Part three of a three part series.
James Coudal is the owner/principal of Coudal Partners, a design firm / innovation factory in Chicago. Thye produce creative work as well as a number of web powered commerce/media ventures ranging from advertising networks, to CD packaging to T-Shirts. All in all, a varied interesting bunch of creatives and a fantastic blog at coudal.com make Coudal Partners one of my favorite regular web visits. It was really cool to finally see him speak, as I have often wondered about the people and process behind the site. His presentation was largely about fostering ideas and letting serendipity take hold in your business to help you “Stumble Towards Happiness”. A little ethereal, his premise was made a bit more concrete through explanation of his last few years at the helm of Coudal Partners.
A bit of a “splat” of his ideas…
- Many business owners are afraid to fail, and as such, they are afraid to take chances or let their ideas run their course. Coudal mentioned in his presentation that his view is that ideas are good.
- He also mentioned he looks to fail as often as he can, as it allows him to learn and gives him a greater chance of having that one good idea that makes the others worthwhile.
- Embracing your short attention span can have beneficial results if you let it.
- The word “like” is a powerful one… It’s a metaphor about how something is similar to another thing. It is a subjective decision that shows your affinity for something… It deserves a place in your creative process.
- Having an idea is a bit like the strum of a power chord on a guitar… It starts loud and exciting and then can taper off. Execute while the excitement is there for the maximum chance of success and before you tweak to death or over plan.
- When accepting or venturing into completing work… Answer these three questions… Don’t take the work if you can’t answer a majority of them with a “Yes”.
- Can you make money with it?
- Can you be proud of it?
- Can you learn from it?
- Often, when people set goals, they set them for the person they are when the goal is set, rather than who they will be when the goal is achieved… This often leads to a cycle of dissatisfaction.
I really enjoyed Coudal’s talk and really can identify with a number of the things he brings up. I know I often wrestle the entire personal satisfaction conundrum, and I appreciate hearing other’s vantage point on this. I also like to jump on ideas regularly and try to execute them before the loud crunch of the guitar chord dissipates… any longer and I’ll probably be too bored to finish it.
Part two of a three part series.
Jason Fried heads up 37signals, webdesign firm turned web software as a service/product firm. He has a bit of a different approach to developing apps than most. I would say it’s related to agile programming, but that may be an understatement. His process almost seems to outsiders as a rejection of process. He strips design and development down to the most bare essentials yet comes up with easy to use applications that are most certainly successful. He obviously is talented and smart and surrounds himself with staff at 37signals that is too. He presented a talk at Seed titled “10 things”. The 10 things are:
- The Great Unknown
- projections are pie in the sky
- 5 year plans are actually blinders
- road maps are actually a lock-in
- Words that are Red Flags (avoid these words)
- Worrying About Things That Don’t Matter Yet.
- pixels and polish at the wrong time.
- what ifs? (what if we get big, get dugg, get slashdotted)
- partnerships – largely a waste of time
- When is Enough, Enough?
- When you can use it! Don’t over build/engineer right away
- Too Many Cooks
- Staying small is a good thing!
- Parkinson’s Law – Work expands to fill the time allowed
- Scale your scope to match your head count
- Not Enough Chefs
- Give your secrets away!
- Show what you know
- What’s in your cookbook?
- Interruption is the Enemy of Productivity
- Taps on the shoulder? Not good.
- Required Meetings? Hrrm. Also probably not good.
- Calling a name across the office, “Hey check this out”
- Phones and Blackberries are productivity killers
- A fragmented day is not productive
- Passive vs. Active Communication
- Know when and why to use each.
- “Communication fails except by accident”
- 6 people are actually present in a 2 person conversation
- Passive communication will reduce interruption
- Meetings are Toxic
- meetings are symptoms, not solutions
- meetings are last resorts
- meetings are costly
- meetings are like TV shows, they fill regular time slots, 15 mintues, 30 minutes, an hour… thoughts and answers just aren’t time boxed like that.
- Make Tiny Decisions
- Judo ‚Äì Break big choices into smaller and smaller ones
- decisions allow for progress to be made
- when you make tiny decisions, you can’t make big mistakes.
Whew… alot to take in there. Some, I’m not sure of, but I do know that I have at one time or another been in a toxic meeting or three.
Part 1 of a three part series.
Carlos Segura is the successful, talented and interesting designer/owner behind Segura Inc, home to Segura Design, T-26, 5″ and various other creative and design ventures. An innovator and creative force in the regional/national design field, Segura has long been known in the field for being a driven, yet approachable creative.
He was the first speaker to present at the Seed Conference, January 18th, 2008 at IIT in Chicago. His presentation was largely about genreal observations in his process and company as well as his thoughts on managing relationships. He profiled several recent case studies and displayed an attractive graphic presentation that accented the work being discussed but contained few if any words.
Some key notes/quotes taken by me from the presentation:
- A person that doesn’t take a chance, doesn’t make a chance.
- His ethos behind much of what has transpired at Segura, Inc has been about fostering/creating a community of design.
- Recording and avid record keeping of client correspondence is needed to help gently remind them of the decisions made during the process.
- Don’t be everything to everyone. That applies to not only services/mediums you create in, but also to vertical markets you may do work in. Being a jack of all trades can be a liability.
- Suggest projects to clients once comfortable with them to continue to push their “envelope”
- Don’t be afraid to say no to people (new clients or bad decisions chosen by clients)
- Client gives you no budget guidance? Give them no estimate if possible.
- From an ongoing business standpoint for all intensive purposes the actual client is irrelevant, it’s about the work that is done.
- He doesn’t meet his clients in person. (Wow.)
- Never do spec work.
And that’s about that… If you captured different or opposing views from his presentation, let me know.
I attended the January 18th Seed Conference at IIT in Chicago with John Feser, one of the partners from the company I work for, The Iona Group. The three speakers, Carlos Segura, Jason Fried and James Coudal all gave informative sessions with Q&A following. I’ll attempt to do a brief recap on the sessions for my personal records (one post for each speaker), as well as for those that may have attended the conference or are thinking of attending one in the future. Overall the sessions were insightful, memorable, funny and candid. I applaud the three of them for being so open and transparent, often offering very frank views of their inside operations and thoughts on the web design/application/creative industry and the associated perils.
These recaps are just that, only excerpts. For the fully leaded, unadulterated web 2.0-y goodness, you simply must attend one of these yourself. Here’s to hoping that these three trend-setters are starting yet another trend, telling it like it is, even when it’s not always pretty.
If you attended the conference and want to share your experiences, please use a pingback so I can track your thread… If you have questions about the content, drop me a line or comment in the respective post.
I hope to have a longer post complete with notes in a day or two from my day at the Chicago Seed Conference (they are in a Fields Notes Brand notepad, given away at the conference right now.)… but for now, you can check out the site or the presenters sites: Carlos Segura, Jason Fried, James Coudal. A long time fan of the Coudal and Segura, I wasn’t so sure of Jason Fried prior to coming to the event, and I am still not sure my views have changed… he may be a bit too “agile” for my tastes, but I may have turned on that, too… More on that coming soon. Nonetheless, a great day and very worth it.