Jesse Schell posted this clip a few days ago on Twitter. I’m a huge fan of René Redzepi’s work - his new book A Work In Progress is on my nightstand thanks to Gillian.  In this clip René talks about how fun is a part of Noma’s creativity and success and is a great continuation of yesterday’s post.

Fun doesn’t mean that work doesn’t get done. Take a look at a video of Noma’s plating here. These guys are serious about what they’re doing. But, they’re also enjoying themselves - they’re having fun. It’s often thought that to have fun you need to sacrifice success. René reminds us that not only is that not true but the more fun you have - the more successful you will be.  

There’s an interview with Gabe Newell (co-founder of Valve) in the Washington Post. It’s a great read and required reading for anyone who has or wants to start their own business. This part of the interview stuck with me the most: 

Also, it was pretty clear that there were very large differences in productivity between people who were good and people who were great. So we needed to figure out why those people would come here rather than working some place there or starting their own company. So we had to have a clear model for how Doug [a long-time Valve employee who handles much of the company’s press and was in the room during the interview] was going to be better because he was here rather than going off and starting his own gig.

During the early stages of a startup the focus is on the product launch. Then the focus transitions to growth and people are hired to grow and scale the business. This is usually when the question “Why would people want to work here?” is asked. The answer takes the form of showcasing the startup’s success and perks like paid lunches, movie nights, and gym reimbursements. In the end, these perks alone don’t make a great employee stay and people like Gabe know that.

From day one Gabe (and Valve) knew that to grow a business they would need great people, so they made it their focus. Well before they started hiring they answered the question “Why would people want to work here?” That’s what makes Valve successful and an amazing place to work at. 

My friend John and I got together today for some ramen (Yuji Ramen is delicious by the way) and coffee. We started talking about business ideas and how we would execute the business, as we often do without any real intention to execute on them. As we were talking John asked me how would you insure this, what’s the risk? What’s the liability here?

I didn’t expect that question. In all the discussions I’ve had with people about business ideas (products, services, applications, etc…) we never discussed the liability that was involved or how you would insure the business. It’s something I think is assumed that will “figure itself out” or it won’t be a problem until it becomes a problem - and then it will be solved. 

Today we can spin up a business in two hours or seven days without many barriers. Develop a prototype, launch it with AWS or Heroku, and you can be running a business. Open a Spotify shop, upload some photos, and you’re set. As the barriers to starting a business continue to diminish and tech continues to evolve, it seems that we further remove ourselves from the risks and liability of the business. 

“We knew well how much these people were paying for cocaine and that the more coke cost, the more people wanted it. We applied that same marketing plan to our budding catering operation, along with a similar pricing structure, and business was suddenly very, very good.”

If it isn’t broken…

Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential


This is what the long game looks like.
via ventureswell



This is what the long game looks like.

via ventureswell


“Customers are no longer just consumers; they’re co-creators. They aren’t just passive members of an audience; they are active members of a community. They want to be a part of something; to belong; to influence; to engage. It’s not enough that they feel good about your purpose. They want it to be their purpose too. They don’t want to be at the other end of your for. They want to be right there with you. Purpose needs to be shared.”

Mark Boncheck on shared purpose. This speaks to what we’re looking to accomplishing at Shapeways with our customers.

“You mean you took our last $5,000– how could you do that? He shrugged his shoulders and said, What difference does it make? Without the funds for the fuel companies, we couldn’t have flown anyway.”

Roger Frock on Fred Smith Fed-Ex Co-Founder gambling their last $5,000 at the blackjack table.

“We found that of all the events that could make for a great day at work, the most important was making progress on meaningful work — even a small step forward,”

Professor Amabile, a co-author of “The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement and Creativity at Work” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011)

A great company is one where everyone can take steps in their own direction, but not everyone has to take the same path. 

All around the internet you can hear the cries of how brick and mortar stores are slowly dying. We have seen a few of these deaths already. CompUSA, Borders, and Circuit City have recently passed away. Best Buy, has been reported to be one of the next to pass and we’ve heard rumors of Barnes & Noble possibly amputating its brick and mortar and spinning out its digital branch into a separate entity. We see this and cannot help but think brick and mortars are indeed dying. The stores of the future will only live on the web. In store employees will be replaced by customer representatives in a live chat and we will never go to a physical store ever again. But then there’s the common exception to the rules we keep hearing about day in and day out, Apple. 

At the end of September in 2011 Apple had 245 retail stores in the United States and 112 international stores. It had opened 21 new stores outside the United States in 2011 and of course opened up their premier store in New York City at Grand Central Station. Its brick and mortar stores saw over 110 million visitors in the last quarter (source: Seeking Alpha). At a time when most brick and mortars are closing their doors, why is Apple opening theirs? 

When you enter an Apple retail store it feels nothing like entering a retail store. There’s a concierge who happily greets you and directs you in the appropriate path. Every employee is outfitted to check you out so there aren’t any lines. The layout is spacious so you can gravitate to different areas of products and feel free to browse. There’s a specialized section of the store devoted to answering your more technical and difficult questions. If you walk in hoping to check your e-mail or your Facebook page it’s not a problem - you’re more than welcome to. Visiting an Apple store is all about touching an Apple product, experiencing that product in your hands.

While e-commerce on the web is undoubtably powerful, there is no substitute for the physical interaction one can have with a product - whether it be through an employee or the product itself. Google and Amazon understand that and are looking to replicate Apple retail’s success. Brick and mortar stores are still extremely important but they must evolve. Much like many e-commerce sites have evolved on the web in the past decade brick and mortar stores must understand what the best value they can provide to their customers are. Rather than cut staff or plan for lavish renovations the entire physical customer experience must be looked at and rethought. What experience can a retailer serve in a brick and mortar that cannot be fulfilled over the web? Why do customers want the reassurance of a brick and mortar store and how can that reassurance be extended into other areas that encourage sales growth? Nature will show us which companies have found the answers to these questions in due time.