Imperially second.

“What I realized during this Australian Open is that Nadal sets the tone for this state of affairs more than anyone else, certainly more than Federer. Roger is so cool and frictionless that, most of the time, he seems less like a prism of epic intensity than a dispassionate analyst of it.6 Djokovic, since his ascent, has been so much better than everyone else that he’s largely been able to act like a careful clinician, the administrator of his own talent. And Murray has lost to the other guys so often that his anger and frustration seem basically inconsequential. In other words, the game may be epic for the fans, but you won’t always catch that ground note of holy-shit intensity if you only watch the other three players. Left to themselves, they don’t exactly project deep contact with the secret fires of time.

Nadal, though? He plays like he’s fighting giants. It’s not just the sneer, or the muscles, or the hair, or that forehand — you know, the one where he swoops the racket all the way around his head like he’s whipping the team pulling his chariot. It’s also that frantic tenacity that used to drive me so nuts. Federer seems devastated when he loses but he also seems to sense losses coming and accept them before they arrive. When Nadal falls behind, he turns the match into life and death. He gets mad. He hesitates less. He hits the ball harder. He doesn’t look sad or scared. He looks defiant, and he plays like he’s possessed.

As a result, he carries matches to a higher plane than they have any business reaching. Djokovic could and should have won the Australian final in four sets, but Nadal refused to surrender, played lethal tennis, and took Djokovic to a place he’d never been. Instead of notching a routine victory, Djokovic had to tap into the same well of inspiration that Nadal was already drawing from. You could say that all these guys have learned what it means to fight on the plains of Troy because Nadal does it in every match. And we see him do it, so we know what it means, too.”

Source: The epic warfare

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Customer feedback vs Product vision

there are two guiding principles that founders should use when considering over-riding their users.  First, when the feedback is in violation of a coherent set of product principles.  In the case of Dropbox, this was a unwavering focus on simplicity.  In the case of Aardvardk, a focus on social search being a conversation.  Second, founders should only have the confidence to develop these principles and  over-ride their users when they possess very strong domain knowledge.  When product-centric founders deeply understand their customer’s viewpoint and have tremendous customer emapathy, they have the right to make hunch-based product decisions rather than data-driven.

Source: Steve blank  vs Steve Jobs

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Ron Huldai on how Tel Aviv became a tech hub

When you try to push Mr. Huldai on what he did to make Tel Aviv a center of entrepreneurialism, it’s a bit like pushing string. “I didn’t do anything,” he says. What advice would he give to other cities, such as London or Berlin? “I can’t give them advice. I don’t think I did anything by myself. I did not create the beaches in Tel Aviv.”

When pushed harder, he can think of just two initiatives: public Wi-Fi in the city’s open spaces, and providing a library and center for start-ups to meet and have coffee.

Just as you are beginning to think this is all a waste of time, he explains his strategy. It is nothing to do with high-speed Internet or venture capital or any of the mechanics of running a business. His strategy is about the people, not the organizations.

“We are creating a good place for hi-tech people to live in — I am doing it for the people working in hi-tech,” he said.

Source: How Tel Aviv Became a Tech hub

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My resolution of Year 2012: Keep trying !

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Ex-Googlers thoughts on working in large company like Google .

“The nature of a large company like Google is such that they reward consistent, focused performance in one area. This sounds good on the surface, but if you’re a hacker at heart like me, it’s really the death knell for your career. It means that staking out a territory and defending it is far more important than doing what it takes to get a project to its goal. It means that working on Search, APIs, UI, performance, scalability and getting each one of those pieces across the line by any means necessary is actually bad for your career.

Engineers who simply staked out one component in the codebase, and rejected patches so they could maintain complete control over design and implementation details had much greater rewards”

Goodbye to google

“If you pitch an idea or a project to Larry and Sergey, their feedback is quite easy to anticipate. They’ll tell you you have to solve the problem in a more generic way. I tried to sell them on data communities, a place where like minded people could collaborate on structured data around topics they’re interested in. The feedback was predictable: why restrict yourself to communities? And why to structured data? Come up with something that solves everything!

The problem with this for an individual engineer like me is that you can’t work with a small team on a medium sized idea, get users and expand from there anymore. You either have to pitch something as the third coming of Steve or your idea will be relegated to being a feature of something else.

Google’s mode of operation used to be best characterised as strictly opportunistic. There were certain principles and leading ideas, but any project that met those and where Google thought it could do better than what was out there, would be taken on.

No longer. Google now has strategies. Once you offer an online spreadsheet and an online word processor, strategy demands that you also offer an online solution for presentations, even if it isn’t actually much better. And you start seeing presentations with product road maps and competitive landscapes and unique selling points.

No doubt this approach suits a bigger company better. But the engineer in me wants to go back to that whiteboard; hire smart people that exploit new opportunities that become available as technology develops to build new products and services, which in turn leads to user happiness. Having a plan easily gets in the way of doing the right thing there.”

Douwe Osinga

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Jonathan Kaplan of Pure digital on being an entrepreneur

“entrepreneurs have to be dogged and passionate. It’s like going into a bar filled with 100 beautiful women. You ask the first one, ‘Will you go out with me?’ And she says no. You ask the second one out, and she pours her drink on you. The third one slaps you. Well, most people would give up at beautiful woman No. 2 or No. 3. An entrepreneur is the one who gets all the way to No. 100. And marries her and lives happily ever after.”

Flipping with grilled cheese

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Atul Gawande on Systems Thinking

By a system I mean that the diverse people actually work together to direct their specialized capabilities toward common goals for patients. They are coordinated by design. They are pit crews. To function this way, however, you must cultivate certain skills which are uncommon in practice and not often taught.

For one, you must acquire an ability to recognize when you’ve succeeded and when you’ve failed for patients. People in effective systems become interested in data. They put effort and resources into collecting them, refining them, understanding what they say about their performance.

Second, you must grow an ability to devise solutions for the system problems that data and experience uncover. When I was in medical school, for instance, one of the last ways I’d have imagined spending time in my future surgical career would have been working on things like checklists. Robots and surgical techniques, sure. Information technology, maybe. But checklists?

They turn out, however, to be among the basic tools of the quality and productivity revolution in aviation, engineering, construction—in virtually every field combining high risk and complexity. Checklists seem lowly and simplistic, but they help fill in for the gaps in our brains and between our brains.

Which brings us to the third skill that you must have but haven’t been taught—the ability to implement at scale, the ability to get colleagues along the entire chain of care functioning like pit crews for patients. There is resistance, sometimes vehement resistance, to the efforts that make it possible. Partly, it is because the work is rooted in different values than the ones we’ve had. They include humility, an understanding that no matter who you are, how experienced or smart, you will fail. They include discipline, the belief that standardization, doing certain things the same way every time, can reduce your failures. And they include teamwork, the recognition that others can save you from failure, no matter who they are in the hierarchy.

These values are the opposite of autonomy, independency, self-sufficiency. Many doctors fear the future will end daring, creativity, and the joys of thinking that medicine has had. But nothing says teams cannot be daring or creative or that your work with others will not require hard thinking and wise judgment. Success under conditions of complexity still demands these qualities.

Source : Cow Boys and Pit Crews

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