What do you want?

Seth Godin (him again) had a great post couple of days ago. I am going to quote it in full, it was headlined “The Agenda”:

The job of the CEO isn’t to check things off the agenda. Her job is to set the agenda, to figure out what’s next.

Now that more and more of us are supposed to be CEO of our own lives and careers, it might be time to rethink who’s setting your agenda.

And today, Merlin Mann hit exactly the same spot (sent along by Johannes, @jkleske), explaining how he will (writing his book) stop being a slave to deadlines but instead continue writing the book he wants to write.

Both articles point very close to home. The key here is that before you make the tough decisions you actually have to decide what’s important to you. Many people don’t really know what they want.

No complaints

In general, life is good. I am a bit bummed though because in the last 10 days all this happened:
iPhone bumper broke, the sneakers I ordered looked nothing like they did on the website, iPhone fell bumper-less out of my pocket, breaking the glass, I noticed a huge hole in my favorite suit pants, I may have misplaced a lovefilm-envelope.

But then there are the good things that money can’t buy. Happy Easter.

you would think I would write a blog post…

You’d think I’d write a blog post about what’s going on, me leaving the place I worked for for 9 years, where I am headed, what I am doing, what the further plans are. You’d think. Also, as I tweeted a week ago, it’s time for another meta-post, reflecting on my path, evolution, how ever you’d want to coin it.

But it’s been a wild week, so wild that I have to think really hard to find a comparison. And it’s not because I am working a lot of hours now on an exciting project – it sure plays into it, but is not the root. And it’s not really the fact that Jr. is sick for the first time in a long time and back-up plans are showing their limits, as is naturally the case when you really, really depend on it.

Rather, it’s the fact that there is worry about the son of a good friend who was in a medically induced coma after a heart defect was noticed just now in his teens. He is better now, but of course you start thinking. Then there are the reports from Japan where a dear friend has been living in Tokyo (though he has today thankfully travelled to Osaka) for a long time. You go to bed hearing one thing, and when Jr. crawls into our bed at night, feverishly, there’s a new push notification on my phone with just another catastrophic news item from Fukushima. And it’s not just once. Three nights in a row I wake up to read “explosion in reactor x” or tonight “last workers evacuated” (although that turned out to be only temporary) and it really feels like doomsday. I can’t imagine if the north of Japan and Tokyo would be contaminated.

I keep coming back to ‘family’, my own, the ones I was lucky to be invited into, the bigger one we are forming in our new house. It’s about the people you love and how – not surprisingly – you gather in times of need and join together.

DANKE WBN

Alles begann am Empfangstresen, ein Job den ich von meiner damaligen Freundin übernommen hatte. Telefon bedienen, Bürobedarf organisieren, nebenbei durfte ich für die Magisterprüfungen lernen. Mitte 2002. Danach habe ich mich um ein Praktikum beworben und da in einem guten Haushalt nichts verloren geht:

Insgesamt knapp neun Jahre dauerte unsere gemeinsame Reise, hier habe ich fast alles gelernt, was ich über Kommunikation weiß und viele weitere wichtige Lektionen über Sprache, das Miteinander und das Leben im Allgemeinen.

Wir haben gefeiert und gelitten, Pitches gewonnen und verloren, geschwitzt und uns gehigh-fived und konnten uns am Ende immer noch in die Augen gucken.

In der Bewerbung schrieb ich, dass man Gelegenheiten nutzen sollte. Zu WBN zu gehen war eine sehr gute Entscheidung, die ich nie bereut habe. Da nun die Zeit für neue Abenteuer gekommen ist, bleibt mir laut und deutlich danke zu sagen. DANKE Tim, DANKE WBN.

(und morgen kann man dann sehen, wie es weiter geht…)

Failure indeed: How I not executed on an idea

A couple of articles have been published yesterday and today, by David Noel , Bajin Sabet and Igor Schwartzmann on failure, and by Amber Rae on the fear that is connected to failure. I would like to weigh in with my own little story on failure and you’ll see that fear plays a big factor.

It starts with me getting my first iPhone in 2007 and ends with the December 2010 order of the iRig guitar iPhone adaptor, finally testing the app and nearly crying about it. Here’s what happened in between.

I used to be a pretty good guitarist but dropped it almost entirely while at university and never really came back. I blamed that on equipment not being there 😉 (I sold all the amps to pay the rent). At the time I got the iPhone I was looking at small carry-around amps like the PocketPod. Then it hit me, the phone has an output and an input, all you’d need is an adaptor.

I started telling people about the idea at re:publica ’08 getting good feedback but reaching out to coders was slow (I was slow). And the ones I talked to didn’t really want equity for work, they’d rather be paid. I also reached out to Steinberg and Native Instruments, makers of Guitar Rig (great software). I finally found interested coders in the fall of 2008, but then their work got in the way – paid gigs were more important to them which I understood. Thus 2009 passed with be being passive and 2010 came along. Meanwhile I could feel other coding teams getting closer, Paul Reed Smith came out with distortion, PocketAmp was doing something similar but not what I had envisioned.

Finally, one day one of the people I had talked to sent me the link to an Amplitube announcement and I was crushed. Their app was what I had dreamed. Their screenshots looked just like the scribbles I had done, scanned and sent to the coder in the US. I had to sign-up for the newsletter and downloaded the app on day one. Crushed. Then German magazine Spiegel online did a review of several of these apps including Amplitube, but totally missing the point. The idea was not to replace other amps, but to carry one less item on the road. Or to have a super simple set-up at home, just get the guitar and the phone from your pocket.

In the last week of 2010 I tried it out myself, couldn’t bring myself to order the adaptor earlier. You see, I even had the adaptor part sorted out, had a supplier in Germany who offered the cable for a third of what iRig retails at. In practice, sure it’s no real amp but it sounds ok. And the app is great. They did a great job adding up extra in-app purchases. Have a look if you have the time:


Having tried it out, I think I am over it. And maybe it’s for the better that I didn’t invest my own money in it, because there’s much more coding to this final app than one person could have done. Probably a good thing that I concentrated my free time on my son who was born in August 2007. Probably good that the fear of being broke, spending money we now used on our appartement and of having an app that wasn’t up to par was bigger than the entrepreneurial spirit. But still, for a long time this missed opportunity, the fact that I never even got off the ground haunted me as failure.