∞β

I am a product in infinite beta

The Future of Devices

Picture of a girl wearing glasses

Phones are dead.

I love my phone. It’s a nuisance, but I love it. Unfortunately, it’s destined for extinction.

In the very near future you’ll carry: Smartwatch + Earpiece + Visor + Tablet

At a minimum

… you’ll have a smartwatch and an earpiece. Notifications and calls will be routed to your watch. To accept a call, tap your watch and then just talk through your earpiece. Need to ask Google a question? Press the watch face and listen for Google’s pleasant little chime sound in your earpiece, and then start talking, “Where is the nearest laundromat?” Someone sent you a Vine video? You’ll watch it on your wrist. No phone necessary.

The nerdiest of us

… will also have a “heads-up display”. (I hope we just call it “glasses” or maybe a “visor” if we want to feel futuristic.) It’ll work like Google Glass but look like a regular pair of glasses. This is where you’ll watch the 3 minute YouTube videos that friends send you. This is where you’ll see search results when you search for “What does a Klein bottle look like?” This is where the emoji that people send you in Facebook messenger will appear (and then disappear). This is where you’ll look when mom calls you on Facetime. No phone needed.

The tablet?

You’ll save that for when you’re sitting in a self-driving Uber for 15 minutes and want to catch up on the latest episode of Silicon Valley but don’t feel like digging your Oculus out of your backpack.

Thanks For Your Suggestion

I’d like to share a powerful phrase that will help you set clearer priorities in your life and permanently improve your interactions with the people around you. It will make you a better a better friend, a better father or mother, a better sister or brother, a better son or daughter. It will make you a better employee.

It goes like this:

Hmm, interesting idea. We’ll take it into consideration when we make our decision.

The exact wording isn’t critical. It’s what it communicates that’s important.

A Little Background

When my wife and I first got married we discovered, as everyone does, that coordinating two independent schedules can be very tricky. There seemed to be an undending barrage of conflicting demands:

Can you come for dinner on Sunday?
Could you work some extra hours this weekend?
This seminar is required for your major.
Are you coming for Thanksgiving dinner?
Will you be here on Christmas morning?
You should come trick-or-treating with us!
You shouldn’t let your kids eat…
You shouldn’t let you kids watch TV.
You should deliver you kids at home.
You shouldn’t vaccinate.
And on, and on.

Learning to manage all of these requests wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. We’ve been married for over 11 years now and the number of requests has only grown. We’ve stumbled many times (sorry again everyone) and we’re still not perfect at it. But we feel that this powerful philosophy has made our marriage much happier. It’s our little “secret weapon”.

Here how we usually say it.

Thanks for your suggestion. We’ll consider it when we make our decision.

How It Works

When you say this to someone, it communicates a few things:

  1. “Interesting idea” or “Thanks for your suggestion” Your idea is simply that, an idea. A suggestion. It’s not a requirement. We’re not obligated to just comply. It’s an idea. It’s interesting. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just an opinion. No matter how strongly worded the original statement, it’s just another idea.
  2. “We will take it into consideration…” We genuinely appreciate your opinion and hope you keep sharing it with us. Although we’re not ready to make a decision right now, we value your thoughts and will consider them.
  3. “… when we make our decision.” This is the most important one. It emphasizes that it’s our decision, nobody else’s. No one else fully understands the varied demands for our time and attention, our interests, or our priorities. We’ll make the decision together. I don’t commit to anything important until I’ve had a chance to sync with my wife first.

This means that often end up saying, “Thank you but not this time.” Maybe it’s because we have another commitment. Maybe we have something that’s a higher priority. But at the end of the day, we don’t owe anyone else an explanation. We work together and make the best decision we can with the information available to us.

How It Helps with Product Management

About 5 years ago, I began to make a career change to Product Management. And while I believe that this phrase is valuable in any profession, it’s been particularly useful for me as a Product Manager.

A Product Manager’s entire job consists of receiving ideas/suggestions/feedback and making prioritization decisions. There’s no end to the number of people who want to chime in and offer their 2¢ about how the product should work, what features it should have, why it should be this way or that way.

Customers want this. Competitors have that. Coworkers need something else. And that’s just fine. When you’re developing a product, everyone is welcome to his or her opinion and I’m happy to collect them all.

But at the end of the day, I’m the one responsible for making sure the product succeeds. Our customers don’t fully understand our long term vision. Our competitors don’t share out business model. My coworkers aren’t intimately familiar with our technical constraints. In the end, a small group of people needs to make the best decision possible with the limited information available.

For everything else? Thanks for your suggestion. We’ll consider it when we make our decision.

Nissan’s Bold New Ad Thanks Their Competitors

Bold move by Nissan. The advertisement for the new 2016 Titan XD mentions some of their competitors by name (Chevy, Ford, Dodge) and thanks them while simultaneously suggesting that Nissan is “the way forward”. Very well done.

Same-sex Marriage, Discrimination, and Respect

RespectThere’s so much nonsense going on in politics.

I’m genuinely excited for my homosexual friends to feel less discriminated against. You should never have been treated badly in the first place. Nobody deserves to be discriminated against, be they black, white, straight, homosexual, Mormon, atheist, wealthy, homeless, whatever. We’re all humans and should treat each other with respect. Humans should have equal access to jobs, health insurance, tax benefits, etc. Pretty simple.

It’s pretty similar to religion really. I’m a Mormon. I was born this way and it’s how I feel. Others become Mormon later in life. I’m not going to change it to suit anyone else’s convenience, I’m trying to be true to myself and what I believe.

Having said that, legislation doesn’t change moral principles. You could legislate that gravity is illegal but it doesn’t alter the nature of gravity.

Burger King invented a burger called the Whopper. You could go to McDonald’s and demand that they sell you a Whopper but they can’t possibly make you one. Sure, they could make something similar but it’s not technically a Whopper since you didn’t buy it at Burger King.

God created “marriage” as a union between a man and a woman. I don’t know why He did it that way, He just did. Someday I’ll understand His ways better. I’m absolutely certain there’s a valid reason for it. You can say it isn’t fair. You can say it’s discriminatory. You can create your own version with the same name, but it doesn’t actually change anything.

Disambiguation

To be clear, there are two topics involved in this debate. Discrimination and the definition of marriage. For many people the traditional definition of marriage has been used as an excuse to discriminate. This is, and always has been, unacceptable and I’m glad to see that we’re rising above giving ourselves excuses to treat people disrespectfully. We should have done that a long time ago without the need for legislation.

If we’re all on the same page there, then the fact that people disagree about the definition of marriage isn’t such a problem. Some believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Others believe that same-sex marriage is acceptable. Great. Everyone can choose to believe whatever they want to believe AS LONG AS they don’t use it as an excuse to mistreat others or attempt to force others to their way of thinking/living.

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” –Eleventh Article of Faith

Theology

Now that we’re all respecting each others’ right to believe whatever you want to believe and live accordingly, we can have a friendly, healthy discussion about theology.

I’m actually not trying to argue for any particular church’s stance. Truth is truth and doesn’t change. Molecules are made of atoms. Objects with mass have gravity. Light travels 186,000 miles per second. The earth was created via known observable physical/biological/mathematical processes and some processes we haven’t yet identified. These are all discoveries that have become pretty much universally accepted as truth. In time, our understanding of them will mature and we’ll acquire additional knowledge.

Science and religion aren’t in conflict. They’re both attempts at describing the truths that govern the world around us. Where we perceive conflict, it’s because our understanding of science, or religion, or both is incomplete. As we continue to learn and uncover irrefutable eternal truth, science and religion will converge.

Something that I know to be truth is that our creator has given us instructions (i.e., rules and consequences) for happiness/health/longevity that are governed by these eternal truths. “If you do X, then Y will happen.” For some of these instructions both the rules and consequences are known and clear (e.g., if you touch fire, then you’ll get burned; don’t eat poison or you will die… or at least puke).

Others aren’t as starkly obvious, we know X but don’t fully understand Y (e.g., don’t kill, be honest, marriage should be between a man and a woman; etc.). These are the hardest ones to follow since they sometimes don’t seem to make sense and even seem to conflict with our understanding of the world.

In this situation, some people say, “Forget it, these rules don’t make sense, so I’m out.” Other people choose to just follow the rules expecting that it will make more sense later. (I fall into the second bucket. I don’t yet fully understand the complexities of why/how all of these rules are they way they are, but I know that they are truths.)

Summary

It’s okay and good that we fall into different groups. We’re all just doing what seems to make sense to us based on our own reasoning and collection of life experiences. We should support each other’s efforts to learn truths and pursue the path that leads to maximum happiness. Over time, our understanding will mature and develop.

Work hard to be the best person YOU can be. Recognize that others are trying to do the same thing and help them where they seek help. Judging or criticising isn’t productive or acceptable.

Bonus

Clayton Christensen does a much better job than me of explaining the relationship between science and religion. Enjoy.

Beautiful Things Don't Ask for Attention

Beautiful Things

We watched Walter Mitty last night. It’s a fantastic show that just makes you want to go grab your hiking backpack and start wandering this beautiful world of ours. There was a line near the end of the film that really struck me so I decided to make a couple of graphics out of it. Enjoy. (Feel free to download, share, etc.)

Beautiful Things Don't Ask for Attention

Beautiful Things Don't Ask for Attention

"No success can compensate for failure in the home." -David O. McKay

Priorities

Ambitious people often talk about wanting to “change the world”. The single best way to do that is to raise a good, happy family. Nothing else really matters. Do it, and you will have changed the world for generations.

Make sure you’ve got your priorities straight.

In Defense of the MVP

Most people misunderstand the concept of a “Minimum Viable Product”. They get distracted by the word “minimum” and forget that it also requires the product to be “viable”. This graphic sums up the difference nicely.

Do school pictures still matter?

It’s picture day for my 5 year old, which reminds me of picture day when I was growing up. As I recall, school pictures were a really big deal. It was one way to reliably get a good photo of me every year. But now we take photos of our kids daily with high-resolution cameras and probably have more pictures than we’ll ever know what to do with. Sure many of them are candid and certainly lack the professional polish of a studio shot, but a few of them are brilliant.

Now, I’m guessing my kids won’t think that school pictures are all that special. What do you think?

Handmade Door Handles

Something about watching craftsmen make something makes we want to buy it. It’s not just a door handle any more, it’s something that people have labored over to ensure that it’s just right. I really respect that.

Now more than ever?

What compels us to use phrases like, “…greater pressure on margins…”, “…busier than ever…”, or “…less free time nowadays…”?

Is there really a greater pressure on margins now than there was 20 years ago? Are we really busier than we were 50 years ago? Is everything really more amplified now than it was in the past? Or is it just that we’re personally busier than we were when we were kids and there’s more pressure on us individually than there was earlier in our careers?

We have a tendency to use our personal experiences and extrapolate them to apply to the rest of humanity. I’m pretty sure that my great grandfather had tremendous demands on his time. If he wasn’t working in his fields he was losing money. If he accepted a lower margin on his crops, there was one more thing his family had to do without.

Is it appropriate to use terms like these without clear evidence to back them up?

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