1980’s Playboy Interview with Steve Jobs

Apple Macintosh Computer

We’ve done a lot of studies and tests on that, and it’s much faster to do all kinds of functions, such as cutting and pasting, with a mouse, so it’s not only easier to use but more efficient.

Steve Jobs, talking about that new invention “the mouse”

I came across this fantastic Playboy interview with Steve Jobs in the 80’s. He talks about the upcoming release of Macintosh and his predictions for a personal computer in every house.

Companies, as they grow to become multibillion-dollar entities, somehow lose their vision. They insert lots of layers of middle management between the people running the company and the people doing the work. They no longer have an inherent feel or a passion about the products. The creative people, who are the ones who care passionately, have to persuade five layers of management to do what they know is the right thing to do.

Steve Jobs

It really is a fascinating interview as he discusses his vision for Apple and computing. Looking back at his predictions 30 years later, he was incredibly prescient. Even back then, he was asked about standardising across the industry. He had this to say:

Insisting that we need one standard now is like saying that they needed one standard for automobiles in 1920. There would have been no innovations such as the automatic transmission, power steering and independent suspension if they believed that. The last thing we want to do is freeze technology.

Steve Jobs

I’m amazed how zoomed out his view was. He also shares some amazing anecdotes from his early years; picking up the phone book and calling Bill Hewlett (of Hewlett-Packard) and asking for a job, working to earn money so he could travel, traveling through India and getting his head shaved.

But the next thing is going to be computer as guide or agent. And what that means is that it’s going to do more in terms of anticipating what we want and doing it for us, noticing connections and patterns in what we do, asking us if this is some sort of generic thing we’d like to do regularly, so that we’re going to have, as an example, the concept of triggers. We’re going to be able to ask our computers to monitor things for us, and when certain conditions happen, are triggered, the computers will take certain actions and inform us after the fact.

Steve Jobs, 1985

1000 True Fans

Fans in audience

I was recently chatting to Adam, one of the best designers I know, about The Good News Email. He shared an article with me called 1000 True Fans, by Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired Magazine. It really resonated with me, and is worth a read.

The takeaway: 1,000 true fans is an alternative path to success other than stardom. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum bestseller hits, blockbusters, and celebrity status, you can aim for direct connection with a thousand true fans. On your way, no matter how many fans you actually succeed in gaining, you’ll be surrounded not by faddish infatuation, but by genuine and true appreciation. It’s a much saner destiny to hope for. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.

Kevin Kelly


Startup Wisdom: Kung Fu by Jason Cohen.

I came across this fantastic page packed full of interesting startup advice at Jason Cohen’s blog: A Smart Bear.

Some of the tips may sounds obvious or commonplace, but that’s because they’re true, and they’re also worth repeating. Often I’ll read an article like this and 90% of the advice will be familiar. While I’ve heard it before, it might only hit home in this moment, in this context – and that’s why it’s powerful.

  • If you have more than three priorities, you have none.
  • It’s better to complete 100% of 8 things than 80% of 10 things.
  • The “long tail” can sound appealing, but it sure is easy to sell vanilla ice cream at the beach even when you’re right next to another ice cream stand.
  • The only cause of Writer’s Block is high standards. Type garbage. Editing is 10x easier than writing.

Read the rest of the article here.

“Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”

Patagonia

I’m a big fan of Patagonia – not only their products, but the way they do business. I loved founder Yvon Chouinard’s unconventional business book Let My People Go Surfing, as well as the excellent documentary 180 Degrees South.

In many ways, Patagonia is one of the original social enterprises. They donate 1% of their revenue or 10% of their profit each year (whichever is greater). They try to ensure that everyone in their supply chain gets paid and treated fairly, and they try to minimise the impact of their business on the environment.

Recognising the urgency of the fight against climate change, Patagonia have gone one stepped further and changed the company mission to “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.” I think they set a great example about for businesses aiming to be conscious of their impact on the environment. Read more at Fast Company.

Why I’ve started The Good News Email.

My partner Hannah is from the UK, and to keep up with the news while overseas she installed the BBC news app. Every now and again the app interrupts the day with the urgent tones of a breaking news alert, making you aware of the latest plane crash, mass shooting or bloody coup. Over time we began to flinch upon hearing the news alert, thinking “Oh no, what’s happened now?” The foreboding sound eventually instilled the sort of existential dread usually reserved for the particular alarm chime that woke you up early each morning for school… until we turned it off.

We aren’t alone in opting to drop off and tune out. Conducted last year, a joint study between Rueters Institute and Oxford University found that a third of people often or sometimes avoid the news, with 48% saying they avoided the news because it has a negative effect on their mood. In the same survey, 28% said they avoided the news because they didn’t think they could do anything about it. News intended to keep people informed and help them take action is doing the exact opposite; we feel disengaged and disempowered.

I started searching for a way to stay informed without feeling cynical or depressed, and was amazed at what I found. There is a nascent but growing movement around constructive journalism, or ‘solutions journalism’, aiming to re-frame the conversation. Journalism doesn’t just mirror the world, it also influences it. In the same way that media reporting of terrible crimes can lead to ‘copycat criminals’, media reporting has the potential to create copycat changemakers, social entrepreneurs and local heroes!

So there’s positive news out there, and there are lots of journalists doing amazing work in this space. Why is it still so far below the mainstream radar? The undeniable fact is that news media is experiencing significant disruption. The current business models dictate that attention (eyeballs) equals revenue, and the best way to capture attention is with shock and fear. It’s a race to the bottom, hyper-accelerated by instant feedback and analytics – “if it bleeds it leads”. I came to realise that it wasn’t just a problem of negative bias in the news, but also of distribution: how do we shine a light on positive news?

Shout-out from Harvard Professor and bestselling author, Steven Pinker.

I’ve launched The Good News Email in an effort to amplify the amazing work of constructive journalists that I admire. It’s a curated selection of positive stories and solutions from around the world. I wanted to create the type of news alert that makes your heart sing when you see it, like a message from your mum or dad. My mission is to provide an alternative lens through which to see the world, one that encourages action rather than making you feel helpless and disempowered.

Why have I chosen an old-school newsletter to deliver this message? The Skimm, Finimize and Daily Pnut have led a renaissance in the world of ‘blissfully slow internet newsletters.’ In that vein, The Good News Email cuts through the noisy whirlwind of your social feeds and constantly updated news sites, to be read in the relative sanctuary of your personal inbox. It’s delivered once a week, every Monday. Subscribe at thegoodnewsemail.com.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

Winner Take All Technology

Survival of the Richest is an interesting article about a futurist who was asked to speak to a group of wealthy men, and the discussion that turned into a Q&A for surviving the apocalypse.

One of the parts of the article I found most interesting was the author’s discussion on ‘unbridled technological development in the name of corporate capitalism’. I found myself thinking about Zero to One, part of the start up canon recommended to all, by all in the venture capital fuelled bubble.

I struggled with a large part of the book that urged prospective founders to build monopolies, advice which flew in the face of all I’d learnt about the benefits of competition and the dangers of capitalism. There seemed to be a missing consideration – there was no balancing what might be good for the small number of founders and investors who own a monopoly with the effects on society as a whole

I think it’s one of the most frustrating parts of the narrative that dominates the current startup zeitgeist – the lack of wider awareness and ethical discussion on the way technology impacts the world. There are exceptions – Time Well Spent and Sam Altman’s interest in UBI for example.

The difference between a reflective summary and taking notes

I read an interesting little piece with an admittedly clickbait-y headline: “The 30 Second Habit That Can Have A Big Impact On Your Life“. Title (and capitalisation) aside I really liked the advice – after significant learning experiences or meetings, take 30 seconds to write down the most important points.

I pride myself on taking notes though more often than I like, I fall into the trap of mistaking detail for clarity. This is true both in professional meetings and personal journals – sometimes I feel like I need to get everything down and then by the end I’m spent and leave no time for the critical part, which is reflecting and summing it all up.

I’m looking forward to trying to put a bit of extra focus on this and trying to reflect a little bit more.

Good News Update

Beer in Hoi An

I’ve spent the past month bunkered down in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, working on a little project that I’ve been thinking about for about a year now. It’s an email newsletter focussed on ‘good news’ that attempts to balance a news cycle that favours the shocking, gruesome and grotesque.

It’s been an interesting time going through the many large and small decisions that come with starting an enterprise. I’ve tried to mix both the necessary admin like registering domains and social media accounts with the big picture stuff like validating the idea.

I drafted some emails and became semi-familiar with Mailchimp in an effort to craft some decent looking campaigns – I found the software incredibly easy to use. I’ve researched successful newsletters like The Skimm, The Hustle and Finimize. I played around with content and wrote two weeks worth of newsletters.

When I was ready I asked a group of friends to give some feedback on the idea, and signed up 20 of them for a little trial which is running now – I’ve scheduled the first four emails through Mailchimp.

In the meantime I’ve been working on setting up the website – I wanted something basic in WordPress but got so frustrated trying to customise it myself that I switched to Squarespace. At $30 AUD per month it’s more than I’d like to pay but it’s very easy to get up and running quickly, so I plan on looking for a more permanent solution later.

I’ve also been looking in to the business admin side of things – I toyed with setting up a company in the USA using Strip Atlas, or becoming an e-resident in Estonia, both of which look like interesting high-tech options. I settled with the cheapest and easiest option for me – becoming a sole trader in Australia. The only cost was registering the name of the business for $36.

I am vaguely aware that there are some tax implications of this business structure, so I searched for some online accounting software. Xero seems to be the clear leader in this space, but since I haven’t started and have no plans for revenue yet I didn’t want another $25 per month subscription. I did a bit of research and went with Wave, a cloud provider who have easy connections to bank accounts so I can import my credit card transactions and highlight the relevant expenses.

At times it seems like everything is coming together and on other days I feel like I wasted hours tinkering in WordPress to no avail. Overall it’s been a great learning experience so far and I’m really enjoying the process of setting things up!

I’m now in Hoi An, toasting the new venture with my Hannah, my partner in crime. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all goes!

Vale Anthony Bourdain

I first heard the news about Anthony Bourdain coming home from a night out in Ho Chi Minh City. Part of the reason we were in Vietnam was because of Bourdain – he evangelised the country and its food and I hung on his every word.

I looked up to Bourdain – he was a fantastic writer, a traveller and a lover of street food. I was first introduced to him watching No Reservations, one of the iterations of his television show. I read Kitchen Confidential in Costa Rica, and soon devoured his follow up books. His cookbook (illustrated by Ralph Steadman of Gonzo fame) has pride of place in our kitchen at home. His shows were about more than food – he shone a light on our shared humanity through food and booze.

He was curious, adventurous and non-judgmental. Nothing was ‘weird’, just different to our limited definition of ‘normal’, a definition he encouraged us all to expand. He was and will continue to be an enormous inspiration to me and many others.

He left behind a fantastic body of work – you can read about him in this great piece in the New Yorker, browse The New York Times ‘best of Anthony Bourdain’ or check out his life through photos over at Esquire.

I’ll aim to do him proud by spending the next two months sitting at small plastic tables, eating delicious local street food, sinking cold Vietnamese beers and sharing conversations in the country that he loved visiting most. I hope he has found peace. Vale Anthony Bourdain.