Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside

What kind of car would you buy if money wasn’t an issue?

I’ve had this conversation with a few people in the last couple of weeks. It’s always interesting to hear what people think they would do.

In my experience, what people actually do when they find themselves in that situation is sometimes quite different.

The ’99 Ford Laser I’m currently driving is fine, but for some reason I think I need something better different. Even so, I’ve struggled to get excited about the purchase.

Scott Adams explains it nicely:

“I remember when Dilbert hit it big and it became clear that I would never again have to worry about money. It was a wonderful feeling, but it didn’t last. I went from happy to hollow with no warning. The first moment that I could afford any car I wanted, I lost interest in having a nice car. I simply couldn’t see the point, if there ever was one. Success is surprisingly disorienting.”

From: The Meaning of Meaning

And, in his book ‘Stumbling on Happiness’ Dan Gilbert offers a possible explanation:

“We change across time; the person you are when you are imagining what it would be like to have that fancy new car is not the person you will be when you actually have that fancy new car.”

From: The Joy of Delusion, New York Times

PS The title for this post and the cartoon above can both be found in Hugh McLeod’s excellent manifesto called How to be creative.

Forever young

Here’s a nice reminder about the power of not knowing any better …

You tend to lose important resources when you get older – your friends and your naivete. You no longer get the benefit of having all of your friends do the homework for you. You no longer get the benefit of trying new stuff because you don’t know any better.”

From: The most important assets you lose when you’re over 30

This should give pause to anybody who doesn’t understand the attraction of facebook and struggles to get excited about registering for another social networking site (me).

Or, those who insist that they have no reason to upgrade to Windows Vista, and that Windows XP is good enough, without even bothering to spend some time playing with it (you know who you are).

Perhaps those under 30 just spend less time reminiscing?

Maserati Smaserati

Rod has taken it on himself to “corrupt” me (his words) and try to convince me to buy a better car.

So, in the last couple of weeks I’ve been driving Porche and Maserati rather than Ford.

They look and sound great, but flash cars are pretty much wasted on me.

I had to laugh when I found this Jeremy Clarkson review of the Maserati Quattroporte:

“In a list of the five most rubbish things in the world, I’d have America’s foreign policy at five. Aids at four. Iran’s nuclear programme at three. Gordon Brown at two and Maserati’s gearbox at number one. It is that bad.”

Maybe I’ll stick with the Ford!


What’s next?

Now that the formalities are out of the way I can say a bit more about what I’m going to do next.

I start a new part-time role next week with Rod and the team at Xero.

I will be head of product strategy. Rod posted earlier today about how they (we!) are dealing with prioritisation and product development, which explains quite nicely where this role fits into the bigger picture.

I’m excited about this new challenge. It’s an excellent opportunity for me to apply what I’ve learnt at Trade Me to a global product.

Rod has put together an amazing team and I’m going to enjoy being part of it.

I’m also looking forward to having time to get involved in some other ventures either as an advisor or investor. I’ve been pretty quiet in this respect up until now, but I have my eyes open.

Because Xero is in the middle of the IPO process I can’t say too much more than that at this point, but needless to say I will be posting more here in the coming weeks.

So, stay tuned.

Little brother syndrome

Is Crowded House an Australian band or a New Zealand band.

It turns out the answer is: wrong question!

This recently from Neil Finn:

“I have never said that Crowded House was an Australian or a New Zealand band. Fact is, we were from both countries, but either way I don’t believe it matters where we we’re from, it’s only the music that counts and you either like it or you don’t. These are trivial matters but I mention them because some in New Zealand spend too much time worrying about Australia. If they take credit for some of our stuff it’s not that big a deal. We should be calmly confident enough not to care. And anyway, they don’t spend any time worrying about us.”

Neil Finn, NZ Herald 10th May 2007

I like the idea of calm confidence.

But I guess it depends: do you want to be great or be seen to be great?

I’m Torn

Something for a Friday …

In London we lived just around the corner from the Ealing Studios, home of the famous Ealing Comedies from the late 40s and early 50s.

On Friday nights they turned one of the sound stages into a little comedy club, called Ealing Live.

It was a bit all over the show. Some of the people and characters were brilliant, some were just embarrassing. I found this review of one of their shows on Google, and it gives a good flavour.

(unfortunately it looks like this show is now defunct, replaced with something that sounds much more respectable, oh well!)

Anyway, there is a small point to this story …

By far the funniest performance we saw there was a guy whose character was an Austrian interpretive mime artist, Johann Lippowitz. It was really simple, but clever. And hilarious.

Here is a taste.

Then, the other day I was sent this clip from YouTube and realise that from those humble beginnings he has gone on and made it big. Good for him!

From the 2006 Secret Policeman’s Ball for Amnesty International:

More here and here: (this one might have actually been filmed at Ealing Live?)

He even has his own page on Wikipedia:

Or, perhaps you just had to be there?

Lip Dubbing

This looks like a lot of fun…

If you liked that there are lots more like it here…

This would make for an awesome team building exercise. Mix people up into teams of half-a-dozen or so. Give each team a video camera, an iPod with some songs pre-loaded (+ a print out of the lyrics!) and perhaps a laptop to do the editing and over-dubbing. Then give them a couple of hours to choose a song and put their masterpiece together.

There is lots of room for creativity: one singer or the whole band, the straight lip-synch or perhaps a bit of a story line, all in one take or with a bunch of editing, some dancing in unusual locations, or a re-make of the original music video (or even a re-make of a re-make).

At the end get everybody back together to watch the final results, perhaps throw in the odd prize for cinematography or whatever.

Would be wicked. :-)

UPDATE: I notice the video I linked to is actually the team behind the Vimeo site. Looks like a good crew eh!

Children Of Men

How did they do that?

If you haven’t seen Children Of Men, starring Clive Owen and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, you should.

Perhaps it’s just my curious nature, but I always get distracted watching a film like this, constantly thinking: how did they do that?

In this case there are a number of scenes which are filmed in a long single take. This short documentary has the behind the scenes story of how they achieved it:



Just a quick note to announce the arrival of baby #2.

He (it’s another boy!) was born yesterday morning.

So, it’s going to be a bit quiet on here for a few days.

Take care,


NZs finest 12th hole

The trip to Ironman this weekend just been was the fourth time I’ve driven SH1 from Wellington to Taupo in as many months.

It’s an okay drive – lots of varied scenery to keep things interesting – but doing it that regularly is perhaps stretching my enthusiasm levels a bit.

Despite this, there is always one thing to make me smile, just north of Taihape:

NZs finest 12th hole? Really? It seems like an unverifiable claim to fame. And, surely if it were true they’d be able to charge more than $15 for the privilege?

One day I’ll stop and check out this 12th hole and see what all the fuss is about!

The difficult second album

Scott Adams (he’s the guy who created Dilbert) had an interesting post recently about why musicians find it so difficult to continue to have hit albums. He thinks that it’s because they end up competing with themselves. I think he’s probably right.

When Trade Me was sold I got some good advice from somebody who is wiser and older than me along the lines of:

Just because you’ve had one success, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re bulletproof.

But, I guess the flip side of that is becoming too scared to try anything new – it’s going to struggle in comparison with Trade Me, surely!

Seth Godin, in his recent post about opportunity cost, is on the money I reckon:

Failure now means never failing.

Bonus link: while I’m talking about Scott Adams, here’s another interesting recent post from him: Happiness Formula. What are your two?

Foo Baa La La La

Kiwi Foo Camp (a.k.a. Baa Camp, or as Wayne notes in the comments on this Flickr group photo, Man Camp)

I’m finally back in Wellington after spending a great weekend at the idyllic setting of Mahurangi College at Warkworth, north of Auckland.

I didn’t really know what to expect. And, as it turned out, I was right!

The attendees were a crazy mixture of famous bloggers, media personalities, a former Shortland St star/ turned rock star/ turned web entrepreneur, lots of open source people (actually, lots of open source geeks) + one brave Microsoftie, government ministers, designers, legends of Mozilla/Google, hardware, software and content people, journalists, not to mention a couple of shameless fashion victims.

The schedule was created on the fly on Friday night and was all over the spectrum, from serious discussion of the state of broadband in NZ (well covered by Russell), to body modification, wok-fi (proving the spirit of #8 fencing wire is alive and well!) and performance art. Some warewolf. Plus some exciting software demos (Xero and Firefox 3 + Gecko).

I especially enjoyed Tim’s session on raising cash and Justine’s session on faceted navigation (we already use this idea a bit on Trade Me, specifically within Property, but I hadn’t come across this name for it before).

I get the feeling that it would have been a lot of fun even without the sessions. The place was just so full of interesting people. Everywhere you turned there was an interesting conversation just waiting to be started. I even found myself getting a bit angry at myself towards the end when I realised that there were going to be lots of attendees left over that I didn’t get a chance to talk to.

I got totally hooked by a Wii. Those who know me will tell you I’m the last person to get excited by games, so cheers to Glen from NetRatings for bringing that along … I might have to get me one of those!

And, I wasn’t the only one mesmerised by the growl of Rod’s Maserati.

Nat (or, more kindly, Nat) opened the conference by suggesting that we each try to put in more than we take out. I got the impression most people did. I hope I at least did enough to be invited back next year.

Extra: there is (an apparently controversial) Wikipedia entry here.

Doug Bowman & first posts

A few years back Doug Bowman’s was one of the first blogs that I subscribed to (once I figured out what RSS was!) Having a chance to meet and spend some time with Doug when he was in Wellington for Webstock was definitely one of the highlights of last year for me.

So, it’s great to see him vowing to write more frequently again. He points at his very first post from 2002. A lot of what he wrote then resonates with me, having just started out on this myself.

This log of thoughts is mostly for my own record, but if you’re along for the ride, welcome.

Inspired by this, I decided to try and track down other first posts from some other favourite long-time bloggers. Here are some links, in chronological order:

It’s interesting how many of these posts are from December/January – obviously a popular time of year to be making a start.