Category Archives: History

What’s Old is New, Again…

OldWritingOctober 2002 was my first public blog post. Back then blogs were all the rage!

You could ramble about a topic and publish it so ALL THE WORLD could see just how smart (or stupid) you were.

Blogs pre-dated VLOGs (made popular by Youtube Video Bloggers) and POD casting. Back in the good old days there were some great blogs like Joel on Software. But as the years took us into the two thousand teens, blogging became less popular –  blogging took to long for goodness sakes. You had to type and then hit a publish button. Bloggers evolved and went onto different services like Twitter and Facebook where they could communicate in “real” time. As if posting a blog isn’t “real” time enough!

Being old and crusty, I didn’t embrace the new media of the Internet… Sure, I created a Youtube channel for my video work, I got a Twitter and Facebook account. But I didn’t go all in. I kept my blog and slowly kept posting on a topic hear and a thought there.

Fast forward to today.

Even good ole Joel on Software is coming out retirement to document the development of one of his inventions, Stack Overflow. Other Bloggers are brushing the dust off their URLs and re-inventing the good ole blog.

What once was old is now new again!

There’s something about the written word that for thousands of years have kept mankind chronicling their existence and I suspect the written word still has a good future!

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Creating Something Great, Becoming Great

There have been so many human beings who have become legendary, immortal by their deeds. Think of that for a moment.

We all CAN BE a great human being without doing great deeds if only we love each other and treat one another with dignity and respect. But, for a select few, they additionally become legendary and immortal by their deeds.

In my life I try to be a better human being by sharing my love and treating others with dignity and respect.

Bill Gates posted an interesting thought about Thomas Edison, who Bill describes as America’s Greatest Inventor – America’s Greatest Inventor.

What I found appealing about his writing is that Bill Gates, himself a successful business man and philanthropist, feels what pushes humans to greatness is the application of "creativity, perseverance, and optimism."

No matter if you are an inventor, business person, sales person, home-maker or artist – CREATE, PERSEVER and MAINTAIN OPTIMISM!

Good words for a Friday to take you into the weekend.

Herschel

From The Gatesnotes – www.thegatesnotes.com

America’s Greatest Inventor
October 08, 2013
By Bill Gates

I love learning about history, especially the history of innovation. I recently got to write the foreword for Edison and the Rise of Innovation, a new book about one of the great inventors ever. I thought I would share the foreword with you, along with a few photos of some of the Edison-related items I’m lucky enough to own.

Foreword

There’s no question in my mind that one of America’s greatest gifts to the world is our capacity for innovation. From light bulbs and telephones to vaccines and microprocessors, our inventions and ideas have improved the lives—and even saved the lives—of countless people around the globe.

In the pantheon of American innovation, Thomas Edison holds a unique place. He became a symbol of American ingenuity and the conviction that inspiration and perspiration could lead to remarkable things.

In this 1885 sketch, Edison notes some ideas for improving the incandescent light bulb.

He certainly has been an inspiration to me in my career. I’m lucky enough to own a few pieces of Edison memorabilia, including his sketch of an idea for improving the incandescent light bulb and some papers on finding a substitute for rubber. Looking at this work, it’s easy to see a creative mind continually trying to refine and improve his ideas.

Obviously, Edison’s inventions were revolutionary. But as this book makes clear, the way he worked was also crucial for his success. For example, Edison consciously built on ideas from predecessors as well as contemporaries. And just as important, he assembled a team of people—engineers, chemists, mathematicians, and machinists—that he trusted and empowered to carry out his ideas. Names like Batchelor and Kruesi may not be famous today, but without their contributions, Edison might not be either.

Second, Edison was a very practical person. He learned early on that it wasn’t enough to simply come up with great ideas in a vacuum; he had to invent things that people wanted. That meant understanding the market, designing products that met his customers’ needs, convincing his investors to support his ideas, and then promoting them. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he invented the light bulb that worked, and the one that sold.

Finally, Edison recognized that inventions rarely come in a single flash of inspiration. You set a goal, measure progress using data, see what’s working—and what isn’t working—adjust your plan, and try again. This process can be very frustrating because it means running into a lot of dead ends. But each dead end tells you something useful. As Edison famously said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

These lessons are just as true today as they were in Edison’s time. Innovators still have to work in teams. (Although that’s far easier to do today than at the turn of the twentieth century. Imagine what the Wizard of New Jersey’s Menlo Park could have done with the tools coming out of California’s Menlo Park.) Innovators still have to understand and solve real-world problems, and they still have to persevere for the long haul. Scientists run trial after trial to perfect a new vaccine. Co-workers at software companies debug each other’s code.

While we’ve seen amazing advances in science and technology since Edison’s day, these things have not changed. Thomas Edison remains a powerful exemplar of creativity, perseverance, and optimism. Even more than light bulbs and movie cameras, that may be his greatest legacy.

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The Best of Steve Jobs

I don’t know the man personally, I hear he was a very driven, hard ass, early on in his career. Maybe that’s what it took to be a leader of a technological revolution. Leaders sometimes have to pull their people into the future kicking and screaming.

Then Jobs was excommunicated from the company he co-founded by a board of directors who choose to live in the past and use tactics and strategies from the old school religion of corporate governance. Apple languished, Jobs moved on and found a new path of discovery – he never lost sight of the future, of innovation, of THE CUSTOMER.

And then Jobs was resurrected to bring back Apple from the depths of being a historical footnote.

And I’m sure you know the rest of the story – iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad and the iUniverse!

I found a video on Youtube that I thought was so interesting. You don’t need to be a technical guru to understand the conversation.

Jobs was speaking at what appears to be a technical meeting and he fielded a question from the audience. The questioner insulted Jobs, telling Jobs that he didn’t know what he was talking about in relation to the technical discussion at hand.

This is the new Jobs you see responding here. The reinvented Jobs, who is clear with his vision and who seems humble with his response.

Go watch the video and come back for my thoughts…

The number one thing to take from Jobs’ response is that any vision for a product starts with "what incredible benefits can we give the customer."

He understood that technology means nothing if people can’t use it or understand it. And he was thinking on a scale of selling 8-10 billion dollars in products.

The second, but equally important thing to take from Jobs is that leadership and innovation will result in "some mistakes [being made] along the way. That’s good! Cause at least decisions will be made along the way."

Don’t be afraid to act! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Don’t be afraid to innovate!

And always keep your vision centered around THE CUSTOMER.

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Listening to Someone You Don’t Even Know

The Internet has changed the way people communicate ideas and has impacted humanity in the same way the printing press changed the world so many hundred of years ago. Ideas flow instantly from keyboard to brain in a blink of an eye. Words, images, sounds travel around the world in a never-ending frenzy to be seen, to be read, to be absorbed.

We get access to ideas instantly if we can latch onto someone interesting. With seven billion people in the world and at least 2.4 million people accessing the Internet there are a lot of opportunities to listen to someone you don’t even know.

The key, as it has always been since ideas started traveling from community to community by weary travelers is to figure out if what you are hearing makes sense, if the idea has validity, if the information can be trusted.

With so many people accessing and contributing to the Internet, I wonder if at some point there will be a technological innovation that changes how we absorb information in a way that we can’t even comprehend today.

But for today, I have found that I can only trust and give attention to a limited number of sources of information.

I’ll find a blog or podcast or Youtube video channel of someone interesting and give them some of my attention. If they continue to say interesting things, I’ll keep them around. If they go astray, I hit the little unsubscribe button.

In today’s world, we only have so much attention capacity in our heads. It is important to use that inventory wisely.

Here’s some good words of wisdom and words of encouragement from someone I don’t even know.

Proving the Skeptics Wrong by Seth Godin
July 10th 2013

"It’ll never last…"

"Someone with her background will never make a go of this…"

"Are you kidding me?" "Pathetic! Delusional!"

"Social media is a fad, the iPad is a toy, you’re never going to amount to anything…"

Here’s the thing about proving skeptics wrong: They don’t care. They won’t learn. They will stay skeptics. The ones who said the airplane would never fly ignored the success of the Wright Bros. and went on to become skeptical of something else. And when they got onto an airplane, they didn’t apologize to the engineers on their way in.

I used to have a list, and I kept it in my head, the list of people who rejected, who were skeptical, who stood in the way. What I discovered was that this wasn’t the point of the work, and my goal wasn’t actually to prove these folks wrong, it was only to do the work that was worth doing. So long ago I stopped keeping track. It’s not about the skeptics. It’s about the people who care about, support and enable.

Instead of working so hard to prove the skeptics wrong, it makes a lot more sense to delight the true believers. They deserve it, after all, and they’re the ones that are going to spread the word for you.

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Yep, I’m Still Here

I love my little blog.

For me it gives me a place to leave a piece of myself behind. I don’t expect that when I post these random thoughts that thousands of people will read and understand them.

mother-teresaI guess that as I go through my mid-life reconciliation I find that very few humans have the privilege to make a impact on millions of people’s lives. People like George Washington, good old Abe Lincoln and Mother Teresa and thousands of great people throughout history who have made humanity what it is today.

For me, I’ve reconciled that if I exist in this time and can be a great father, husband, son, brother and friend to the people I love and for the strangers that I have yet to meet that I’ve done a hell of a lot for humanity.

So, today I say, “Yep, I’m Still Here” – I’m still here working at being a better father, husband, son, brother and friend…

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What is a “Nexus Point?”

The English language is so interesting – so many words and combination of words come together to create unique thoughts and images.

For instance,  the other day I was watching a show and the host was talking to an actor about the movie “The King’s Speech” when he said two words “Nexus Point.” Since the discussion was about WWII I thought to learn the exact definition of “Nexus Point.”
Gotta love the Internet, here’s a pretty good explanation…

Of Nexus Points and Other Significant Moments
Copyright 2003 by William Meisheid (9/01/03)
Original Internet Link: http://william.meisheid.com/religious_writings/nexus.htm

Nexus points are places where destiny and opportunity collide or from a Christian perspective where God’s call and man’s courage and will intersect. They are strategic moments that speak to core of history and purpose, of decisions and the trying of men’s souls. They are opportunities to demonstrate in the moment of testing that your heart is true, that out of the fire comes precious treasure and not garbage to be swept aside. (1 Cor. 3:11-13)

I believe there are innumerable small and many major nexus points in all of our lives, and for some there will be a singular moment that will forever define them. It is often difficult to tell how significant any given test is until it is upon us. The best course is to approach each trial as if it will be the the supreme test and strive to the uttermost to do our best. We need to remember that our performance in small things sets us up for our larger decisions.

Also, these important moments are not necessarily single moments and the decisions that make them up are not necessarily single decisions but an important nexus point may take several hours, several days, or several weeks to work itself out and during that time a few or many decisions may bring us to the culminating moment, which if greatness beckons is the decision of our own choosing.

It is the characteristic excellence of the strong man that he can bring momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them. The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen themselves. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

No, we are responsible for our choices, for the ripples that flow out from them, for good or ill, and for whether or not we have answered the call of God upon our lives, or have asked instead to be let off the hook of consequence. Many people spend a large portion of their lives trying to get out from under the results of a failed nexus decision when it is infinitely simpler to seize the moment and do the right thing from the start.

I am reminded of Joshua when he challenged the people of Israel with “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve”. That was a nexus point for the nation and each person who made their choice that day. I also remember Paul, laying on the ground on the road to Damascus, where he was given a momentous choice by Jesus Christ, which become the significant decision point in his own life.

God is always looking for someone willing to seize the moment. In Ezekiel 22:30 He says, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” We should all desire to be like Isaiah who, when God asked “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” replied with “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). May God give each of us the grace to rise to the challenge when we confront our own nexus points.

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Remembrance and Resurrection

Elephants have remarkable memory and as they pass the bones of their fallen loved ones they show a sense of love and compassion.

Us mere mortals don’t understand the language of the Elephants, but we can clearly see the love of the Elephant.

In today’s world of instant gratification and instant communications and instant everything we sometimes forget the past. It seems that we are always looking to the future to come our way and save us, to make us better, to give us something we all need.

But it is the past that binds humanity together. The past is common to us all, even though we separately experience events in the present, once those moments and events occur, they become the past for us all.

Like the Elephants, we all remember the past as it effected us all. I wasn’t at ground zero on 9/11, but it effects me even to this day – it is my past as it is for those who lost loved ones that day.

I wasn’t there on that day when a man from Galilee, nailed to a cross, spilled heavenly blood and then died for us all. But now, every moment of every life is bound to that past moment.

Remembrance insures resurrection. All that has passed becomes a part of each of us all – all of the good, the bad and the ugly of humanity — all bound into our shared consciousness.

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