Category Archives: Blatant self promo

A Chat with Petsa Unt

Around a year ago, Petsa Unt gave me a call to ask for a meeting. I agreed and we sat over lunch while Petsa described a new idea. That idea was to start a business.

Errr … stop yawning!

Not just any business, but a lifestyle business that is devoted to taking used wood products and turning them into furniture. At first, I was not persuaded that this would work. After all, Petsa had a good job and he has a family with kids. Wasn’t he taking a big risk?

But Petsa persuaded me that there was something to this. There is the environmental thing — to re-use wood rather than throw it away — and there is the fun thing too. To figure out ways to use that discarded product to create fun new products.

Piet Hein Eek has been doing this sort of thing for a while.  Here is a piece by Piet

Image result for Piet Hein Eek

Interesting! And there are lots of others who are dabbling in this.

So I pitched a project to Petsa. I showed him a space in my house that needs a new bookcase. And I said, “Go to it!” He has been doing just that.

The first step was to renovate an old shed where he could do his work. That took a while, but he finished it a few months ago. And since then, Petsa has been developing the design of my new bookcase.

I went over to his workshop today — which btw, is very cool — to discuss a few design details. And Petsa said he thinks he can get the project done in early April!

Very cool! I will be posting on this and will offer pics when we get there. For the time being, it is a fun adventure!



A Peek at the Web of the Future

In my presentation on Friday here in Tartu via a “Legal hackers” event, I tried to lay out a few things that we know about the web.Here they are

  • the web is MORE essential as a work tool than as an entertainment system
  • It is especially important in accelerating the process of innovation
  • in its current form, we lack dynamic innovation geared towards web services upgrade
  • we can re-architect the web that will give us the dynamism that we need

That is why I am interested in blockchain and crypto. And I was pleased to see Fred Wilson lay this out in a nice slide deck.

If you are interested in how the web will look in five years, check out the link.

Errr … and enjoy your sunday!

Back in Tartu, and Yet Another Presentation

What fun! I zoomed up to Tallinn yesterday to give a presentation to a bunch of lawyers, tech folks, entrepreneurs and regulators on how the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is trying to clamp down on crypto token launches (ICO’s). We had a blast!

No time to rest. I am back in Tartu and today will toddle over to the law faculty to give a presentation on why “decentralization” in the internet is important.

Why talk about this? Consider whether Facebook — one of the most powerful web based platform — is actually enabling you to add value to your life. Is it innovative? Most folks would answer “not really”.  Why not? Can we do better?  I think so!

have a great weekend!

Quick Trip to Tallinn

I will be heading out shortly to Tallinn to give a presentation today. FYI, I will take the train – the best way to go! And I will head back to Tartu after I do my blah, blah, blah, with perhaps a bit of time to stop at the Gloria for some soup and a glass of wine before hand.

What is is all about? It is about the regulation of crypto markets in the US and what Estonia can learn from that. That might sound a bit dry, but I will be doing my best to keep everyone awake with fun stories.

Why is this a big deal? If Estonia is to prosper, we need to be learning how to identify and adapt new technologies to cutting edge business models. Blockchain is such a new technology. We get the capacity, but are not so clear on its best uses. So there is lots to learn!

I will report on this when I get back later today!


Want to Multitask? Here is how to do it!

The word “multitasking” has been used to describe doing two or more things at the same time. Juggling lots of balls, so to speak, with none of them falling.

Of  course, the exhortation to do this is dangerous. Why? Just think of the juggling example. The juggler keeps all the balls in the air by focusing on one task only. He is not multitasking at all. He is single-tasking so that completing the task has multiple effects.

And we know that the brain has limits on how much input it can take in per unit of time. So the more focus points you try to track in different tasks, the less well you will be able to track them. This famous simulation demonstrates that idea.

In fact, we do not want to be nearing our capacity limits. That reduces the impact of our giving our precious attention. We want to do the opposite, and get more out of the focus that we can access.

But how? There is a rather simple thought experiment that can help you on this path. Think of something that gives you great pleasure or pain. Notice that that thing induces attention on a single thing to the exclusion of other things. When you think of your true love, you probably are not also thinking of taking out the garbage. or doing your taxes.  The absorption has an exclusive effect.

That is how we get stuck on a single task. We allow it to dominate our attention.  Like when we are learning to dive into a pool, we could not help but focus on the idea of losing control of our balance. To avoid that we can embrace a principle.

No single thing has more value than the next thing after it. The connections between things should be our focus point.

So while I am typing out this post, I am thinking that I will finish washing the dishes next. While am finishing the dishes? I will decide then what my next task shall be. Try to keep the tasks as short as possible. If a task is too big, I will break it into pieces  that are more manageable.

As you do this, you will find that you have more “initiation energy“. You also may be able to generate more “flow” (an absorption in doing stuff, as one experiences in games). As you feel these higher energy levels, you will get a spill over effect – more positive emotions, more peace of mind, and more clarity about your spiritual dimension.

But — beware of overdoing it! One you are activated, the temptation is to stay activated That is great for pick up basketball games But doing a full active day, you need to pace yourself. That means knowing when to stop and rest and knowing how to rest. If you ant more on that, check out Jim Loehr who makes a living coaching CEO’s, sports stars, and others on how to manage energy. According to Loehr, humans are nothing more than fully integrated, multi-dimensional energy systems. Energy is the construct that unites all approaches to performance.

Avoid the other trap — trying to map out a list of too many things to do. The list will overwhelm you, and soon you will discard it. Just two are enough to get multitasking right.

Remember: Not two at the same time, but two in a row.

And if you get interrupted? For example, while I am going to the kitchen, perhaps I notice that I forgot to put the wash in the dryer? I can choose to take a detour, with the dishes coming up after, or the other way around. That is up to me. But I will get trapped in neither and keep moving forward through the day.

BTW, the same goes for thinking (a type of doing). No single idea is worth your focus for long. The value of that idea has to be tested by asking what it leads to next. What connections does it offer? The more you look for connections, the more connections you will see.

This is a skill, not a talent. You get better at it the more your practice.



Get Out Your Flags, Estonia Lovers!

Errr … to be more precise, I meant lovers of Estonia!

Today i sour 100th birthday! One hundred years from our first independence day!

As former US Ambassador Lawrence Taylor said, it is unusual that countries get a second chance at independence. We got our first in 1918 through a war of independence. We then lost it during the Second World War. But we got it back in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. And we are not looking back! We are using that second chance to the utmost!

It is a great day for all of us, and perfect Estonian winter weather! Crisp air, sun shining, snow on the ground and nestled in the evergreen trees!

My flag is out!

And I am thinking of the next hundred years! Do we have a great future? More important, will we use the resources that we have most wisely to make that future great? That is a challenge that I want to be part of meeting!

Onward! And raise a glass for us, no matter where you are or who you are!  I will be doing that at 2 parties this afternoon. Looks like a sleep in opportunity tomorrow morning!

Would You Reveal Your Content Consumption Strategy?

In the old days, that meant reading the newspaper, or if you were a bit nutty, perhaps two or three newspapers each day. I.F. Stone (a famous lefty investigative journalist in his day) used to do that, and cut out articles for future use. In those days, “cut and paste” literally meant cutting out stuff with scissors and pasting them to pieces of paper.

Things have changed quite a lot since then. Internet now produces a flood of content every day, which is potentially useful, and certainly highly distracting. Moreover, we are told that the higher volume  of exchanges that take place using shared information, is accelerating  learning. So there is more pressure to keep up — or drop out.

That changes one’s perspective on “content  consumption” and learning in general. Fred Wilson offers his expert advice on how he manages content consumption through his “routines”. Very useful!

Fred’s writes

I have a very strong bias to read/watch/listen to things that I know nothing about. I can go deep if I need to but I would prefer to be a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of what I know about.

He can do this because Fred has a powerful filter. His profession (venture capital) is all about sifting through lots of data to find things of potential value. That means Fred is very comfortable looking for new stuff as opposed to going deeply into a single topic.That gives him an intuitive sense of potential value. BTW, Fred also knows that going deeply into a single topic creates the risk of getting trapped within that topic — falling into a knowledge silo. In other words, he is looking more for the relationships between things than the ultimate meaning of a single thing.

I would call this an implicit strategy for filtering information to learn. Fred makes intuitive decisions about what interests him and what he can ignore. He does not get lost int he forest of data.

BTW, the link on I.F. Stone takes you to an old video where you will see Stone himself immediately reveal his filtering strategy for going through masses of content. He assumed that government routinely lies about what it is doing. Therefore one needs to search for clues (by going through masses of content) in order to get behind the lies and find the truth.

So what cognitive tools do you use to filter large amounts of data and learn? And using your filter, how do you select where to focus? Very good questions, I would say.

One last point — I agree with Fred about the need for humans to help direct you to where to focus rather than relying on tech to do that. He writes

Most importantly, I do not allow technology to drive what content I consume. I use Twitter but drop in and out of it occasionally to get a taste. I don’t drink from it’s fire hose. I let Google Now send me alerts but I understand they are filter bubbling me and mainly use it to make sure I see certain things. I have a Facebook account but have not actively used it since they went hostile on Twitter almost ten years ago.

Maybe some day technology will be able to do for me what humans can do, but today it is the exact opposite. Technology shows me things I already know about. Humans show me things I don’t know about.

I would add — and need to know about.