The day the *hobbies* died. Bye, bye thanks-to-America-Online…. (To the tune of American Pie)

One way to notice change is to notice the words people use to talk about changes. The online shopping of the 90s became just shopping. The online banking of the 00s became just banking. The online dating of the 10s became just dating. The online communities of the 20s, well you see where it’s going.

“The Internet has just killed hobbies. They’re dead. They’re gone. The concept doesn’t exist. The concept of ‘having a hobby’ died at the exact same time as the concept of ‘going online’. This was a phrase you heard constantly from 1994 to 2005. You get home and you ‘go online’. The big company was AOL, America ‘online’. Around the mid-2000s people stopped ‘going online’. Why? Because we were online all the time. The idea of not being online is now the weird thing.” – Marc Andreessen, CSPI podcast, August 2021

I remember this! You got home from school and you signed into instant messenger and entered the Yahoo euchre room. Good times good times.

Having a modifier doesn’t mean something will become the new thing, but it does mean it’s different and may be worth our attention. A few others: autonomous driving, crypto currency, digital wallet, online learning, distance education, internet friend, gig economy.

This time is different happens with technology changes and the descriptions offer a cutting edge hint.

The itty-bitty-shitty-committee

The itty-bitty-shitty-committee is that voice in your head. It’s the chatter.

“The chatter is the zooming in really narrowly on a problem and getting stuck and spinning over and over in ways that are dysfunctional and destructive. We want to get rid of the chatter that gets in the way of your job, your relationships. and your physical health.” – @Ethan_Kross on Armchair Expert

I’ve been in that loop, in that cartoon whirlpool. I’m the bumbling sea captain. I see it. I try to avoid it. I can’t get out of my own way. Which is kind of wild, being the captain of this ship of one. Kross suggests reframing during rough seas.

It’s not a free bag, it’s a bag that’s been paid for. It’s not a free coffee, it’s a free coffee that’s been paid for. I used to advise college students that anytime they saw the word FREE on campus they could interpret that as “Your tuition pre-paid this for you.”

Time is also a good way to reframe a situation. Do I remember a situation like this from three years ago? No. Then I probably won’t remember this one three years from now. This kind of framing was especially good when my daughters were young. My wife used this too only her mantra was: this too shall pass.

Kross’s specific suggestions echoes Jenna Fischer‘s career advice. Fischer said she looks at herself as the CEO and the product. The boss Fischer said that headshots had to be done by a professional. The talent Fischer had to tell her photographer friend.

“Distance self-talking involves coaching yourself through a problem using your own name like you’re talking to someone else. We are much better at advising other people than ourselves…when we use a name to talk to ourself it changes the perspective, it’s a psychological jujitsu move.” – Kross

That’s incredible reframing. And it works!

If we remember. Usually when someone cuts us off on the road they’re an idiot. When we do it it’s because we’re late. Maybe that’s part of it. We see things differently when the information changes and a simple switch in internal dialogue can create big switches outside in our actions.


Dax Shepard and Kross talk about the IBSC around 31:20. The distant self-talk reframing is known as Solomon’s paradox.

Profession-problem-solving

The doctor solves problems by triage, prioritizing ailments.

The electrician solves problems sequentially, following the flopping electrons.

The athlete solves problems by focus, working on one-part of their craft.

The lawyer solves problems by history, finding the precedent.

The marketer solves problems by magic, directing the audience’s attention.

The banker solves problems contractually, creating a structure for future events.

The child solves problems novelly, doing without knowing.

The researcher solves problems by legibility, collecting and categorizing.

The engineer plays 3-D Sudoku, considering constraints of the world.

The artist solves problems via subtracting, removing what doesn’t move ya.

The sales agent solves problems with empathy, finding what a buyer wants.

The venture capitalist solves problems backward, asking ‘what leads to this?’

Most of these are speculative. Though individual answers may be wrong the broader point is not. There are a variety of ways to solve problems and sometimes a new point-of-view is worth more than forty IQ.

Zombie revenue

One tenant of jobs to be done is that people tend to be not great at articulating the scope of a purchase. For instance, in early June 2021 the lumbar support on my car seat broke. There are no plans to fix it, and this deficit will be some kind of non-zero explanation for when it’s time to get a new car. Will I reason with this later? Unlikely.

JTBD exists in these moments. One moment is when users hack a product. For instance 60 jail broken iPhone features became part of the iPhone. Or even Instagram, lauded for the design choices, drew from teenage boys taking screenshots of solid colors, adding text, and posting as the first polls.

Another according to JTBD father Bob Moesta is zombie revenue. Gym subscribers may make their model work but other businesses can find future fruitful funds in dead accounts. Basecamp, Moesta said, noticed that archived projects were zombie revenues. Customers didn’t need to manage something but they did need to access it and Basecamp created something for them.

Source: Bob Moesta
Full JTBD post.

Incentivizing outcomes or optics?

These circles overlap to some degree in every situation. A minimal overlap situation might be the coder who wears sliders and hoodies and the banker who wears suits and slacks.

Outcome (noun): something which matters, is measured and measurable. Examples: sabermetrics, code, sales.

Optics (noun): something which might matter, however is unmeasured and unmeasurable. Examples: appearance, attention, cultural expectations..

Things which are difficult to measure will be evaluated by optics. In these conditions it’s best to maximize optics.

Things which are easy to measure will be optimized on their measured quantities. In these conditions it’s best to optimize.

Spring 2020 definitions

These definitions are a series.

If you really study it”. (expression) a signal someone hasn’t changed their mind but is willing to capitalize on the current trend.

Assumption (noun): To make a theory into a law. This is not an issue because of Moore’s Law.

Middleman (noun). (1) the person who facilitates a transaction (2) the person screwing you in a transaction (3) the previous person who screwed you in a transaction, not this new innovator, no-sir not this new person, I will NOT ever complain about this new person.

Sludge Audit (verb). Evaluating the red-tapes, hoops, and frictions in a process. I’m going to batch these customer feedbacks and see if there’s a theme, then I’ll conduct a sludge audit to see how our processes can be improved.

Performance architecture (noun). The design of “structures to make better decisions and perform at optimal levels.” The last thing I do each day is write in my decision journal because it’s part of my performance architecture.

Crash (verb). A drastic change in the market with negative effects due to one’s time horizons. The market crash means Bob won’t be able to retire in two years. See also: Correction.

Correction (verb). A drastic change in the market with neutral effects due to one’s time horizons. The market correction means Alice will be buying more Bitcoin and hodling. See also: Crash.

Franchise Fees (noun). Customer acquisition cost. Chipotle for example..

Jason Zweig (unknowingly) turned my attention towards this idea. His book is The Devil’s Financial Dictionary.

Influential Words

Could: a verb used for clicks as in, this <insert news> could have these economics effects on your portfolio.

More: a pronoun used to show relative position, though the original may not be stated, as in, Laura got more for her money at Herr’s.

Deal: a noun used to show relative rather than absolute spending. As in, I got a great deal on my new SUV.

Largest increase or fastest growing: an adverb/verb combination demonstrating increase in a small group. As in, pickleball is America’s fastest growing sport. Antonym: Large N, small p.

The theme here is relativity. People are relative thinkers; see corporate greed or cheating college. Words matter because they frame our approach. Listen closely. Consider the focus. Do the words hint at who was at fault? If this were a movie why is this the script? Need to change how people understand something, or apply some extreme ownership?

Part of the reasons pickleball IS so fast growing is my participation. Thanks too to Tim for a conversation long ago that planted this seed.