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Highlights from the SEED Conference
It was a cool and sunny fall Chicago day as we took a taxi to the McCormick Tribune Campus Center on the IIT campus. Coming from hot and humid South Florida, the 50-degree weather was an invigorating change and worth the trip alone.
Carlos Segura - Segura, Inc.
The most soft-spoken of the group, Carlos brought up the distinction between what clients want and what they actually need. He emphasized not cutting corners and going beyond what the client asks for. In the case study of the Corbis CROP campaign, Carlos and his team changed the stock photo industry by reconsidering the way they market themselves to their “designer” customers.
Carlos also brought up his decision to stay small on purpose. By choosing so, he guaranties working on only the project he wants, rather than taking on undesirable work in order to feed the beast.
Jason Fried - 37signals
Quick and to the point to allow for more discussion, Jason spoke about what his team has learning building web applications.
- Watch out for red flags (Need, Can’t, Just, Only, Fast) These are the biggest productivity killers when building something.
- Keep your team size small Focus on the important things and benefit from clearer communication.
- Make sure your staff has alone time Active communication is a disguised form of disruption. Using passive communication allows people to communicate when it’s best for them.
- Meetings are toxic. A 1 hour meeting with 10 people is in actuality a 10-hour meeting. The larger the meeting the less each person is involved.
- Make tiny decisions. If you make small mistakes, it’s easy to change direction.
Get the basics right and launch now, then refine to perfection. I liked the Porsche 911 example. The car today looks much like it’s 1963 counterpart. They’ve been polishing that car for over 40 years, making it better and better.
Jim Coudal - Coudal Partners
By far the most entertaining segment of the day, Jim started by showing this video, which hit entirely way too close to home. This started a talk about curiosity and how important it is to always try new things. There is no such thing as failure, as you always learn something from trying ideas. One thing leads to another, so stop talking about it and try it.
He used a sound wave as a metaphor, the peak being the exciting “anything is possible” feeling that gradually decays. Learning to fail faster and starting new projects perpetually ignites these passionate feelings. Don’t talk things to death, just act on them even in a small way. Every successful idea has always been followed by the question “I should have done it sooner”.
To get a visual representation of the conference, I highly recommend checking out Mike Rohde’s amazing sketchnotes from that day.