Routine Creativity

I’m not creative enough.

My almost-four-year-old daughter has made this apparent. She hasn’t told me straight up, but I just figured it out. Lately, she has been fascinated by the idea of storytelling which consistently leads to the same question.

“Please, you tell me a story?”

I always thought of myself as creative, and I frequently list writing as a hobby when prompted, but when she puts me on the spot, I’m lucky to crap out an old fairy tale with a few details changed.[1]

What happened? I used to make up all kinds of crazy stuff. Oh right, I got older and more boring. My life is about routines now, and routines don’t exactly foster creativity. Interestingly, the same toddler who keeps asking for creativity is the reason for most of the new routines we’ve added in the last five years.

Either she needs to be more realistic with her expectations, or I should be doing more to exercise my creative muscles. I’m going to focus on the latter.

Setting aside time to be creative. Now that sounds like a great routine.

  1. My latest go-to is picking a classic and re-gendering the characters to give female characters the best parts. Jill and the Beanstalk wasn’t bad, and my sisterly version of Three Little Pigs was a hit.  ↩

I Support Brianna

I haven't written anything about GamerGate, because it seemed obvious to me from the beginning that these guys are absurdly misogynistic, violent, and unworthy of support from anyone. Now I'm worried my apathy has contributed to the problem.

Women are being threatened with horrific violence and death. It is totally unacceptable. 'That goes without saying' is a phrase I've used many times, but in this case I think that's the problem. I haven't said enough and I've done even less. In her latest post, Brianna Wu bravely calls out her harassers again, as well as the institutions failing to doing anything about their vile behavior.

I'm tired of inaction. I'm upset that law enforcement doesn't seem to be doing anything to prevent these threats from becoming reality. I'm not willing to wait until one of these brave women are harmed to take action. Brianna mentions the FBI in her post, and I think that makes the most sense. They have the resources and the mandate to take on this problem in a way local authorities cannot. Tangible action needs to be taken by the authorities to protect the oppressed and end this harassment before there is violence. I'm not very experienced with this, but it looks like this form is a good place to start letting the FBI know we think persistent threats to women should be a priority. Here's what I submitted:

The online hate collective known as #GamerGate has been making horrific violent threats against several women in the video game industry, including but not limited to Brianna Wu, Anita Sarkeesian, and Zoe Quinn. These threats have been independently verified and reported by news outlets across America, including PBS Newshour and many others. Your agency needs to take the lead in preventing the threats against these women from becoming reality.

I don't have an online following. Very few people will read this post. That doesn't matter. This issue is too important not to talk about, even if no one will hear me. I support Brianna because I support women.

Amazon + Costco = Marc Lore's

I worked for a big warehouse club chain for almost nine years, and I think they may be about to get schooled by a startup.

I just finished reading this article, and it seems Marc Lore has a really good shot at making a huge impact in retail. Lore ran a few startups before his parent company was bought by Amazon in 2010, and he stayed with the Bezos gang for a couple years after the deal. Now he’s back on his own and going after membership-based retail in the form of The idea behind Jet is as old as Sol Price’s original concept for the club channel.

In its purest form, the club model is:

  1. Members pay to shop and the company makes all its profit from those paid memberships.
  2. Items for sale only have to be priced high enough to cover the costs of operating the business, so prices will be lower than non-club competitors who are pricing to make a profit from each individual item sold.
  3. Low prices attract more members, GOTO Step 1.

Brick and mortar clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s have strayed from the pure model, supplementing profits with add-on services and ancillary businesses, not to mention the upward pressure of ever-increasing costs inherent in maintaining a physical presence for members. While Costco is well known for holding the line on markups, Sam’s Club and BJ’s have taken some additional profit in recent years by letting prices creep up or letting quality slip in categories where members are less likely to notice.

More importantly, Lore has realized something all three traditional clubs have failed to execute well. Online sales offer an even greater opportunity to minimize the cost of goods, offer even lower prices, and drive greater membership sales as a result.

How? In addition to the classic e-commerce advantages of reduced overhead, more efficient shipment practices mean lower costs, so Jet will focus on providing a platform, connecting members to regional or even local merchants who can offer better pricing thanks to lower delivery costs, as well as discounts for add-on items or product bundles. None of the traditional warehouse clubs have truly cracked online sales, so the door for Jet is wide open. If you need to see for yourself, simply visit any of them. As a charter member of Amazon Prime, I’ve been waiting years for Amazon to flex their muscle and give the old school clubs a run for their money. I’m guessing Lore learned more than a little about selling and renewing memberships during his time in the jungle.

One final way Jet is besting traditional clubs is by offering three months of free membership for everyone who wants to give it a try, and they’re extending that to six months for “Jet Insiders” (aka anyone with an email address) who sign up by February 6th. Combine that with a clever social media referral strategy[1] they are calling ‘Shares for Shares’ that rewards the top insider with 100,000 stock options, and you have a big carrot that only a wild and crazy startup would offer. That’s a hell of a lot more incentive than either Costco or Sam’s Club have ever given me to refer others to sign up.

  1. My referral link is right here if you’re curious.  ↩

My Favorite Moments of John Siracusa's Epic Yosemite Review

As he has done for every major release of OS X, John Siracusa has taken the last few months to create an amazingly thorough, detailed, and useful review of Apple's latest desktop operating system.

John's own post-mortem on the review can be found here, along with links to all your reading options and the author's explanation of their differences.

In addition to the epic nature of these highly-detailed reviews, John also takes the time to inject humor, both overtly in standard joke form and often by way of cultural references, both popular (Back to the Future, The Godfather, Oprah) and niche (Kiki's Delivery Service, 20-year-old less popular U2 lyrics).

I grabbed screenshots of my favorite moments while reading the review this weekend. Please forgive the changing backgrounds, I obviously don't have the same iBooks settings on my iPad and iPhone.