The trend of microskills

Fueled by companies like General Assembly & SkillShare I’ve noticed a bit of a trend: training for microskills.

People going out, proactively (or paid by employer) learning a few niche skills that help them do their job better.

They don’t need a whole degree, a certificate, just how to improve their presentations, or learn the latest updates in PhotoShop.

This knowledge, is often unregulated, informal but matches a practical skillset or need. General Assembly & SkillShare just offer the platforms to match the supply and demand.


July 14th, 2015

A difference in culture, the cost of time

Reflecting on my Time post from 2011,  one thing I’ve noticed in terms of cultural differences between the US and New Zealand is how time cost is viewed.

For private companies in the US if they can speed up time to a goal with money, they’ll do that.

In NZ it’s different people wait a little longer. Two sides of the coin.


You might infer that time is less valuable in NZ, but that’s not the case, it’s just different approaches to business.

The opportunity cost is less as the competitive landscape isn’t as deep. In the US, you have direct competitors, then indirect competitors who can launch in to your space overnight, you’re not fighting on 2-3 fronts, you’re fighting on a dozen.

Underpinning this the pay off is a lot larger, if you can make that move before others, you get a jump on the market.

I’ve found it quite curious and insightful, so thought I’d share for those I know on either side of the Pacific.


July 9th, 2015

The habit of collecting

A valuable habit I’ve developed over time, is collecting things.

Collecting little ideas, designs, ways of saying things, quotes, lists, blog posts, notes.

Anything that for some reason keeps my eye, almost like a digital scrapbook.

It’s now at this point, that’s really paying dividends, that cool product tour page I saw a few years ago – bam Evernote still has that, or the speakers I like, over on Pinterest. Or the hiring notes I have from our first employees (nuts).

But the most valuable thing about the collections, is when I can share them, mix them up, take inspiration from all sorts. I really like that. It makes my work now even better than what it would have been – if you don’t yet have this habit, give Steal like an artist a read, it’ll help bring to life what you can do with your collections.



One thing I haven’t cracked, is digitising a decade of notebooking. Now my notebooks aren’t always insightful but they transport me back to a moment instantly, what was I thinking then?! If you have any experience with this or ideas, I’d appreciate it. -Ben


July 8th, 2015

Apple should make a Apple Music API

The challenge with streaming 5 years ago was that there weren’t the agreements in place, now most rights holders have solved that. There is now a standard rate, which Apple, Spotify and others base on.

The next challenge, is then, now that the wholesale rate is fairly standardised, how do you innovate on top?

It would be incredible if Apple opened up a API (or a full SDK) where anyone could request a song, or a beat, or a sample from Apple, then they pay on a volume like pricing. This then would mean developers could build new innovations on top, want to make a running app that plays music based on weather and speed – suddenly you could. Or a recipe app that plays you Sinatra whilst you cook…

Think of, Twilio but for Music.

Every single app could add the dimension of music, for a small fee.

Please Apple, do this.


Update: @d_jones points out that currently offer this – music as a service.



June 23rd, 2015

Piracy is now just an option in consumers minds

Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon, Apple, ThePirateBay.

Like Spotify has done for music, I think the TV & Movie industry as made some real in-roads to providing greater options for consumers.

Getting those options outside of the US is yet to come to fruition but it is getting there.

And same-day releases…better, but still more a ways to go I think.



June 9th, 2015

Sometimes the hardest thing is, to do nothing

But it can also be the best thing to do.

Suck it up. Take a breath. And do nothing.


Inspired by Antifragile.

May 7th, 2015

Pinterest, that other network

I will admit I’m not a primary user of Pinterest, but I do use it for a couple of things.

1) Travel planning / inspiration -> the best way to figure where/what you want to do next is from images from that place. Anytime I’m traveling I do a quick search on that area to see what we could do.

2) Design Inspiration -> soaking up design inspiration to apply at home and at work.

With Nudge we actually see, if you’re targeting females Pinterest performs exceedingly well, even if you don’t optimize for it.

In fact Pinterest is a key driver of the top 10% of the content we analyze.

So, if you haven’t yet had a dabble with it you should. And then secondly they’re slowly opening up their ad product, promoted pins, so you can get visuals in front of your key demographic. It’s worth a look, I’m gonna have a play.

April 10th, 2015

What are you doing all the way down here? You could:
- View my about page
- Or for first timers the New Here? page
- Or maybe email this to a friend
- Or subscribe to get blog updates