Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Merlin Mann | Nov 4 2010
Being a Parable for the Edification of Independents Seeking Independence
THE OSTENSIBLE CUSTOMER enters a deli and saunters up to the counter. The deli is tended by its rakishly handsome owner, THE SANDWICH GUY.
"Hi," says The Sandwich Guy. "What looks good to you today?"
"Slow down," says The Ostensible Customer, as THE LUNCH RUSH starts trickling in. "Lots of delis want my business, so, first I need to really understand what you can do for me."
"Well," says The Sandwich Guy, "I guess I can try to do what I do for everybody here and make you a customized version of any of the 15 awesome sandwiches you see on my menu. What're you hungry for?"
"Easy, easy, Ricky Roma! Before I make any decisions here I'm going to need to know a lot more about my options. Why are you so obsessed with 'what I want?'"read more »
Merlin Mann | Mar 11 2009
That's my pal, Jonathan Coulton, remarking on the disruptively talented Kutiman, who has made an astounding series of YouTube video remixes that's lighting up the web and (one imagines) generating a lot of wood amongst our nation's libidinous entertainment litigators.
Here's Kutiman's "The Mother of All Funk Chords" (link includes credits for each video):read more »
Merlin Mann | Aug 11 2008
Derek Sivers' short blog post from 2005 has been making the rounds lately -- it came to me via Chairman Gruber -- and I have to say, I can't stop thinking about it. I think this is really profound thinking around the fundamental misunderstanding many people have about the value of ideas.
In a nutshell, Derek says ideas are valuable only inasmuch as they can be multiplied by execution. So, if you remember your 3rd grade arithmetic, you can figure out the product of even the most fantastic idea when it's multiplied by zero execution.
I, too, frequently encounter this attitude of "Sign the NDA! Sign the NDA!" any time someone wants to tell me about their squirrelly idea for making a bajillion dollars on the internet, and I almost always end up saying the same six things to The Idea Men:read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 25 2008
Man, I really loved this episode. Jonathan Coulton's music and performances are inspiring in themselves, but as a fellow (albeit, much more modestly successful) "microbrand," I have huge respect for how he runs the business of his career. (more after the jump, including why we were all on this episode together in the first place)read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 10 2007
I sometimes think that one factor in success as a business or as a human being has a lot to do with what kind of problems you're comfortable solving -- and how you get better at addressing the stuff that falls outside that comfort zone.
History is littered with revolutionaries who couldn't run the country they'd overthrown, Generals who've insisted on re-fighting the last war, talented programmers who were promoted to becoming ineffective (and very unhappy) managers, and, of course, there's the countless companies that just couldn't make the leap when technology or cultural change rendered their comfy old business model moot.
Seems like there's a thread here that's worth thinking about.
How do you get better at knowing when you’re trying to solve the wrong problem?read more »
Merlin Mann | Sep 25 2007
I'm with Gruber -- this is a welcome and fan-friendly addition to the marketplace. And, frankly, I'm glad there's finally somebody out there who can really give Apple some competition in this area.read more »
Merlin Mann | Mar 26 2007
Yesterday's New York Times front page ran an article pulling together the results of several recent studies looking at how interruptions and attempts to multitask can affect the quality of work as well as the length of recovery time.
Here's one bit that really grabbed me:
And, from a PDF of another of the studies cited ("Isolation of a Central Bottleneck of Information Processing with Time-Resolved fMRI"), here's a telling snippet from the article's abstract (yes, most of the rest of it is well over my head):read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 28 2006
As promised, here's the single-file compilation of the Productive Talk podcast interviews I did with David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done. The final version's eight episodes clock in at a considerable one hour and twenty-six minutes, so this should give you plenty to listen to while you're in line at the DMV.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 21 2006
If you bend David Allen's ear for more than 30 seconds about GTD, you'll hear some variation of a phrase that I heard a lot over the couple days we hung out in Ojai: "It's all in the book!"
Say what you will about The David, but he is not a man who suffers from The George Lucas Complex. Much to the consternation of his publishers, his fans, and -- one suspects -- even some of his colleagues, David feels like he has already written the complete and definitive work on the Getting Things Done system. And he very clearly has no desire to futz with that basic system without a good reason; it's sound and complete, as is, and there you go. Next subject.
And, I have to say, in a lot of ways, I've come to really admire this.read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 16 2006
Josh asked me two interview questions about business networking, and I answered them. [Spoiler: historically, I've not been such a big fan of business networking]:read more »
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