The Shape of Us and Imperfections

The Shape of Us is a beautiful song by Ian Britt, a yet-to-be-discovered British guitarist and singer. While Ian does a great job with the lyrics and the singing, the star of the song is a gorgeous acoustic guitar riff that plays in the background the whole time.

Now, if you listen carefully however, you’ll notice imperfections. As guitarists move their fingers on the strings for riffs like this, they make a scraping sound (listen to ~1:04 for example). If you listen for it, you’ll hear that sound through the song. And, if you haven’t listened for that scraping sound before, it is likely you’ll now hear it in most of your favorite acoustic guitar riffs.

That scraping sound is a natural side effect of playing gorgeous riffs on an acoustic guitar. Attempting to hide that imperfection or engineer that out would ruin the experience of listening to the acoustic guitar.

It turns out that playing to the guitar’s strengths by focusing on simple, melodious, music and accepting that a few imperfections come with the package is a recipe for creating magical music.

Somewhere in there is a learning for all of us.

Specific compliments

There’s a lot of focus on giving specific constructive feedback. Radical candor, etc., etc.

I believe there needs to be as much of emphasis on giving specific compliments. Don’t just say – “you did well” – help people understand what they did that resulted in the compliment.

A specific compliment is powerful because it can help point to a strength that the doer didn’t know of. For all our focus on eliminating weaknesses, weaknesses only avoid trouble.

It is our strengths that help us do work that matters.

 Pricing Amazon Web Services – The 200 words project

Here’s this week’s 200 word idea from The Everything Store by Brad Stone.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) allows entrepreneurs to plug into Amazons Servers and use it’s computing infrastructure. The AWS team wanted to price it with a traditional monthly/yearly rental system.

 But, CEO Jeff Bezos shifted the focus completely –

1. He decided to create an electric grid model where you pay 10c/hour of use. This was ridiculously cheap but he knew companies like Microsoft and Google wouldn’t want to play this game as it would constrict their generally high profit margins

2. He thus played to Amazon’s greatest strength – building large scale low margin businesses that attracted customers. He actively avoided what he considered Steve Jobs’ biggest mistake – making the iPhone so fantastically profitable that it attracted so much competition that ended up eating its market share. He believed high margins attracted competition while low margins attracted customers.

 When moving into a new territory/project, let’s channel Bezos and remember to play to our strengths.

 PS: The graph below illustrates this beautifully. Despite increasing revenues, has almost never made a profit – intentionally.

(If you look very closely, you can see that in 2010 the company accidentally made a profit. )
Source and thanks to: Benedict Evans’ blog

 ‘One thing is easy to agree on, though: competing directly with a company like this is very hard. ‘ | Benedict Evans on Amazon’s profit graph