Starlings create these amazing patterns when flying together. It seems they follow three simple rules and if you recreate them as a software model, you can get the same patterns. Fly at the same speed, always stay the same distance between you and your neighbours and if you see a predator, leg it.
If you were to bump into this witty and cultured guy at a friend’s party and think he’s a good laugh and he invites some friends and you to another party, you take his car and on the way to this other gaff you realise it’s not his car, he just lifted keys from the original party and he’s actually on second thoughts a bit mental and with a scary dark side and you have no idea where the fuck you’ll end up or if you’ll escape, then you’re slightly experiencing the genius that is Neil Watkins and his play The Year of Magical Wanking. And if you only breathe out after that last full stop, this is what the play will do to you. You can’t be prepared, so go with it. Funny, scary, intelligent and with spit in your face honesty. It could just be a little bit liberating.
Jim Carroll’s post on Quality v Quantity in the music business where you now have only a few months to break on through (it seems) due to easy findability of every band on the planet, kind of links into this piece quoting Ian Rogers on how it’s easy to create and distribute music nowadays but again because of easy discoverability, you have to market harder/smarter to get yourself noticed, so more resources are going in to marketing/pr/promotion.
That to me says there are opportunities as well as suggesting maybe with all this connectedness it could bring the quality way up for bands but they still need that 10k hours idea Gladwell came up with. Wait til they get the tech right for people to jam with each other properly around the world in real time. No more ‘bassist wanted’ flyers in guitar shops. It worked with Internet dating!
This of course ties into everything else not just music. When the web first came about, search engines allowed us to find/discover textual information and it worked well. The amount of information then for the basic web was tiny compared to now. With these more complicated media, more tech and more opportunities to sort out information were born. Now with the web we have services like Last.fm (liked this song, others who did liked this one), Netflix for movies, Amazon recommendation services (bit rough) and sites using your social media footprints are now aiding us into finding new things we might like. Counter to that though is the idea we are having too much hidden from us due to what we soley like. Serendipity gets stomped on. There’s a whole TED video on filters and this:
Anyway, Dylan Collins did a blog post on what people (I was included too) thought were opportunities for startups. A good range of people and a load of good ideas are over there. Importantly for me and maybe you is that these quick bursts of ideas get you to think and come up with other ideas and opportunities based on them. Even reading them and saying “this is bullshit because…” gets you to be creative and analytical and maybe share ideas and potential opportunities.
So loads of new ideas for everyone around the world that can be inspired by blog posts and what not. More ways to be inspired, cheaper tech and infrastructure to build your ideas and faster turnaround for the ideas. Increase in quantity, increase in quality too but also a lot of noise. Geography won’t matter as much (we’ll have no Valley is better than Roundabout stuff in the comments please) so an Irish startup could compete with a German one for example. Creativity and skill not previous history of the area become stronger factors for startups.
Is the startup world following what is happening in music? If yes, will the issues with the music industry become a lesson to be learned by startups too? So a bit like Inception, there seem to be opportunities inside opportunities as the opportunity to have an opportunity becomes easier.
Inspiration is just a matter of slowing things down and observing:
The dayjob is about three years old this month. It’s been going well, I think. Doubling in revenue year on year.
I work for myself, pay myself a basic wage and that’s it. I get to buy nice work related toys now of course. I’ve turned down more work opportunities in the past year than took on, many times because I can and don’t want to but some because I just don’t have capacity even when I do want to. That bit sucks but I still get to work on great things. Even though I mostly work seven days a week (which when you enjoy what you do, isn’t too taxing) and long hours, I still have missed some projects which would have been fun.
About two years ago I started thinking I needed to hire people. Doubling every year is a nice growth rate but you can’t do that on your own forever. I’ve reached that impasse about now, unless I increase my prices. So two years ago I was looking around and being the type that doesn’t forgive mistakes easily, found it hard to find the right people. Personality wise and experience wise.
An additional slight backstory is that I was a teamlead in a previous job and people management is not for me. I like to just ask people to do things and let them do their thing while I do mine. How are you today, is there anything I can do to make your job easier, I knew you had a hangover and skipped work but HR rules state instead that I have to see can we work together so this doesn’t happen again. Fuck that.
Finding the right people
Back to the main bit of meandering. So I looked at this for a while but work got in the way of looking more into the idea of hiring people. In the past 12 months again as I saw where turnover was going I knew again that if I want to grow the company more, I needed to hire people.
Going past just you
When I talked to a lot of business people, well experienced ones, they all said this: “Damien Mulley can’t scale so what are you going to do?” Back to looking for good people. When you run your company your own way, it’s a mess, full of odd routines and illogical organisation methods so anyone that comes on board will need slight deconstruction of their persona and then rebuilding back up.
So there were things I could do:
* document the way the company works
* build systems and automate them as much as possible
* hire someone to learn these systems
* hire in people that were good with people and have them hire the workers and keep them away from me
This is why a little while back I started looking at the Myers Briggs tests. Find the first fulltime hire and have them being a good match with my personality. Which apparently says I have the same personality as the great dictators. So someone that can put up with that is what is needed and is good mentoring others.
Don’t hire anyone, ever
While this was going on, I used to say this to every business owner I met. Without exception they all told me that employees were the bane of their lives and things would be so much simpler without them. One person that owned a multi-million euro company had 80 staff and said they broke his heart, another said she wished she kept the company at 3 people and that was it because for every new employee, the company made less per person and brought with it more personal drama. It was accepted that employees were a necessity to scale but I was forewarned by many that they would change what I do and change the company too.
Digital will scale?
I’ve been using contractors for various work bits and bobs and for clients I send them straight out to others when they ask me to do certain services (Web dev, web design, marketing campaign supervision, status updates etc.) All these services need people though and it looks like I’ll be avoiding that now. So how to scale?
It has to be digital, right? I’m working on a few web services (me bitching about finding Irish web devs to build it is another post) that will aid the company in scaling up and luckily I’ve calmed work down for the past few weeks and have time to draw out on A4 pages on what these services can do. Still, ironically, getting this right seems to be as taxing as finding that unique special snowflake employee type but I can get away with not wearing pants in the office with this digital employee. Sorry, I went there.
Now this is just me who works in a very personality driven company. I know other business people who love the company of their employees and see them as a big family. It’s not you, it’s me and I have the utmost respect for people like that.
Anyway, it’s been an interesting 3 years and we’ll see who the work in progress goes for year 4.
I’ve been so busy with work the past year that the blog, what was the number one thing in my life when I was a total saddo, has suffered. Not just the blog though, creativity as such has generally suffered. In the past few weeks I had enough free time to start blogging again but I didn’t really have any grá to do so.
A factor definitely is I’m still in wind down mode but the lack of “creative” writing for months probably has made it harder to start typing nonsense again. The past few months, all typing has been around meetings, scheduling talks and so on so that maybe is what the brain associates with it now.
So how does one get back to writing for fun and getting something out there? There are some cheats or shortcuts that are working for me right now.
A trickle helps
The fluffy links, irregular as they are still at least make me feel less guilty. The body of the blog is still warm, were it dormant for months, I’d probably move on completely. Twitter in a way probably promotes this let the fucker die mentality as the bits you could trickle out on the blog are fine for Twitter.
Mix and match little bits
When I started, a bit like Fluffy Links, I’d link to something and add a comment. I’ve started to do that. A quote from a movie (such as The Killing) and a music video you recently watched. Maybe it doesn’t have you writing profusely but it has you thinking and considering.
Easier bits – Interviews
I’m in the middle of emailing people questions and collating answers about a few topics. Banging out some questions on a topic, sending it to others and soliciting their opinion is easy enough to do. A bit of processing of the data, presentation and packaging and you have good enough content without writing a while tome. When you’re done, you have a reward. A small accomplishment but a good one nonetheless.
Go down that rabbit hole
Finding and learning is a reward. On the Kubrick theme, I watched Barry Lyndon this week and a tune from it was very familiar and I didn’t know why. Why did I know this? The Chieftains, Mná na hÉireann.
And when I Googled that I found out the Christians used it as the backing track to their song “Words”. But it got me looking at music by Seán O Riada which sprung to something else to something else and now a complete and total clatter of topics and ideas are swirling around. That’s how you get new cocktail combinations or new food combinations. By the way, Peanut and Celery soup is beyond divine. Rhubarb gin and tonics are the bomb too.
Get the “inspired” bit in the brain going
I think the part of the brain that does the “ah ha” bits when you are blogging and combining these new things together to make something new (and so fires nice neurochemicals about), is close to or maybe is at the same part of the brain that goes “wow” when experiencing new relevations from a book or documentary. It’s slightly artificial but maybe to get yourself going, you can kickstart things.
With that in mind, I installed the TED iPad app and started watching some random TED lectures, areas I might not be interested in. Algorithms, I despised maths, yet that TED talk was fascinating and all kinds of sci fi esque ideas came to mind from it. They’re gutting buildings in New York to fill with servers to tilt the stockmarket, they’re going to build islands in the middle of oceans to allow software programmes to be more efficient? We are overlords to pieces of math now? Wow. A robot bird that flies like a real bird? Wow again. And off we go writing.
You can then always log and describe the process that got you to your current destination. Which is what his post is about. Oh look: Log. Weblog. Blog. And all of a sudden you have lots of words and freed lots of different ideas into one space. No matter the grammar or the structure for now. You can get back to that later. Now in the middle of writing that experience you seem to have come up with a few other ideas or tangents that could make it into another few posts.