Great on day one

Some nice thoughts from Marco Arment about how great products are great right from the start:

> The original iPhone was great on day one. It couldn’t do as much as today’s iPhone, but it performed its feature-set extremely well. There were almost no rough edges or unpolished areas in its hardware or software, and nearly everything seemed justifiable, well conceived, and well executed.

> Apple tends to do that a lot. It’s deeply ingrained in their culture, priorities, and product development practices. In brief, their philosophy seems to be to ship only what’s great and leave out the rest. That’s why, instead of having a bad copy-and-paste implementation for the iPhone’s first two years, we just didn’t have one at all.

Yes, it’s very important to improve and iterate your designs. But on day one you either believe you have a great product (of any size) or you don’t. Often the temptation to build a “platform” or “system” is so strong that you build a skeleton of that vision and fill in the gaps with things that you know aren’t great. That makes for a patchwork product that doesn’t excite anyone.

Instead, do something smaller that’s great from day one. Brandon Schauer’s “[cake model of product strategy](” is a great depiction of this; instead of spending your first 2 launches on undesirable and possibly unnecessary skeletons, build a small version that’s desirable immediately:

Another good manta is 37signals’ “[Build half a product, not a half-ass product](”.

Making the world light

John Updike on why he writes:

> So writing is my sole remaining vice. It is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality, a way of expressing lightly the unbearable. That we age and leave behind this litter of dead, unrecoverable selves is both unbearable and the commonest thing in the world — it happens to everybody. … Even the barest earthly facts are unbearably heavy, weighted as they are with our personal death. Writing, in making the world light — in codifying, distorting, prettifying, verbalizing it — approaches blasphemy.

Content and context

> What is context? It’s the operating framework in which the content occurs — the goal, one might say. For example, the design of the Apollo lunar module was content. The goal of landing a man on the moon in nine years was the context. You will get a completely different result from engineers working on a lunar module if the context is "some day we might go to the moon" than if its "were going in nine years.” – Dan Pallotta.

I’ve been trying hard to focus my work energy on deciding context first, rather than immediately jumping to content.

Nice quotes from the Do Lectures

Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one
— [Michael Forbes](

It’s better to fail with your own vision rather than following another man’s vision.
— [Johan Cruyff](

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take a game winning shot….and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed
— [Michael Jordan](

Vision and leadership at Pixar

From [Ed Catmull’s talk]( at the [Economist Ideas conference](

> I do believe you want a vision, so you start off with a person who has a vision for a story. And we do things to try and protect that vision and its not easy to protect it, because they feel these pressures.

> One of the protections is the notion that they have the final say so. Now this is a very hard thing to say because we say we are filmmaker led. The reason its hard is if they can’t lead the team, we will actually remove the person from it.

> We will support the leader for as long and as hard as we can, but the thing we can not overcome is if they have lost the crew. It’s when the crew says we are not following that person. We say we are director led, which implies they make all the final decisions, [but] what it means to us is the director has to lead.. and the way we can tell when they are not leading is if people say ‘we are not following’.