The Loneliness of A Middle Distance Designer

A lesson in hustle and persistence:

With distance running you must teach yourself pace. The heart of learning pace is teaching yourself what you already know you can and cannot do. You run at a slower pace early in the race, holding in check your competitive need to be out in front. You run slower earlier so you can run faster than everyone else at the end of the race — and not feel like you’re running through maple syrup that last mile.

“It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays”

Brian Schmidt won the Noble Physics Prize in 2011. This is what happened when he carried the medal through airport security:

“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’

“I Could Have Saved One Chip”

Steve Wozniak, on simplifying:

“I always tried to simplify my designs down to the absolute minimum,” Wozniak said. In terms of the early Apple computers, Wozniak was particularly focused on reducing the number of chips required–and apparently, this obsession stayed with him long after the product was finished. During our talk, he revealed that just a few days earlier–some 38 years after the fact–“I finally figured out I could have saved one chip on the Apple II.”

He Just Watches The Ball

This year is the tenth anniversary of Lionel Messi’s debut. Brian Phillips wrote:

He’s 10, and he’s surrounded by other kids in full uniforms — it’s during a match, maybe it’s halftime. And he’s just juggling the ball with his left foot. The other kids are standing close. He doesn’t seem to notice. He just watches the ball, keeps it up, foot, knee, foot, knee. He looks transfixed. You get an impression of someone so absorbed by the movement of the ball that it occupies his entire mind. That everything outside the connection he has with the ball is not quite real. Not that it’s menacing or unpleasant; just that it’s sort of to one side. He’s not interested in other people and their egos or in whether he’s being watched. He’s interested in the ball, in making it do what he wants. It’s an end to him, not a means.

Introverts in Football

“Ozil, Ronaldo and football’s distrust of introverts”:

Wenger nailed it when he said recently: “You always see a good Ozil when you watch the game again”. There is no doubt that the playmaker has disappointed on occasion since he moved to the Premier League. Yet take the trouble to watch him closely, and you’ll be rewarded by a magic show, which would explain why he is held in such esteem by the world’s leading coaches.

You’ll notice how often he delivers the pre-assist for big goals, as he did against Besiktas. You’ll see that, in some of his most crucial interventions, he scarcely touches the ball, gently caressing it rather than kicking it. You’ll notice that he rarely looks at the player he is going to pass to, nor offers any hints of his plans with his posture, strategies that are infuriating for opponents. His sleight of foot is truly bewitching.

You’ll also come to understand what a selfless player Ozil is. He creates space for his team-mates and makes those around him look much better, paying the price when perceptions of him suffer in comparison. Yet, true to the instinct of the introvert, he wouldn’t dream of drawing attention to his contribution.

Listening is Customer Service

Seth Godin:

If you know what’s broken, you can fix it for all the customers that follow. It seems obvious, but you want to hear what customers have to say. After all, if people in charge realize what’s not working, the thinking is that they might want to change it.

At the same time, a critical but often overlooked benefit of open customer communication is that individuals want to be heard. Your disgruntled customer doesn’t want to hear you to make excuses, and possibly doesn’t even want you to fix yesterday’s problem (probably too late for that), but she does want to know that you know, that you care, and that it’s not going to happen again. Merely listening, really listening, might be enough.

(via Andrew Spittle)

Build Stuff and Be Around Smart People

Sam Altman’s advice for 19 year olds:

No matter what you choose, build stuff and be around smart people. “Stuff” can be a lot of different things—open source projects outside of class, a startup, a new sales process at a company you work at—but, obviously, sitting around talking with your friends about how you guys really should build a website together does not count.

The best people always seem to be building stuff and hanging around smart people, so if you have to decide between several options, this may be a good filter.

Working on something good will pull you along a path where good things keep happening to you.