Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mysteries of Pittsburgh

I am visiting Pittsburgh this week on business. I was uninformed and sadly had prejudged this city. I thought the only thing that was noteworthy about Pittsburgh was the fact that it is the Steeler's town.

This is a really cool city. I have the pleasure of a pitt native guide me through the city and i am really seeing it in a different light. Here are some neat facts about Pittsburgh.

  • Pittsburgh turns 250 years old this year.
  • The Cathedral of Learning - the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh is a remarkable building.
Standing at 535 feet (>163 m)[4], the 42-story Late Gothic Revival Cathedral is the tallest educational building in the western hemisphere and the second tallest educational building in the world. (Moscow State University's main building in Russia is the tallest.)
  • Pittsburgh has the second most funiculars (active and inactive) of any state or province in the world (Valpara√≠so Chile has the first)
I am sure there are many more things cool about this city - I am just starting to scratch the surface :-). Yes, the title is a nod to michael chabon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Success..Success..Success... what next?

If you are Pixar --- you freak out and decide to shake things up. That will turn out to be the best darn thing you could have possibly done.

I just read a McKinsey Quarterly article on innovation (thanks boss :)). It was an interview with Pixar's director Brad Bird. In this Brad talks about how Steve Jobs, Ed Catmull and John Lasseter came to him because they were afraid. They were coming of 3 huge movie wins in Toy Story, A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2. They were clearly the best animation movie studio in the world and 3 continuous wins to prove it. So what was their reaction?

They were afraid of complacency and sought Brad Bird. Brad's latest venture "The Iron Giant" had received critical reviews but was a financial flop. An unorthodox move at the very least :-) so what do you think happened.

Incredibles - Oscar
Ratatouille - Oscar

Some great quotes in this article but the gist of it seems to be locating, encouraging and harnessing the power of the "black sheep" within your company. Brad defines black sheeps as restless contributors with unconventional ideas.

Who are your black sheeps?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Change is typically met with resistance - PSA

(from my inbox)
Thank you for signing up to "opt out" from getting telephone books at

A quick update on what is going on in the Yellow Page industry and their resistance to changing their behavior. The following is an excerpt from one of the Yellow Pages leading advocates to help fight anything anti-Yellow Pages:

Time to fight back!!! "Contrary to what you may be hearing and reading, the print Yellow Pages are NOT dead. Far from it. It’s time for the 50,000+ people who make their living from this industry — publishers, agencies, and suppliers, to start to fight back. Now." is a grass roots organization that can use your help to combat the 50,000+ group of people that don’t understand the issue. As we have stated previously, we are not against the telephone book, rather the unsolicited delivery of its many versions on our doorsteps without our permission.

Please send out our link to as many people as possible. The "opt out" request is growing monthly, and the way to change the world for the better is growing rapidly.

Thanks for your help!

YPGG Organization

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ask yourself "why" before you do something

  1. if you are going to record a short video -- Believe in your message
  2. if you are going to record a short video -- stitch it together from beginning to end with a good story.
  3. if you are going to record a short video just for the sake of putting up a video - it will show.
Gartner video telling you why YOU should attend the BPM summit this fall -

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fascinating to read but why?...

Swimming the Amazon: 3,274 Miles on the World’s Deadliest River

Amazon book link

Btw the same gentleman has also conquered the Danube, the Mississippi, and the Yangtze. In 1997, he became the first to swim non-stop from Africa to Europe, and he did it in 29 hours, 36 minutes, and 57 seconds… without a wetsuit. WTF? Seven swimmers had attempted it before and all had failed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reality check - a pilot's blog

I was led to Patrick Smith's blog - courtesy Brad Feld. Patrick is an airline pilot who shares his view of the world and specifically the atrocity that is TSA + DHS + Airline industry. I would encourage people to read his blog to get a better all round perspective. Below for instance is a quote that Patrick used to address the misconception that pilots are overpaid, underworked and live lives of ease.
I think of my friend Chris, age 29, who flies for US Airways Express. He is away from home 21 days every month and earns $18,000 a year, with $100,000 in student loans and flight training debt hanging over him. And yet, each time he walks down the concourse, no doubt there are people who eye him with a sneer. Just another overpaid pilot putting in his 20 hours.

Friday, July 11, 2008

links from kottke day

  • Swimming holes in central texas.
  • Understanding the work behind mundane things (magazine layout).