What has meaning

So, what has meaning and what doesn’t?

Whenever I share a book/article/recommendation with people, I always ask them to share what they learnt with me. It rarely happens. But, it gives me great joy when it does. This morning, a friend shared a profound portion of David Foster Wallace’s awesome “This is Water” speech.

 if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down. Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it. This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

This was a great reminder. A large portion of our lives is spent responding to everything that happens around us. So, for the most part, it is just us learning to roll with punches.

The beauty about this is that we get to consciously decide what has meaning. That freedom comes with responsibility. And, it is on us to wear it well.

Life happens in unexpected ways

Amy Krouse Rosenthal died a few days ago. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, you might have read her beautiful piece – “You May Want to Marry my Husband.” There are few things more powerful than a reminder of our mortality and that life happens in unexpected ways. And, Ms. Rosenthal’s note provided that for the a large section of the 5 million odd people who read her piece.

In her piece, Amy says – “I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights. “More” was my first spoken word (true). And now it may very well be my last.”

And, writing about those lines, Bryce Roberts (whose blog I enjoy reading) wrote a post called “The Time Thief.”  In it, he said –

Notably she wasn’t asking for more time with her phone. Or with the brands that she’d built a relationship with.

They say that there is a war being waged for our time and attention. That companies of all kinds are competing for little spaces in our days and in our brains and in our shopping baskets. As with every war, there are winners and there are losers. If the brands, and social networks and media outlets win, who loses?

Maybe the reason for my ugly cry was that I know who loses.

And who is losing.

Our time on this planet is limited. And, it is ever so easy spending our limited time checking our social feeds, mulling pointless corporate politics, indulging our egos or feeding ourselves mental/emotional/physical garbage.

Here’s what I’ve noticed – in the final analysis, I’m yet to hear someone who wished they’d spent more time doing that. Of all regrets, there are two that I’ve heard and read about time and time again. First, they’d go out on a limb and take that risk they felt strongly about. And, second, they’d spend more time with those they love.

Not better, more. Better does matter. But, it only counts when there’s enough.

This is probably not new to any of us. We’ve probably read this somewhere before. But, if we’re not doing it, then we’ve not learnt it.

Well, its about time.

Life happens in unexpected ways.

So, there might just less time than we think.

Let’s make it count.

Not selling Basecamp by the seat

Basecamp co-founder, David Heinemeir Hansson, had a thoughtful post about why they chose not to sell Basecamp by the seat.

The problem with per-seat pricing is that it makes your biggest customers your best customers. With money comes influence, power and pressure. By maintaining a per-company pricing (regardless of size), no one customer’s demands would automatically rise to the top. So, they didn’t have to displease many to please a couple of large customers.

Second, they didn’t want to deal with the mechanics of chasing big contracts. They wanted to keep their company small and nimble. And, finally, this enabled them to build Basecamp for businesses like themselves – the “Fortune 5,000,000.”

John Shattock, the CEO of Beam, once said – “Values aren’t values until the cost you money.” Wikipedia is a classic example of this idea. They could easily become one of the biggest ad businesses on the planet. But, they choose not to.

Similarly, by clearly trading off large amounts of money for freedom, the Basecamp co-founders continue to demonstrate the simple, counter intuitive, and provocative approach to running a tech company that they’re famous for.

The problem with per-seat pricing is that it by definition makes your biggest customers your best customers. With money comes influence, if not outright power. And from that flows decisions about what and who to spend time on. There’s no way to be immune from such pressure once the money is flowing. The only fix is to cap the spigot. – DHH


Source and thanks to: Basecamp blog

(This story and quote is part of “The 200 words project.” I aim to synthesize a story from a book (and, occasionally a blog or article) I’ve read within 200 words consecutive Sundays for around 45 weeks of the year.)

6 years

Today is the 6th year anniversary of this blog. As I type out this 3087th post, I have a couple of thoughts to share for the day –

First, a thank you to Blogger. This blog spent a week short of six years on Blogger. It was a really nice experience as Blogger did offer a simple service for journalistic blogs. When I started blogging, WordPress was still an upcoming service while Blogger was much more established. I had big hopes for Blogger and what Google would do it. Unfortunately, most of that didn’t happen and I’m happy to have shifted to WordPress. The shift was a rather painful process and, while I do bear a few scars (like lost followers), I think it is for the greater good. WordPress do blogging very well. Well done Matt and team. Looking forward to staying here for a few decades.

Second, a thank you to Mom. I thought for a while about a mother’s day post. But I just couldn’t think of a suitable one. There are many great tributes out in the news and in the blogosphere today and I didn’t feel I could add much of value. My mom’s contribution to this blog is of particular significance as she was probably the only consistent reader in the first year. Her comments, emails, and notes kept this fledgling idea going. My mom has shown unwavering support for every one of my initiatives over the past few years and I think it is really thanks to that that I have been able to approach most of the inevitable failures of these ideas with a sense of optimism. In many ways, the “A Learning a Day” philosophy owes its origins to her. And I can only hope I can be half as good as a parent as she’s been.

Finally, a note of thanks to all of you. There have been 2 anniversaries this year – the 3000th post at the start of the year and the 6th year today. There isn’t going to be another one in a while and I hope that doesn’t mean I forget to say thank you to you for your encouraging support. My only request to you for the day would be – if you are wondering if you should comment on a post or reply to the feed email with your reflections/opposing point of view, please do. It is always lovely to hear from you. You make this blog a blog. It is a privilege to be writing for you and it is one I hope I do justice to.

Here’s to another year of initiative, failure, and learning..