Travel, Entrepreneurship and other Meaningful Pursuits

The best interview I’ve seen lately…

Filed under: Design,Startups — piotr @ 11:42 pm December 12, 2012
Jason Goldberg of was interviewed on TWiST (This Week in Startups). I highly recommend you watch it, if you are into design or startups.

The good stuff – 21 takeaways from the interview:
  1. One year is usually enough to decide, if you want to stick with what you’re doing. If the idea isn’t working, shut it down or pivot.
  2. Never give up, never give in! This doesn’t mean giving up on being an entrepreneur, but perhaps giving up on the idea for that one product.
  3. Find one thing you can be the best at in the world. DO THAT!
  4. It feels great to “arrive” at the idea that you want to devote the rest of your life to (flashbacks of DHH talking on TWiST about 37signals’ Basecamp/Highrise being his life’s best idea)
  5. The aim of Fab is to build a brand for the DECADES.
  6. Customers use 7-10 apps, daily. Can you make one of these apps?
  7. On Fab, every single product is picked by asking a question: “Will our customers love it?”, not on the revenue opportunity. This helps to build life-time relationship with customers.
  8. First sale on Fab is typically based on EMOTION.
  9. Jan 12 to Dec 12 – Fab grew from 1 to 10 million members
  10. Email alone accounts for 20% of site’s visits
  11. Up to 50% of sales come from Mobile.
  12. Cracking the code on mobile….Day-parting of user behaviour: Mobile in the morning, Web during the day, Tablet in the eve.
  13. Web browser experience is a more distracted one than mobile.
  14. You want to get something when using an app, don’t want to close until you get value form it.
  15. Fab wants to create a mobile experience to see – What’s on today, what popular, what my friends are buying?
  16. Two thirds (2/3) are repeat buyers. This stat helps when talking to Angels and VCs.
  17. Physical retail 95% of design products are bought in physical stored. Huge opportunity for disruption!
  18. Jason’s picks of well-designed apps: Kayak, Facebook and Twitter
  19. On Sawmer bros: you can copy the idea, but you can’t copy the relationships and the culture.
  20. On hiring and people management:
  • - Sometimes it doesn’t work out with your employees
  • - Treat your people well on the way in as well as way out
  • - Pattern recognition is useful to know how to handle stressful people / situations.
And finally…
21. Don’t get worked up by the little things. Work on the things you can control.


BONUS 1: How to decide what to do?  - Jason’s method:
Draw a circle, divide into three slices, answer these questions:
  • What is ONE thing you’re passionate about?
  • Is this something that that you can be the best in the WORLD at?
  • Is there a BIG market currently unaddressed?
Call it: “ONE BIG WORLD” == do ONE thing, be the best in the WORLD, address a BIG market/opportunity


BONUS 2: If you’ve found this interview interesting, you should also check out Jason’s superb “90-lessons learned”:


Hope this was useful to you,

Ze Frank’s Invocation for Beginnings

Filed under: Creativity — piotr @ 10:03 pm April 26, 2012

“Life isn’t just a sequence of waiting for things to be done”.

True say, Big Ze. True say!

John Cleese on Creativity [video+notes]

Filed under: Creativity — piotr @ 2:42 pm April 15, 2012

I have greatly enjoyed watching the very entertaining talk by John Cleese on Creativity.

Even if you’re in it only for the jokes, it’s worth 36 minutes of your life.

Seriously ;)


A few main takeaways from John’s talk:

1. Creativity is linked to the ability to Play.

2. People can be described in terms of two modes: Open and Closed.

Creativity is _not_ possible in the closed mode.

3. We mostly operate in the “closed” mode: filled with tention, purposeful, manic and not creative.

4. “Open” mood is marked by: being playful, less serious, relaxed, curious, etc.

5. Alexander Flemming discovered penicillin in the “open” mode – he became curious why the bacterial culture did not grow in one of the Petri dishes.

6. Hitchcock often used to tell random stories to relax people around him, claiming they tried too hard.

7. We need to be in the “open” mode when pondering a problem.

8. Once we find a solution, we must switch to the “close” mode – because it’s the best for “exectution” [Potr: this reminds me of key ideas on innovation and creativity from "Innovators Dilemma" by Clayton C. - great read BTW]

9.  We too often get stuck in the “closed” mode, attaining a tunnel vision. This is particularly prevalent among politicians.


How many psychiatrist does it take to change the light bulb?

Only one…but the light bulb really needs to change.


10. The are conditions under which creativity can be released.

To attain the “open” mode you require:



- You need to create space for your creativity to flourish.



- Pick a specific start and end time to your “creative” time. This will help you to seal yourself off from distractions.

- Play is secluded and marked by limitedness.

- Create an oasis for yourself by setting the boundaries of space and time. Become separate from everyday life just for a few moments.

- It’s easier to do trivial things which are not important, that to do important things. Therefore, clear off unimportant distractions.

- It takes some time for your mind to quiet down. 30 minutes is not enough for your creative time.

- Cleese suggest about 1 1/2 hour sessions.

- Take a break (e.g. for a week).

- Learn to tolerate the anxiety that



- Take your time to ponder on the most creative solution.

- When confronted with a problem, do NOT jump into the first solution. Stick with the problem for longer.

- The most creative proffesional played longer with the problem.

They were able to tollerate the slight discomfort of anxiety when we haven’t solved the problem yet.

- Don’t create an image of yourself as being “decisive” just for the sake of it. Coming with the solutions on the spot.

- Take your time to ponder the most creative solution. Then take decission. Once you take it. Stick with it!

- Give yourself MAXIMUM PONDERING TIME. This will lead you to the most creative solution.

- You don’t have to decise IMMEDIATELY.

- Give your TIME as long as possible to COME UP with something ORIGINAL.



- Nothing will stop your creativity time like the fear of being wrong or the fear your failure.

- You can’t be spontaneous withing reason.”

- You have to risk saying things which are silly, illogical, wrong.

- During your creative time, there is never any idea that can be “wrong”.



- Laughter brings relaxation.

- The difference between Serious vs. Solemn.

- What is the point of “solemnity”? Egotism? Pompousness? Laugh in the face of it! You don’t need it.

- Humour inspires and makes things cathartic.



Again. 5 things you need are:





an more Jeffery Archer!


11. Keep your mind resting against the subject. Gently bringing it back into focus. Take your time to ponder the problem.

And you’ll be rewarded :)


12. It’s easy to be creative if you have other people to play with.

There is a danger though…avoid playing with people who make you feel defensive.

Play with people who you like and trust.


Never, ever negate what they say.Never say “no” or “wrong” or “I don’t like that”.

Always be positive. And build on what’s been said.


Instead, say:

“Would it be even better if…?”

“I don’t quite understand that…can you just explain it again?”

“Go on!”

“What if?”

“Let pretend…”

Try to establish as free an atmosphere as possible.


13. Japanese creativity – unstructured, lack of pressure, first people to give their views are the most junior  - they can speak freely without contradicting what’s already been said by those more important.

14. Creativity is like humour…In a joke, the laugh comes at  a moment when you connect two frames of reference.

15. Having a new idea is connecting to separate ideas that creates a NEW MEANING.

16. New connections are significant if they generate a new MEANING.

17. When you play, you can try randomly invent new juxtapositions. Then use your intuition to sense which are significant or meaningful.

18. Deliberately crazy connections can be called “intermediate impossibles”.

However stupid or wrong or absurd they seem, they are the stepping stones to an idea that is right.

If you really don’t know how to start or you get stuck , start generating random connections that may lead to some new ideas.


19. Finally: how to stop your subordinates from being creative.

Treat all humour as trivial or subversive.

Keeping ourselves feeling irreplaceable keeps everyone down…

Demand that people should be doing things all the time. Pondering leads to creativity.

Keep that moat closed.

So on and on ;)



Scaling Facebook Game to 1 Million daily users

Filed under: Technology — piotr @ 8:19 pm April 11, 2012

Jesper Richter-Reichhelm of Wooga (Facebook games maker) shares the lessons he learned in scaling their game platforms to handle millions of users. Wooga’s game, called Monster World, is currently heading for 2 million daily users. Veeery impressive!

I aplaude their choice of Ruby language for running the backend logic and interfacing with Flash front-end and MySQL database(s).

I was also happy to learn how they’d overcome MySQL scaling issues. HINT: they used a (now hugely) popular in-memory key-value store called Redis.

Redis is an awesome piece of technology, and in hindsight, seems like a perfect fit for a high-throughput / mega-popular Facebook game like Monster World.

Sounds interesting to you ??? The full video is here for your pleasure.

We Are Stardust

Filed under: Random,Society,Technology — piotr @ 9:17 pm March 16, 2012

Where did we come from? I find the explanation that we were made in stars to be deep, elegant, and beautiful. This explanation says that every atom in each of our bodies was built up out of smaller particles produced in the furnaces of long-gone stars. We are the byproducts of nuclear fusion. The intense pressures and temperatures of these giant stoves thickened collapsing clouds of tiny elemental bits into heavier bits, which once fused, were blown out into space as the furnace died. The heaviest atoms in our bones may have required more than one cycle in the star furnaces to fatten up. Uncountable numbers of built-up atoms congealed into a planet, and a strange disequilibrium called life swept up a subset of those atoms into our mortal shells. We are all collected stardust. And by a most elegant and remarkable transformation, our starstuff is capable of looking into the night sky to perceive other stars shining. They seem remote and distant, but we are really very close to them no matter how many lightyears away. All that we see of each other was born in a star. How beautiful is that?

by Kevin Kelly, We Are Stardust

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again

Filed under: Random — piotr @ 9:37 am December 15, 2011

It’s not about the tools you use…

Filed under: Random — piotr @ 11:46 am December 6, 2011

I am fascinated

by the simplicity and the beauty of

Piet Mondrian’s art.

Bold bright colours emanate from his paintings,

Strange uneven rhythms  put simple rectangles and squares into hypnotic motion,

The simplest and most overused building blocks take on a life of their own.

I am drawn in and let it take me for an art-ride…


Excel Rhythms after Piet Mondrian by Piotr Zuralski

Excel Rhythms after Piet Mondrian by Piotr Zuralski


Enjoyed my attempt at Excel Art? Feel free to share it with the world.


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