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numeriqlogo

Something New!

After months of work, today we finally submit our game to the App Store!

We put a lot into it, its just a start but I believe a good one. I can see great potential, I hope the world will agree with me.

It is also a very important trial for me, I always believed in gamifying education, this app will give me important clues on that direction.

The whole process of bringing the game together was a big lesson. I can see much better and appreciate the effort behind even what seems to be a very simple app.

The name of the game is NumerIQ. (www.numeriq.co)

Will be available in few weeks…

I love to build… This feeling is priceless…

Sadok Kohen

In truth, without deceit, certain and most veritable.

 

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Finishers and Completers, which one is you?

Finished and completed… Although the two words are synonymous to each other in the dictionary, there is a very distinctive quality that separates fundamentally their meaning.

Something that is finished is something depleted, something ended, there is nothing left. Something that is complete on the other hand is something that has all pieces together, something that is whole.

In a mathematical sense while finishing is a function that limits to 0 from 1, completing is a function that limits to 1 from 0.

Understanding this difference is also understanding two key character traits: The Finisher and The Completer.

The Finisher is focused, locked in. He is going to pursue his target to death. Once that target is terminated he is ready to move to the next. Not much questioning, the Finisher is a soldier, he works on absolutes. His features allow him to have the sharpest skills that allow him to finish the tasks at hand in the most efficient way.

The Completer is a visionary; he could not be able to move without seeing the whole picture first. His most preferred perspective is the birds eye view. While at work he would need to take few steps back every now and then to admire his creations, questioning their meaning on the grander scale of life. Very difficult in accepting orders, the Completer is an artist.
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Steve Jobs: The Übermensch

I teach you the Superman. Man is something that should be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?  All creatures hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and do you want to be the ebb of the great tide, and return to the animals rather than overcome man?  What is the ape to men? A laughing stock or a painful embarrassment. And just so shall man be to the Superman: a laughing stock or a painful embarrassment”. ~Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra

That is how I would describe Steve Jobs. The Man who always strives to overcome himself, to overcome its limitations. The Man who inspires by simply being himself, and doing what he does. A Man that simply cannot be overshadowed. The Man whose creations do not only inspire by the virtue of their creation but by awe to their potential. The Super-Man…

I could not have written it better:

“I love him who lives in order to know, and seeks to know in order that the Superman may hereafter live.  Thus seeks he his own down-going.  I love him who labors and invents, that he may build the house for the Superman, and prepare for him earth, animal, and plant: for thus seeks he his own down-going”. ~Nietzsche

I love him… I will miss him… Rest in peace!

Sadok Kohen
“In truth, without deceit, certain and most veritable”

Lego_Kinder

Why we build? The dangerous mind of an engineer in love

It is very inspiring to see that year after year we see huge improvements in durability, design, efficiency and overall quality in almost every area of our consumer lives.

Be it a building, a service or a simple tool, everything that you can buy or utilize has been improved in many ways. Interestingly enough while the main driver of the improvement seems to be the economy and what they call the ‘free markets’, when you look closely you will see that the real visionaries, the paradigm changers, the pioneers of advancement never did this for the money. They did earn a lot of it, but it was only an end result never the goal.

It all starts in how we look at things. There are people that look and remain in awe and get intimidated, there are people that look and do not get it so they stone what they see either in malice or jealousy, there are people that look and try to copy but never quite get it right and always stay behind… There are many kind of people, that look but do not see. And then there are this other people, the people who see something and they immediately try to think on how it could be done better. They see every problem as a challenge, an opportunity to evolve…

This is why, this is how we create. This is why regardless of our economy, regardless of any political regime or regulation, evolution will never stop.

Mark Zuckerberg commented on the movie “the Social Network” by saying:

“They just can’t wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things.”

I do not only agree completely but think that it is more then liking, it is a crave, it is “love” to build… the same crave and love that created the Universe, after all whatever or whoever created the Universe, into the face of Darwin, was clearly an “Engineer in love”!

Sadok Kohen
“In truth, without deceit, certain and most veritable”

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Building Momentum: The excruciating wait

It is one of the most difficult times in business. You have done the hard part of building something great and now is in the wild, getting some traction.

You are not nearly done though and as one part of you wants to build more, you need to have focus on germinating the first seedlings, grow your first fruits and do your first harvest so that you can have better knowledge of your current production quality and optimize it for the second round.

Now while building and optimizing you realize you are growing and your maintenance needs are increasing exponentially. You can’t do it all yourself anymore. You need more people, and you need the best, which are always very hard to find.

As you gain more traction you realize this energy building up at the core of your venture. It is like a shining globe radiating spikes of light in every direction but you know that it is not ready to let loose.

This is a point of no return, you either need to feed it for it to grow or it will die away. On the other hand it is so fragile that you also need to build a structure to contain it. It can self implode or disperse in the air if you don’t…

And you just know that if you succeed, one day this energy will be stable and big enough that it will start feeding itself and will not need to be contained anymore. Until then, the wait is excruciating.

That gentle rumbling sound of the vibrations emitted from the sphere, like the heartbeats of a baby in an incubator: relaxing and horrifying at the same time…

Like every caring father, I need to tend to it with patience, love, care and faith… I am sure it will grow to become this incredible creature!

Sadok Kohen
“In truth, without deceit, certain and most veritable”

android-fragmentation

Open Letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt

Dear Eric,

It is only with respect and awe that I can express my appreciation in regards to all the various technological improvements that you brought into our lives in a way that is changing the way we live in a very fundamental way. I am so glad to see that you are not limiting yourself to the internet, but that you are bringing your problem solving skills to areas that many wouldn’t even dare challenge.

While most of the focus on the mobile market is about the competition you have against Apple, I clearly understand that for you Android is simply a platform enabling you to bring the innovation you have done for the web to our daily lives in a more personal and intimate way. Given the mobile OS options already in the market were not nearly robust enough for your standards and the iOS being closed your only option was to build your own. I can also understand your focus on reach over standardization. But I think you have tip toed your way around the question about OS fragmentation.
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Why employees should be traded as football players, including salary cap!

We live in a corporate world but capitalism is just a word, somewhere down the line somebody gave a total new meaning to it, here is a brief history:

Corporates where born as a necessity of traders specializing in different crafts, providing services to each other basing the value of their service according to supply and demand. Monarchs at that time, afraid of loosing control over wealth production, put into place some laws that would shape the history of human kind: they passed a law enabling them to monopolize industries. They then became partners of the companies they exclusively gave right to operate…

I am not going to discuss here the many implications of these acts. You can read more in Life Inc. a great book, but what I want to focus on how this have shaped the employer and the employee in today’s world.

Companies granted favors from governments are generally led by unscrupulous owners who’s main focus is never to do the job as good as they can but their only goal is the accumulation of wealth and power, for the sake of wealth and power, on the other hand this is the only way monarchies knew how to operate and it is only natural that this would be what the corporate world inherited from them.

This wealthy employer needs employees in order to operate so he triggers another inherited vice: exploitation… He has the exclusive right to produce a paycheck, therefore the real craftsmen have to sell their services not to the value of demand but at the mercy of “the” supplyer!

With time craftsmen loose their craft, employers loose their wealth, employees learn the rules to become new employers, employees adapt their expectations and from craftsman they become mare operators… In the meanwhile the original employer finds a way to once and for all control the “source” of wealth: the central banks are created. He is unaware of having created a Monster!

Controlling the money output and loaning it to the markets in exchange of production makes what was a zero sum game a time bomb… The only way for this system to work was turning producers into everlasting consumers! You know how that story went…

So now what we have is not even the original “employer” anymore but the corporate “machine”, feeding off of consumption and needing more and more. This beast, as all creatures, has basic survival instincts and in order to survive it created for itself the perfect environment to keep at bay the human intellect: standardized education, centralized mass media, distractions of all sorts, the illusion of scarcity and many many more enchantments.

Today we live as zombies, employers and employees all together… Our time has a value set by arbitrary salaries or revenues that reflect the needs of production and not the value of our real human capital. There is no direct incentive for the employee in most places to do better and no incentives for the employer to want their employees to become better.  Biggest business deals are still done by networking, by pulling favors or in lamer terms by kissing ass…

Inheritance is the original sin!

I cannot reverse all this, none of us can. The machine is too big now, very few of us took the red pill, and yet even we still love the taste of a great steak. I have a suggestion though:

There are many things we can learn from sports: Team spirit, discipline, drive, commitment, love, fairness and many many more. It is like we really could save the sports from the faith of human mediocrity. With sports there are traits in player trading and league management that could easily be applied to the corporate world that could lead to human beings relinquishing control over the machines.

Having the best player during his time on the team and the value of creating an asset that later could be traded for money or an equal valued player is a good deal for both sides. This allows the team (the employer) to look at players (employees) as a long term investment and a direct asset of the team (company). Now the better the players the better the team, the better all the teams the better the league (world)…

The only thing that needs to be done in order to understand the value of employees as clearly as players is setting more transparent goals. We know a player’s value for the team because we watch him doing things, we keep statistics, we see him grow, win, loose… See his commitment, his performance under duress… We need to find ways to show and keep track of this things in the corporate world as well. But isn’t this what most best selling success books tell us ? Set your goals, follow trough, be accountable, get feedback, be a team player, review your goals, adjust, succeed… It definitely could be done.

But how to prevent a team of getting all the good players just because it inherited more money, had an early start or simply knows the right people ? Well, in most places including Europe they didn’t and therefore they have unbalanced leagues where the wealthy teams strive and the poor just crawl. Sounds familiar ? We do have a solution though called drafting and salary cap. This is what makes franchises like the NFL or the NBA successful for so many years. It is really hard to monopolize success with this set of rules and the good thing is that the competition is so fierce, the incentives to succeed so high that the only way the quality of the game can go is only up.

Watch the quality of these leagues, you can clearly see a huge improvement every year. It demands perfection and commitment from every player, just the way it should be.

So why don’t we run our industries like this ? We succeeded managing our leagues like that…

The real question is: could the one’s in power accept this new rules and take part in a fair game ? The great thing is that they don’t have to! Let me explain:

The NFL, the NBA or any other league monarchic or not survives only as long as we watch it. The more the viewers the better the league, that is a universal formula. One thing the machine has not calculated is that we ARE the key to turn it off, WE are the buyers, the consumers, the zombies remember ? So the day we really decide things HAVE to change they will… They must…

I think what I suggest is a win win situation in all senses… Don’t you ?

Sadok Kohen

Managing stress under a hard deadline

Having a deadline for a project is generally taken as a rough estimation and there is some implied flexibility that everybody in the organization secretly agrees to.

Having a hard deadline is different: if you “have to” end a project by a specific date or the whole work and investment you have done will be wasted, you are dealing with a different animal…

As the final date approaches, you start to question whether everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing. The easy way out is to simply pretend that nobody is working hard enough and start yelling around. My experience tells me that is hardly the solution.

If on the other hand you already know that all the resources you have are pushing their limits to the very end, there is not much you can do, or is there ? The stress builds up as the date gets closer, little problems get bigger and bigger and what 6 months ago looked like a triviality now has the potential to kill the project…

Here are some essential tools that can save your life:

1) Spend some real quality time on planning, and then spend some more

We tend to underestimate the value of a good plan. You have to accept the fact that a plan can never be perfect, needs to have some flexibilities but not too many. If a plan becomes too flexible the project might never end, but if it is too tight, then the stress will eat you and your team up as a black hole.

A good plan also needs to have room for new information and be adjusted on the fly but that is not enough, a plan is a living organism and its only healthy if everyone involved updates its status constantly. Many people complain that they have no time to update their task statuses, I say its all BS, the value of the work done is lost if you have no chance to control the flow.

Today there are wonderful technologies that allow project planning and team collaboration to be done in an informative, useful and even entertaining way: Basecamp, Cubetree, Activecollab to say a few.

Technologies are only usefull if they are utilized in the correct manner, but once the right tools are integrated to the workflow you can’t even imagine how life saving they can be.

2) Be careful to 3rd party vendors

You can have a certain level of control over your team, how to push them, how to manage them, how to motivate them, but you often don’t have any control over 3rd parties involved. So be careful in scheduling your time with them. You’d be surprised at what 1 week of work for your team translates in an other company. I have seen a day job done in weeks… You often tend to plan according to your time expectations, don’t pretend the same performance from external sources, they might have different priorities then you.

3) Prioritize before, Prioritize during, Prioritize after…

There are things in life that cannot be planned. When they happen you might find yourself in a place where you have to chose what part of the planned features to let go. The thing is you cannot know when the unexpected will happen, so its a great practice to divide your project into the minimum acceptable, the essential extras, the cherry on the cake.

After the start, as the project starts to take shape you will have great ideas, ideas that you will want to include immediately.

Well, if they are not game changers, don’t… Wait for the project to end before improving it. It’s real hard to be disciplined enough. To tell you the truth I suck at this, as I see the project developing I immediately tend to try and perfect it, but those little additions, a little cut here, a brush stroke there, when you add it all up you notice that you are out of time struggling to finish any of it.

This is where the planning phase once again proves to be critical, if given enough time, most of the things you think of during the project might have be planned in advance.

Now lets say that you really have a breakthrough and you NEED to add something to the project during it: prioritize, reschedule, plan and update all the work flow. See how the new addition effects other things, look at it again and make the decision on weather its really worth it.

4) Reality check, Know where you are at any time

So now you have a good project plan, the time-line is set, priorities are in place, the team is collaborating and the hours are flowing like the wind.

Especially during big and long projects, when you start seeing that everyone is working and things start to get done, you get confortable too early and might lose sight of where you are. It might seem like you are in the middle of an amazon jungle with no compass and out of water with two options: hoping for the best (God, a helicopter, Jane…) or running around relentlessly with the hope that the physical effort gets you somewhere (generally this leads to getting more lost).

A routine check on the schedule, a regular face to face with key people, re-prioritization is key to prevent getting lost. This is again one of the areas where you face friction, the “no time” argument is always there. Funny thing is that you shouldn’t have any “time argument” if the planning is done right…

5) Learn to dance with the stress waves

Management does not have a one fit for all formula. You need to learn how to understand when to push, when to wait, when to intervene and when to have faith. Its a continuous dance, a tango if you will.

There will be times when only you can determine which direction needs to be taken, but somethimes you need to wait and go with the flow until its your time to make the move. If you try to control too much you will either be too stiff, too heavy or eventually break your team apart.

You also need some psychology skills, some empathy and awareness of the mood and morale of the people involved. The relationship between them, the little arguments that can grow to become catastrophic during the stretch.

If you care about what you do and so do the people around you, its very likely that there will be emotional moments, high and lows, the hardest part is to understand how to move, its a rhythm that is perfected by experience.

6) Work with the best

No matter what you do there will be always a time where things get out of hand, really dangerous moments where making it or breaking it depends on every one of the people surrounding you. You want to have the best around you under tough circumstances. You want to have people with responsibility, people that will own the project and be with you till the end no matter what. It is during this moments that you understand better the value of having chosen the right team.

You can only trust the best, but its a two way street, you need to be trusted too. Respect is something you earn in life, no money can buy it. And the real good people in life, when they trow themselves into the fire with you or better for you, they never do it for the money. They do it for a vision, for a dream, for a sense of purpose, they do it to make a difference, to grow…

Believe me i have worked many times with teams that let me down, completely alone.I learned a lot during those failing moments of my life. Its cheaper to hire them, but the cost of having them under fire is lethal.

I was also lucky enough to work with people that hold me over their shoulders. There have been times that I didn’t know how to thank, and times where I didn’t understand how they could be so faithful. I am so grateful for this, I will value this gifts all my life… I hope I will always be able to show how much I appreciate being on the same boat with them.

7 ) Love what you do

Love what you do. You can’t fake it, you can’t learn to love something you don’t. The Universe is designed in a way that everything has a certain gravity towards their perfect place, listen to your heart and you will find it.

8) Don’t give up until you do, learn, thank, and start all over again

Failures are the biggest teachers in life. If you are really willing to grow you can find a deep lesson within each one of them. All your failures are about you, even the ones where you thought you were really unlucky, were you thought the world was spinning against you. If you really grasp this, there is nothing in this world that can stop you. You are bound to grow.

Even the legend, Michael Jordan thinks its true (video):

I failed over, and over, and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed…

I have done every one of the mistakes I have described above. I have done many times exactly the opposite of what I just wrote. I cherish each one of my mistakes, they made me who I am today. So if you fail, dont be scared, don’t panic, it’s ok… Just try to understand where did it all go wrong. Think hard about that moment where you could have acted differently, what could you have done better to prevent it… If you think you did everything right, think again, if you still can’t find yourself at fault, think if this is really where you want to be in your life… As I told you, you cannot fool the universe, and if you are supposed to be someplace else, you will be pulled away… (BTW this is why you also need to work with people that are happy about what they do…)

——————

I just met a hard deadline on a very big difficult project. Its a big bet, I have great expectations… I am lucky to work with a team of highly motivated professionals, people that really know what they are doing. I have to thank each one of them for their dedication and persistence. I couldn’t do it without their support.We will do big big things together, this is only the beginning.

I have to thank their leader separately, he kept it all together… I am very lucky to work with him, it is so hard to find the best…

Sadok Kohen
In truth, without deceit, certain, and most veritable…

Can you ever afford not to care ?

Its a dangerous thing to be the biggest, to have no competition, to have too much money: makes you callous towards your business.

Last week Paypal decided to suspend my account without any notice and without any explanation, and worse: as standard procedure towards successful businesses!

So if you are growing too fast, if you show success, if you make Paypal earn more money then the average customer, apparently you should be doing something criminal. So without a call, without a mail, without any verification, they decide to stop the service. Just like that.

Imagine your bank doing the same thing: you go to pay a bill, they tell you “sorry, you are making more money then the average Joe, liberal marketplace is an illusion, you are lucky we don’t arrest you, so until we feel like it, go away, we will call you!”

So I try to call the customer service, and very professionally they tell me they need me to explain to them howcome the success. I wrote them my business description (which is openly available on my website) and call again: they tell me I have to wait for the “qualified people” to check the info and that they have everything they need.

After waiting (and loosing money by the minute) I asked them to put me in contact with the holy “qualified people”, but even they can’t get in contact with them, all they can do is email them the information requested by me, I should wait, there are a lot of people waiting (!)…

My account was put back to normal in 6 days. I still haven’t been told why the account was suspended in the first place.

Even the smallest bank have account representatives. I can’t imagine how anybody could afford to do business like this. I am shocked of how such a great service could afford to have such bad customer care.

I am not the only one having this kind of problems, and it seems I won’t be the last, this is exactly why its healthy to have competition, and I am sure the competition took notice, but why should you be threatened to improve yourself ? Isn’t that the ultimate purpose of business ?

Sadok Kohen

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