Apple sold 1.5M iPhones in 1 day. ATT offers service that is among the worst in the mobile industry. Apple has partnered with them and offered a ground-breaking phone with the debut of the iPhone. Since the original iPhone, however, Apple has under-delivered but has continued to prosper. The joint offering provided by ATT and Apple in the iPhone 4 is pathetic. Some blame this entirely on ATT but Apple made the decision to partner with them, which certainly provides Apple with huge financial gain. The overall experience does not meet our needs. I receive slow and unreliable service from the iPhone 50% of the time, yet, we wait in 5 hour lines to wait for another phone with an inferior antenna. What’s wrong with us – seriously? Why do we do it? Is it the beautiful designs that the iPhone provides – I believe it is.
Is design more important to most of us than are reliability, function and quality? I guess they are. Perhaps it is design that matters. After all, we often (not always) pick our life partners for design that appeals to us so maybe the same is true here. The competition offers compelling designs and much better service so why don’t we stand in line for them?
Marc Benioff and Zuckerberg are facebook friends of mine and they have expressed there disappointment over the solutions available to improve the performance of the iPhone on ATT. TechCrunch wrote about that here. Is this a reasonable response from Steve Jobs, with regard to the iPhone antenna issue? I don’t this it is. Why do we put up with this nonsense? This video captures how I feel about purchasing the iPhone (which I haven’t yet done). I think I’m going to blow it off. What do you think – is it really worth the dropped calls? Is it that good?
Why don’t we just blow off the iPhone and ATT and go with something that actually works? I’m actually looking for your feedback as I stall from making the purchase. Convince me to buy it, or not.
Sometimes you just have to say fuck it. Recently, I was considering a trip to New York City but it was a bit difficult to justify the trip from a financial and time standpoint. After all, I was going to visit one person who told me that we could just do a skype call. I decided that I needed to do a face to face.
Leigh, a TED friend, and I met at the TechCrunch party and walked over to the Standard for a cocktail where we talked about TED, Summit Series, New York and San Francisco living. We randomly ran into Chris Sacca, Crystale English, Jenn Lim, Tony and a few other great people from TechCrunch. The following morning, I interviewed the always inspiring Scott Harrison from Charity Water, and then attended a fantastic cocktail party at Charity Water that night. Scott and Charity Water teamed up with Jack Dorsey from Square and threw a great party. At the party, I was able to spend time with Ingrid Sanders, Manoj Dadlani, Jack Dorsey and others.
I went from the party to a fundraiser at Russell Simmons place where I spent a bunch of time talking with Russell about his insightful panel discussion at Summit Series, meditation, the need and gratification of giving back, what drives us, being persistent and going with your gut. Russell agreed to a follow-up video interview. I also had a great conversation with Christy Turlington, whom will be in the book, about her passions and upcoming film Every Mother Counts.
I didn’t know that these things were going to happen when I decided to go to NYC for a couple of days. They happened because I went to New York. Too often, we spend so much time on analysis an ROI and don’t listen to our inner voice. Trust me, as an engineer and MBA, I’m guilty of it. More often these days, though, I’m saying fuck it and going with my gut. I’ll tell you what – it feels a hell of a lot better than wondering what could have been, and, the ROI has been amazing thus far.
Do yourself a favor and say “fuck it”, if only just once over the next week. See, it even feels great just to say, doesn’t it? As you know, I love your comments!
Kevin Costner really cares about the environment. 15 years ago he hired me as the first sales rep of Costner Industries Nevada Corporation (CINC). Kevin Costner, his brother Dan and Dave Meikrantz licensed a technology from the Department of Energy, where it was used to reprocess uranium, to apply to Oil Spill cleanup projects. During the filming of Waterworld and after the Exxon Valdez spill, Kevin was inspired to apply technology to oil spill cleanup work. I was attracted to the company because it was entrepreneurial, open field, a huge opportunity and had passionate investors behind it, and I frankly wanted to clean up oil spills. After 12 months or so, I became VP of Worldwide Sales.
I accepted the job as employee number 6 and saw it quickly grow as we pursued and closed innovative applications in new markets.
When I first joined the company, the centrifuge didn’t work for oil spill cleanup because the centrifuge was designed to mix and then separate for use within multi-stage chemical extraction processes. This initial mixing phase emulsified the mixture to the point of no return – it couldn’t be separated – think of mayonnaise or your favorite thick salad dressing. I sent the engineers back to the drawing board with the goal of minimizing the amount of mixing that would occur in the mixing chamber. To the credit of the engineering team and Kevin Costner whom continued to fund the effort, they devised a way to minimize the mixing such that the emulsification was minimized (think an oil/vinegar light shake) such that it could easily separate oil from water, particularly in the event of an oil spill.
Well, while this resign was happening, I needed to generate revenue. I identified new applications and sold into pharmaceutical production, food processing, chemical manufacturing, oil production in Canada and offshore, mining, among others. I hired my friend and colleague from a previous company to run all oil-patch and offshore production, Mitch St. George. Mitch was awesome (and remains awesome – I spoke with him an hour ago – he’s an the Netherlands making these machines as you read this). He got us into all kinds of oil production operations. Together, we sold millions of dollars worth of machines and opened a dozen new markets.
This was really hard work, but we persisted. Some of the things that I remember include:
Jumping on a flight covered with butter as I returned from a demo at Lipton where they made butter.
Being knocked over by a cloud of Methylene Chloride when I cracked a glass window on the machine (tightened the bolt too hard – design flaw that’s been remedied) at a chemical plant in Arkansas.
My fingers going numb during test runs in Chicago where we were making a sugar substitute (the yellow stuff) in the lab.
Making naproxen at extreme purity in South Carolina and recalling the excitement of a successful run.
Drinking Guinness with my cohort Scott, after several long demo days, in a bar in Chicago that was a favorite of Jack Kerouac and reciting Kerouac lines to each other.
Slicing my finger at Abbott Pharmaceutical in Chicago but completing the tests because the product costs were $20,000 per minute and I didn’t want to waste time. Upon completion of the tests, I got 12 stitches to sew my fingertip back on.
Lugging our test equipment through customs in Puerto Rico and Canada to run tests.
Assembling and cleaning the units 100 times per year.
Standing high above open oil tanks in the boonies of Calgary trying to make it easier for farmers to produce their side crop, oil.
Signing documents that stated that a chemical release would likely kill me.
Drinking loads of rum and talking about Ernest Hemingway with Scott, on the coast of a small town in Puerto Rico on the balcony of a small Inn (owned by New Yorkers and located where the locals lived) because there was too much rain to run our tests at Merck Pharmaceutical.
After leaving Costner Industries because they wouldn’t share equity with me (that’s just their thing – they actually paid me very well) I wondered why I took these life-threatening risks. It was because I loved the upside, the exploration, the smart people I worked with like Mitch, Dan Costner, Dave Meikrantz and his Chemical Engineering son Scott. It was the memories that I accumulated – the spirit that, as a team of a dozen or so, we could do anything – and I mean anything. We were going to change the way that oil-based products were made.
I guess I sold about 500 units – but not a single unit was deployed to clean up oil. I always thought, though never discussed with him, that this was a disappointment to Kevin – given his initial dream of helping the environment. The thing that would really make those 3 years of ass breaking and risk taking (to my health and life) would be if these units could help clean up the BP Oil Spill. To Dan, Mitch, Kevin and others that may still be working on this project – I’m rooting for you as your biggest fan if you make this happen! Call me if I can help in any way – I still remember exactly how the units work – piece by piece.
I attended Summit Series last week and through the weekend. I chose attending Summit Series over a 40th birthday party in Vegas and a special release party at Joseph Phelps in Napa Valley. I was torn with what to do as I love Vegas (especially day drinking poolside Vegas), Napa (especially free Insignia Napa) and love all my friends whom attended each of those events. I decided on Summit Series (Elliott elegantly pushed me over the line) because I wanted the perspective that can happen only at an event like Summit. In my belief, some things can only happen in person. You can connect deeply on a particular world issue involving helpless children only by looking each other in the eyes at 3 am (well, it doesn’t have to happen at 3 am, I suppose) – Sean Carasso from Falling Whistles and I made that connection. The amazing thing about Summit Series is the perspective that can be gained by spending time with people in a variety of fields with different viewpoints, priorities and goals, and seeing things through their eyes. To me, this cannot happen online, in print or on the phone. There are some things that cannot be replaced by eye to eye contact and even a hug from a dude – yup, a hug from a dude, at 3 am.
Perspective helps open our eyes and magnify a viewpoint – this is true in life and in business. The only other place that I have experienced the diversity that I found here, is at TED. I’m sure it happens elsewhere, but I haven’t experienced it (sidenote, I need to get to Burning Man). Elliot, Jeff, Brett and Jeremy brought together an amazing group of people. They brought together incredible speakers, content and diverse attendees. This diversity brings different ideas, viewpoints and a different perspective. You can bet that the people in the Transamerica building looking at the sun shining on the Bay Bridge have a different perspective than those looking at the approaching fog bank (photo taken on my way to Summit – click to enlarge).
Most of the people I spoke with at Summit have more ambitious goals than being at the top of their profession. John Legend is passionate about education, Chris Sacca is passionate about clean water and a cure for cancer, Ted Leonsis want people to find balance, Kristin Bell wants to save kids through Invisible Children, Russell Simmons wants us to find internal peace and passion, Scott Harrison wants to deliver clean water to 1 billion people – the list goes on – and it was awesome.
It’s easy for us to get caught up in our day to day. Don’t get me wrong – our day to day is really important. Even in our day to day, perspective is incredibly important. I recently interviewed Kostas Mallios for my book. Kostas is GM at Microsoft – one of the key people involved in most acquisitions (he reports to Ray Ozzie) and wrote the acquisition process for Microsoft. I asked him whether his love of travel and photography has an impact on how he sees companies and buying opportunities, to which he replied “creativity provides a perspective that benefits the way I think about a deal. I see things from a unique viewpoint that I might not otherwise observe, without the creative view”. Perspective is the perfect connector between art and business. It’s what is required to solve today’s massive problems – a terrible US education system, a troubled environment, 1 Billion people without clean water, kids being killed in needless wars. Let’s face it – if you were born in most parts of the United States of America then you were born with advantage. I think it’s critical that we take care of our day to day but we also need to consider helping others, whether in the US or elsewhere, if even in a very small way. Think about life from the viewpoint of the person trying to figure out how to get food or water for their kids today – right now, while you are reading these words.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of TED and have had the good fortune of attending 6 times. From my perspective, this Summit Series was as valuable and amazing as most TED conferences that I’ve been to – which is saying something really incredible since it’s only 3 years old. Elliott and the boys (average age of 25 or so) should be proud. And yes, I’m bummed that I missed those other events but I absolutely made the right decision – no regrets. If you like the ideas in this post, please help them spread by sharing it (tweet, like, link) – we need more people thinking about life from YOUR perspective. Thanks for reading – I appreciate your time.
I attended Summit Series this week and came away with 100 ideas, tons of inspiration, a bunch of reconnections and many new friends. Here’s one idea that I hope someone decides to implement – I’m happy to help but I won’t do anything with it myself as I have too many other projects ongoing, but I will help with it. I spoke with David Kirkpatrick (FORTUNE) and Sean Parker (facebook, Plaxo, Causes) about the idea and they both thought that it’s a great idea and that someone should pursue it.
Simply, let’s build facebook applications that improve education in America. I believe that one such application could allow parents and teachers (and perhaps students) to collaborate on projects, curriculum, mentorships, etc. Another application might incorporate some type of gaming aspects that allow peer mentoring. Each student has strengths and would love to share those strengths. Zack, my 7 year old, is a math wiz and he loves fishville, webkins and other games. I’m certain that he would love to play a game that can help his buddies.
The reason that I think facebook is great for this is due to the power and peer influence of the social graph. If I contribute to an activity such as answering a question for a teacher or parent, my friends are likely to see that an get involved themselves. The activity doesn’t have to live in facebook, perhaps, as long as all of the social graph and social tools are engaged. I’m certain that there’s a huge market for this and a ton of money to be made. I’m also fairly confident that it will improve the life of many children and teachers. Our teachers are overloaded without the proper tools or support do their jobs effectively – I think we can help. Our education system is hosed – let’s do this.
If you want to pursue or contribute to this idea, comment on this post to find others who want to be involved. Let’s crowdsource this idea. Maybe hit the “like” button at the top of this post to alert your friends, or tweet it. If there are enough people interested, perhaps we can incubate it somehow – if there are not, the idea will likely die. If you think the idea has some merit to it, please share it. Let’s improve upon this idea, improve it through sharing and collaboration, build concept drawings, a business plan (3 pager) and a prototype. I will help in the process and know that I can assist with angel funding for it at the appropriate time. By the way, I see twitter plugins also contributing to these apps or community.
I hope that some of you genius and or passionate friends of mine get stoked for this – our kids need you, as does our economy.
Mike is writing a book about making big decisions that change lives. The book will include interviews from dozens of industry leaders and thought provoking people. It will provide insight into the decision making process and factors that drive decisions.