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Archive for January, 2011

I’m trying out a new trick. I’m going to try to substitute certain emotions with just one, namely surprise.

I was at an event the other day, where you would pay the organizers and contributors based on value-based pricing. Because this is a pretty new phenomenon to most people, there was someone explaining what this was about. He said: “You just pay what you find it worth. But this may seem easier than it is. Some people might worry whether they’re not paying enough, others might worry they’re overpaying. Let’s keep it all simple. There’s no right and wrong here.”
“I don’t get angry. I am surprised every now and then. Every time I give a presentation somewhere, even though I’ve been telling people all these years that I don’t drink any alcohol, they give me a bottle of wine. Then I think: wow, that’s surprising!” His point was that there was no right and wrong in the amount of money you give them. At most, there is surprise.

I really liked this notion. What if every time someone gets mad (probably due to miscommunication), sad, annoyed, frustrated or anything else that might be in the way of a joyful moment in time, that person substitutes this feeling with a feeling of surprise? What would the consequences be?

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Childhood memory

Time: somewhere when the world was still small enough to comprehend when you feel safe.

Place: a swimming pool, near my dad’s safe arms in a country that did not register in my brain.

He said I could let go. He said I’d float. Excitement, apprehension and fun are coursing through my veins. I look up at the sky, not really seeing what’s there, because my head is too busy with not being scared that the water will flow over my eyes and head. Somehow, I don’t see that there’s no real danger in that. It feels dangerous, even with my dad just at arm’s reach. After what seems like a long time, I kick my legs, trying to get control over this weird environment with only water and chlorine and my dad grabs me to help me be vertical again.

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For my fourth song of the 10s10w challenge, I crawled back into the familiar skin of influences from other continents, languages that don’t actually exist and playing with rhythms and funny measures. It’s my dream to start up an a capella choir someday (wanna join? contact me!), which will have all the elements I miss about Kayu (my old worldmusic band) combined with the bliss of singing with a bunch of people using pleasant or intricate harmonies (or both).

Recipe to my a capella dream:

– me
– fun people who I can relate to (musically and personally)
– original music (written myself or together)
– playing around with rhythms and measures
– playing around with languages or even languages that occur through music
– playing around with harmonies
– playing around with voices and percussion

There will be more songs like this (and this one will evolve into a song that feels right)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OCss6r4LhU

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I’m reading a novel called Life of Pi by Yann Martel (It’s very good, I recommend you read it). The situation now is as follows:

There’s a boy who just experienced a shipwreck. He is on a lifeboat right now in the middle of the ocean, and just made an inventory of all the stuff that is available on the lifeboat. Of course, he has limited rations and a limited supply of useful objects.

He’s now making a raft from a life buoy, 4 oars and some buoyant rope. In order to make this work, he cuts the buoyant rope in 4 segments.

This is where I stopped reading and started thinking.

Now pose yourself this question (as I asked myself). If you were in the exact same situation, and you only had 1 piece of buoyant rope, would you cut it into 4 pieces for the solution you had just come up with to survive? The boy in the book just did it. I know that I, for one, would have hesitated until the end of time, not quite sure what would be the best thing to do. Maybe somewhere in the near future, I would need a piece of buoyant rope that would be long and strong, and then I might regret having made the choice of cutting it into 4 pieces.
What would be more important, cutting it for the purpose I need now, or keeping it long and strong for a purpose not yet defined?

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And after a few weeks of not quite knowing, it all fell into place a couple of weeks ago: I knew what I was going to do.

Up until then, there was a vague idea, and a vague explanation. Now, it’s all so crystal clear. And that feels good!

This is what it is. I used the WHY, HOW, WHAT principle as was explained by Simon Sinek at a TedTalk. Watch it, it is pretty inspiring!

My WHY:

CONGRUENCY: I believe in the feeling that things fall into place. They feel right. They are supposed to be like this. Whether it’s quitting your job to start up your own company, finding a solution to a design problem or using a product for a specific purpose. All that should be congruent with everything else that is part of reality at that moment.
VALUE: I believe that everything I do should have value. I try to only do things that I think are valuable to me, the world and other people in the world.

My HOW:

NATURAL: I do this by turning things into something natural. Use of a product should be intuitive, easy, unobtrusive, effortless and supportive of the goals.
STORIES: I do this by listening to stories of real people. Every story is worth listening to, and is of value because you can learn from it. Feeling connected to others adds value to the process.
CREATIVE:I do this by being creative, by looking beyond the problem at hand and finding the solution beyond the ones that already exist.
SMALL: I do this by starting small and then spreading. I believe in an agile, flexible process that fits with what is really needed at that point in time. Doing lots of little things at a time and adjusting them has more value than doing one bulk of work with the possibility of getting it wrong. Without losing the overview of what is really important.

My WHAT:

USERS: I look at users
SITUATION: I look at the situation the user is in
NEEDS: I look at user’s needs, even the ones they don’t know they have
PROBLEMS: And then I solve problems to make things easier.
SPECIFIC: I do this for specific situations and target groups.

(I can hear you all ask: of WHAT exactly? I’m working on getting that clear right now)

I call myself the user’s advocate.

Pleased to meet you.

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I went to the Waarmaakdag the other day. Which roughly translates to ‘Making things happen day’. It was fabulous! It reminded me of how much I want to do this whole setting-up-your-own-business thing and of all the people in that world that I want to learn from and be part of.

There were experts on all kinds of different fields. A guy I already knew gave me a kick in the butt to go record my very own elevator pitch, so here it is! (in Dutch)

Elevator pitch of my very own company which does not have a name yet

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“Let’s brainstorm about this.”

In my opinion, most people use this sentence too lightly. After uttering the sentence, they’d set up a meeting and apply the BOGSATT model (a Bunch Of Guys Sitting At a Table Talking). For me, a brainstorm (sometimes called a creative session) involves people, lots of post-its, talking while standing up and sitting and moving around, lots of colors and stuff hanging on the wall, maybe some magazines for inspiration or other visual material, people yelling, people reacting, and more of the same craziness. From this craziness arise ideas that would otherwise be ignored or worse, would not even have turned up. And I think that in these ideas at the periphery of our problem space, the brilliance can be found.

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