Make Something People Love - Work like you give a damn

Thanks to @AlexBerger for tweeting this photo of our hipmunk care package! We've seen a flurry of these since they started going out over the last few weeks. @Frmbriyawthxoxo and I hand-packed a few hundred of these one long Friday night a little while ago. And it was absolutely worth it.

Startups, when it comes to treating your users/customers well, if you're ever feeling like you're doing something a normal person wouldn't bother doing, you're on to something.

When your competition only does just enough (odds are, if they're a typical company full of 9 to 5 employees, that's the standard -- do enough to not get fired), you've got a competitive advantage by having the will to exceed expectations.

Startups are the David vs the Goliath(s), after all, so exploit any and all advantages you've got. Want to make something people love? Be exceptional for them.

The Woz & Sir Ken Robinson would get along well, I think...

When pressed by an audience member about how schools should judge student performance, Woz said they should be given one long project that spurs innovative thinking at the beginning of a semester and graded on their results.

"A really innovative person is known for something that usually took an awful lot of thinking, maybe even over years, and a lot of development in a laboratory putting it together and getting it to work. And it's new and it's different. And it's not something you read about in a book," he said.

"In school, intelligence is a measurement," he continued. "If you have the same answer as everyone else in math or science, you're intelligent."

In subjects other than math and science, such as English, students are given essay assignments where individuality shines, where each pupil goes off on their own and creates an answer that's different from every other student's. And yet, that's not associated with innovation today, he said, but that's exactly the thinking schools and businesses need to apply to computer sciences.

"There can be different answers than what I've known in the past or what I've read or heard," Woz explained.

Technology development projects reward innovators with a feeling of personal pride of accomplishing something no one else has done before, and "that's the sort of thing that inspires you to believe in yourself as an inventor type, not just an engineer who knows the equation."

"The value of these big projects is you learn diligence, lot of repetition. A lot of hard work results in something that's your own. Your own. You built it. You have personal pride," he said. "Personal pride is the strongest motivating force there is."

I'm feeling quite lucky I was given the chance to participate in the start of an experimental program in my highschool called MST Research. Students showing a passion for Math/Science/Technology were basically given a free period to develop, research, and complete a project they'd have to submit at the end of the year. I even managed second place at a state science fair for my project one year. The real satisfaction really did come from knowing I'd taken something from an idea and actually brought it to fruition (learning lots along the way).