A new, better way to measure product value

A lot of products are rated on their quality or on their ability to bump us up a notch on the social number line. The latter is just a bunch of noise, and I do what I can to have the discipline to not fall for it, the former just says it will do the job it says it does. What I want are things that make my life less frustrating and they tell me they do. For example, I could have a robot to bathe me but then that’s something more that can break, but where the real frustration comes it is that that robot might need something refilled, something replaced. This is an interesting introspection I have had with living with a Roomba, the thing can feed itself but I have to change its diaper, and that does not make life easier when I primed for the vacuum process to be done automatically. However, when one vacuums with a traditional vacuum don’t we sometimes lead ourselves into a state of flow. Therefore, quite possibly a Roomba may not make life less frustrating, but it would just free up time that would be used in a meditative chore.

Lets have measures of products that make life less frustrating, say Cortisol levels that people have after they buy the product, and over time to see if disposing or moving something is a pain. Of course, mass catastrophes would noise out the stress of having to empty the Roomba, or the stress from using software in an undisciplined way. But in the end this may not be to practical unless it was a sort of citezen duty to swab your mouth every hour and document what you own and interact with, maybe then we would have a sample size that could send us a signal.

With reflection alone, however, we should be able to make better decisions on buying things that actually make life less frustrating, it would be nice if civil servants did too. Imagine this, would there be more utility delivered if we walked many hours through an every changing garden to work rather than the near dystopian looking highways that so many of us commute on. It takes more time, but in a better measure of utility (less frustration, more fulfillment, over blind economic activity which a whole lot is composed of the sale of things for compulsive behaviors) it works better.

Lets focus on what makes life less frustrating, and more fulfilling with a holistic view, because to many times I just see money spent on compulsions.


A Hierarchy of Luxury

These is a heuristic I use when increasing the quality of my life. It is something that I find not many people have in practice, but by having a hierarchy we can add utility to our lives efficiently, here’s how mine goes:

Good Books > Good Food > Good Bedding > Good Clothing > Good Shelter >  Good Transportation > Good Parties.

Additive luxuries I would define as things for non productive pastimes- surfing, golf, etc. This being different from what I would describe as enhancing luxuries– things that add value to things that we already have to do, sleep, eat, learn, etc. Sometimes, I find it really hard to beat a spontaneous party of Pandora, friends, and a six pack from Wal- Mart, and additive luxuries I don’t bother with to much.

Essentially this amounts to that I’d rather live in a tent near wholefoods with a loaded kindle, than hit up the hottest club every weekend  in a nice car and eat at Kroger, Shop-Rite, what have you, with an empty library, and an apartment. I would argue this does make plain ole’ sense. “you are what you eat” and “you are what you read” are common sayings. These are fundamental. It’s what you put in your body and what you put in your mind. So I pick this battle even when I’m living like the porvello. The payoffs over time make sense.


Tips and Tricks

  • Good Books
    • Book curators are a Godsend. You can go and read the books that fit your fancy from stumbling upon them, but its wise to listen to people who read a ton and sort out the crap. Crap books can kill you, you may be listening to a charlatan.
    • Some book Curators
      • Josh Kaufman, author of the Personal MBA. This guy’s list makes me feel like I wasted 8 years in high school and college, and its all for those fundamental skills, not communication or calculation
      • Dominic Cummings, a British politician who advocates an “Odyssean” education, click on the link to read more.
      • Ryan Holiday
  • Good Food
    • Whole Foods, Chipoltle, you get the picture
  • Good Bedding
    • Sheets: Brooklynin– affordable high-end quality sheets.
    • Comforter: Rumpl – made out of the same material as camping gear, so its easy to clean.
  • Good Clothing

Feel free to suggest hierarchies of your own, and products you would use to enhance things you already have to do in your life.

Run from the taxman in the spirit of the law

Okay, so I totally made up this spirit. But if the government is against it we all should have issues. The spirit is to encourage risk.  The more potentially income generating risk you take the more you can expense away your income. We all have pastime right, lets just replace them with potentially income generating endeavors. What if you replaced your aspirations for getting a new TV and replaced that with coming up with a new YouTube Channel. Why not replace just cooking to eat with the development of a restaurant menu, that’s a lot of meals at home that could become taste tests, dinner parties now become product testing labs. The list goes on:

  • Do you know a musical instrument and have you ever jammed something catchy, expense away a new guitar by making a new record.
  • Do you like beer? make beer with the intent of bringing it to market and expense it all away.
  • Do you like to read books? Why not write a book, then all the books you use to write the book can be an expense.
  • Do you like fashion? Hit up the sewing machine and wear clothing you made to test out a potential fashion line.
  • Are you an engineer? For the love of humanity, when you go home invent something. Their may be billions of dollars worth of problems in just the kitchen, and with selling patents you won’t have to put up with all the pain of bringing something to market.
  • Do you like video games? make one! There’s an originality drought, we need you!
  • Do you like trying out new things and coming up with new ways of doing things? Hello high traffic blog.
  • Do you like to work out. Come with a niche gym franchise.

What you would be doing is trading your free time that typically gets passed with baseball, the news, or fishing, and replacing that with investing time into an option*  to start something income producing by developing the intellectual property as a productive pastime. But if the product is intellectual property or software, then the time and money invested wouldn’t be like an option, because the barriers to entry are so low it would be analogous to buying stock. Now tell me, whats more fun, blowing away time on E-trade or blowing it away tweaking that sweet lick you came up with last weekend.

Finally, one of the tricks to actually making anything happen is commitments. The people at stake isn’t just you it’s everyone who would potentially buy your product. With this blog I have commitments to everyone that can possibly stumble upon it, if I don’t do it no one gets my insights on being foxy unless they talk to me somewhere. The world needs new ideas, like I said in the list some industries are just going empty, I feel empty when I leave the movies, I feel empty when I play a new video game. Why? Because I have seen it, done it, etc. Established entities tend to avoid taking paradigm shifting risk. Once companies find something that makes money they’ll do it over and over again with less and less added utility from each new iteration. Look at the latest Mario Kart, the latest Ford Focus, the latest iPhone, one of Bob Dylan’s latest singles. They’re all not that greater from what was before or they suck! Now check out the The Stanley Parable, Lit C1, The stuff that shows up at SXSW. These come from relatively unestablished places. Some of the greatest innovations come out of nowhere, possibly because dreaming nobodies may not suffer from complacency.

So, Lets all be poor on paper. Scratch your itch for something better. The world needs you to.


Strategies and tips

  • Shift things you already have to do to survive well into productive endeavors. Examples: Expense away your need to eat by developing a restaurant franchise.
    • Tools: EatWith, essentially AirBnB for dinner parties. Use this to test and tweak your food, and restaurant experience, read The Lean Startup to understand my thought process on this better.
  • Expense away your books, other modes of learning, even travel by starting a high traffic blog, other content based product, based on your insights.
    • Tools: WordPress, YouTube, Ingram Spark, Ryan Holidays Blog (this guy is a book factory, he’s only 26 and already has 3 books out. He apprenticed under the great John Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, and, obviously, has picked up some tricks in writing.)
  • Hum your own songs on the way to work, just turn the radio off and eventually you might just involuntarily come up with a riff to build up on into a song.
    • Tools: ScoreCloud– hum your melody in and this app will put it into musical notation, Imitone– hum your melody and turn it into music.
  • If you’re an engineer, or an inventive person, we need you! Please, when you go home work on making life easier for all of us, there might be millions waiting on the other side.
    • Tools: Tech Shop  get the skills to make imagination come to a reality.

Books: Make Millions with Your Ideas, One Simple Idea, Accounting Made Simple

*This being an analog to the financial product: you put in enough to launch (menu, basic design, plans, etc, if a restaurant, essentially a clear vision), but no land, labor, capital. This has sense given vision is one of the most important elements in doing something. If you don’t know what to do, what can you do?