Archive for June, 2011

10 Crazy Ideas – one is likely to be BIG!

June 12, 2011

I have ten crazy ideas. One of these will be a big life-changing or work-changing idea – maybe just for me, but perhaps for many, many people. Here they are:

  1. A spam filter for my phone. If your number is “Unavailable” or “Telemarketer” or “Insufficient Data”, my phone will never ring, and we won’t talk! Optionally, if your company is unknown to me, we won’t talk, either. And optionally, if you are on my “black list”, we won’t talk – ever – we do the black list today, but that’s the extent of a spam filter for the phone.
  2. Streaming media that follows me wherever I go. When I leave the kitchen where CNN is on the TV and step into the breakfast room, CNN will automatically stream to the family room TV when I get there. When I leave my house and get into my car, CNN will stream to my car through my car speakers. When I get to my home office upstairs, CNN will stream to my desktop there. CNN – or whatever I am watching or listening to – will stream to the media system of my choice wherever I go – the best media system wherever I am. Automatically. Without missing a beat.
  3. A universal media license for my own content. If I own a DVD, I should be able to stream it from any source for a data fee if there is one without paying another license fee. Apple is doing this to some degree with iTunes that will stream your music library to any iTunes-compatible device you own without uploading your media to Apple. Sweet. They beat me to this one… We’ll see how this works.
  4. Free education. I am certain that information creation and discovery will happen at an ever increasing pace in the future – hold on to your seat, because this will be a wild ride. How do you manage this? Keep current in your career? Learn new ideas that shape your life and the lives of those around you? Ideas that could be key to a long and happy life? You consume education, that’s how. The pace of change will become so fast that comfortable survival will demand continuous education of everyone. If education costs money, a great many who’s priorities or finances don’t support a learning mission will be left behind. Unless education is free for the taking, that is, and then anyone who wants to learns things of importance – for their entire lives. On our present course, though, a smaller and smaller portion of the population will be able to afford an ongoing education for their entire lives.
  5. A shower and an aerobic exercise machine like a StairMaster on commercial airplanes that cross an ocean. Charge extra for that? Sure, why not. I’d pay.
  6. Virtual movie actors that members of the audience become. What? If you are one of the first in line for a movie, you choose a character in the movie to direct – to become – to act. In a sense, you become one of the characters. You make decisions about the actions of that character within certain bounds, and so do a number of other people in the audience for other characters. Every running of the movie would be a unique experience.
  7. An instant, real-time language translator. Not really so crazy. People are working on this – maybe my good friends at Google… When I phone my good friend in Japan and talk (in English), he should hear MY voice speaking Japanese. And I should hear HIS voice speaking English. Effortlessly.
  8. Local environmental control in the home. Huh? When I am in bed at night, why control the temperature of the rest of the house to the same temperature like we do today? When I am in my home-office, why control the temperature of the bedroom to the same temp? There is so much opportunity to make improvements in energy usage patterns in the home… Someday, we’ll catch on to this. Environmental control should follow people. We do this with lights in some homes today, but anything more extensive demands new construction techniques to isolate spaces. control airflow, and facilitate control from more locations than just one or two thermostats.
  9. A new focus on mental health. Treat the homeless and criminals for their mental illnesses that presently destroy their lives (and the lives of others around them) and diminish their future value in society. Everyone has potential – everyone has unmet potential. Between 15% and 25% of the population suffers from untreated mental illness that impacts their lives, limits what they do with their lives, and often adds a burden to society where these people live. That’s a lot of lost productivity, expense, and a lot of misery we simply allow to persist by being passive with regard to these ill people.
  10. Flush cancer cells from the body. One day, nanomachines will scour the body entangling themselves in cancer cells they have an affinity for and eliminating these cells from the body. Everyone is walking around with cancer cells in their body. Rather than killing these cells and many more in the body to fight cancer after a few of these cells become active and tumor-producing, just “round ’em up and head ’em out!”
  11. A bonus, since several ideas aren’t so crazy or so far “out there”. A motion-based battery charger that you wear to charge a cellphone or an iPod while you walk. How far to fully charge a cellphone? A couple of miles? I could get rid of my “wall warts” and never need to plug in again… Do that for my iPad, too. If I can carry it, it should recharge when I move about.

Well, there are eleven  crazy ideas. Time for smart people to “git crackin'” on some of these. And for a few dedicated people to promote these ideas – oh, that would be me… Write back with a crazy idea of your own!

Recovery from a Looming “Implosion”

June 3, 2011

What? What is Brian talking about today? Implosion? My story relates to my best friend who is intellectually brilliant, remarkably astute, hard working, produces work of the highest quality, who is ambitious, caring, philanthropic – someone who I think is destined for greatness. He is currently overcommitted in his job, and he is exhausted, and it is taking a toll on his health. He sees cracks forming around him, and he does not know how to navigate out of these difficult circumstances. In terms of his time, his plight is not unlike our economy’s fiscal overextension. I have been in the same place years ago in my own job, too – it is painful, and it seems that there is no obvious way to get to the “other side”. But there is a way to the “other side” – there is always a way…

Here is what I did – Ten steps. Looking back, it is so obvious, but at the time, it was not so obvious at all:

  1. Take Inventory. Restate your mission – where do you want to be in your career  this year, in five years, in twenty years? What do you want for yourself and your family? Identify your commitments – all of them. Account for your use of time – all of it.
  2. Unload Freeloaders – identify parties that take time from you for their own gain with no intention of giving anything back to anyone – if they take your time and retain all the benefit for themselves alone, CUT THEM OFF! Just say “NO”.
  3. Put Underperformers on Notice – identify parties that take time from you with the promise of giving back who are late and haven’t yet – demand a payback – even just a token return – even to someone else – before you commit any more of your time. Cut them off until they begin to pay back something to someone. Say “No, not until you do this…” and tell them your new bargain, boundaries and conditions. You have that power.
  4. Prioritize for an Optimal “Cost – Benefit” – prioritize your standing commitments in order of total value to all parties involved including the value to you – be certain that the benefits outweigh the costs. If the benefits from a commitment do not justify the cost (your time), adjust it’s priority downward… Keep this in mind for every new commitment you make going forward.
  5. Embrace your Mission – make every second count toward deliverables that are meaningful to your mission, whatever that may be. If a commitment does not satisfy your mission, adjust it’s priority downward… Keep this in mind for every new commitment you make going forward.
  6. Abandon Fruitless Efforts – don’t invest in a failure – make every second count toward deliverables that will be complete enough and timely enough to meet your commitments.
  7. Make Today Count – deliver today what you promised for today.
  8. Make Tomorrow a Different Day – seek adjustments on scope and extensions on deadlines in the near term beginning with what is promised for tomorrow.
  9. Do Damage Control – Prepare for the lowest priority commitments to simply go unfulfilled – warn the potentially impacted parties in advance – tell them your circumstance and the uncertainty of meeting your commitment as early on as possible – tell them several times – be frank and honest – tell them when it is apparent you won’t deliver and apologize.
  10. Ask for help! Delegate! Relinquish some control to others. People will come out of the woodwork to help push things forward with you – they will – you just have to ask them.

I had trouble at every step. I was so disappointed in myself when I failed to meet a commitment. A lot of commitments were not negotiable – absolutely rigid scopes of work and cast-in-stone deadlines – I was powerless for some of my commitments that had no potential to be relaxed. I liked to be highly visible, and I had to step “out of the limelight” when I said “No” to someone. I didn’t like to say “No” – I still don’t. I had to be more realistic about my ambitions and my abilities. I angered some people and disappointed others, but at the end of the day, those people didn’t impact my future. Gradually, things got better!

I am trying to help my friend get to the “other side”. He will get there – with some help. If I try too hard, he will push me away, so I am “nudging” just a little. I may have to nudge harder if his health declines any further.

Regarding the economy, I am pushing the politicians along this same 10-step recovery process. If every constituent nudges their representatives in Government accordingly, it will get our economy to the “other side”, too. Send your Senators and your Congressperson an e-mail – remind them of their “mission” – tell them what you think is fruitless – tell them what your priorities are, and NUDGE them to the “other side”.

So, please help me – nudge with me, won’t you?