Posts Tagged ‘DESIGN’

Stupid Things Smart People Do

From Lee Semel on Quora answering “What are some stupid things that smart people do?


  • Ignoring the importance of design and style – When the iPod originally came out, technical people complained about its lack of features and perceived high price (“ooh, who cares about another MP3 player, I can go buy one at Best Buy for $50”…).  In the meantime, it was so cool and easy to use that normal people went out in droves to buy it.
  • Using terrible tools, and taking pride in their awfulness – Especially common with programmers, who take pride in using programming languages and text editors that have been designed by programmers, not updated since the 1970s, and never touched by anyone with a modicum of design sense. They believe that mastering arcane, overcomplicated commands and processes are a mark of pride, rather than a waste of time.  I will refrain from singling out specific programming languages and tools here, because smart people also like to get caught up in pointless flame wars about this sort of thing.
  • Following the pack – Many smart people often seem to be followers, probably because they grow up spending so much time pleasing others via academic and extracurricular achievement that they never figure out what they really like to work on or try anything unique.  Smart people from top schools tend to flock into the same few elite fields, as they try to keep on achieving what other people think they should achieve, rather than figuring out whatever it is they intrinsically want to do.
  • Failing to develop social skills – Some smart people focus exclusively on their narrow area of interest and never realize that everything important in life is accomplished through other people.  They never try to improve their social skills, learn to network, or self promote, and often denigrate people who excel in these areas. If you are already a good engineer you are going to get 10x the return on time spent improving how you relate to other people compared to learning the next cool tool.
  • Focusing on being right above all else – Many smart people act as if being right trumps all else, and go around bluntly letting people know when they are wrong, as if this will somehow endear others to them.  They also believe that they can change other people’s minds through argument and facts, ignoring how emotional and irrational people actually are when it comes to making decisions or adopting beliefs.
  • Letting success in one area lead to overconfidence in others – Smart people sometimes think that just because they are expert in their field, they are automatically qualified in areas about which they know nothing.  For instance, doctors have a reputation as being bad investors:http://medicaleconomics.modernme….
  • Underrating effort and practice – For smart people, many things come easily without much effort.  They’re constantly praised for “being smart” whenever they do anything well.  The danger is that they become so reliant on feeling smart and having people praise them, that they avoid doing anything that they’re not immediately great at.  They start to believe that if you’re not good at something from the beginning, you’re destined to always be terrible at it, and the thing isn’t worth doing.  These smart people fail to further develop their natural talents and eventually fall behind others who, while less initially talented, weren’t as invested in “being smart” and instead spent more time practicing.…
  • Engaging in zero sum competitions with other smart people – Many smart people tend to flock to fields which are already saturated with other smart people.  Only a limited number of people can become a top investment banker, law partner, Fortune 500 CEO, humanities professor, or Jeopardy champion.  Yet smart people let themselves be funneled into these fields and relentlessly compete with each other for limited slots.  They all but ignore other areas where they could be successful, and that are less overrun by super-smart people.   Instead of thinking outside the box, smart people often think well within a box, a very competitive box that has been set up by other people and institutions to further someone else’s interests at the expense of the smart person.
  • Excessively focusing on comparing their achievements with others – Smart people who have been raised in a typical achievement-focused family or school can get anxious about achievement to the point of ridiculousness.  This leads to people earnestly asking questions like: Success: If I haven’t succeeded in my mid 20s, could I be successful in the rest of my life? andAre you a failure if you are not a billionaire by age 30? What about 40?
  • Ignoring diminishing returns on information – Smart people are often voracious readers and can absorb huge quantities of information on any subject.  They get caught up in reading every last bit of information on subjects that interest them, like investing, lifehacking, or tech specs of products they’re planning on buying.   While some information is useful in making a decision, poring through the vast amount of information available online can be a waste of time.  They end up spending a lot of time gathering information without taking action.
  • Elitism – Smart people often use smartness as measure of the entire worth of a person.  They fail to see the value in or even relate with people who are different.  This is illustrated by the Yale professor who doesn’t have the slightest idea what to say to his plumber: http://www.theamericanscholar.or….  And questions like Am I an elitist to think that most people are stupid?

Why Creativity Is So Important To Running A Successful Business

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

From a recent Tucker Max post:

“It’s funny, most people think that business decisions are business decisions, when actually, they are marketing decisions. Look at this Quora thread about the smartest business move. Read through it, and you’ll realize that the vast majority are creative marketing decisions, not straight business decisions. That’s something that people don’t understand about business–the “business” parts of business are usually pretty easy. Accounting, finance, payroll, that shit can be done by a monkey.

The hard part is sales, marketing, design–the creative parts. The parts where you have to interact with people and convince them to do or buy something. That’s very hard, and most people don’t really realize that is a creative issue, not a “business” one. The start-ups I work with all know this and understand this, and use me for insights or ideas in this area.”

FULL ARTICLE “New York Magazine on my Angel Investing” – Tucker Max


Book Review: How To Give Half Of Your Work Away For Free

December 16, 2013 Leave a comment

“We are all given a short time, and I think the biggest mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is that they design and optimize their vision to provide the largest financial return possible. Now, making money is not a bad thing, but what should be known and understood, is that in the end, our salaries, the cars we drive, the square footage of our homes… none of that matters. What matters is the legacy that our business and our vision can leave behind – a legacy that has the ability to shape, disrupt, or destroy, a familiar system. When you disrupt a familiar system, you change perspective – you change the way a community can define themselves to inspire future innovation. Just because things are the way they are does not mean they should remain that way. I want to invite you all to leave your mark on something, and don’t be afraid of ignoring what you are brought up thinking is natural. – Matthew Manos @ TEDx, 2012

From Henry Ford’s assembly line to TOMS Shoes‘ highly publicized “one for one concept,” organizations are continuing to experiment with new ways of doing business. Los Angeles-based verynice, a global design, business and innovation consultancy that dedicates over 50% of its efforts to pro-bono services, is another example of a company who has been successful by applying an untraditional business model.

First, some key stats and figures provided by verynice founder Matthew Manos:

  • There are 27.5 million small businesses which make up 99.9% of all businesses in the United States
  • There are approximately 1 million non-profit corporations in the U.S.
  • Non-profits spend $8 billion annually on marketing and design expenditures, generated primarily by a handful of large non-profits (which means most non-profits are operating on razor-thin budgets)

“How To Give Half Of Your Work Away For Free” was written as a toolkit to open-source verynice’s business model. The core component is a “double-half” methodology where you double your workload and give half away for free through a pool of remote workers.

By bringing on teams on a per project basis as opposed to building a dedicated, permanent staff, monthly fixed costs are brought to a minimum which makes giving work away for free an affordable, if not overhead-less endeavor. While paid projects employ paid contractors, unpaid/pro-bono projects pull from the same pool of contractors, but invite them to participate in the project on a volunteer basis.”

This post isn’t meant to cover the nuts and bolts of verynice’s business model, but here are some of the key elements that highlight their unique POV.

Why The verynice Business Model Exists To Help Non-Profits

While expenditures for services like marketing and design grow each year, funding declines…When a non-profit is able to save valuable financial resources thanks to the generous pro-bono commitments of service-providers, they are able to immediately reinvest those dollars into their cause.”

Why 50%?

I define an extracurricular activity as something we spend less than half of our efforts doing. If we want to get serious about making an impact, it is my sincere belief that we need to start making giving back an integral component of business, something that gets a lot of focus, not something we do on the side.”

Leveraging Skills-Based Volunteering

This model thrives off of the philosophy that remote working relationships are the future of business, and that we only go to an office because there is one.” (For more on the remote work movement, read Remote: Office Not Required by 37Signals).

Why Social Entrepreneurship Is A Viable Alternative To The Current Non-profit Model

Seeking donations, grant writing, etc., as business strategies, limits an organization’s ability to give by drawing their focus away from the actual cause at hand. Social entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is a new medium for approaching the same causes that any non-profit organization might approach.

The difference between the two models: Social entrepreneurship allows an entity to be self-sufficient and independent through the development of various for-profit components that are integrated with the organization’s outreach. This kind of model not only allows the company to do well by doing good, but it also allows for an efficient focus on the end goal, which is to solve a problem, as opposed to constantly seek help.”

I found “How To Give Half…” truly inspiring. This is the best kind of book – the kind that makes you think differently and know that change is possible. It’s a fresh perspective on business that shows how a company can be profitable AND make a significant social impact without compromising profits or ideals.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re a service-oriented business (doctor, lawyer, hairstylist, designer, etc.) looking for a blueprint on how you can be profitable while making a tangible difference in the social sector.

Full Disclosure: I was given an advanced copy of How To Give Half of Your Work Away For Free, but it did not influence my review. 


Visit to learn more about verynice and get a free copy of their ebook

My Favorites: January 2013

February 3, 2013 1 comment


Taylor McCormick is a young photographer with a really cool surreal, dreamlike quality to her work. You can view more of her photos on Flickr.






American Horror Story: Season 1. Finally got around to seeing what all the fuss is about. I can’t believe that the same guy responsible for great shows like ‘American Horror Story’ and ‘Nip/Tuck’ actually thought ‘Glee’ was a good idea.



The National – ‘About Today.’ The first time I heard this song was in the last fight scene from ‘Warrior‘ with Tom Hardy and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.




How to Understand the Difference Between Weather and Climate Change




Agency Wank – A new single-serve Tumblr site that pokes fun at the pretentious, self-promotional copy seen on so many advertising agencies websites.

LogMeIn – Great site that allows me to access my parents’ laptop remotely whenever they need a hand. – Send anonymous tweets


Like this post? What were your favorites for the month of January? Feel free to add them in the comments! 

Art + Design Night in Miami’s Design District

February 16, 2009 Leave a comment


This weekend some of the Planners got together for the Miami Design District’s Art + Design Night, a monthly event that takes place on the second Saturday of every month. The Design District’s website says,

“Visit the Design District and experience a gallery walk featuring inspiring art, design, music, cocktails, dining and shopping.”

It’s one of the cooler and better cultural events in Miami. Basically, you get to walk around participating art galleries and trendy furniture stores to check out their goods. Some of the venues provide free food, drinks and even music.

The art featured is predominantly from local artists and you even get the opportunity to meet many of the artists themselves.

Click the link below to check out my photos.

Dennis Demori’s Flickr Set – Art + Design Night in Miami’s Design District

Categories: ART, DESIGN Tags: , , ,

Aquarium Phone Booth

January 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Really clever combination of something left practically unused because of advances in technology and telecommunications and, well….fish in a big tank of water:


More pics at .

Categories: DESIGN Tags:
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