- My favorite TV show as a kid was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My favorite turtle was Donatello. That is the reason why dark purple is my favorite color. And I can honestly say, that is also the reason why my favorite food is pizza.
Donatello was the best turtle in my humble opinion because his weapon was the most realistic: he used a freakin' stick. As I took karate lessons growing up, I wanted to learn skills from the TV that could actually be applied in real life, and I knew I wouldn't be packing nunchucks or swords anytime soon. Also, according to Wikipedia, he was the "brains of the group."
- My friend Joanna loves turtles even more than I do. She has approximately twenty stuffed turtles, all with different names and personalities. She is a very smart person, so if she loves turtles, they must be great. And don't even think about making jokes about turtle soup around her.
- I saw some really awesome turtles in Hawaii, both swimming around the ponds of the hotel and sunbathing on the beach. They looked peaceful and at one with nature -- something I want to be.
- Shell, armor, and hiding place: Turtles have an awesome shell that protects them from predators. Their body is scaly and rough like armor, and anytime they need to hide or go into a dark spot from some R&R, they can just retract their heads into their body. How cool is that?
- Sea turtles have a great sense of smell and orientation, better than even dogs. They use this to find food and to retrace their steps when laying eggs and coming back to see them hatch after going out to sea.
- Turtles have an undeniably sweet nature. I think this is because they have a human face and a slow, deliberate crawl. (However, I have been notified that there are in fact angry snapping turtles that live in New Orleans, and those are the evil ones that the soup is made from.)
- The tortoise is the hero of the fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. Slow and steady wins the race, baby!
- There are many amazing varieties of turtles and related species: sea-lubbers, land-lubbers, tortoises, mini turtles, giant turtles/tortoises, etc. There are about 300 species of turtle. All have unique properties and cutenesses.
- Turtle candies are awesome. Whoever thought of combining chocolate, almonds, and caramel is genius. If only the caramel didn't get stuck in your teeth, it would be the perfect dessert.
- Turtles are the subject of a wonderful Buddhist saying about the preciousness of human life:
Imagine a blind turtle swimming at the bottom of an ocean the size of the universe. On the surface of the water, there floats a wooden ring, tossed around by the waves. Once every hundred years, the turtle rises to the surface. When the turtle's head rises through the wooden ring, a human is born.
This is an extremely special gift we have been given.
Turtles rock. 'Nuff said. (Time for a more "fun" blog post. Too much philosophizing going on around here....)
Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Turtles
I'm taking a class at UCLA Anderson this quarter taught by former LA Mayor Richard Riordan. The class topic is Leadership and Ethics. It's quite a treat to be able to meet with a former mayor twice a week and hear some of his closest business and personal contacts speak about their leadership experiences.
Riordan told us he was born in 1930 as 1 of 10 kids. He worked as a lawyer at O'Melveny before becoming a VC in technology and later Mayor of LA. He continues to be involved politically and has focused his efforts recently on teaching, philanthropic causes, and the charter school effort.
In the first class, Riordan laid out for us his 4 Axioms of Leadership:
It's interesting to me how closely these 4 axioms are to an exact prescription for entrepreneurship.
He also joked that when you're not agreeing with someone, always say, "I couldn't agree with you more!" This takes the power away from the other side, is sort of a double entendre, and allows you to continue working in what you want.
Riordan also explained on our first day that perceived power equals real power. When the Northridge earthquake struck, he took charge and completely blew through normal policies and regulations of how things were "supposed to" be done in order to get people rescued and infrastructure rebuilt as quickly as possible. Riordan believes in JFDI: ask for forgiveness, not permission.
He wishes the same philosophy would have been put in force during Katrina and Iraq. He wishes the leaders would have taken action and used the private sector to address problems more quickly.
Another philosophy of Riordan's is "excusez-moi, accusez-moi." This translates to mean that excusing yourself is accusing yourself. When someone accuses you of something horrendous and untrue, your best bet is to ignore it; saying you didn't do it will prompt further harassment and headlines like, "Riordan denies XYZ." This seems like good advice in dealing with blatant slander.
Overall, Riordan has a great sense of humor and leads a fun class, so I'm looking forward to the many guest speakers this quarter (which I will blog about also).
Below are my notes on Guy Kawasaki's Enchantment, which was a really enjoyable read. The author does a great job bringing the general theme of enchantment to life in a variety of different contexts; it's for anyone needing to enchant anyone else at any time.
The book starts with a great personal example of enchantment for the author: the first time he saw a Macintosh. He immediately fell in love with its two killer features: graphical UI and Mac Paint. He got a job at Apple right after that experience.
Enchantment is the process of delighting people. When done right, enchantment creates lasting support.
Ch. 1: Why Enchantment
It's been a while since my last post. Sorry, guys. Been super busy with "life." :-)
I attended a talk a while ago by Janice Fraser called, "Kill Your Darlings." It was at a LeanLA Meetup. The full slides are at the bottom of this post, and below are my takeaways from the presentation. Janice was really fun and showed she has a lot of great experience helping start-ups really focus on getting UX right from a lean angle.
Janice is the founder of Adaptive Path, a product design firm. She coined the terms "blog" and "AJAX" and started the field of lean UI design.
Her main claim is that a start-up is like a garden, not a cute bunny. You have to remove weeds and be ready to replant it, not nurture it like a pet.
She mentioned the main heroes of the lean movement: Eric Ries and Steve Blank (and my friend Patrick, the organizer of the event, is quite its hero too). Lean encompasses customer development (make products people actually want) with agile development (incremental releases).
She went through a great example of split testing of home page conversions and how a start-up learned some non-intuitive lessons of how to significantly boost conversions with small changes. Even when you feel strongly about something, it still pays to do experiments.
Lean also refers to the Toyota Production System, which emphasizes reducing inventory, risk, and waste. In this context, waste is time spent between making a decision and knowing if it works. In order to reduce waste, she recommends following three types of cycles:
She also went through certain main facets of lean UX design:
Finally, she referenced several texts she recommends:
At the recommendation of several people, I read The Millionaire Next Door, a book debunking a lot of myths around who millionaires are and how they live their lives.
I found the book interesting, and a lot of the data the authors gathered definitely surprised me (they surveyed over 11,000 millionaires). I thought, however, the the book was too focused on data and statistics; listening to the audio version made it painfully clear how many numbers and statistics were in the text.
I also was disappointed that the authors didn't spend much (if any) time in their text going into the question of the purpose of wealth accumulation. A lot of focus was on how people accumulate wealth and how not to get carried away consuming, but there was little or no discussion of the happiness that results from consumption and how short-term happiness can or should be traded off against long-term financial security and wealth accumulation. I understand this is something very personal that everyone decides, but it would've been nice for the authors to talk about how such a decision can be made.
Finally, it would be nice if the book were updated for any changes that might have happened in recent years in buying habits, incomes, etc.
Below are some of my main takeaways/notes on the book.
About Max Mednik
Max is an avid entrepreneur, engineer, magician, and student of life. He is a founder of AMA Capital. He graduated from Stanford and UCLA Anderson. He lives in Los Angeles with his family and spends his free time enjoying his many hobbies and interests.