Defunct

Irrational Design is more or less defunct at this point. Some of the projects may live on. The company may be reborn as something else in the future, but for now, at the very least, I won’t be blogging here any more.

I’ll be blogging much more often on my personal blog: Jared Cosulich

Craigslist Is Ugly

I frequently mention Craigslist in my writing and talks. I also love what Wikipedia has accomplished.

Why?

Both have these great aspects to them that people rarely understand:

“Why does Craigslist look like it’s from 1998? Why don’t they update it?”

“Who has time to do all this work on Wikipedia, and for no pay?”

It’s worth paying attention to products that gain traction despite being ugly, or lacking features, or requiring the work of thousands of volunteers without pay.

There’s probably something fundamentally important about these products that is too often ignored by developers, designers, product managers, entrepreneurs, vc’s, etc. What many people see as faults are actually strengths for these products. These faults may actually be some of the more sustainable competitive advantages out there.

P.S. Here’s a little explanation of the behind-the-scenes thinking at Craiglist: How To Design Kick-Ass Products

 

The World Is A Crazy Cool Place

Sometimes pessimism overwhelms me.

I can’t help it, I just don’t feel optimistic about things. At a logical level I know things aren’t that bad (that they’re actually good), but the pessimism is too powerful.

I have 8 products I run, 7 by myself. I have no savings. I’m losing money on most of my products. Frankly I don’t have any fucking idea what I’m doing. Oh and I have a baby on the way.

What the fuck am I doing?

But I keep going; for some reason.

I’d call it blindly, but it feels more like improvisation.

When I’m jamming on my guitar I try to let go of all thought and let my instincts guide me. At a certain level this is what my life feels like right now.

Something inside of me is steadfast. Take one step at a time. Stay creative. Keep moving.

The rest of me is freaking out.

Then one night I’m walking home and the weather is perfect (a rarity in San Francisco). I’m listening to some great music (Ben Howard – The Wolves) and everything clicks. The panic subsides, the pessimism fades. Things click. Just for a little while, but they really click. I still have no idea what I’m doing or where it’s all going, but at a certain level it makes sense – it will work.

That’s when I realize that the world is a crazy cool place. It’s so much more than each of us individually. It’s evil and good, chaos and tranquility, danger and peace, all wrapped up in one crazy package. You have to appreciate just how much opportunity it gives each of us to live the most interesting lives.

Douchebagness

From Urban Dictionary:

Douchbagness: “denotes the quality or state of being a douchebag”

A few weeks in to building/using SoundSeed.Me I’ve noticed my reviews getting a little more elitist/douchebaggy. Like a wine reviewer who takes their job a little too serious my reviews have gone from:

Reviewing Mumford & Sons

They’re creating some of the best music I’ve discovered out there right now. Just hope they don’t lose it now that they’re blowing up.

Ok, not too bad. Pretty normal language.

About 3 weeks later:

Reviewing Cloud Cult

Great indie pop compositions. Catchy with complexity.

And Portugal. The Man.

Great, diverse indie rock sound, little electronic mixed in, impressive harmonies.

Maybe not the worse douchebag offenses ever, but still quite a change. Can’t seem to help it…

In The Trenches

Have had my head down for a few weeks now working on SoundSeed.Me – The product is super raw and there are only a handful of people on the site now, but I’m already having a great time using and building it. It’s a music recommendation service which is a very satisfying project to work on.

  1. I get to discover new music (my iphone is loaded up with new great music)
  2. I’m actually discovering new genres of music (had no idea “punk folk” existed)
  3. I think I may be increasing my cool quotient (maybe some day I can start scoring backstage passes and such)

Anyways back to the trenches. Sign up for the private beta: SoundSeed.Me

The essence of management

Just read a good article by Bill Simmons about the pending retirement of Phil Jackson and one point really stood out to me:

His players competed for him for many reasons, but mainly because they truly believed Jackson cared about them. Which he definitely did.

This in my mind is the one core tenet to being a great manager at any level. You can be hard on people, soft on people, funny, serious, quirky, brilliant, micro-managing, absentee, etc. and still get by as a good/great manager if you truly care about the people you are managing.

Obviously you can’t always make them happy, especially when there are a lot of competing interests, but if you truly care about them, even in the heat of a fierce argument with them, then it will show through, and it will earn their trust, because they know that you won’t just discard them for no reason or be a complete asshole to them for no good reason.

Here’s the kicker, though. Almost every manager probably does think that they care, because at some level they do care, but they probably care about other things first.

This is is where it gets complicated, though, as you probably should care about other things first, such as yourself. And when you have competing interests, both from yourself, the rest of your team, and your organization as a whole, then this whole caring thing becomes more of an art then a science.

I think the key aspect is that when you truly do care, you’ll take in to serious consideration each person’s perspective as you seek out the correct course to take. When you’re good and you do truly care, this isn’t that difficult. It will happen at a gut level as you take in to consideration all of the competing interests. You’ll be wrong fairly often, but you’ll be reasonably good at verbalizing the thought process you went through and, because your team trusts you based on previous experiences, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because they will see in your reasoning that you were honestly trying to think about them within the context of the larger group.

It’s not easy and will probably cause you to feel a great deal more guilt along the way, but I think the benefits are enormous, both for you as an individual as well as your team.

HackingAdvertising.com

Over the past few years I’ve made a few attempts at trying to figure out and optimize Google Adwords and Facebook ads. Generally speaking I’ve been pretty unsuccessful in these attempts.

I keep reading about other people finding success, though, so I keep coming back, getting frustrated and going away again.

If I could figure out how to achieve good rates through these programs, though, then it could be a big win for a number of the products I’ve built.

So I decided to turn it in to something bigger, something that will keep me motivated despite the likely frustrating lack of progress I’ll make. I’ve decided to launch HackingAdvertising.com and share the results of my advertising experiments. I figure might as well create some sort of value even if my efforts are ultimately unsuccessful…

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