Category Archives: content

Becoming Antifragile – How To Gain From Disorder

 

Image Credit: Andre Faria Gomes

Image Credit: Andre Faria Gomes via Slideshare: Antifragile: Lessons Learned

“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos – you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.”

-Nassim Taleb

Last week I gave a talk at the monthly Catalysts Collective event here in San Francisco on the topic of antifragility. The following points are highlights from my talk.

To understand the premise of Antifragile – Things That Gain From Disorder there are three key areas to consider.

We know what it means to be fragile – to be easily broken. Another way to interpret it is to be damaged by disorder. The world’s banking system is a good example – something left vulnerable to chaos, randomness, and uncertainty.

After the state of fragility comes resiliency. Things that are resilient have the ability withstand disorder. Imagine a structure built to withstand earthquakes. When an actual earthquake occurs, the building (hopefully) remains standing. It does not change.

A great story of being resilient is the phoenix. The phoenix may rise from the ashes, but he rises only to become what he once was before. 

The final state Taleb focuses on is the state of being antifragile.

Antifragility is when something benefits from disorder. While startups are known to harbor an improbability of success, when viewed in increments success happens as a result of randomness, chance, volatility and instability. 

When viewed from the macro level, the startup economy benefits society as a whole. It creates room for opportunity and innovation. Things like volatility and instability are required in order for them to achieve the point of contribution at scale. This concept can be applied to the contribution of individuals too – organic things, like muscle mass, require some level of instability or challenge in order to grow.

I believe that being antifragile is essential for personal revolution.

Some benefits of being antifragile include:

  • Increased confidence
  • Welcomeness to change
  • The allowance of discomfort
  • Possessing a growth mindset versus a fixed one.

Here are  ways to become antifragile:

  • Think of perceived failure as opportunity
  • Lean into fear
  • Embrace community
  • Listen to yourself and to others
  • Seek opportunities
  • Build a strong baseline
  • Use the barbell strategy.

The barbell strategy is a method presented by Taleb. Consider the image of a barbell. The maximum amount of risk you’re willing to take goes on one side. It’s balanced by Maslov’s basic needs (food, water, safety) on the opposing end.

This is a very basic introduction to the basic concepts of Antifragility. If you’d like to learn more, I recommend checking out the book itself or visit the following blogs that present nice summaries and applicable tips for becoming antifragile.

Taylor Pearson – Antifragile Book Notes

StartupBros – How You Can Profit From The Unknown: Becoming Antifragile

Buy – Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder (Amazon)

Why Digital Marketing Is The Future (And The Future Is Now)

Is building a product actually easier than marketing the thing? Some would answer yes. Perhaps it depends on what you’ve set out to build. (Yo, anyone?) On one hand, while marketing has become easier due to more methods at our disposal and advanced tools for measuring impact, the holistic idea of “marketing” as a whole does have its challenges.

For one, marketing departments don’t have a template to follow. There are no feature sets, no assigned tasks in Jira, no testing build to see if the features actually work.

That’s not to say that building a quality product isn’t challenging — it’s been reported that  less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps actually find financial success. The argument is then reversed. Is marketing to blame for this unfortunate rate of success?  Perhaps.

Marketing has it’s own set of uniquely complex problems. In some ways the old adage still rings true – “marketing is throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.” But things have gotten drastically better.

In recent years marketing strategy has evolved considerably and the old paradigm is much less relevant. Consider advertising. This year the BBC reported that for the first time ever teens are spending more time online than they are watching television. This leaves the advertising world scrambling to reach them in other places like YouTube, in-games, or within narrowcast messaging apps like Snapchat. (by the way, they no longer use Facebook.)

The good news is that these new marketing opportunities are long tail and highly quantifiable through qualitative data. In other words, we can now measure our marketing dollars much more clearly.

Take the following example. Rather than buying a Superbowl spot on television an advertiser runs a video campaign tied to a timely topic using celebrity influencers as bait. The distribution channels? Social media. Along the same lines, relevant ad units can purchased within games, and badges or funny filters are great offerings we’re starting to see presented within narrowcast environments.

With the exception of the television spot, all of the above is measureable. What’s more, it can be broken down by demographic and  user persona. It becomes easier than ever to understand who engages with your product.

By the way, this is exactly what the new’ish methodology of “growth hacking” employs.

[To be clear, growth hacking isn’t actually hacking. It is the process of deliberately employing small, measurable action items in order to see what actually works. After you get an idea of what consumers respond the best to, you can then double down in the areas with noticeable (measurable) success.]

Examples of these small and measurable action items include:  running an incremental batch of ad buys on AdWords or Facebook, A/B testing content on your website, low level influencer marketing, strategically posting to social media. Marketing dollars don’t need to be spent in chunks, rather in small increments — think subscriptions and incremental ad buys.

This approach is vastly different from the old days when simply doing things like issuing a press release, having a presence at trade shows, or buying billboard space were the norm.

The key in the digital economy is to focus on things that are measurable.  

Not only can you market your product in a highly strategic way,  you’ll gain valuable user feedback as you go.

The new marketing paradigm involves more channels than ever. These channels include but are not limited to: content optimization, community building, e-mail marketing, and business development. With so many options it’s important to be strategic and find the channels that work best for you.

There are countless combinations of levers to pull in order to find success, which are found through experimentation. Some approaches may work for one company and fail for yours. You must choose your channels wisely, and you’ll be reaching your goals in no time.

Public_Private

Public/Private

Public_Private

Public/Private is a game created to accompany two ongoing research projects undertaken in Mumbai, in cooperation with Partners for Urban Knowledge, Action & Research (PUKAR) and the Design Cell at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIA).

The goal of these studies is to explore the meaning and overall characteristics of privacy. The related interactive project, Public/Private, was created to continue that conversation by opening it up to a global audience.

For the phase 2 direction of the project, we thought a lot about specific locations and where one might go to seek privacy. We considered the correlations between when someone wants privacy versus when someone experiences privacy. We thought about what we wanted users to get out of the survey, and what sort of findings we’d hope to achieve.

With these considerations in mind, we think we came a little closer to the heart of the project.

Public/Private Interactive

Visit Public/Private

The game experience for Public/Private was designed and developed by Collective Assembly and Tom van de Velde.

Public/Private feature in Fast Co. Design

Portable Presents: The Curators Conference

I’m back in LA for a day before we’re off to Connecticut for the wedding of dear friends John and Sarah. And of course, to attend another conference, this time in NYC.

This one is particularly close to home. Not geographically, but because it pays homage to a topic — and general methodology — that I’ve always been passionate about and try to embrace every day.

As culture lovers, or for those who are simply curious, we all curate our interests and passions. Whether we feverishly collect recipes, indie artwork or shoes — and use Facebook, Tumblr, or Pinterest to do so — collecting and sharing content from across the web is a phenomenon that shapes our culture in many ways.  It’s a creative force driven by the people, and it influences everything from new typefaces to what we see on the runway.

There are folks who have created a living doing just that. They are storytellers, culture shapers, the new digital conservator. These creatives possess the knowledge and know-how to sharpen their method into a fine-tuned practice while turning their leadership skills into a brand, business, and voice.

Next week, some of these illustrious individuals will come together for one day to further explore the intersection of creative curation with modern culture.  Debuting as part of New York Fashion Week, the influential video and culture site Portable is presenting a day-long conference featuring leading creatives from the worlds of fashion, film, music, tech, and design.

Highlights include talks from fashion filmmaker and photographer Gia Coppola; Susie Bubble, Founder of Style Bubble; Josh Rubin, Co-Founder of Cool Hunting; and Phillipe von Borries, Co-Founder of Refinery29. Each speaker will discuss curation within their respective field, providing insight into their specific platform and how it shapes their practice.


The event is happening next Wednesday, September 5th at the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center in NYC.

A limited amount of tickets are still available here.

Check out the Portable.tv playlist on Spotify.