Enjoy Simplicity and Teach The Robot Dance

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I spent a majority of the weekend  with my family, which, with a busy work schedule, is sometimes a feat in and of itself.  I decided to put the Blackberry away and just enjoy the valuable time that we all take for granted when life demands more than seems possible and roadblocks can leave us at a screeching halt.

Enter Robot Dance.

There is no real way to define a robot dance, outside of confined arm and hand gestures, in, you guessed it, robot mode.  Perhaps the gentleman in the red shirt here is doing a phenomenal robot dance, (dance commences at ~ 48 seconds, and the “phenomenal” adjective is according to YouTube searches and video hits) or even this guy here (same criteria as above).

Well, take the concept, add a funny (albeit there is one criteria: robotic) voice and proceed to say “robot dance” over and over and dance like the robot in front of a two-year old.  Despite the initial looks of confusion, chances are, your actions will be mimicked.  I won’t lie and pretend that I have the exact statistics and/or links to childhood development regarding this behavior, but we all know, kids replicate behaviors.  After twenty minutes of trying to get this behavior mimicked, (I mean come on, a 2 year old saying “robot dance” and proceeding to do it, is adorable), great success! Behavior mimicked and we all had a great laugh.

About 24 hours later, and after re-entering the real world of work-life balance, I had long forgotten the robot dance.  And then, enter text messages.  Numerous text messages with pictures of my niece doing the robot dance all day, long after I left their home and long after I had forgotten about it myself.

Back at the office, all of my news and marketing RSS feeds remind me that Steve Jobs died last week as I have been consistently delivered new content with their editorial opinions and new interviews.  Apple set up an email account for the public to share their thoughts and memories.  Google, within hours of his passing, created a simple, yet powerful tribute to Jobs on their homepage linking to Apple’s website (Yes, the companies compete, but competition was put aside to honor one of the greatest visionaries of our time.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can’t all change the world as Steve Jobs might have.  But you can make a small difference.

I’m not a Mac enthusiast.  I own Mac products but I haven’t had the time to fully explore what they can do.  For me, the genius of Apple and of Steve Jobs is the focus on simplicity.  Not all ideas need to be executed upon.  Not all great ideas need to be executed upon.  The art of Steve Jobs is knowing, and having a team in place to help guide the strategy and tactics, to focus on key elements, not on all elements.

Was Apple and Steve Jobs a movement against “the man” (Just Google the Apple vs. Microsoft stances)?  Was Apple and Steve Jobs an example of employee engagement based on truths and passion?  Or was it just genius marketing?

For me, I cannot recall a time in history, at least in my life, in which a figure such as Steve Jobs, moved his consumers to a point where they took the company logo and recreated it in real-life by biting actual apples and leaving them at Apple retail locations all over the world, along with post it-notes and thank you cards at the time of his passing.  From Chicago to Beijing, the simple gesture is quite a powerful one.

Maybe it’s in teaching someone the robot dance – someone that will take the gesture, something that you put mild effort in – and whether it’s groundbreaking, it doesn’t matter.  It’s the thank you, the smile, the laughter.   It’s the simplicity.

Enjoy beauty.  Enjoy life.  Enjoy simplicity.

 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005 

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Sometimes You Just Have To Cut Your Own Hair Off

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For me, my hair is my darling.

That doesn’t sound right as it implies that I am vain and that classic literature (and the characters of classic literature) and the mop on my head are one of the same.  Not what I mean. I’m comfortable with my hair. My hair is my adulthood blankie.  I’m fine with that.  Don’t judge me.

According to the United States Department of Labor, it is a common misconception that 80% of small businesses fail within the first five years.  Instead, between the years of 1992 and 1996, only 17% of small businesses closed due to bankruptcy or “other failures” in 1997 (because 1997 would be the five year mark/time-frame in question for this… yes, it confused me too at first). Granted, these numbers are over a decade old, and we don’t want to scare away entrepreneurship with ridiculously high failure rates – I get that.

Erring on the side of older-than-a-decade-optimisitc percentages that are over 60% less than the common misconception (Real people speak – these numbers are insanely low AND from 1997), 17% is still a considerable number when you factor in the amount of darlings that went into the start-up.  Your traditional, and well over-used “blood, sweat, and tears” of the 17% of these ventures in question would likely equate to an overwhelming pool of bodily secretions.

And then, begin to factor in the departments within companies, the failed divisions, the poor innovations, the non-profitable areas that barely function in the large scope of the organization.  Part of the 17% of actual failures?  No, not quite.  But hundreds of thousands, hundreds of millions, probably, of dying darlings that were killed by the mothers, fathers, adopted parents and familial units, thereby ending the lifespan of hundreds of thousands/millions of bad ideas and an equal, if not more, amount of true innovations.

Most of the time, the darling needs to go.  It’s impeding the bottom line of something.

But, the other times, the darling just doesn’t get the love it deserves.

The case of Bebo fascinates me. In April of this year, AOL decided to pull the plug on the once successful social networking site, mostly popular in Europe.  The site was purchased for $850 million in 2008 and then, well, sold for peanuts. Criterion Capitol Partners LLC bought the site for less than $10 million. After being acquired by AOL, Bebo employees claim that they lacked the funding needed, both on a financial as well as development standpoint in order to successfully compete in the marketplace.  Well, at a loss of about $840 million, it’s clear that this was a darling that didn’t have a chance on a strategic standpoint after the acquisition. AOL: You probably should have given them more resources and strategized more effectively as to how this network could figure into your larger content based strategy.

And then, there are the dreamers.  Theatre in high school got me through it all – the awkwardness, the boredom.  I was told I was good.  I was told I should have continued, somehow in the performing arts.  I see friends and acquaintances, old teachers and the like and the question always remains, “why didn’t you continue with it?”.  As Hedda Gabler, “You were better than Martha Plimpton!”  And so began my nickname from those that knew me years ago, “Corporate” (because, and so apropos, I went corporate).  And for me, letting go of theatre was my first real meaningful darling I had to let go.

And then offing my darlings became a little easier.

Find a way to take your loves, your true loves in what you do and apply them to your mundane.  You’ll have to kill them most of the time in order to move  forward.  We can’t all win Academy Awards and fraternize with the Zuckerberg’s of the world.  But quite honestly, the darlings will never truly die.  Even Faulkner knew that, and you can see the similarities across some of his most popular pieces.

Plus, this was only a chunk of an otherwise ridiculous mass.