Some thoughts about Brooklyn Beta 2015

I tried to dump out my brain from Beta 2015. Highglights for me were John Maeda, Elle Luna, and David Hiut. And of course all the other humans in attendance.

Makers are great leaders

John Maeda’s talk was wonderful and wide ranging. One of my favorite parts of it was his discussion of why makers make great leaders. The main thrust was that leaders main job is to lead through crises, and that makers are the best at dealing with crisis.

When he was the president of RISD he had a realization that lead him to the conclusion that makers are great leaders. He talked about how back in the days when he was writing code in early computers “You would write code, and core would dump, and you’d fix it, and you’d write more code, and core would dump”. I have no idea what it means for core to dump, but his point was clear.

As makers our shit breaks all the time, and in completely unexpected ways. Especially when you’re makeing software. We live in in an impermanent world where things are never perfect and are often broken. There is simply not enough time to make any organization perfect. There will always be some degree to which decisions have to be prioritized based on what is on fire, and this is a cycle at which makers excel.

Design thinking is more than just “being human centered”

John Maeda walked us all through his thought processes, which all center on design. He uses color and shape to solve various complex problems, and seems to do much of his thinking visually.

Put in the context of the never ending powerpoint deck, this makes a ton of sense. More often than I think we’d all like to admit, we have to explain ourselves through powerpoint or “one pagers”, and yet I find myself communicating with others, and thinking things out for myself almost exclusively in prose. Let’s just say there’s alot more time with 53’s “paper” in my future.

Nobody knows what a PM is, and we need a community

This came up more through conversations with folks than it did through the talks, which makes sense. I managed to run into a decent number (seemed like more than ever before) of product manager type people. It was really really really nice to talk to folks who do the same thing as I do every day. It seems like there’s not as much conversation about “product” online as there is about the more specific parts of making software (design, development, ops, research).

There were a few themes from our conversations. One was that we all felt a bit like we were making it up. Another was that we’d get a lot of value through having more community.

Once should vs. must goes into your brain, you can never get it out

Every conversation you have with yourself or someone else from l on about life decisions will echo with that framing. It’s incredible what such simple language can do to disrupt your whole thought process.

The idea of a job, a career and a calling is a powerful one as well. Even assuming your job, career, and calling are well aligned, there may be parts of your “practice” that you find to be out of alignment in some way. Touching base with what you find yourself “called” to do, if you know what that is, is a humbling reminder of where you want to get to.

Ideas are amazing.

Turns out ideas are incredibly powerful. David Hiut gave an inspiring talk about Hiut Denim, and using ideas (even “marketing” ideas) and the nimbleness to execute on them quickly to revive his town. It’s an amazing story, and a great reminder that ideas are awesome, and we should all be indulging ours more frequently.