Disruptive Ideas

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A couple years ago, an electric vehicle (EV) captured the overall win at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by this disruptive technology.

EVs have lots of advantages over internal combustion cars. They use less energy per mile. They offer great low-end torque, and they can be packaged to provide amazing levels of stability.

One huge disadvantage to them is the current state of battery technology. Today’s batteries are big, heavy, expensive, and somewhat unsafe.

Recently, a study was released about a new battery technology that would allow batteries to be smaller, lighter, cheaper, and most importantly, safer. Imagine your smartphone lasting a week without recharging. Imagine an affordable electric car with a 500 mile range. More importantly, imagine your recharge times to be safely shortened to the length of a traditional gas station fill-up.

If this technology turns out to be legit, the average car buyer won’t need a tax credit, or a desire to “save the Earth” to want to buy an electric vehicle. It will simply be a better choice. This would create dramatic shifts in geopolitics, local infrastructures, and energy delivery economies. All of this could occur inside of the next ten years. This “idea” is disruptive on a global scale.

However, it’s a big “if.”

It’s just research at this point. A few scientists had an idea, did some tests, and released their results.

The research has its detractors.

There’s a large group of interested parties that are heavily invested in the status quo. They don’t care if the research is good or not. They want the idea to fail either way.

Beyond that, human nature tends to discourage us from accepting unprecedented accomplishments. For instance, the idea of a “horseless carriage” seemed unreasonable before Henry Ford began mass producing them.

On top of all of that, many in the scientific community reviewing this research are questioning some of the key principals behind it. These are people who want this idea to succeed. It just doesn’t  seem possible when applied to what they already know.

Why is this research, which, “defies the laws of thermodynamics” being so widely considered?

The lead author of the paper, Helena Braga, who is also the lead researcher, isn’t the one making headlines for the breakthrough. Another research team member named John Goodenough is.

Mr. Goodenough is the inventor of the lithium iron battery technology we all enjoy today.

That’s the thing I’ve come to learn about disruption. New ideas, on their own, often fail.

My friend Jeff Turner likes to say that there are no bad ideas. I guess that could be true, but there are certainly plenty that are poorly advocated.

To be an agent of change, one not only has to have a good idea, they need to be able to sell it to others. They also need to consider how the idea will disrupt the status quo, and how those who could be disrupted will react. Then, on top of all of that, they may need to figure out how to adapt the idea to overcome the objections raised by the status quo.

Without John Goodenough, Helena Braga’s idea would not have made it this far, this fast. She’s somewhat of an outsider, without Goodenough’s more established resume. Perhaps Ms. Braga considered this when teaming up with Mr. Goodenough.

Many in my line of work worry about the lions over the hill. However, most meaningful disruption is internal. It comes quietly… from within a community… or even a single organization… championed by someone you probably already know.

I think there’s something to that. Just a thought.

The ebb and flow of a fever pitch

 

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In football, the snap of a ball creates a burst of energy… followed by a moment of rest and regrouping. Sure, the fever pitch that occurs during the action is what’s most exciting to watch. But it’s not the only part of the game that determines who wins and who loses.

As the whistle is blown, the referee winds a forty second play clock that lets both teams climb to their feet, regroup, change out some personnel, and call a play before returning to action. This downtime is when the announcers spew their opinions, cheerleaders rally the crowd, and when the audience at home dashes to the fridge for a refill.

No one off the field is really paying attention to the most important thing that is actually happening: That very short moment when a player purposefully recovers.

Often it’s the ability to recover that sets an elite athlete apart from his or her more average peers. Catching your breath, lowering your heart rate, relaxing your muscles, and rapidly refocusing your brain for the next play doesn’t happen on its own. It takes a concerted effort. The ability to perform at an elite level for the next 20 seconds demands it. The time is now to calm the heck down.

Not even Richard Dent operated at a fever pitch for an extended period of time.

The technical term for this ebb and flow is called sports periodization.  Players participate in year-round schedules that cycle between working out and resting. Once a player enters the regular season, those cycles tighten up to a matter of days. Generally speaking, a professional football player knows Monday is for film and weights, Tuesday is a rest day, Wednesday is a full practice day, etc… During the game, these cycles can be reduced all the way down to the seconds between the whistle and the snap.

The ebb and flow of a fever pitch happens in many sports. Tennis, baseball, and hockey are all great examples; resting being every bit as important as exerting. I believe the same holds true for the way we work.

No great ideas come to those who never shut down.

No one’s brain is designed to think about work 24/7. If you just spent the entire night thinking about work, not only did you miss another chance to watch your kids grow up, or to laugh at Jimmy Fallon, or spend time with your spouse, you probably didn’t even finish the work you set out to tackle in the first place. Furthermore, your sleepless night…fretting about the problem… only leaves you groggy the next morning.

“The greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less.” -Leonardo da Vinci

For some, a nap is the best remedy. Winston Churchill was a known power-napper, as was JFK. Others (like myself) let distractions rule some part of our day as a way to reset our brains before going back to work.

GettingLessDone.com is all about that ebb and flow.

Recently, I’ve had some great conversations with friends regarding work/life balance. I think we all know that it’s important to take a break. I also think we all feel the social and business pressure to ignore our intuition and work “harder,” even if it’s not working smarter.

“I’m so busy” is a badge of honor. It shouldn’t be. Results are what matters, not the work itself.

I have a bad habit of letting work consume me, and this outlet is often my conscious creative effort to let it go. Sometimes “Getting Less Done” is the secret to producing better results.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m just resting here. Let’s snap the ball, and see what happens next.

 

 

Tacos Tequila Whiskey, Denver

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The first time I visited the City Park location of this restaurant, I think it was called Pinche Tacos. Y’all know I love to curse, so of course the name piqued my interest. Honestly though, their new name fits even better.

They serve three things. I’ll let you guess what they are.

I’m not a big tequila drinker, but I know enough to tell you that their selection looks primo.

I can personally vouch for their whiskey selection, and listed them in my 100 places to drink whiskey list.

Really though, it’s the tacos that we need to talk about. First off, this is a fancy taco place. I like fancy tacos. I also like old school tacos, but you’ve got to be in the mood for one or the other. They are different. Tortilleria Sinaloa in Baltimore is a great example of an old school taco place. Fancy tacos have fancy ingredients, and can also be really hit or miss. Places like this tend to miss more often than they hit. Tacos Tequila Whiskey does not miss. This is one of my favorite taco places in Denver. Continue reading “Tacos Tequila Whiskey, Denver”

The Laffer curve

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In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the… Anyone? Anyone?… the Great Depression, passed the… Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?… raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. “Voodoo” economics.

FEW Spirits Distillery tour with tacos on the side.

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I celebrated yet another birthday this weekend. So, of course, tacos and whiskey were in the mix.

My wife surprised me with a tour of FEW Distillery. I’ve been a fan of their spirits for quite a while. We recently moved to Evanston, so this distillery is just down the street. Continue reading “FEW Spirits Distillery tour with tacos on the side.”

Lipton Noodle Soup with Eggs and Sriracha

Lipton Noodle Soup with Egg Drop and Sriracha

I was on my own for dinner the other night and looking to make something easy. 99 times out of 100, I would scrabble four eggs, add some sriracha and be done. The only problem was that I only had two eggs left.

I didn’t really have any frozen veggies that were appealing to me. I thought, “maybe we have some kale.” Of course we didn’t. We hadn’t been to the grocery store in a week. Did I mention the two eggs?

Continue reading “Lipton Noodle Soup with Eggs and Sriracha”