MMM: Get ready for New Year’s!

Started planning yet? Here’s a great post from Dumb Little Man about kicking your motivation into high gear. Want some more? How about this tasty tidbit from Seth Godin:

Here’s a question that you should clip out and tape to your bathroom mirror. It might save you some angst 15 years from now. The question is, What did you do back when interest rates were at their lowest in 50 years, crime was close to zero, great employees were looking for good jobs, computers made product development and marketing easier than ever, and there was almost no competition for good news about great ideas?

Many people will have to answer that question by saying, “I spent my time waiting, whining, worrying, and wishing.” Because that’s what seems to be going around these days. Fortunately, though, not everyone will have to confess to having made such a bad choice.

Happy Monday, and Happy New Years!

Knowing where to tinker makes all the difference

I came across a famous story the other day – I’m sure you’ve read it before:

“Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory, which was having some
kind of difficulty. Ford asked Tesla if he could help identify the
problem area. Tesla walked up to a wall of boilerplate and made a
small X in chalk on one of the plates. Ford was thrilled, and told him
to send an invoice.

The bill arrived, for $10,000. Ford asked for a breakdown. Tesla sent
another invoice, indicating a $1 charge for marking the wall with an
X, and $9,999 for knowing where to put it.”

“Know Where Man” Urban Legend, hosted by

Sometimes Engineer Charlie Steinmetz is the hero of this tale, as in this recounting.

A similar story involves Picasso:

One day, Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

Now some people have argued that one or both of these accounts are apocryphal, but the historicity of these narratives is beside the point. The point is that although an experienced hand makes a difficult job look easy, that must not dissuade you from charging full price for your work.

I’m a software designer, so the refrain I hear is, “but it’s only a couple of lines of code!” Irrespective of whether it is or it isn’t just a couple of lines of code, what this really means is, “I don’t want to pay for your time and expertise.” So I just reiterate my cost estimate and ask them how many lines of code they’d like. ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekend Break: Kipple, Note Taking, What is blogging like?


“Kipple drives out non-kipple” – Phillip K. Dick

Dick wrote described the cruft, crap, and detritus of life as kipple, and said that it was subject to its own form of Gresham’s Law.

Note Taking

I’m a huge fan of ubiquitous capture (a la GTD), so I got a great kick out of this post by Mark Andreessen about Hollywood mogul H. C. Witwer’s note taking habits.ย ย  I particularly like Marc’s suggestion that you “write notes on a pad of paper without taking the pad out of your pocket” – sort of a cross between Harry Potter and Merlin Mann!

What is blogging like?

A fun post from ProBlogger.

What’s Free?

A recent thread on the Zen Cart forum dealt with newsletter services for small businesses. I use and recommend MailChimp for this purpose, because I think that on a price/performance basis they are unbeatable. One of the posters replied, “I think I’ll use phpList because it’s FREE!

I pointed out to him that TANSTAAFL, and that the cost in time of setting up and maintaining phpList could easily outstrip the savings, but the conversation got me started thinking about time and money. An age-old meme is “must save money.” But there is a new line of reasoning that the glut of global talent plus the easy availability of telecommunications means you should outsource everything.ย  Not just “must save time” – more like “must to to extreme lengths to save time.”ย  Witness for instance the success of Timothy Ferriss’ book, The Four Hour WorkWeek. So which will be triumphant – the “saving money by working 80 hours a week” approach or the “saving time by outsourcing everything possible” approach? My money is on the latter. Or is that my time? Well, you know what I’m saying. ๐Ÿ™‚