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  1. Design Thinking for Inbound Marketers
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 13 Jun 2019 | 1:02pm GMT

    By Ty Hagler | 7 minute read

    Hello Eskimos, let’s talk about ice.

    Advertising and marketing professionals have long been known for their creativity at generating attention to drive prospective customers through a funnel towards a sale. This topic may sound a bit redundant, like Design Thinking for Industrial Designers, but please hang in there with me. While the methods and mindset aren’t new to marketers, practicing the techniques will make us better at our craft.

    What is Design Thinking? 

    Design Thinking is often confused for a process or tool that either works, or doesn’t. In practice, we have found that Design Thinking is a mindset for managing risk and uncertainty. It starts with the idea that human creativity requires flipping back and forth between divergent and convergent thought. Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes this as System 1 (Fast and Intuitive) and System 2 (Slow and Logical) in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. If one were to design a creative process for computers, perhaps it would be a different approach, but this basic observation is fundamental to all of us humans. The Trig process for Design Thinking then creates three cycles of divergence and convergence through Explore, Prototype, and Build. The process is cyclical, not linear, as we navigate the possibilities to uncover new value in a complex environment.

    D

    Domains of Marketing

    Broadly speaking, I view marketing as having three core functions: strategic planning of the company, brand building, and lead generation. Marketing has accountability for creating, growing, and sustaining demand.

    Strategic Planning As a key stakeholder to any innovation effort, marketing helps ensure the growth of the company by identifying new market opportunities and aligning products to serve customers.

    Brand Building Make a promise, keep a promise. Great brands position themselves to make compelling consistent promises that the operational team can consistently deliver.

    Lead Generation Keep the sales pipeline full by building awareness among the right prospects and providing targeted messages that move them towards a conversion.

    Design Thinking for Marketers

    Design thinking, as a discipline of thought, is most useful when you are seeking useful new practices in a changing or uncertain environment. For the most part, you don’t want to Explore-Prototype-Build on a routine process like your daily commute or have pilots get creative with their flight patterns. With the disruption of traditional media and the constant churn of digital media tools, practicing good design thinking practices will help marketers identify trends as they emerge and produce original techniques to engage with customers. To help illustrate, I’ll use the rising popularity of Quora among marketers as an example.

    Explore

    There are so many digital marketing tools and platforms being continuously launched that it isn’t possible to keep tabs on all of them. Instead, start with understanding your customer’s journey as they search for solutions that your company offers. Content marketing is a well-known trend that we have been exploring. Marcus Sheridan is definitely the pioneer we seek to emulate with his book, They Ask You Answer (TAYA!)  We can extract a principle by exploring new channels where customers are asking questions such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Medium, Slack communities, and Quora.

    Design Thinking for Marketers - Explore

    Prototype

    The key here is empirical creativity. Play, experiment, tinker, measure. Quora didn’t really get my attention as a marketing tool until I wrote an answer based on a funny conversation with my son went sort-of viral: Terminal Velocity of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The comments are hilarious, especially the indignant defenders of dinosaurs and nerds challenging my calculations. It’s always fun to troll paleontologists (out of jealousy... it was my childhood dream job), but it doesn’t exactly have marketing value. 

    What got my attention with Quora is that it promotes content to its audience on merit and interest-specific targeting. Quora is effectively the TAYA social media platform. To prove out the merit as a marketing tool, I started responding to a number of questions relevant to Trig’s field while following the TAYA principles. I also started observing my own behavior in reading Quora content. Why did I drill down and click into that article?  Do images always help my click through rate or is a compelling hook in the first two sentences the best at drawing me in? With enough validated prototypes and empirical evidence, we can start to build scale. 

    Build

    There isn’t any way of predicting which answer will spike in advance, but you can improve the odds by writing a lot of answers to topics where you have expertise and try to recognize patterns. At the time of this writing, I have answered 37 targeted questions with varied results. Here are a few emergent best practices for Quora that we are building out:

    • The first two sentences are key

    • Use stories to connect emotionally

    • Break up text with formatting

    • Include a compelling image

    • Seek out questions that have a high ratio of followers to answers

    • Use Quora search to find questions in a specific topic area

    • Inspired writing to answer a question beats repurposed content

    I can’t help but laugh after realizing the personal benefit of working through this case study. As a result of writing this case study, the Trig strategy for Quora as a marketing tool is evolving from low risk individual experiments to a team effort with organized best practices where we expect cumulative returns.

    Grow with Quora - Design Thinking for Marketers

    After wrapping up with an initial Build phase, good Design Thinkers then circle back to the Explore phase to continue diving into best practices and learning from others. For those interested in the Quora platform as a marketing channel, be sure to check out the recently launched Grow with Quora podcast.

    Hopefully this example illustrates one application of Design Thinking, as a mindset, that can be helpful for marketers who are facing a chaotic environment where they need to quickly make progress in managing risk and uncertainty.

  2. Chasing the Genius of the AND
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 5 Jun 2019 | 12:23pm GMT

    By Andrew DiMeo | 5 Minute Read

    The book “They Ask You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan has really got me paying attention to the questions I’m hearing every day and taking the time to craft thoughtful and (more importantly) honest responses. While I do get a lot of questions about Innovation and Design, if I want to be really honest, the question I’m hearing the most these days has been, “Do you miss teaching?” A close second to that is, “Why did you choose to leave the university?”

    My answer has primarily been some form of, “It’s complicated.” That’s just not good enough and thus the thoughtful and honest exploration began.

    I’d like to start with one of my favorite TED Talks, “Your Elusive Creative Genius” told by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” During her inspiring talk, Elizabeth shares a bold idea that rather than a person “being” a genius, they instead “have” a genius. I love this concept and rather than unpacking it here, I encourage you to check out her talk. That said, the key takeaway is that with a title like “Chasing the Genius of The AND,” this genius is some elusive external being that is being chased; that I’m chasing.

       

    Where to Look for a Genius

    Think, “Oh that’s Genius” when observing something else. For me, this could be when I see Gus (our awesome dog) cuddle in a particularly comfortable position. “Oh, that’s Genius. I should relax just like that.” Gus is my relaxation genius.

    The Genius of The AND has been the most elusive genius. I’ve been chasing her before I knew her name.

    Do I miss teaching?  Of course I do. Do you know what else I miss? I miss working on movie sets with my brother and family. I miss that dearly.

    Industrial Design Medical Devices Ampersand And

    “Why did you choose to leave the movie business?”

    “Because I was chasing the Genius of The And before I knew her name.”

    In those days, I was either studying Engineering in college OR working on New York City film sets. The dichotomy of the two environments was tearing me apart. I loved them both, but never fully immersed in either. Throughout the 90’s, I would leave them both on soul searching journeys guided by country roads on the saddle of my Harley-Davidson. I was looking the wrong way and never did find her, but got closer, landing in Charlotte where I would study both Physics and Poetry, thinking I would be happy as a High School teacher. I’m sure in fact, that I would have been happy in those frenetic halls, lockers slamming, with boys and girls becoming men and women.

    Somewhere in there, I read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, and loved it, but was too naive to know I was holding her in my hands. By 1998 the journey took me to Chapel Hill where I studied Biomedical Engineering, and I was getting closer to finding her.

    Over the years I went to school or worked, started a for profit and then a nonprofit, and went on living a mostly dualistic life. When hired to teach Biomedical Engineering Senior Design at NC State in 2006, there was one… well, there were many… but there was one particular story that I recall impacting my teaching philosophy.

    It was about an entry level engineer we hired out of Penn State to join our product development team at Alaris Medical Systems in Creedmoor. This kid came into the company with so much energy, excitement, and creativity, only to have it beaten out of him by the FDA’s Quality System Regulations and Design Controls. He picked up his whole life, moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, bought a car and got a place to live, and within 6 months, he was leaving because he couldn’t stand it.

    I never wanted that to happen to the students. So, I wanted them to get a taste of what real life is like in this industry while still in school. So, in my classroom, I insisted on them following Design Controls. But even more important was a message that I hope my former students all remember, and that new students embrace. The health and wellness of our world is depending on your creativity. It takes a truly special talent to be both creative and live in the required constraints of a system that is in place to protect us. We need quality systems AND we need creativity. Be brave and do both to make this world a better place.

    “The health and wellness of our world is depending on your creativity.”

    Over the next 12 years I would get to meet the Genius of The AND from time to time. Most notably, Jim Collins is credited with developing this concept in his book, “Built to Last,” where he states most famously to reject the, “Tyranny of the OR.”  But I don’t think I truly knew And until practicing Yoga.

    The Genius of The And is all around us. She’s everywhere, in all matter and energy, and is both Luke Skywalker’s AND Darth Vader’s Force. She is caring and thoughtful, confident and humble, courageous and careful, competitive and collaborative, leader and follower, logical and emotional, classical and romantic, orderly and chaotic, and … well AND.

    In Yoga, she is the Peaceful Warrior (and many more such poses of both relaxation AND strength).

    So why did I leave the university? Because I was chasing the Genius of The AND. In my humble opinion, many academic institutions and design firms have lost the Genius of The AND, often times reducing Industrial Design to primarily aesthetics. As a best practice however, Industrial Design IS the Genius of The AND.

    AND it is Psychology
    AND it is Art
    AND it is Engineering
    AND it is Business

    AND it is all the other perspectives brought together - It is People First.

    It is the ability to derive order from chaos.

    And today, I find myself in a very special place where the Genius of The AND is celebrated and encouraged and practiced daily.

    ——

    For more on the FDAs Quality Systems AND Creativity - check out this Guidebook on Design History File Ready Ideation

  3. Challenge Statements and Hawaiian Pizza
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 29 May 2019 | 2:56pm GMT
    Industrial Design Challenge Statement Pineapple Pizza

    My colleague, Andrew DiMeo, is one of the foremost experts in the world on defining the unmet need. In his article, Need Statements vs. Challenge Statements, What’s the Difference? we get a master class in understanding the unmet need statement, but I feel compelled to elaborate on the Challenge Statement and nuanced flavor of Pineapple Pizza, or more properly, Hawaiian Pizza.

    I first had a Hawaiian Pizza in 1998 while in San Diego for a kayak national team training camp. Yes, one of my Hawaiian teammates encouraged us to try it while we were out to eat at a local restaurant. Up until that point, it had never occurred to me that pineapple could taste so good on a pizza. Hawaiian pizza became an instant favorite for me, and that combination of novelty and good memories with friends combined to make the experience memorable. Such visceral experiences have shaped my pizza topping choices, I say, for the better.

    Entering into a new experience requires some form of provocation. On the whole, people do not step out of their comfort zones easily and doing so has to be clearly worthwhile or at least intriguing enough to let curiosity outweigh hesitation. This insight was formalized into the ideation process of Provocation and Movement by Dr Edward de Bono. If you’re interested in resources straight from the source, Dr. de Bono’s detailed thinking systems can be found here.

    Lateral Thinking

    Dr. de Bono proposed Provocation and Movement within a larger framework of methods he developed to help teams intentionally shift their own perceptions and conceptual framework. He described the human mind as an auto-organized system. Perceptual models are the organizing tool that stores information. The brain only sees what it is prepared to see: mental models and pre-existing shapes. Having our thoughts organized this way helps us identify the objects and actions occurring in our surroundings very quickly so we can largely ignore the things that aren’t recognized as dangerous or unrecognized. Quickly accessible mental models were good news for our ancestors who were glad to notice and react to hungry tigers, but the resulting trade-off of selective attention bias means that we often miss what is right in front of our faces. For a great example of selective attention, watch the video below and count how many times the basketball is passed between players wearing a white shirt:

    That leaves the question of how to capture attention from a species designed to ignore so much, to literally miss the gorilla in the room if we are primed to look for tigers. The Lateral Thinking process is a set of tools one can use to step away from the same “vertical” repetitive thought patterns that lead to the same repetitive product design outcomes. Within Lateral Thinking as a concept, there are many techniques, but “Provocation and Movement” stands out as particularly useful for disrupting mental models relevant to product design.

    Provocation

    Consider the attributes of a coffee mug. It protects hands from heat, is made of ceramic, and has one handle. By deliberately introducing illogical thoughts, we start to break down those mental models. What if the mug makes hands hot? What if it were made of flexible rubber? What if it had four handles instead of one? 

    Provocation breaks us from our mental models and cuts across patterns. We use provocation to intentionally break us out of the comfort zone of familiar existing patterns in order to see opportunities differently.  If done properly, lateral thinking should elicit a similar internal reaction as running across a busy highway. It’s scary, perhaps dangerous in some social circles, but also useful if you’re trying to find uncharted territory. It takes courage to express ideas that seem wild, silly, completely over the top, but proper priming of the ideation group makes it possible.

    Fruit on pizza? Hmm, mandarin oranges, apple slices, grapefruit, apricots, pears… why not pineapples?

    Ultimately though, what’s the point of completely wacky ideas too grandiose, too rash to exist? That’s where Movement comes in.

    Movement 

    We use Movement to transform the uncomfortable illogic into a meaningful adjacent possible. Those intentionally loony ideas… while they aren’t feasible as initially described, something about them does actually solve the problem. If you can suspend disbelief for a moment, take the seemingly illogical concept seriously and move it towards a useful idea. If the mug makes your hands hot, it could become a hand warmer on a cold day. If it were flexible, it could become collapsible as a durable piece of backpacking gear. If it had four handles, maybe it could be a share able set for friends.  

    Extract a principle, focus on the difference, and find benefit from the provocation. What is it about the idea that makes it odd? Are people just preconditioned to not accept fruit on their pizza given their dominant mental model, or is there a demonstrable taste preference? If not pineapples, then why not oranges? I can’t help but find appreciation in Dr. Seuss’ book, Green Eggs and Ham as a model for creative provocation and movement. Dr. DiMeo, would you, could you, eat pineapple pizza on a train? ..on a boat? …in the rain? It’s silly, yes, but eventually the Seussian characters find new benefit from their provocative journey.

    It is true in both design and in life that oftentimes nonsense can be peeled away to discover an underlying truth. Sift away the dirt to find the gold that looks like dirt to everyone else.

    Challenge Statements

    We don’t always use Provocation and Movement in our ideation sessions, but the principle lives in every session through use of Challenge Statements. The exercise is simple: take the Unmet Need Statement as defined by Dr DiMeo and make it weird. The best challenge statements start with, “How might we...”, establishing a provocative call to solve the unmet need. In my experience, the problem with challenge statements is that they aren’t weird enough. It’s easy to be safe. Being bold and provocative while rooted in solving real problems takes effort.

    Once the challenge is identified and the challenge statement is created, it’s easy to look only for the quick, obvious, expected solution. The first thing that pops into your head may work. The low-hanging fruit growing on the idea tree may get the job done, but great ideas only emerge from a thorough creative exploration that includes the ridiculous, the absurd, the nonsensical, the Seussical, and yes, even the occasional pineapple.

    Prototypes, then Theory

    everything the body needs

    As Dan Ariely once observed, you cannot reverse engineer the taste of food by looking at the nutrition label. The process of trial and error using low-cost, high-upside prototypes is an empirical process of exploring the new, testing for fit, then building upon the 5% of ideas that work. After the fact, one can build nutrition labels describing why the solution is healthier and theories of why the acidity of the pineapple mixes so well with tomato sauce when cooked. You have to first experience the new, then try to understand why it works. Things fall apart when the order gets reversed and chemists, not cooks, try to derive the recipe and give you “everything the body needs…” as experienced by the Nebuchadnezzar's crew in the Matrix.

  4. Spring 2019 Core Values Awards
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 14 May 2019 | 1:33am GMT

    By Ty Hagler |  4 minute read

    We have some truly exceptional people at Trig. As our new tradition is maturing, a few of our talented folks were recognized for their amazing efforts with a painted rock. The UPS guy didn’t even blink this go around when I asked for help mailing five rocks. I think he’s gotten used to me shipping out bizarre items.

    We did things a little differently this go around - team members were asked to anonymously nominate others for the awards. I got to paint the rocks and announce the winners. Reading through everyone’s nominations was such a treat with a few amazing stories mixed in. Check out our winners:

    Ethan Creasman literally holds the line

    We Hold the Line
    Ethan Creasman

    The Design and Development team has just been slammed over the last 6 months. There's dozens of stories to tell that includes the hard work of the people he supports, but Ethan has shouldered coordinating the full effort of his team. He also took on a bulk of a massive client project while working towards an insanely tight deadline. Ethan plays an important role in holding down the fort and holding the line.

      Kelly Harrigan is a curious tinkerer

    We Are Curious Tinkerers
    Kelly Harrigan

    Her constant researching and questioning of cutting-edge professional practices and design trends elevates the entire team's awareness of the present and future of our ever-fluid industry. Also, through her fearless travels and embrace of the remote lifestyle she's become the pioneer / guinea pig of the most extreme possibilities of the Trig culture.

    The explorer mindset is always in Kelly's tool bag: she approaches each project with a curious spirit, always coming up with fresh perspectives along the way. As a tireless tinkerer— whether small scale or large—she's going to have a keen eye for what's on the horizon and is able to connect it to how it can benefit / dazzle our clients—it's that translation that's so impressive. Her curious tinkerer mindset is also shaping Trig's design philosophy and her recent client work shows she has a vision for how we can share this philosophy with our community.

      Brian Himelright puts people first

    We Are People First
    Brian Himelright

    While we recently elevated this emergent value of the team to one of our Core Values, it is fitting that Brian win the first one. While Brian's Q3 rock may have been to establish a regular virtual social gathering, he has continued to take the initiative in bringing the team together. He's faithfully prioritized Trig coffees and has initiated other team activities. He's made a large effort to bridge the virtual gap and forge a sense of connection, truly demonstrating the People-First mentality and that the people of Trig matter. This camaraderie of team ultimately strengthens our ability to serve our clients. For those keeping score at home, this is Brian’s second rock for his already impressive trophy collection.

      Stephen Lindamood is hungry

    We Are Hungry
    Stephen Lindamood

    Given his weekend updates, we've speculated he must be rather hungry, having recently discovered Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but his work has proven it! Since joining as our most recent hire, he's constantly asking the team what he can work on, hungry to take part in all aspects of Trig work. When he gets his hands on something, he knocks it out of the park. In a short amount of time, he's demonstrated that his hunger is insatiable, taking pride in his work and going above and beyond. His willingness to grow is essential to Trig remaining relevant enough to do the work our future clients need, and hungry enough to earn it in the first place.

    Stephen has delighted clients by delivering exceptional solutions and fearlessly jumping into learning new skills such as implementing Klipfolio and Webflow. His experience and hunger also serve Trig greatly, allowing Brand Asset Management to expand service offerings to include UX/UI design, further showing our clients that we are partners always on the hunt for new solutions. It seems like every project he is learning a brand new app or stepping into something completely new, but always shows up with beautiful work. Always asking questions and always hungry for feedback that he quickly uses to improve his work, he’s become an essential member of the Trig team in a very short amount of time.

      Connie Tran is Pragmatic

    We Are Pragmatic
    Connie Tran

    Her pragmatic delivery of creative work is no small task but Connie has done a bang-up job of fine tuning Brand Asset Management service offerings, being attentive to lessons learned along the way and refining her process to improve efficiency. Expressing the utmost respect for client resources, she's taken a pragmatic approach with her brand competitive analyses and e-commerce site builds to tweak her process and deliver delightful solutions.

    This is also Connie’s second rock award. As a fan of Pokémon, we’re each striving to collect ‘em all!

  5. Innovation is Caring and Thoughtful
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 20 Mar 2019 | 3:00pm GMT
    Image from iOS (14).jpg

    By Andrew DiMeo | 5 Minute Read

    The word “innovation” is getting used a lot these days. So much so that its meaning has become generic and its definition lost. I wish to find it. What follows is an exploration of the word “innovation” in search of a useful definition, for clarity, and for enlightenment. My favorite definition to date comes from Scott Burleson, friend and innovation expert at The AIM Institute. Scott describes innovation as, “an improvement in value” and then further defines “value” as “benefits over cost.”

    “(Innovation) = (Value Increase) = (Benefits) / (Costs)”

    To explore this topic further, I’m going to dive deep into the definitions of each of these words proposed by Scott.

    What Are “Benefits?”

    The root of the word “benefit comes from the Latin “bene facere” which translates to “do good (to).”

    The book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig explores the concept of “good” in great detail by examining the word “quality.” In this fantastic journey of quality, Pirsig makes a case that it is intrinsic, existing in both the romantic and classical thought processes. Indeed, the book explores quality as The Buddha, as Tao, and as what is good.

    Quality as what is good feels like common sense to a professor who has had to assign grades by (quality of work) or (what is good work).  The notion proposed by Pirsig that quality/good exists in both romantic and classical thought processes is key to the topic of assigning grades to students in the arts as well as the sciences. This can further be extended to commercial innovation in the sense of both psychology and economics; often considered two unique domains. Tying together emotional (brand assets) and rational (product design) purchase decisions can be explored further in its own right.

    “(Benefits) = (Quality) = (What Is Good)”

    What Is “Good?”

    What is good work in an engineering class versus what is good work in a poetry class may seem subjective. What is a good flavor to one person might not be a good flavor to another person. The notion that “good” is subjective is a complicated road to go down, because it suggests that good is whatever you like it to be. If that were the case, how then can grades be assigned by any other means than a subjective measure of good?

    What if we define “good” another way?

    I have a particular interest in Health Innovation, and therefore will bias in that direction. So, I’m going to propose a definition of “good” as “conditions favorable for health.”

    “(What Is Good) = (Conditions Favorable for Health)”

    What Are Conditions Favorable for Health?

    For this, I’ll draw from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and consider our most basic needs such as air, water, food, and shelter. It is a natural instinct to seek conditions favorable for health for all living things. From bacteria, which “like” conditions such as warmth and moisture, to a stray cat that might like to be under a parked car with a warm engine and safe from the falling rain. These would be “good” conditions for bacteria or a cat (not that I’m comparing the two).

    So far I’m building a hypothesis that:

    “(Benefits) = (What Is Good) = (Conditions Favorable for Health)”

    Looking back to Scott’s original definition of innovation as benefits over costs, then a new proposed definition might look like this:

    “(Innovation) = (Value Increase) = (Conditions Favorable for Health) / (Costs)”

    Indeed, this is the thought process at the root of our nation’s focus on value-based care as defined by CMS. This topic is explored in detail by organizations such as Deloitte and Optum. If this formula is correct, then it is not enough just to have conditions favorable for health, but rather, to promote such conditions. After all, if innovation is indeed a process; a process is active, not static.

    “Innovation is a process of improving health and reducing costs.”

    Industrial Design Medical Device Innovation Surgery Caring Thoughtful

    What Is a Process of Improving Health?

    It’s to be caring.

    Historically, caring may have been thought of as providing medical attention to the sick. Today, caring is more than caring for the sick, it’s more than helping someone get better, it’s more than sustaining your current health. As technology and standards of care have advanced, so have our mindsets in addressing health. Caring is about improving your health and the health of your surrounding communities. But this is just the top half of the equation. What about the bottom half?

    What Is “Cost”?

    To explore “cost,” I came to the idiom: at all costs.

    What are all these costs?

    • Money spent and/or the effort to earn that money?

    • Cost of goods sold?

    • Lives lost in war? The effort to win the war?

    • Resources to achieve a goal? The effort to reach that goal?

    The highlight is on “effort”

    Indeed, looking at the historical roots of the phrase, “at all costs,” it can be translated to “regardless of effort.” It is logical that cost is relative to effort which itself can be defined as energy spent on work. We work to make money, to buy a product. Logical. But I’m hung up on this notion that if our goal is to reduce cost, it is also suggesting we reduce effort. This is not so logical.

    To get past this, I needed to draw lessons learned from coaching baseball.

    “Control what you can control: attitude and effort.”

    The idea of giving less effort just didn’t sit right with me when first meditating on this part of innovation. But if attitude and effort are two things we can control…, what is control anyway? If we give maximum effort all the time, is that really controlling effort? Is the foot on the gas pedal all the way down controlling the car? Or is that car out of control? Interesting, right?

    What Is the Control of Attitude and Effort?

    Is this to mean we have choice of attitude and effort? What are we asking the baseball player to do here? Choose a “good” attitude. Choose what about effort? Full effort? It feels right to consider that the choice in attitude is to choose a “good” or a “bad” attitude. Choosing a good attitude is one that promotes conditions for health. This is making sense, but now I’m back on benefits, quality, what is good, and health.

    So what effort are we choosing?  Is there good effort and bad effort?

    In the book, The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement;  author Eliyahu M. Goldratt takes us to the floor of a manufacturing plant and explores many concepts, including a notion that “always working” is not the most efficient way to run a business. The concept is resisted by the characters in the book, rightfully so, as it is not intuitive. The Goal masterfully uses the scientific method and Socratic thinking to teach lean manufacturing. Among the many lessons learned is that always working is not a solution to improve plant efficiency.

    If we have a choice in effort, is the effort we put forth an effort that is carefully considered? Scientifically? Socratically? Thoughtfully? This is the old debate of “working hard” versus “working smart.” Cost. Effort. Work. The relationships of these make sense. However, even after reading The Goal, the notion of minimizing effort is still not sitting right.

    I need to zoom back out to the big picture: Innovation

    There’s an example used in class for years about a swimmer at the beach. The undertow is bad and they’ve drifted far off shore and suddenly realize they need to get back. This can be a scary situation. As the lesson goes, I ask the students, “what is smarter, putting your head down and swimming towards shore as vigorously as possible, only coming up for air when you need it?  OR, slowing down, thinking, and looking at the waves?”

    Swim in with the waves. Rest between waves. Swim smart.

    Work hard with the waves. Take breaks. Observe. Be thoughtful about your return to shore, your return to conditions favorable for health. It’s not to minimize effort but to maximize effort. Using all of your effort can be wasteful, if some of your effort is used without the waves. Work Hard AND Work Smart (with the waves).

    So, what is innovation?

    Innovation is increasing benefits over reducing cost. This is value based care.

    Innovation is improving conditions favorable for health and maximizing effort. It is working towards (What is Good) through (Hard AND Smart Work).

    Innovation is to be caring and thoughtful.


  6. Biology is Destiny: Choice of Culture and Startup Survival
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 7 Mar 2019 | 7:40pm GMT
    Hierarchy of Skepticism

    In 1998, just a year after returning to lead the company he founded after a 12-year hiatus, Steve Jobs took the opportunity presented by a MacWorld address to confront Apple’s critics in public.  During his appearance, he humorously outlined what he dubbed a “Hierarchy of Skepticism,” in order to make a clever, pre-emptive strike against the criticisms he’d inevitably face next.

    At the first level, critics ask, will the company survive?  Then, once that is solved, they ask, but will the profits be stable?  Next, what is the strategy?  Finally, can growth be sustained?  In truth, as Jobs posited that day, the skeptics may never be satisfied.

    Our company, Trig, is entering its 10th year, and we are in a very fortunate position. We are wrestling with questions of strategy and growth, rather than survival and stability.  In light of our current status, we believe that there’s no time like the present to think more deeply about our culture and values. Reassessing who we are and where we stand will shore up a bedrock foundation before accepting more growth.

    “SPEC’s research revealed a breathtaking finding:  one of the six cultures had a 100 percent survival rate through the dotcom bubble, was the fastest to go to IPO, and continued to hit growth targets as a maturing public company.”

    A 2002 study by the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies (SPEC) collected and analyzed the most comprehensive database on the histories, structures, and cultures of Silicon Valley startups in its time.  The study identified six different models of cultures that evolved over a 15-year period among 200 companies in the Valley.  SPEC’s research revealed a breathtaking finding:  one of the six cultures had a 100 percent survival rate through the dotcom bubble, was the fastest to go to IPO, and continued to hit growth targets as a maturing public company.  If you are an entrepreneur, investor, or are in any way involved in the startup community, this should get your attention. 

    Take a look at the six models outlined by the Stanford research findings:

    Star Model: Hires were the best and brightest from elite universities, were well compensated and given “huge amounts of autonomy.” The strategy of applying the “A-team” to solving issues and developing great product made this model very popular with VC’s

    Engineer Model: “This is your stereotypical Silicon Valley startup, with a bunch of anonymous programmers drinking Mountain Dew at their desks; they’re young and hungry and might be stars someday but right now they’re focused on solving technical problems.”

    Bureaucratic Model: A common and proven model of organization, with a robust hierarchy and processes. Thick with middle managers, extensive job descriptions, org charts, and handbooks.

    Autocratic Model: Close cousin to bureaucratic, but driven by a single person, usually the founder and/or CEO, one of whom reportedly described it thus: “You work. You do what I say. You get paid.”

    Commitment Model: Firms where people could work their entire lives, even if most chose not to. Eschewing the rapidly shifting nature of many of their peers, these companies valued rich and lasting intra-company relationships. “Commitment CEOs believe that getting the culture right is more important at first than designing the best product.”

    Hybrid / No Clear Model: These firms combine elements of two models as a compromise in anticipation of future changes to the management approach.  For example, the observed culture might have fallen midway between Star and Bureaucracy, - getting off the ground with prominent talent, while planning for a transition to a Bureaucracy model following IPO.

    Culture Models for Startups
    “Origins matter – the founder’s early formation of culture, values, and HR practices are a strong predictor of success. ”

    Before we reveal which model had a 100 percent survival rate in the study, it’s worth noting that the authors found that changing cultures during the company’s growth led to higher chances of going out of business.  Origins matter – the founder’s early formation of culture, values, and HR practices are a strong predictor of success.  Change is disruptive – any short term benefits from changing a culture’s enduring core values to respond to external pressures are offset by significant long-term costs of undermining the predictable internal expectations among employees that can lead to higher turnover, increased management burden, and declining profitability that puts the survival of the company at risk.

    With the Hierarchy of Skepticism in mind, this means that culture is a crucial consideration for answering that initial first question of “Can it survive?”  When forming Trig and first composing our values, I referred to a list of quotes I had been keeping, that I found inspirational and challenged me to be more pragmatic, collaborative, and uphold integrity above any hardships that might be solved through compromising character.

    Values are intrinsic.  They don’t change in response to competitors, management fads, or customer feedback - even if the survival of the company is at stake. Values are initially formulated by the founder, but they can evolve as the culture forms with new hires. I have been fascinated to watch our culture change and grow richer as each new person’s personality, sense of humor, and unique perspective adjust our norms and open up blind spots in how we operate.  I stand in awe of those organizations that scale from 20 to 100 to 200 people in a year and still preserve the original culture and values. Ultimately, values preserve the culture as it becomes the tool by which employees are hired, fired, and evaluated for promotion. 

    “‘Issues of organizational scalability capture remarkably little mind-share among people who are thinking about starting new enterprises…’ despite many founders giving lip service to declaring that ‘people are the ultimate source of competitive advantage in my business.’”
    — James Baron and Michael Hannan, Stanford Project on Emerging Companies

    So what happened to the 200 startups from Baron and Hannon’s SPEC study as they traversed the dotcom bubble?  Half ceased to exist, but a selection of those that survived became incredibly successful.  The researchers were surprised, however, at how strongly the management style correlated with success, even after controlling for factors such as company age, size, institutional funding, turnover, and the macro-economy.

    The Star Model, to no surprise, produced some of the biggest winners, but also quite unexpectedly failed at a higher rate than any of the other models, and was least likely to go public.  For investors, this type of culture is a great signal that you can base significant returns on playing one out of 10 odds.  For employees, the star model sounds unattractive, with the most common cause of failure resulting from infighting because everyone wants to be the star.  “Players that swing for the fence tend to strike out more often.”

    So, of the five models, one outperformed the all the others in multiple ways:

    • Faster to go public

    • Higher profitability ratios

    • Fewer layers of managers

    • Less wasted time on internal rivalries and individual agendas

    • Less employee turnover

    • Greater commitment to their customers, building superior service and long-term relationships that helped the companies detect and adapt to changes in the market

    “Amazingly, the Commitment model, having been shunned by many in the start-up community, was the model that had a 100 percent survival rate and outperformed all the others.”

    Commitment firms, as described, begin working on culture even before hiring the first employees, with the vision to build a company culture that survives the IPO or any exit strategy.  By contrast, not a single founder within the Engineering model (1/3 of sample) put thought into organizational concerns as a primary launch activity. 

    When Baron and Hannon shared their findings with venture capital contacts in Silicon Valley, investors shared that the resilience of the Commitment model was consistent with their experience.  The need to adapt, pivot, and handle interpersonal stresses is essential to survival in high-tech entrepreneurship.  In their opinion, Commitment models manage to capture the hearts and minds of employees up front, making it easier to adapt to the environment.  What I haven’t been able to learn yet is whether the findings of Baron and Hannon have changed the investment approach of Silicon Valley VCs or of the next generation of entrepreneurs following the dot com burst. 

    As you might have guessed, we have built Trig to be a Commitment company well before coming across the work of Baron and Hannon.  We take care of our clients. We have been described as having a “do whatever it takes” attitude to achieving our clients’ mission (https://triginnovation.com/client-testimonials).  Notably, we have been able to sustain this client-centric attitude by taking care of our team members, making sure new hires fit the culture as a primary prerequisite, encouraging team members to cross pollinate disciplines, and nurturing the development of new skills to do so. The constant evolution of the work we all do keeps things from stagnating, and hedge against the risk of layoffs as the demand for different skill sets come and go. 

    At Trig, we stay family-friendly by allowing our people the flexibility to work whenever they want and wherever they want, as long as client deadlines and work quality standards are met.  This standard is achieved by our proud commitment to a virtual working environment – no physical office space requiring furnishings, rent, and the culture-killing accessory of low-trust managerial oversight. The freedom of this setup is evident in the geographical makeup of Trig.  We’re headquartered in Chapel Hill, NC, but have designers in Charlotte and Richmond, VA. Not only does Trig have the flexibility to recruit talent outside of our geographical area, it also give our employees the freedom to move wherever they want. You can find more discussion on the virtual model here (https://triginnovation.com/tangents/2016/3/2/working-virtually). 

    My hope is that we are an employer of choice for talented people who will enjoy their work. Not only that, we want them to also enjoy the camaraderie of our team. And we want to enjoy working here so much that they spend their entire careers here at Trig.  I see my responsibility as the founder to return that trust by building an organization that is built to last, where economic turbulence is expected and anticipated, and never a reason for asking an employee to leave. 

    At the deathbed of an organization, no entrepreneur regrets having spent too much time working on culture and people issues in the early years of their company.  Achieving goals and financial performance looks great on your resume.  How you achieve those goals is what gets shared at your eulogy. 


    Author’s note: I originally wrote this article in a much more light-hearted tone.  As I wrestled with the topic and spent time reflecting on the topic with family, friends, and coworkers, it became apparent that the choices of values and culture are too significant to too many people to be expressed through humor.  I hope that you are encouraged and challenged by this piece.  For further reading, please see the following resources:

    Organizational Blueprints for Success in High-Tech Start-Ups: Lessons from the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies, James Baron and Michael Hannan, California Management Review, Vol. 44. No. 3 Spring 2002

    Smarter Faster Better: the secrets to being productive in life and business by Charles Duhigg.  (2016) See Chapter 5: Managing Others, Solving a kidnapping with lean and agile thinking and a culture of trust.

    About Ty Hagler

    Ty Hagler is the Principal at Trig® an award-winning innovation, design, and marketing firm based in Chapel Hill, NC.  From his time as an Olympic hopeful in sprint kayaking, Ty has believed in building innovation processes built both for speed and long-term success. At Trig, Ty has embraced the virtual model to create sustainable work environments for his team and tools to optimize the client experience.

    About Trig

    The company has emerged with an elite combination of classical and digital skill sets that fuel explorations and bridge gaps for inventors, executives, and product development teams, converging the realms of innovation process, industrial design, and marketing. In 2016, Trig became a force to be reckoned with in the design community, taking home a pair of IDEA awards for its work with cycling products manufacturer ALTR Ergo and medical device company 410 Medical. Trig’s work, while having a modern aesthetic that appeals to customers in multiple industries, hews closely to the ultimate mission of industrial designers—form and function that improve the human condition.

     

  7. What is the Origin of the Name Trig?
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 26 Feb 2019 | 8:00pm GMT

    By Ty Hagler | 4 Minute Read

    Trig hasn’t always been Trig. I didn’t like the first name for this company, mostly because it was my name, Studio Hagler. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with my surname (pronounced Hay-gler) but it wasn’t building anything other than my ego. I wanted to build a brand.

    In 2010, I got tired of subleasing office space from an engineering firm and was frustrated with my lack of traction. For a few months, I was working from my home office and seeking employment instead of new business while wrapping up MBA studies at NCSU. As fate would have it, a number of things fell into place that renewed my enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. First, a few key client projects in door hardware and outdoor seating were awarded, giving new life to the company. Next, I decided to pursue the virtual model, not out of lack of resources, but as a cultural and competitive advantage. The savings on office accouterments could be applied to content marketing and a new website platform on Squarespace. Finally, and most impactful, I decided to change the brand name to reflect a bigger vision for the company, taking the focus off of me and making space for a team.

    Nautical Names

    My exploration of name ideas pulled me back to my kayaking background and love of water sports. Playing with a nautical theme, I looked at adding new meaning to a variety of common terms. Having decided on an Explorer archetype, an outdoor theme mixed with daring and strength just made sense. Ultimately, what jumped out at me was the word Outrigger, which is a class of ocean-faring boats commonly used in Polynesian and Micronesian cultures. The Outrigger derives its stability from the Ama, which is a secondary hull attached by two beams to the primary vessel. The resulting stability matches a much larger craft, yet gets the speed and efficiency of a narrow hull.

    Trig Name Origin Outrigger Canoe Boat

    Outrigger 

    Outrigger canoes are designed as racing craft with up to six people. Particularly exciting are the races between the islands of Hawaii where the teams have to work really hard to climb up the Pacific swells. As they crest the top of the wave, the lead paddler has a moment where he can no longer reach the water, but is hanging out over space. Then, the rest of the boat clears the wave and the entire craft zooms downhill only to start back up again. Crazy fun.

    I liked the symbolism of Outrigger as a consulting metaphor, that we would come alongside the client to add stability and efficiency with shared goals and destinations, Outrigger is a bit of a mouthful, but at it’s center is the word Trig, shorthand for trigonometry. Now, most people cringe to think of their high school math classes, but I liked the dichotomy of naming a creative industrial design consultancy after a math concept. It speaks to the need for BOTH the analytical and creative sides of our brain to successfully bring new products to market. 

    The uncertain risk of the name Trig was a potential association with another innovation methodology called TRIZ, which is a Russian acronym that translates to “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving”. There are many books on the method, but the best is the original by the author Genrich Altshuller titled, And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared. TRIZ is an interesting methodology, especially for solving physics-based engineering problems, but hasn’t been particularly relevant to the challenges we face on a daily basis.  Fortunately, the methodology is fairly obscure, so we’ve not had to combat that association very often.

      The Trig logo has certainly evolved over the years as well. Check out our article about its history  here.

    The Trig logo has certainly evolved over the years as well. Check out our article about its history here.

    Up to Speed

    Trig, as any brand name, took a while to take hold. At first, it was simply an empty file folder in people’s minds, with comments of “oh, you changed your company name... guess we’ll see a new name from you in the next few years.” As the old name was forgotten, the new brand of Trig came to represent the complete experience of new clients and employees as promised were made and kept, both contractually and implicitly through a cohesive commitment to delivering on our value proposition.

    It was so exciting to be able to purchase the trig.com domain name in 2018 (We have a whole story on that here!) because it represents the culmination of a big yet fragile vision from long ago.  

    To further build on our brand family, the Trig Team has decided to rename our newsletter from the not-creative title, “Newsletter” to “The Outrigger”. Our mission with The Outrigger is to provide articles that inform and entertain with topics relevant to current events in design spaces, explanations of tricky industry concepts, reviews of books we enjoy that we think you ought to give a try, and all sorts of inspiring miscellany from around the web. (Thank you for joining us on our adventure with this new look!)


  8. Innovation is Generous
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 13 Feb 2019 | 7:00pm GMT
    Generous vs Finance Road Arrows Sunset

    By Ty Hagler | 5 Minute Read

    There is a fascinating dichotomy in the innovation field between what I’ll call the “generous mindset” and the “financial mindset.” Explore and exploit. Nurture and scale. Diverge and converge. One has to be careful to get the order of thinking right to create meaningful disruption in their industry.

    I’ve been listening to Seth Godin’s podcast, Akimbo lately. (It’s exceptional.) Seth practices and teaches this principle that, to do anything creative, you have to adopt a generous mindset.  His audience and perspective started in the book publishing industry, but has expanded into other fields and industries, generally attracting people who want to “make a ruckus.”

    In his podcasts, Seth talks about how hard it is to publish a book, and then the difficulty of factors beyond your control, like what happens if the launch gets no reaction. Rather than focus on over-promotion of the book, he suggests that you simply focus on writing the next book. Be generous with your creative craft because it is the quality of your work that will sell itself - or not.

    Why has the Stanford BioDesign process been so successful and yet those programs that mimic it fail to reproduce the results? Because they started with a mindset of generosity and education that has produced outsized financial returns as a secondary effect. Other academic programs, seeing those financial returns, try to mimic the success but ignore the generous approach yielding marginal results.

    Exploration Before Exploitation

    Innovation Generous Bicycle Child

    The finance mindset, when starting up an innovation program, only produces incremental results. The tendency to expect ROI from early stage opportunity screening misses the point. Large corporations routinely struggle to compare unproven ideas to known products that regularly produce revenues. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely a time and place for the finance mindset, and The Explorer mindset may not always have the tools to scale up efficiently. Initial traction must be found in order to exploit a great idea. Many venture capital investors prefer to only invest when sales of a product are demonstrated and showing signs of exponential growth given a simple infusion of capital and connections.  

    To avoid pitfalls of applying the finance mindset too early and too aggressively, change the objective to first understanding needs. The real pain of real people. Then, after truly listening and empathizing, give those people an over abundance of ideas of how to reduce pains and increase happiness.  

    One of the greatest angel investors and founder of Angel List, Naval Ravikant, in describing his ideal founder says he looks for “intelligence, clarity of vision, perseverance, and integrity.” Ethics and integrity are something you do despite the money. Investing in a company means you’re going to be spending scarce time with the founders over the next ten years.

    Money management is crucial, but that isn’t the vision. Frugality is not why designers wake up excited to innovate, and cost cutting isn’t what excites consumers to buy inventions. Cutting edge products made with empathy and care get an audience’s rapt attention. A clear brand message projecting unambiguous values keeps an audience loyally engaged. Corporate spending reports do neither of those things.

    The Ruckus

    Taking risks is scary, but generosity doesn’t mean wild abandon. Generosity delivers a good and honest investment of resources into creating something that will be meaningful to the audience it intends to target.

    A CEO doesn’t have to sell the clothes off their back to make meaningful disruption in their industry. People are out there right now needing solutions. Find them, listen to them, and once you have the idea that they are excited about, the initial investment will be worth it. People are willing to pay to have their problems solved in brand new and better ways. Solutions are even more meaningful when crafted by an affected group’s very own input. Simply listening will put a startup miles ahead of any firm that thinks it knows what other people must certainly need without ever bothering to ask. Market disruption feels good and it sells. Make a scene. Get loud.

    The money will happen if you work with communities to conjure up some design magic. The design magic isn’t as easy to conjure up with a refusal to budge on finances. Fearful penny pinching leads to cost reduction in exactly all the wrong places.

    Leave doubt behind. Get out there and create.

  9. The Art of Strategy
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 20 Jan 2019 | 8:00pm GMT
    Trig Industrial Design Presentation Annual Meeting

    By Ty Hagler | 4 Minute Read

    I don’t think it’s possible to overspend on team-based strategy work. We recently completed our annual strategy process in a way that was uniquely Trig.

    Taking a page from Great Game of Business, we started the planning in July with building a sales forecast for 2019. Those numbers established our operations and staffing system for the year. We took our time. We realized that spreadsheets don’t bring us joy. So we did what made the most sense: we designed our own strategy game.


    Day One

    Sifting through deep topics like Strengths, Weakness, and Trends (hello SWT, goodbye SWOT) can be both exciting and draining. SWT is a strategy that focuses on Strengths, Weaknesses, and Trends. The benefit of this focus over SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is that it keeps businesses from being so introspective that they lose sight of what’s going on with global trend movement.

    So, after Kelly filled our heads with the dazzling trends that are sure to impact our clients in upcoming years, we took time for a creativity break. Our activity for the afternoon was to have an artist at ArtSpace teach us introductory printmaking skills and guide us through a process of drawing each other’s portraits. Being designers, we took it a bit farther than the normal corporate groups they worked with regularly. This exercise was a good way for each of us to internalize the morning’s vision inputs and be ready to converge on vision outputs through the afternoon. Big takeaways from our post-printmaking session were adding a new Core Value and establishing a long term vision based on Antifragility.

    In case you’re wondering, of course we got photos of all this. Check out the printmaking party:

    Artspace Entrance
    Artspace Entrance Instruction
    Instruction First Drawings
    First Drawings Ink on Paper
    Ink on Paper Focus
    Focus Alignment
    Alignment Finishing Touches
    Finishing Touches All Together
    All Together

    Day Two

    Ty Kelly Trig Annual Meeting Strategy Game

    The second day was about translating group vision to individual action. Did you know that $1M in fake game money only costs $30? We played out our 2018 net income results using faux dollars and a yuuuge scroll of paper, then had a great discussion of how to balance the demands of the coming year. No spreadsheets. All fun.

    Creativity break? Yes please. We played a round of the amazing card game Creature Clash, then used the cards to create and draw our own weird personas. Each of us then had time for reflection and goal setting for the year before reporting back to the team. What inspirational qualities do we think these mythical beasts would have and how can we learn from them? Take a look below. Click on the images to see which animal belongs to who.

    Droantula
    Droantula Ocmerpus
    Ocmerpus Hippogadillo
    Hippogadillo Cotoda
    Cotoda Plaingster
    Plaingster Armonon
    Armonon Rabid Tamcerin
    Rabid Tamcerin Anapirebear
    Anapirebear Baretcuda
    Baretcuda

    I would have marked the event a success if only 50% of the stuff we tried had worked. Each exercise we did was our first time prototyping it. The Trig team had a great time and made activity both fun and functional. This approach to bringing everyone together to map our vision and learn more about each other was an overwhelming victory. The Trig team is stronger than ever and the future looks very bright.

    Funny Money Income Statement Games Annual Strategy Meeting
  10. C-UV400: The Future of UV Protection
    Tangents - Thought Leadership and News - Trig | 8 Jan 2019 | 6:37pm GMT
    Zeiss Sunscreenr CUV400 Tablet CES 2019

    Trig is pleased to announce that our client Sunscreenr has forged a new path in breakthrough UV protection technology. ZEISS Vision and Sunscreener partnered to develop a new system to analyze glasses for their level of ultraviolet light protection. ZEISS is known for their UV400 standard which goes above the lower industry standard of UV380, thus shielding wearers’ eyes from even more of the most harmful light rays.

    With the C-UV400 tablet, professionals in the medical industry along with eyewear specialists can show their clients exactly how defended their eyes will be in any set of glasses. Sunscreenr previously made waves with a UV detection camera displays sunscreen coverage on skin. This technological foundation has been built upon to create the indoor detection technology that is now at work in the C-UV400. The 8” tablet is easy to transport and features intuitive operation making it fun and informative for clients and technicians alike.

    Lead designer Patrick Murphy of Trig had the following to say:

    "The technology the Sunscreenr team has engineered is incredible, and has profound implications for health on many fronts - this latest partnership with ZEISS is proof of that. When we started working with Sunscreenr, we were designing a handheld device that helps apply sunscreen by showing the user missed application spots. Fast forward to the past few months, and we're integrating the same tech into a powerful point-of-sale tool that will help customers directly understand the light-filtering benefits of Zeiss lenses. I don't think we've seen the limits of Sunscreenr's technology. I'm excited to see where it goes next."

    ZEISS is offering demonstrations at their CES 2019 booth (#45446) in Las Vegas.
    Read the full ZEISS press release here. (PDF)

  11. Mercari: Anyone can buy & sell
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 17 Jun 2017 | 4:54pm GMT

    from bitly http://bit.ly/2te5if2
    via IFTTT

  12. from bitly http://bit.ly/1T77cHc via IFTTT
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 12 May 2016 | 10:20am GMT

    from bitly http://bit.ly/1T77cHc
    via IFTTT

  13. Radiohead new album A Moon Shaped Pool reviewed by an 8-year-old | News | Culture | The Independent
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 9 May 2016 | 7:35pm GMT

    from bitly http://ind.pn/1XhBSap
    via IFTTT

  14. John Kelly Obituary - Scranton, PA | Scranton Times
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 1 May 2016 | 6:55pm GMT

    from bitly http://j.mp/1X2guG5
    via IFTTT

  15. Book of Memories
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 1 May 2016 | 6:55pm GMT

    from bitly http://bit.ly/1W1csP6
    via IFTTT

  16. Book of Memories
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 1 May 2016 | 6:55pm GMT

    from bitly http://j.mp/1Y1fosu
    via IFTTT

  17. John Kelly Obituary - Scranton, PA | Scranton Times
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 1 May 2016 | 6:55pm GMT

    from bitly http://j.mp/1W0FAWa
    via IFTTT

  18. Reaper's Revenge Haunted Attraction
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 25 Oct 2015 | 3:43am GMT

    from bitly http://bit.ly/1McAaxp
    via IFTTT

  19. timeanddate.com
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 28 Aug 2015 | 12:28pm GMT

    from bitly http://bit.ly/1Vh2UfA
    via IFTTT

  20. timeanddate.com
    echo (with a lowercase e) | 28 Aug 2015 | 12:28pm GMT

    from bitly http://bit.ly/1Vh2TYN
    via IFTTT

  21. Writer's Block: Looking Back
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 20 Apr 2009 | 1:34am GMT
    Apparently my first post was heat-related. You must be so hot, little friend.
    For those not interested in clicking that link, I've quoted the post below:

    [echo] ([info]echoic) wrote,
    @ 2001-07-26 04:50:00
    "It is 4:50 AM and 81 degrees in this room - despite the fact that I have several fans going. It's too bad my Patton (Vornado-style) is in another room. It is currently being utilized by the alien-joseph as a sleeping aid.

    My foot hurts, how about you?"

     
    The "little friend" I refer to is one of my guinea pigs. The Internet Archive tells me it's Fred I'm referring to... I feel sad that I had to look it up to be sure I wasn't talking about Franco.

    Looking back evokes so many different emotions.
  22. 53 Weeks Later...
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 3 Dec 2008 | 10:43pm GMT
    'Tis been 53 weeks since my last LJ update. Having said that, this won't be much of an update.

    I'm going to install Dee's vs.tweet, but not here. That's going to run over on echoverse.lj.com.

    You can find sporadic updates over at the main page of echoverse.org. Further options on locating me shall be forthcoming.

    Hey, does anyone else think it's time I updated my photo? Well, I don't care if you do, I'm going to do it at some point. The one currently being shown is from 2005!

  23. The Radiator, The Cellar, and that damned furnace!
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 24 Nov 2007 | 11:30am GMT
    "I'm afraid of what's in the cellar."
    Look here, fruitcake. Or go to the shoddy "main" page.
  24. E-Z PASS NO CASH: The E-Z PASS Anniversary!
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 30 Jun 2007 | 5:02pm GMT
    It has now been (a little more than) five years since E-Z PASS first captured the hearts of me and hallways.

    To celebrate the 5 year anniversary of our first E-Z PASS violations, I shall re-post Jennzah's original LJ entry documenting the experience.

    FUCK EZ PASS
    27th-Jun-2002 08:23 am
    first off. anyone who lives on the east coast, do YOU, your FAMILY, or anyone you KNOW have the E-Z Pass for the Jersey Turnpike or wherever? this pisses me and echo off severely. we hate the E-Z Pass (though it makes us laugh PROFUSELY, we have not stopped laughing about it for hours).

    we went to NYC today. first off. we did not know that you needed and E-Z Pass. we do not have an E-Z Pass. so here we are all ready to go into the Lincoln Tunnel. we accidentally went into the E-Z Pass lane. i was videotaping and Echo was driving and all of a sudden these two burly cops come up and say "HEY! turn off the camera" and tell me i cant tape in the tunnel. (severe fines, as in TEN GRAND!) then Echo has six dollars out tryin to give it to the cops because she is unaware she was in the E-Z Pass lane.

    this is where our E-Z Pass troubles started for the day.

    apparently it was an E-Z Pass NO CASH lane.

    he informed us that Echo would be sent a bill in the mail and sent us on our merry way.

    so we stayed in the city untill 11:30 p.m

    we left the city.

    this is when the REAL trouble with the E-Z Pass fuckers started. WHAT THE FUCK IS WITH THESE E-Z PASS NO CASH LANES? we must have gone through like seven of them. Echo is going to get hunted down and thrown in the slammer. all because she does not have an E-Z Pass! and because those fuckers on the Jersey Turnpike fired all the money collecters so they are ALL E-Z Pass NO CASH lanes! so we had to skip through them.

    now mind you, we kinda screwed up going out of the city and were half way to Atlantic City by the time we figured out that we'd fucked up. so we had to turn around and go back towards NYC. BUT THAT WAS E-Z Pass's fault! we had to go through TWO of those fucking E-Z PASS NO CASH lanes! GRRR. they got our license plate. and possibly even photos of us.

    but we got their photo too. and video tape.

    The only place they did not have an E-Z Pass NO CASH lane was by the Delaware Water Gap going into Pennsylvania.

    so. i ask. WHAT THE FUCK IS WITH THIS E-Z Pass thing? FUCK YOU, E-Z Pass! me and echo are going to infiltrate and take it down, we swear.

    even though it's so funny we nearly die. LOL.

    and that was our day in new york.

    pictures to come.

     
  25. A funny walk down memory lane, circa 03/12/03 12:07 PM -0500
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 5 Jun 2007 | 9:31pm GMT
    Mephistopheles of Morning Television
    by Good Time Charlie

    Well, I have something I must report to you.

    This evening, as most respectable little boys and girls lay snooze, my
    domestic partner and I happened to catch eye of a most disturbing sight
    indeed. There, on our late night telly, an obviously intoxicated Al
    Roker, clad in a three button white suit and aquamarine shirt a' la Miami
    Vice danced the Batusi in perhaps the lewdest and most vulgar fashion
    either of us had ever witness. Legs twisting, arms flailing, and his
    thick pelvis gyrating as if to maintain the movements of a hoola hoop, The
    weather man in question strutted about like a possessed rabid rooster in
    heat.
    The coup de gras, however, came when the overzealous fat man snatched the
    drink away from a horrified Conan O'Brian so that he could take a gaping
    mouthful of the liquid inside only to spray it all over the unfortunate
    television host like an elephant might spray his companion on a hot day.
    The stunned Irishman could do little more than sit motionless behind his
    desk in apparent awe of the shenanigans taking place before him.

    I hate Al Roker. I think that he is one of the most useless and annoying
    characters found on television today. And what exactly is his job anyway?
    He is certainly no reporter. I think one would have a difficult time
    calling him a meteorologist based on the fact that he gives only the the
    most vague and general of weather reports. He announces the birthdays of
    a few hundred-plus year old relics and holds the microphone for a few
    "lucky" lookers on out in Rockefeller Center and that's about it.
    Worthless.

    Yet, I have digressed from the original reason for this report. (I'm
    quite stoned, so you'll have to forgive me and my oh, so verbose writing.)

    Al Roker, despite his atrocious participation on early morning television,
    should not be to blame. After all, he is only following the insipid
    formula of his predecessor- his Caucasian counterpart- the ebullient
    buffoon known as Willard Scott !!!

    He is the real one to hate. His ridiculous laugh, his unnatural love of
    the aged, his equally useless weather reporting. He is an evil that
    should go the way of the Dodo!

    Your sister, however, has never heard of him in her life. I'm shocked by
    this. I mean, like him or not, I have always considered Willard Scott to
    be one of those ubiquitous, low grade television harlequins that every
    American recognizes.

    I hate his stupid mug. Always up in the camera like he's going to come
    through the screen and attempt to give me a slobbery kiss.

    Back wicked demon!! I rebuke thee!!!

    Anyway, we just wanted to know if you had ever heard of him.
    Awefully long email just to ask a simple question, eh?

    I am attaching a photograph of the offender that I'm sure you'll laugh at
    as much as we did.

    Love Always,
    -Max Ex Mick

    xoxo

    Re: Mephistopheles of Morning Television
    by echo

    Number 1: Do I have your permission to reprint this e-mail on the Internet?
    Number 2: Jennifer is insane. She knows who Willard Scott is. Her memory
    has to be jogged in some way unkown to me, for at the moment, I, too am
    stoned. Therefore the run-on sentence thing is getting out of hand.
    (This is why I write things over and over. Jenn thinks it's funny that I
    proofread my e-mails and often go through drafts, etc. I AM A WRITER.
    WELL, I DO THAT. Just as I can be verbose. Something you & I have in
    common.

    Let's get back to Willard Scott. I know he started it, but can you be
    more specific about what it is that triggers such emotion in you? When
    Hammond's brain finally clicks and she recognizes who we're talking about,
    I'm sure she'll have a very passionate stance on this matter.

    Damn if I'm proofreading this. No retyping, blah blah blah. My left arm
    still hurts from a certain incident that is just not worth going into.
    What I'm trying to type here is,

    I'll message you later,
    Love ya more than my luggage,
    Kara Lynn

    °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°
    the sky turns green
    where i end and you begin
    http://www.echoing.org
    °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°
  26. On Vox: QotD: The Main Cast
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 24 Apr 2007 | 2:37pm GMT
    View echo’s Blog

    Who are the most frequently mentioned people on your Vox blog? Submitted by Amirul B Ruslan.

    » Read more on Vox

  27. How appropriate.
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 15 Mar 2007 | 2:51pm GMT
  28. Merlin induces hysteria.
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 6 Mar 2007 | 7:44am GMT
    Last night, something terrifying happened to Merlin. His legs started giving out, causing him to fall several times.
    Boy, did he have us all upset (that includes Merlin himself).
    The first incident happened when I let him in from outside. As my mother and I watched in horror, he fell on his side and started kicking his legs hysterically to try to get back up. I can't really describe what it looked like. When he was able to right himself, he was scared - totally freaked out.
    Seeing that happen, along with his reaction, made everyone panic, which in turn made him even more nervous.

    Mom immediately thought it was an epileptic fit. I knew it was not. My beloved Boko, our late canine family member, had epilepsy. So I know an epileptic fit when I see one. This certainly was not - Merlin was quite aware of what was going on, his eyes weren't glazed, and the "fit" lasted much less than a minute. I can understand Mom wanting to label it as something familiar...
    If it wasn't epilepsy, what the hell was wrong with his legs?
    He seemed to be asking us the same question.
    Arthritis? Did he get hurt outside? Are we going to have to get a dog wheelchair? Because I totally would. If he ever needs one of those, he's getting it.
    He was clearly uncomfortable. He wouldn't lay down, stand or sit still for long. He kept moving around to test his legs. This caused more falls.

    On the advice of a veterinarian (not his), we gave him some baby aspirin. (Boko had arthritis as well, and we used to give him aspirin.)
    He started to feel better. He was also getting tired, and that kept him from moving around so much.

    We took him to his vet today. She got a good look at how he was walking and acting (taking into account the adrenaline rush he gets when he goes there), took his temperature and discovered he has a fever.
    She thinks it's a virus, and that it's making his body ache. There's also a chance that he slipped outside - it's been pretty icy.
    He is now on two prescriptions; she's holding off on doing blood work and other tests to see if he responds to the medication.
    Already he seems to be feeling a bit better. Best of all, he isn't falling all over the place.
    We're to call the doctor tomorrow and the next day to keep her apprised of the situation.

    It's working so far, but we can tell he doesn't feel well. My poor baby :(

    I was kind of bracing myself for the worst. I cannot express in words how relieved I am. He's sick, but it's something treatable, something non-fatal. Phew.

    I'm telling you right now:
    I LOVE MY MERLIN SO MUCH, I CANNOT HANDLE LOSING HIM.
  29. Tick, tick, tick, tick.... Call 911!
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 12 Feb 2007 | 12:30am GMT
    I'm having a horrible day, physically speaking. I phoned my mother, who was downstairs, from my bedroom. I was trying to relax in bed, but I had to ring Mom to give her a list of items I need from the store.

    During our conversation, she yelled, "HEY!" followed by the unmistakable noise of Merlin moving the kitchen table about.
    "The dog's moving the table. I know why he's doing it."
    She went on to explain that one of the burners on our gas stove was continuously ticking. Normally they make that clicking noise when the pilot light is going to ignite the flames. I don't know about you, but that sounds to me like gas was be steadily distributed into the air.
    Mom was so blase about the whole thing. Obviously none of this concerned her in the slightest.

    I got off the phone with her, called Jennifer to order her downstairs to investigate and possibly alert someone of this potentially explosive situation.

    Jenn came running back up to tell me to get fully dressed, we'd probably have to go outside. I went to the top of the steps and immediately smelled something. (Maybe that was all in my head, but I definitely detected an odor that was awfully gas-like in nature.)
    After yelling this out, I proceeded quickly to the kitchen to check things out for myself. Mom had gone ahead and lit the offending burner, which I suppose would keep gas from filling up the house.
    The dog was acting very nervous.
    He knows when something isn't right. He was trying to warn us, for Christ's sake! That's why he was moving the table; it was his way of getting this message across.

    Mom, on the other hand, was sitting there as if nothing was wrong. She even blamed Merlin's anxiousness on me, and told me to put him outside - not for safety's sake, but to stop him from pacing, shoving the table, etc.
    She also told me something I previously did not know. This has happened to the oven before!

    I started opening windows and doors for fresh air. Jenn & I were quite upset, questioning Mom, pointing out why this was such an extreme safety violation.
    Interspersed among all of this were my pleas to Jennifer to call someone.
    "Call someone! You have to call someone!"
    She asked me for the phone number to the fire department. The phone book only has 911 listed for fire-related incidents. Though she didn't want to call 911 for this, it was our only choice.
    Mom didn't want anyone to be called, remained nonchalant and kept trying to convince us that things were fine, we're overreacting. I should qualify that: she was indifferent about the stove, but vehemently against any sort of authority making a visit.

    Furthermore, she started closing the windows and demanded I shut the front door because "we're not heating the neighbourhood!"

    Jenn phoned 911.
    Meanwhile, Mom lit a cigarette in the kitchen! She could have blown up the place!

    I returned to the front door and held it open. I saw a firetruck approaching...

    A cute fireman came into the house to inspect the stove. He was followed by a man in a special uniform and hat. I can only assume he was in charge or perhaps some kind of fire inspector as I was too concerned about the ticking stove to get a good look at his uniform. Or to submit queries unrelated to the matter at hand.

    The two men checked everything for us. It turns out there wasn't a gas leak.
    They unplugged the oven to make it stop ticking. Special Uniformed Hat Man took a lighter and waved it around different areas of the oven to prove we aren't in danger of an explosion and/or fire.
    As he did this, Jenn stepped back. He said, "Gee, you're not very trusting, are you?"
    Forgive us, sir, we were raised by a Safety Director. Things going up in flames always seemed imminent, what with all the warnings Dad imparted throughout our lives.

    Mom couldn't believe we didn't trust her judgment regarding the burner not being a potentially lethal problem.

    While the firefighters were here, they voiced something that Jenn and I know quite well, whether Mom wants to take it to heart or not.
    It's better to be safe than sorry.

    Damn straight!
  30. A Peach Card
    Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren. | 2 Jan 2007 | 7:19pm GMT
    This is going to come out wrong due to my current state of mind. I feel apologetic about it because I wish my words would be a fitting tribute of some sort...

    Peaches, it's my uncle's name. He's actually my great uncle and we never called him "Uncle Peaches" - just Peaches, everyone called him Peaches.

    He was a simple man. He was a great artist. For every special occasion he would create a personal card just for you. The back of it always had the date with his card signature:
    A Peach Card


    When I was a young girl, I loved Unicorns and Pegasuses. I thought I was the first person to come up with the idea of the two merged into one, a Unisus or a Pegacorn.
    Peaches made me a poster with the four animals - a unicorn, a pegasus and because I couldn't decide what to name the mixed breed, a pegacorn and a unisys. What a fond memory I have of him.

    Peaches died just after Christmas. The viewing is today.

    My favourite memory of him is the time he said this to me, without any prompts and after I hadn't seen him in a while: "I don't care what anybody says about you, I still love you."
    He said it because he wanted me to know it, that regardless of all of the bullshit happening in our family, he wasn't against me personally, and wasn't choosing sides. His feelings condensed to one simple sentence that spoke volumes and meant a lot to me. It still does.

    He was one of the good ones.
  31. ---> echoic.livejournal.com
    this is how I come and go | 5 Oct 2006 | 5:32pm GMT
    Back in January of '05, I opened another one of these babies here at livejournal.
    It can be found here: echo_la_lia

    I keep this around for archival purposes.

    Just thought you should know.

    cheers,
    e
  32. Memories Fade
    this is how I come and go | 23 Dec 2005 | 7:17am GMT
    I'm going to post this everywhere. Found it on Trendwhore!Myspace.

    (Thanks to selenak for the "Description!Something" format, which I found here. I think I'll be using that a lot...)

    Leave one memory of you and I together as a comment--it doesn't matter if I know you a little or a lot, anything you remember. Don't write me, leave a comment. Next, repost this bulletin and see how many people leave a memory about you. Its actually pretty cool to see the responses.

    -- that was written by someone else.

    Here are my remarks:

    Make me remember anything; my memory sucks. How we met, something funny we did together, the "time we...", whatever you can think of.
    Besides, this is pretty cool. So do it. Do it now.
  33. my purse, which can also be used as a weapon
    this is how I come and go | 4 Feb 2005 | 9:10am GMT
    I say that so often that I'm getting a bit restless. Although many purses (or bags, as some call them) may be used as defense mechanisms, mine are a cut above the rest. Currently I'm on #4, and my accessory arsenal continues to grow. But still no pursings to report! There has been mention of pursable offenses, however no-one seems to make good on their threats. Bastards.

    I want to use my purse as a weapon! I know it all sounds very violent. That's because it is. But you should see these babies. They have metal parts! Combination locks and keys! Straps and handles enabling one to 'handily' switch between close-up _and_ perimeter defense/offense positions!

    I should upload photos. Next up - my cd case, which can also be used as a weapon.
    See more progress on: use my purse, which can also be used as a weapon, as a weapon
  34. like a fish needs a bicycle.
    this is how I come and go | 4 Feb 2005 | 8:28am GMT
    I have always been a clumsy sort with very poor balance. For those and other certain reasons, I have never learned to ride a bike.
    There have been attempts, I assure you. They just always worked out terribly. Not being able to ride a bike is just silly, so one of my goals is to ride a bicycle footloose and fancy-free before I'm thirty.
    Then I can move on to another -cycle.
    See more progress on: learn to ride a bicycle
  35. PLEASE PRAY AND/OR SEND POSITIVE THOUGHTS FOR MY FATHER
    this is how I come and go | 31 Jan 2005 | 9:15pm GMT
    My father is going into hospital again tomorrow. He will spend the night there and the next day, he is going to have QUADRUPLE BYPASS SURGERY. He has a 75% chance of making it, but he believes that today is going to be his last day at home. His concern is obvious to me: fear of dying during the operation. I, too, am afraid. I know this sort of surgery is done all of the time, but it would really help if you could pray for him and/or send positive thoughts/vibes/feelings - whatever fits into your personal beliefs.

    I'm kind of a "religious freelancer"; I don't associate myself with any particular faith, but I do believe in a higher power (or powers). I also believe in the power of prayer, whether the person thinks of it as a "prayer" or not. For instance, if someone hopes for something, and I don't mean for a new car, money, or materialistic things - I mean for the important things in life. Like if you hope for someone to recover from an illness or for a friend to finally have the strength to leave an abuser - thoughts like that. I consider that a prayer.

    Prayer, wishes, hoping, thinking of someone - it really does help. I also know that everyone else who has been praying/hoping/thinking/wishing/etc.for the best has already helped.

    Thank you in advance,
    a very nervous echo.
  36. there are people out there like that
    this is how I come and go | 24 Jan 2005 | 12:36am GMT

    What is your weird quotient? Click to find out!
  37. Similar to the death clock; it's a fun quiz.
    this is how I come and go | 24 Jan 2005 | 12:23am GMT

    I am going to die at 58. When are you? Click here to find out!
  38. I'm a LOSER!!!
    this is how I come and go | 24 Jan 2005 | 12:16am GMT

    I am 88% loser. What about you? Click here to find out!
  39. The Nerd Facto
    this is how I come and go | 23 Jan 2005 | 11:38pm GMT

    I am nerdier than 45% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!
  40. AN OLD PEPSI SIGN!!!!!!!
    this is how I come and go | 23 Jan 2005 | 11:07pm GMT
    AN OLD PEPSI SIGN!!!

    Thank you, jennzah.