Sarah Peck

People, Cities, Systems: How do they work?

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How To Be 1 in 1000.

In a recent conversation with Daniel Epstein (founder of the Unreasonable Institute and more recently Unreasonable Media), we started talking about what people do to stand out. And we agreed–it’s not that complicated.

Ask for what you want.
Follow up on that ask.
And then follow through.

In the following example, all statistics are made up. But let’s play with a couple of assumptions. Let’s say only 10% of people actually put themselves out there and ask for what they want. And of the people that ask for something, again only 10% of them follow up on that ask. And of the people who successfully ask for something, and then follow up, many of them in turn don’t actually follow through with what they’ve asked for or said that they are going to do.

10% of 10% of 10% is one in a thousand. (o.oo1).

ASK. Why don’t people ask? You know that it happens. You want something, but you don’t put

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The Disappearing Designer (And Are Markets Just Another Design Problem?)

If the greatest compliment in design is to become ubiquitous; the trick is not to become invisible.

If everyone has what you’ve made and uses what you’ve made, in many regards, you’re doing a great job. It becomes assumed that the product or idea is part of life and it gets adopted in mainstream culture.

But what about all of the pieces that are designed, yet no one knows how they came to be designed, or worse–that they were even designed in the first place?

Alex Marshall, in the just-published book “The Surprising Design of Market Economies,” (September 2012) begins with an essay about our seeming ignorance of the design of the built environment–namely, parks. When you see a new building go up, we recognize that as something that has “been designed.” When we see a new (or old) park or space, I’m not sure what people think. Sometimes I listen to what people say and I wonder. Someone

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Idea: Avoid accidentally sending your email “TO” …everyone.

I made a pretty big mistake recently. Instead of sending an email to a large group of people with everyone’s email address in the “BCC” line, I accidentally copied the list into the “TO” email entry field. As a result, 400 emails were sent to a group of people who didn’t all know each other, all with every single email address on display.

This is a mistake that could get me fired–if it were for a job–and when I realized what I had done, I stared in horror at my monitor screen and frantically tried to think of ways to get the email back. Recall? Come back? PLEASE…

If this were a major bank corporation and I had accidentally sent out an email to all of our customers in the TO field, disclosing private and personal information–I would be fired.

Luckily for me, it was a personal campaign and either none of my friends noticed, or the ones that did forgave my error and collectively and

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The Two-Year Expiration Date

Someone mentioned to me a couple of years ago that accomplishments should have expiration dates. That way, you have to inevitably stop talking about those things that you’ve previously done and get started on doing those present and future things that you want to see happen.

He proposed a two-year expiration date for most accomplishments. Win something crazy in college? Move along. Build a company a while back? Ok. Let’s go.

Granted, there are probably exceptions: should an Olympian stop talking about his or her medals years after the games are over?

I suppose the question might be, how much should we talk about what we do, and how much should we focus on just doing it?

Should accomplishments have an expiration date?

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Walking and Talking: Taking in the Urban Sensations

Right now, where are you? What do you feel? What do you hear? What do you see?

What does it feel like?

What is your body telling you?

The overwhelming sensation right now is data, rushing at us; information at our fingertips. In my urge to check my phone when I leave my car, I arrive at my destination with absolutely no idea where I’d parked; this digital engagement and the constant data-mapping of incoming signals is changing in my brain, because the context of the space I’m inhabiting is increasingly digital spaces, not the actual world around me. I wander down the sidewalks, looking for eye contact, wondering if we’re losing the sensibility of looking another human in the eye. If we get older but lose our eyes sooner, will it be worth it?

There are so many sensations out there—from the sound a leaf makes as it clatters across the hardness of a concrete urban surface and tickles

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Forgetting about time

When was the last time you forgot about time?

When was the last time you let go of the idea of time? Forgot not only about time, but about the need to check the time, and know what was when and what was next? Slipped into an unreality of the past, a forgetting of the future, and enjoyed the decadence of the lull of time in the present moment, a beating heart, a rhythm, a sound? A feeling?

I’m reading parts of John Stilgoe’s work, Outside Lies Magic, (1998) and his commentary on what it means to be an explorer–to truly wander without purpose or end destination. It’s an understanding of true exploration and wandering; on being outside and learning from visual experiences unraveling over time, of taking the time to roll through all of the pieces and parts and discover the puzzles that lie beneath each physical object that rests in space in the world.

He begins his classes at Harvard

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The curated reading list

After reading Francis’ post on making space for your own thinking (instead of consuming the massive amounts of information flying at you at increasing speeds), I want to pause and ask whether the systems for distributing and receiving information are working for you. Do you like the news you get from your media sources? What places to you go to find information?

Sources of information can come from your social networks, from recently built news sources (in the last decade), and from more long-term established journalists and publishers. How would you curate beyond this list?

When I meet someone I think is intriguing–be it at a conference, on a bus, through friends–and I want to know more, I’ve started asking them to email me a follow-up with a list of their top five recent or all-time reads. I’ve done this now with probably 30-40 people, and I have a list of my highest-ranked reading

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Busy for the sake of busy? Or, are we just not saying “No” enough?

A quick rant from a friend that’s appearing all too common:

“This afternoon, I had a meeting set up with two other well respected entrepreneurs about a passion project that I agreed to help with. The meeting had been rescheduled from earlier in the week due to an unexpected travel conflict on their end. I waited on the phone for ten minutes before giving up and emailing them to find out where they were. I have yet to hear back.”

“What is wrong with the world today? Do you have the same problem with people showing up to meetings late or not at all? Honestly, I feel discourage. All of these people say yes to being in a certain place at a certain time, and I make my plans around that commitment. I try my best to hold up my end of the bargain. Why can’t professional people show enough respect toward their peers to do the same? If they are too busy to show up on time (or at all), why do

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Running and the Silver Shadows

I stop at the red light, standing, catching my breath from the morning’s run. My hand braces the cool metal of the stoplight pole, fog and light fighting for space in the sky in the early morning dampness of San Francisco. I breathe in and breathe out, my chest heaving in and out the metronomic melody that is a body in aerobic activity; it will take about four minutes for me to recover, and then I’ll turn back around and sprint home, variable paces aligned to the rhythm of the blocks. My eccentric tendencies towards counting will match the 33 blocks to 11 sets of 3 speeds (walk, sprint, recover) and I’ll get my version of the Swedish Fartleks in for the conclusion of the workout. The windy fog’s breath brushes water droplets on my skin, dampening my already sweaty skin with natural perspiration, a blend of water pieces merging in salt and tension. I leave my glasses at home, otherwise

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Cities: Places For Old People?

Old men, walking

Where are all the old people?

I love San Francisco. It’s one of my favorite cities. I pinch myself every day that I’m living here and that so many of my good friends are also in this city. The serendipity of overlapping connections–the new faces I get to meet, the overlaps, the connections–I sometimes joke that San Francisco is the adult version of college: food is close, lots of friends, great ideas, endless things to learn.

But I am sometimes jarred alert from my twenty-something lifestyle when I encounter someone in their late 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s navigating this busy city-world I live in. The other day, I drove down 19th Avenue with a stampede of other cars all zooming down the roadway at 55-60 miles per hour. (The speed limit is 25, which no one follows). The light changed, and we all quickly stomped on our brakes, blurring quickly to a halt and tapping our fingers impatiently

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