Sarah Peck

People, Cities, Systems: How do they work?

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How To Be Unreasonable: A Conversation

“Follow up and follow through.”

I met Daniel Epstein this past summer while teaching at the inaugural Bold Academy’s “School For Superheroes” in Boulder, Colorado. Daniel led a jam-packed Q&A session around the art of “The Ask” for new and veteran entrepreneurs and change-makers, and I sat in on the session. He made a number of interesting points and I had a chance to follow up with him and ask him to share a few more insights.

Here’s our conversation.

You focused on a particular topic at Bold Academy: The Art of The Ask, and you talked a lot about why it’s so important to ask for what you want and to get your message out to the right audience. What makes someone successful at asking for what they want?

Daniel: The most important thing is conviction. Don’t be shy about it. If you genuinely believe in what you’re asking for, or what you’re asking for someone to do—then you’ll do a...

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Product Design Across Contexts: Designing For Use As Well As Environment?

Have you ever walked over to someone with headphones in their ears and started talking to them, just to have them wave their hands and point at their headphones, mouthing to you, “SORRY I’M ON THE PHONE?” You interrupt your half-finished thought and back slowly away, as the person apologizes to their telephone recipient on the other end.

It’s enough of an occurrence (at least for me) that I can’t tell when someone’s on the phone–that I wonder if the design of the device and the body language surrounding the device is a bit muddled. It becomes unclear if you’re sitting, listening to music, talking, watching an important demo, or what you’re actually doing–and whether or not it’s a good time to try to get your attention.

In a second example: I saw a presenter give a talk while using his phone as a set of notes; unfortunately, the simple behavior of standing, looking down, one hand out...

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Project Hangovers and Self-Criticism

Sometimes–more nearly like every time–after finishing a project, I hate it.

I want nothing to do with it. I see it in all of the flaws, errors, imperfects. All the ideas that didn’t transpire the way I wanted them to show up; the folds that didn’t turn into corners and angles the way that I wanted, the misprinted line weights, the typos, the sentences. The project in its fascinating speculations and the seeming sigh of its final iteration. The scalding difference between my brain’s dreams, desires and wishes and the tested, iterated manifestation of creating that product with my hands and resources.

It seems impossible to see the final product without the embedded knowledge of all of the processes that it took to get there.

The same is true on stage. I finish my talk, I finish the presentation, the idea, and I leave, not deflated, but with a fatigue from the project’s finale and the...

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You can have everything you want, and you will never be enough.

You can have everything you want, and you will never be enough.

I keep running my head in into two cultural mindsets that I think have negative consequences in American culture (this is not necessarily true everywhere. The French, for example, don’t necessarily subscribe to the American parenting ideal of praising a kid for everything they do). But within this culture, there are a couple of paradigms that might not be accurate.

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You can have anything you want.

First, the idea that you can do, be or have anything you want. Growing up here, we are taught this over and over again. Do you agree? Is this true? Can you really be anything you want? Can you have everything?

Regardless of the outcome of this debate, one consequence of this assumption is that we don’t get taught how to decide. How to say no.

Is the flip side of being taught you can have everything you want failing to teach...

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How did you raise all that money? Strategies behind raising $29,000 for charity: water in 9 weeks.

Three months and twelve days ago I was given $100. The $100 was given to me at a conference promoting world domination. It was timely; as the founder of the conference had just published a book called the $100 Startup—and he asked each of the 1000 attendees:

“If it only takes $100 to start a business, what could you do with this $100 over the next year?”

“Consider this an investment in you. What will you do with it?”

I decided to figure it out before I left the conference. I didn’t want to take a year to figure it out; I’m not that patient. I like doing things now. What could I do right away? One of the talks at the conference was by Scott Harrison, founder of Charity: Water, and he talked about one billion people on this planet who don’t have access to clean water. As an open water swimmer, lover of all things water, and general life enthusiast, I was turned. I decided to raise...

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Easy?

When did someone sit down and promise you that it was supposed to be easy? Or better yet, fair? It’s not guaranteed to be easy or fair, and the people who get what they want go after it in spite of and because of each and every advantage or disadvantage they are thrown.

In the words of my coach, during a particularly arduous sequence of events:

“Just fucking do it.”

“Show me you can do it no matter what. This is when you become better than the best. Not when circumstances are perfect. It’s when circumstances are shit and you do it anyways.

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Idea: Email User Rankings (Quora For Communication)?

Thought 1: Quora Ranks For Email Effectiveness

What if there was a Quora or HackerNews-like system for ranking the effectiveness of an email? Embedded in your user profile is a system for thumbs-up and thumbs-down, whereby the user can rank on a binary your relative effectiveness of email.

Your cumulative score, weighted by the rank of the user ranking you, plus frequency of interactions with that user (high frequency of interactions x high relative score = higher weight on your overall rank), influences the organization of the “priority inbox.” People who send better emails get better placement in your inbox.

Thought 2: Speed of Response and Delivery

What if when you sent a message, rather than flagging it “high priority” or “urgent,” you could actually include the estimated time you need the message back? Perhaps based on Covey’s four quadrants of important/urgent/not important/not...

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“No, I won’t meet you for coffee.” (v.2)

Quick update: after receiving a bit of feedback and re-reading this post, it’s not reading quite the way that I want it to read. I’ve since taken the first draft and re-written what I think makes more sense to add points to the conversation.

Ever say yes to something and wish you hadn’t? Or get stuck in a situation where you’re not sure how to say no to something? Or better yet, get asked for money and you don’t know how to say no? I have a hard time saying no (an impossible time, sometimes, because I want to say yes to everything), so recently I said no to meeting someone for coffee and it was the right call. I had to use a phrase I rarely say:

“No, I won’t meet you for coffee.”

Those words were really hard to say. For some reason, saying no feels like an impossibility for me.

Usually I say no only if I can’t–if I’m on a plane or in another state, for instance. If I’ve maxed out...

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The Four-Hour Coffee

“Let’s meet for coffee.”

I dread those words* Meeting face-to-face takes a lot of time and energy and coordination. It’s not a 1-hour event. It’s the time it takes me to dress up a little nicer in the morning, rearrange my morning schedule, take the bus or lyft or uber to the place (okay, add 30 minutes for transportation), spend an hour or longer with you, spend another 30 minutes getting to my next destination, and then decompressing afterwards and getting back into my routines and items I need to get done.

That’s four hours. FOUR HOURS. Of time.

I’d much rather do a phone call. 15-20 minutes, tell me what you need, let’s jam while I walk to my next destination. Better yet, send me all the research you’ve done in an email, let me skim it, and specify exactly what you want in clear language and how I can help you. If you tell me what to do, I can help.

The problem with “meeting for...

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“No, I won’t meet you for coffee” – (v.1)

Quick update: after receiving a bit of feedback and re-reading this post, it’s not reading quite the way that I want it to read. I’ve since taken the first draft (original below) and re-written what I think makes more sense to add points to the conversation. See the updated essay here.

“Let’s meet for coffee.”

I dread those words* Meeting face-to-face takes a lot of time and energy and coordination. It’s not a 1-hour event. It’s the time it takes me to dress up a little nicer in the morning, rearrange my morning schedule, take the bus or lyft or uber to the place (okay, add 30 minutes for transportation), spend an hour or longer with you, spend another 30 minutes getting to my next destination, and then decompressing afterwards and getting back into my routines and items I need to get done.

That’s four hours. FOUR HOURS. Of time.

I’d much rather do a phone call. 15-20 minutes, tell...

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