfortable font.  The linking to DropBox gives me confidence I can get my files later from another device.

On Android?  Not only are there very few markdown editors, not a single editor offers all three of these features.  Writely Comes close, but they don't support indocument formatting.  Writer supports in document formatting, however you are stuck with their "font for 18 year olds", and no linking to an external service.

Given the sheer number of Android devices in the world it is shocking that more apps are not available.

Device Compatibility

So I have my shiny new state of the art Android device, but I kid you not, two apps I went to download right away had warnings that the apps were not compatible with my device.  Seriously?

In another review, the app maker complained that they could not garunatee their app would work in the future.  They already supported 1,200 devices.  With all the changes they had no idea if they would or could support what ever new things came along.

Nice.

Is Android a Viable Market for Independent Develpers?

The other challenge with Android devices is that because they are cheap, so are many of the clients.  Apple users pay a lot.  They expect to.  But this also means they will pay for quality.  I have never seen one, but I would love to see a comparison if Android software developers actually can make any money.  The numbers are huge so I would assume so, but I don't understand why there are so few quality apps that maximize the latest hardware.  Even Microsoft seems to understand that when you release new tech there should be marquee apps to give you reasons to buy the newer hardware. 

This seems lost in the Android space.  My Samsung tablet has an absolutely amazing screen.  And yet most of the games play at a very low resolution and look terrible.  That is hardly what I would think either Samsung or Google would want – their latest tech looking bad.  But I don't know why that is.  I think I take it for granted what Apple has built.

On the surface, they are so similar, but just below that shallow surface is a depth of features and quality that only seems to exist in the Apple-sphere. 

I can go on, the list of applications that are available on my iOS and work flawlessly that I can find no equivalent of on the Android.  There are a few notable exceptions, mostly business and productivity apps like Everynote, and Todoist, but where is Solebon the outstanding solitaire game for iOS?  Or how about Textastic?  And while it gets slammed more often than not, I would love to have Safari on my Samsung.  I long for a browser that does not freeze during page loads or jump around constantly as it rerenders the page adverts during loads.