Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

CATEGORY: Technology

I love when things just work

Good products just seamlessly work, with no problems. I love when that happens.

My Macbook, even though it’s old, still works just fine. My Android Nexus 5 phone has lasted almost three years (a lifetime for smartphones) without being buggy. My thermos keeps my tea hot for hours, just like the label said it would.

Comcast cable and internet works half the time (thank God I have Fios now). The Bluetooth connection in my car sucks. The Hootsuite Android app, while valuable to someone who manages multiple social media accounts, sometimes doesn’t listen to me. My dishwasher is the quietest dishwasher I’ve ever used but the dishes don’t always come out clean.

If you can depend on a product just doing its job as advertised, that’s a good product. The other bells and whistles are just gravy.

Some of the best products are the ones we don’t have to think about. It’s pretty simple – build something that works, do what you say you can do, and everyone wins.

I love when things just work.

What are some of the products that just work for you? Talk to me in the comments!

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left! That’d be awesome of you.

Two topics – being sick sucks, and NFL on Twitter

I’ve been sick the last couple of days, so I didn’t write a blog post yesterday. To make up for it, I’m going to write about two topics today. Yay!

Being sick sucks

First topic – being sick sucks. Not just because it physically doesn’t feel good, but it makes me feel worthless.

As much as lying on the couch watching Band of Brothers and other TV shows sounds great, being sick makes me feel that I am shirking my other responsibilities, inconveniencing others, and disrupting people’s schedules.

First, I got no work done the last couple of days, and that work is piling up. Doesn’t make me feel good.

And I’ve had to move a bunch of meetings around. I had to cancel a podcast interview (I would have sounded like shit), and postpone some other calls and meetings. I don’t like to disrupt other’s schedules like that.

Also, I typically get my baby Maya dressed in the morning while my wife walks the dog. She and my mother-in-law have had to cover for me the last couple of days while I slept in. I’m inconveniencing them.

So while rest and relaxation is necessary to recover, my mind just didn’t rest well knowing the residual effects of my sickness.

I just won’t get sick next time. :)

NFL on Twitter

Yesterday, the NY Jets played the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night Football, and it was the first NFL game ever live-streamed on Twitter.

I watched some of the game and it was pretty awesome (both the game and the live-stream).

Here is what it looked like (courtesy of Recode, that’s not me in a supermarket):

NFL on Twitter

No buffering, no delay, and tweets right below the stream so you can engage with other viewers.

Twitter has been skewered for slow user growth and a confusing value proposition to new users. On the other hand, avid users love the platform for real-time discussion of current events.

That’s why streaming NFL games is perfect for Twitter.

Sports is the most real-time content that you can get. Sports are essentially DVR-proof and discussions and debates about games being played are already happening on Twitter.

And the NFL is the king of US sports right now, so this should bring in many NFL fans to the Twitter platform.

And I see Thursday Night Football leveraging tweets in their broadcast more often in the future.

I think live streaming sports and other content will be the future of Twitter and it’s a big step in turning the company around for the better.

What are your thoughts about being sick and the NFL on Twitter? Talk to me in the comments!

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left! That’d be awesome of you.

What Aziz Ansari taught me about technology and human interaction

technology social media

I recently listened to a Freakonomics podcast episode titled “Aziz Ansari Needs Another Toothbrush.” Go ahead and listen to it after reading this blog post. :)

While it wasn’t as entertaining or laugh-inducing as I expected, I was surprised how enlightened I was after listening to it.

There were two points that Aziz made that stood out to me.

The first one was how Aziz dealt with his compulsion with checking his Facebook and Twitter accounts constantly. He deleted those apps from his phone and went completely cold turkey on social media.

Next was how he deals with fans who want to take pictures with him on the street. He doesn’t allow these people to take pictures with him, but instead shakes their hands, asks their names, and has a genuine conversation with them for a couple of minutes.

These seemingly unrelated things struck a chord with me.

I think it highlights how someone truly understands the values of human interaction and how technology can negatively impact how you engage with others.

I certainly appreciate technology and how it has changed and improved the way we live our lives. But I certainly believe that some of the old-school ways of doing things, like writing things down by hand, can make you more productive.

Overall, I think we live in an amazing world where we can do unbelievable things that are facilitated by technology. Hell, I’ve made it my career to help build these tools.

But like Aziz taught me, if you understand the ways technology are negatively impacting your life, you can make the changes that allow you to form stronger and deeper connections with the people around you.

What do you think about the relationship between technology and deeper connections?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

Photo courtesy of Jason Howie on Flickr

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

shrek beauty

I come across many apps and websites on a daily basis.

Some I think are beautifully designed and well thought-out. Others look like crap or don’t make any sense to me why buttons are placed where they are or why things work the way they do.

Sometimes people agree with me, other times they disagree.

That’s the wonderful thing about design, or anything subjective, really – that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What might be ugly to some is beautiful to others.

What might be a good experience to one person is subpar to another.

Another interesting thing is that there are many layers of beauty.

The interface of an app like Gmail might not look as nice as other email applications such as Yahoo Mail or Outlook.com. But it just works much better, which is a thing of beauty.

In everyday life, beautiful people on the outside might be ugly on the inside. And vice versa. But everyone will look different to everyone, inside and out.

Everyone has their own opinion of what beauty is, and no one is right or wrong.

Beauty being in the eye of the beholder is a beautiful thing.

What are your thoughts about beauty? Do you believe it’s in the eye of the beholder? I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

Image courtesy of Dreamworks Animation.

The importance of timing

Clocks and timing

I can’t stress enough how important timing is to everything, good and bad.

I recently had an experience with horrible timing.

Vicky and I recently purchased a townhouse and were preparing to move. We had a few boxes packed and were prepping to rent out the condo we currently live in.

Then the unit above us had an accident with the fire sprinkler that wound up flooding our condo. The hardwood floors were damaged and a lot of the drywall had to be cut so they could blow air to dry the insulation in the walls.

We’ve been living in a hotel for the last two weeks while our condo is being repaired. Ugh.

Perfect timing, huh?

Of course, timing can be good as well.

Back when I was thinking about leaving my job to become an entrepreneur, I knew finances would be an issue. Even though my wife would support me, I would have to garner some income to help out.

Right around when I left, I was able to immediately score two consulting contracts to help keep my finances afloat. One of those contracts came from a guy I sat next to at a conference!

Perfect timing, huh?

Timing has a major impact on technological innovations as well.

Apple was way too early with the Newton.

But Uber was timed perfectly to align with the GPS capabilities of the smartphone.

Virtual reality has been around for decades but many companies who tried to commercialize this technology over the years, couldn’t.

Only now is it reaching the mainstream with Oculus, Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, and others.

Sometimes there’s not much you can do about timing, but just hope that the timing is right.

Do you have situations where timing was perfect (sarcastic and not sarcastic) for you? I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The Need-Want Gap: What Companies or Industries Need, They May Not Want

mind the gap

Those on the outside might see things that companies or industries need to improve and innovate. Those on the inside may not know they need these things. If they do, they may not want them.

That’s what I call the “need-want gap.”

A great example of this is portrayed in the book and movie Moneyball.

Because the Oakland Athletics couldn’t compete with other big-budget baseball teams for top players, general manager Billy Beane had to change the way players were scouted for the team to be competitive.

So Beane eschewed “gut feel” when scouting players and looked past traditional statistics like batting average, runs batted in, and stolen bases.

Instead, Beane focused more on advanced metrics such as on-base percentage and slugging percentage to scout and recruit players and find diamonds in the rough. He realized that these statistics were more important to winning than the traditional stats, which were more about vanity.

This analytics-based methodology, called Sabermetrics, was absolutely scrutinized, and Beane was chastised by old-school scouts and managers.

This approach is still criticized to this day, even though the Athletics have been competitive with a tiny payroll for many years, and the Boston Red Sox won a World Series shortly after implementing the system.

Many middling teams knew they needed something stay competitive, but they didn’t want this kind of solution.

The need-want gap.

This happens many other industries as well.

Large businesses that have been around for many decades plod along with their traditional products and business models while startups disrupt them. Many deny the fact that they are being disrupted. Case in point here and here.

Ambitious job seekers may see that these companies need fresh thinking and innovation, but those jobs just aren’t available because these companies are satisfied with their position and don’t want to change.

The need-want gap.

Politics and government. Energy. Construction. Media. Music. All of these traditional industries have been slow to develop new business models as technology impacts them immensely.

If you’re seeking a career where you want to make change in these old-school industries, you might find that your services and ideas aren’t welcome.

But if you’re persistent and have a vision for the change you want to enact, keep going. Companies in these industries will come around when they have to.

If you can convince them that change is good and necessary, you can shrink that need-want gap and make your mark.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

This is day 37 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Platforms vs. your website – interesting readership stats for my “Quality vs. Quantity” post

Two days ago, I penned a blog post called “Quality vs. Quantity – which should you focus on?“, which led to some interesting viewership results.

I published it on this site, Medium, and LinkedIn, as I do with most of my blog posts.

On mikewchan.com, the post got 88 views and 4 shares.

On Medium, the post got 70 views and 2 “Recommends” (the equivalent of a “Like”).

On LinkedIn, the post got 1,683 views, 353 Likes, 86 comments, and 82 shares.

What the hell is going on here?

First of all, it’s not surprising that mikewchan.com has such few views. I only have 40 people on my email list. And although I shared the article to 7235 Twitter followers, we know that only a tiny percentage of people see those tweets.

Ideally, it’s best to build a big email list, have direct access to those people’s inboxes, and drive as much traffic to your site.

But nowadays, with so much noise and so many people creating massive amounts of content, that strategy just won’t work on its own.

So you need platforms and networks to help get readership.

Yet I have no idea what happened here with the two platforms to which I posted the article.

I have 1100 followers on Medium yet only garnered 70 views. I have no clue how their algorithm works and how articles are distributed.

I have over 3300 connections and followers on LinkedIn. Having more followers will obviously drive more views, and the connections I have on LinkedIn are much stronger than those on Medium.

But nearly 25x more views than on Medium? And I got more comments and shares on LinkedIn than I did total views on Medium. I don’t get it.

The problem with platforms is exactly that – it’s tough to decipher how their algorithms work, your readership numbers are completely dependent on them, and they can change at any moment.

I guess I should get back to building my email list.

This is day 20 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

The Power of Aggregation

This is day 4 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days

Aggregation is one of my favorite concepts. It saves me a ton of time and hassle in both my personal and work lives.

Why shop at multiple online stores when you can go to Amazon, who aggregates both products and other online merchants, and buy everything you want on one site?

Why search scores of websites for flights when you can go to Kayak and compare them all at once?

Why visit multiple social media sites when you can see all of your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn streams on a single interface on Hootsuite?

But aggregation isn’t always the best solution. Maybe the user interface isn’t quite right for everything that is being aggregated, or some features and functionality may have to be left out to facilitate the aggregation. Or in some cases aggregation isn’t even wanted.

For instance, Comcast and other cable networks aggregate hundreds of networks, many of which you won’t ever watch (what the hell is Here TV?) under one cable plan. And they bundle cable, internet access, and a phone landline and make you pay hundreds of dollars for it.

Cable is now being unbundled by over-the-top networks like Sling TV and HBO Go.

Another example is Craigslist. You can do anything on that site – find a roommate, sell that desk that’s collecting dust in the corner, buy a car, find a girlfriend or boyfriend. But it’s ugly as sin and the user interface you’ll have finding a job on Craigslist looks exactly like the one you’ll have finding a date.

Craigslist has been disrupted by unbundling by the likes of Match.com (dating), AirBNB (finding a place to crash), any job board (finding jobs), UrbanSitter (finding a babysitter) and many other sites.

Even with the aforementioned Hootsuite, one of my favorite tools, you can’t do some of the things you can on Facebook or Twitter. Performing Twitter hashtag and people searches really sucks on Hootsuite, so I find myself visiting Twitter.com to search.

Just like everything else, there are two sides to every coin. Aggregation can be a powerful thing, but it’s not always the right answer.

So if you’re using multiple products to find a solution, and it’s a big pain in the ass, you might have an opportunity on your hands to improve it. On the other hand, if you’re using an aggregation product and it just doesn’t feel quite right, you might also have an opportunity.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Yahoo Screen shutters, longer tweets, and more

Yahoo-Screen-logo2

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Yahoo Screen shutters, longer tweets, and more.

This week we talk about the shuttering of Yahoo Screen, longer tweets, Activision’s purchase of Major League Gaming, and a round up of what’s happening at the Consumer Electronics Show.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest post for ThornTech – The Week in Tech: Spotify gets hit with class action lawsuit, Sidecar shuts down, and more

Spotify on iPhone

Happy New Year!

Check out my latest guest post on ThornTech.com titled “The Week in Tech: Spotify gets hit with class action lawsuit, Sidecar shuts down, and more.

This week we highlight Spotify’s class action lawsuit, the shutdown of Sidecar, and Comcast’s internet breakthrough.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article, sign up for my email list below, then connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olsson on Flickr.