The Game is the ultimate artform.
Every time a person sits down to play solitaire, a new universe is created.
Let’s pretend for a moment we have free agency, as if our decisions weren’t entirely subject to our genetic and experiential memory. Just for fun!
So, in this scenario, we are still subject to two things. One, our motives. Two, the rest of the universe. No big deal.
My wife, Mai, has on occasion informed me that I have no self-control. Nonsense! I, myself, want to eat cookies, thus, I eat said cookies, hence, self-control. But of course she means I lack discipline. In reality though, I simply just have different motives.
Let’s play a singleplayer version of the same game to drive home the point: I want to learn Chinese. Really, I do. I will it to be done! But, I don’t do it. Why not? Insufficient motivation.
A strong motive is one that is infused with high emotional energy; passion. Passion is like high-octane fuel, designed only for a specific task, like drawing or making sushi. The dilemma is we have limited control over which things in life we are passionate about.
My question tonight is: how limited? I think we could pick any topic and increase our interest in it by a certain variable ratio. By doing so, we make energy expenditure more efficient, even if we never reach the height of passion towards it. But those are only modifiers. Our innate interest is beyond our control.
Take baseball. I know what baseball is — I played it for years. I’m not fond of it, watching nor playing. But if I tried, I presume I could really get into it. I’d latch on to certain aspects of the thousands that innately spark my interest, like stats, the memories of baseball concession snacks, and the random reward schedule of gaming. The energy would flow in, but the octane would be only moderate. Eventually I might lack the motivation to watch the whole game one day, my interest might begin to fade completely.
It’s common sage advise to find something you love. Obvious, but key and hard. We are talking about a serious hunt. The scale from apathy to passion is 0 to infinity, and some fortunate people are in the billions. Those people, those who are fortunate enough to have found something they are absurdly passionate about, they have won. I don’t need to know a single detail about their life beyond that — they have won.
Pictures grab onto moments and bring them forward with us. And then, they give us a glimpse into memories we never got to form for ourselves.
What we once painted, we now shoot, and what was once a camera, is now a phone. But yet painting is no retired art today, nor are SLRs and point-and-shoots off the shelves just yet.
The question that interests me most is where are we headed. Will young couples hire a photographer at their wedding still in 10 years? Will it be a videographer instead? Will the videographer setup a half dozen mounted cameras, each taking terabytes of incredibly focused shots at a dozen frames per second from all important angles throughout the event? Perhaps the professional will take only two shots, one of the groom and one of the bride, then release a few cameras into the air to silently orbit about, taking photos of the humanoids as they prepare, wed, and party throughout the evening, careful to avoid each other as they exchange shots, returning to recharge as needed. Perhaps no professional will be hired. Perhaps instead the invitees will subscribe to an event channel on whatever software of whatever device and then take photos freely, allowing the whole group to amass tens of thousands of photos, chronological, and geolocated by the inch. Or, perhaps weddings will just be reduced to a change of status on whatever social media platform future generations flock to while the world’s senior citizens finalize their Facebook timelines.
Culture has wide-spread implications that have a significant delayed effect on design creativity, product quality, customer satisfaction, sales, hiring, and employee retention. Nothing is more fundamental than culture.
Here’s a look at what some renowned companies do to improve their company culture.
Red Frog Events via Joe Reynolds, Founder
- Unlimited vacation days (On average, employees take 2-4 weeks)
- $100 per month office decor budget per employee
- $1,000 per year training allowance
- Sabbatical every 5 years; travel world for 1 month
- Work from home once per week
- Match up to $1,000 in charitable contributions per year
- Birthday massage
- Free red bull, beer, soda, fruit snacks
- Creative office design (Photo)
- Rock wall
- Lego table
- Tree house
- Arcade machine
- 75 total employees (69 new hires in last 18 months)
- 2,000 resumes a month (1 out of 150 applicants hired)
- We live with passion.
- We innovate and create.
- We love to laugh and learn.
- We’re team players to the core.
- We have contagious energy.
- We’re industry leaders.
- We have big hearts
- We’re open-minded.
- We give seriously good high-fives.
- We continue to grow as people.
Zappos via Tony Hsieh, CEO
Culture & Customer Support
- Sold first company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million because the company culture drained from the company and became beyond repair after they hit approximately 100 employees.
- Started fresh with Zappos and became evangelical about fostering an impecable culture.
- Customer support is marketing.
- Customer support phone number proudly displayed at top of every page on website.
- Despite being famous for their extremely high level of customer service, their #1 priority is company culture
- Once a year all employees write about what the company culture means to them. Compiled into a Culture Book. Completely unedited. Organized by department. I ordered one. (Video and Order Form: http://www.zapposinsights.com/main/culture-book/)
- Make customer service the entire company, not just a department.
- Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business.
- In modern times, with the transparency of the Internet, company culture and company brand are two sides to the same coin.
- Strives to always overshoot customer expectations. For example: Randomly upgrades orders to overnight shipping
- Tour of office: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIJWv1sFNjA
- First stage of interview is standard with the hiring manager and his/her team interviewing for technical, experience, skills
- Second stage of interview is conducted by HR department for culture fit
- All employees are sent to HQ in Las Vegas for 4-weeks of training
- Training goes over company history, importance of company culture, and 2-weeks of answering customer support phone calls, regardless if new hire is a lawyer, accountant, etc.
- At end of training, Zappos offers $2,000 to quit. 2% accept this offer.
- Zappos has over 1,500 employees and has 1 billion in revenue
- Deliver WOW through service
- Embrace and drive change
- Create fun and a little weirdness
- Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
- Pursue growth and learning
- Build open and honest relationships with communication
- Build a positive team and a family spirit
- Do more with less
- Be passionate and determined
- Be humble
Google via Eric Schmidt
- Extremely important to control who you let in your company.
- Google ‘moves forward’ without central management.
- Eric tries to cause controversy in meetings. Discord + deadline and strive for consensus.
- Allocation principal: 70% core business, 20% adjacent business, 10% others.
- Do not let managers hire their friends. Have a recruiting team, a ‘hiring committee’.
- Don’t interview one person more than 5 times.
- Steve convenes a secret ‘top 100’ meeting each year. Anyone that he would take if the company were to be recreated from scratch.
- Every project has a “DRI” (Directly responsible individual).
- Steve determines pricing, food in cafeteria, design of shuttle buses, staircase design in Apple Store, etc.
- Steve has created an Apple University, brought professors in to create case studies on how the company operates currently so that when he leaves, things can be preserved.
There is no more graceful thing,
Than the triumph of a chicken wing.
Crisp and tepid dost dare fly—
Chorded with choice chocolate pie.