It’s Sunday – Social & Soulful

My two favorite blog posts of the week are from the opposite ends of life’s spectrum: “Startup Guy” and a “Spiritual MD”. The “themes” are very similar. Here are the highlights.

Helping, Fixing or Serving?
–by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, DailyGood, Apr 16, 2012

Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.

How to Build a Billion Dollar Startup, –by Steve Blank, April 19, 2011

Q. “So how do we come up with an idea for the next billion dollar company?”

A.Is It a Problem or a Need?

I’ve now come to believe that the value proposition in a business model (value proposition is the fancy name for your product or service) fits into either one of two categories:

  • It solves a problem and gets a job done for a consumer or a company (accounting software, elevators, air-conditioning, electricity, tablet computers, electric toothbrushes, airplanes, email software, etc. )
  • Or it fulfills a fundamental human social need (friendship, dating, sex, entertainment, art, communication, blogs, confession, networking, gambling, religion, etc.)

Wow! TubeDAC Revitalizes My Stereo — Sounds Amazing


“OMG the TubeDAC 11 is absolutely amazing!”

In a nutshell the weak link in modern audio is the DAC ( Digital to Analog Conversion ). I knew this. It makes sense that a DAC miniaturized to fit into an iPod has to have some serious compromises, but I kept asking myself, “So what … How much difference does a good DAC really make?”. I found out the answer a few weeks ago visiting my friend Iain T. That answer is “A LOT”. Even with songs ripped at 128k, but the real payoff comes with Lossless.

The difference is so big that every person comments on it. On every song — irregardless of music style. From Miles Davis to Van Halen.

Purchasing Lossless Recordings and using them in iTunes

This then begs the question. Can you buy a Lossless recording? The answer is yes some independent labels are doing that. For example this past week Merge released the new M. Ward album A Wasteland Companion in lossless form (FLAC).

Getting FLAC into iTunes Lossless format takes some work. Here is a good “HowTo” set up the xld FLAC to ALAC software.

How Do You Connect the DAC?

I connected it via USB port from my computer and the Tube output is connected to the CD inputs on my old amplifier. ( You can use the auxillary or the CD player inputs. ) Here is the full setup diagram.
Note that one needs specialized equipment to by-pass the iPod DAC. After some searching I feel that the only real solution is to commit to playing music from a computer. This did hold me back, but once I heard it. I was convinced.

Bottom Line

If you like to listen. Just buy one. It is amazing. The only negative is that I’ve now got some re-ripping to do.

Reading – Inside Apple

A big “Thank You” to @alanchiu for providing me with a signed copy.

“Wow. It is amazing how little is known about the inner workings of Apple” –This was the overwhelming point that kept coming back to me while reading this book.

There is plenty on Steve Jobs & “bullying”. The review by Bob Sutton ( mr. no asshole rule ) spends a lot of time on this. Sutton points out that this information may be inspiring and supporting “bullying”. Sad.

It may be that Jobs “bullying” actions are being misinterpreted. This discussion of “bullying” makes me want speak on my experience with Buddhism and monks. The writings on “dealing with Steve” seem similar to dealing with a monk. Monks can be extremely hard on their students. It is very easy to “perceive” that a monk is being “mean”. But the reality is that monks have an immense amount of training in compassion in order to support this “hardness”. Thus I think that emulating Jobs “abrasiveness” without “training” will backfire. But emulating Jobs with training in “compassion” may be very effective. This may be a reason for the interpretation of Steve Jobs “bullying”. Just thinking out loud.

There are plenty of detailed reviews of the book. I particularly like Bob Sutton’s. He really digs in.

Here are the points that I tagged while reading the book

  • Page 60. “Strategy is figuring out what not to do” Steve Jobs
  • Page 62. Winnowing ideas from 25 to 4 is horrifyingly scary.
    “The power of restraint probably gets instilled into you as much as anything else, the minimalist approach of not overreaching on deals, not overreaching with PR, not overreaching in your conversations, not overreaching on anything,” the executive said.

  • Page 64. “Apple obsesses over the user experience, not revenue optimization”
  • Page 67. DRI “Directly responsible individual”
  • Page 70. You’re hired and appreciated for your ability on the field, not your ability has a coach or manager. Jonathan Ive, widely admired for his design ideas, is considered to have little grasp of finance.
  • Page 79. In fact, there is a popular expression at Apple: everybody at apple wants out, and everybody outside Apple wants in.
  • Page 88. We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that’s not changing. More …
  • Page 95. Wrt cook. “his ability to go forty thousand feet to nose-against-the-windshield is amazing”
  • Page 100. More Cook. “you think, it’s highly likely this guy is telling the truth”
  • Page 117 marketing. Best messaging is clear, concise, and repeated.

    … Where you get into trouble is is where you start to mix it up because you’re getting bored.

  • Page 162. Apple doesn’t multi-task.
  • Page 169 Avie Tevanian “When Steve is gone, the competition still will not have Steve Jobs”
  • Page 170. Jobs reflects on big companies settling into their ways.
  • Page 200. His (Jobs) uncanny insight into trends in business and technology weren’t a fluke. Jobs worked hard for his market intelligence.

Lotsa Cool Entrepreneurship Activity @ UBC

There is so much cool stuff happening out at UBC these days. I’ll go in reverse time order.

I visited Moura Quayles’ Comm 486J Design Thinking Course this week. Wow! The final project was to deliver a “workshop” in a real world setting. The students had to meet with a company sponsor, then develop the workshop, then do the workshop at the sponsors site, and then report back. I sat in on the report back session. The experience was absolutely “successful” for all: me, students, sponsors, and professor. The bottom line is that all 5 groups delivered “actionable” ideas for their sponsors. Amazing.

I was very fortunate to be invited to attend the final presentations for the UBC MBA “Dragon’s Den” class, BAEN 506/507 Technology Entrepreneurship, taught by Thomas Hellman and Mike Lyons. This is an incredible class. I urge all MBA students to take this class and if you’re a techy student at UBC “beg” to get in. That said — It’s a tough class and all the students get to experience their own “destruction”. There is usually lots of “carnage”. ( Not enuff for Thomas’ and Mike’s liking )

The annual Engineering Physics Project Fair “Starting A Company from the Ground Up” didn’t disappoint. I really enjoy being part of this family and I brought four teens to it. Their heads really hurt during the keynote sessions, but they loved interacting with the students at their project booths. The positive “kid” energy is so infectious.

Finally I visited the folks at the brand new entrepreneurship@UBC. This looks to be very exciting.

Wondering If Steve Jobs or Walter Isaacson Were/Are Fans of “Speaker for the Dead”

My friend Tim S and I are wondering if either of them were/are fans of Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead. After re-listening to this amazing SciFi book I can’t get this thought out of my head. It’s like Jobs set up Isaacson to be his “Speaker” and Isaacson did a masterful work.

On another note — If you like SciFi and Audiobooks — the whole 20th anniversary edition of the “Enders Game” four book “trilogy” is as good as it gets.

Here is my original post on “Speaker For the Dead”

More Startup & Entrepreneurship Reading Lists

Here is a new “HowTo Startup” reading list that Tom Eisenmann has developed for his “Launching Tech Ventures” class at Harvard. The good news is that it is very comprehensive, the bad news is that it is very comprehensive. It is huge.

The headings are as follows:

  • Lean Startup Concepts
  • Business Model Analysis

  • Product Management
  • Customer Conversion Funnel Analysis/Optimization
  • B2B Selling
  • Public Relations
  • Business Development
  • Recruiting/Organizational Issues

More Lists


Thanks to @alanchiu for the pointer.