But Brushwood's email was great because it asked for advice for a specific problem, and it was a problem that Teller had the expertise to answer. Not "Oh Teller! I want to be a great magician just like you!" Not "What are 10 things an aspiring magician should do?" Not "Dear Teller, would you mind sending me information you find relevant or letting me pick your brain over coffee?" It was "I want to develop my own style, here's what I've done to that end. I've had some success, but here's how I struggled with taking it to the next level. What do you suggest, as someone who's accomplished this?" Emails like that tend to get the best kinds of responses.
Connecting thought from this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywu7Vu8Hko0
Quote, not verbatim: "Roadblocks are there to stop people who don't want it badly enough."
> "Oh Teller! I want to be a great magician just like you!"
> "What are 10 things an aspiring magician should do?"
> "Dear Teller, would you mind sending me information you find relevant or letting me pick your brain over coffee?"
... are indications of people who don't want it badly enough. They are infatuated with the fabulous end product, but not infatuated enough to really dive into it. The advice to "prod and demonstrate the failure/successes of your prodding before asking for advice" is not a heuristic against laziness - rather, it's meant to find out the depth of passion in the inquirer. Putting effort into an infatuation elevates it from a passing delightful thought into a serious, long-term passion. People who have chased life-long passions like to help those who aim to do the same.
Whether they are willing to work hard or not probably is better seen by looking at the kinds of questions they ask a year apart.
The brick walls are there for a reason. Right? The brick
walls are not there to keep us out, the brick walls are
there to give us a chance to show how badly we want
something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the
people who don't want it badly enough.
Also, I think folks are missing what seems to me to be the key takeaway: "And if I'm good, it's because I should be a film editor. Bach should have written opera or plays. But instead, he worked in eighteenth-century counterpoint." He's taking something that's well understood in one area and bringing it to an area where that thing is not understood. Sometimes people call that a 'distinctive'. Sometimes it's a 'paradigm shift'. Teller could have been an average film editor, or he could take ideas from film and bring them to magic.
I always joked that if college didn't work out, I'd work as a street magician. As I've traveled around the country, I still make a point, time permitting, to stop by magic shops. I've yet to find one that doesn't have something from Teller written on the walls somewhere.
Penn and Teller seem to have the same idea: Interact with every member of your audience who wants to talk to you. And they are one of the most successful magicians.
I think everyone should learn from this. Do you write a blog? Read every single comment you get, and reply to as many as you can. Run a business? Read as much customer service mail as you can. And if you are small read ALL of it.
* [Ship stuff]. A lot. Try stuff. Make your best stab and keep stabbing. If it's there in your heart, it will eventually find its way out. Or you will give up and have a prudent, contented life doing something else.
* We did not start as friends, but as people who respected and admired each other. Crucial, absolutely crucial for a partnership.
* Have heroes outside of [startups / technology / business]. ... You're welcome to borrow [other people's], but you must learn to love them yourself for your own reasons. Then they'll push you in the right direction.
* Love something besides [technology / startups / business]. Get inspired by a particular poet, film-maker, sculptor, composer. You will never be [ $famous_startup_personality]. But if you want to be, say, the Salvador Dali of [startups / technology / business], THERE'S an opening.
Musically, punk rock popped into existence in a world of disco and polished/complex 'arena rock', bringing music back down to the essentials and playing it loud and fast. Be the punk rocker of startups by creating products that are lean, refuse to hide anything under a polish, and don't apologize for it.
When you edit a video (without musical soundtrack), you can get a good pacing for the scene by editing it to sync up with a song that evokes the emotions you want to express, and then removing the song when you render out. In this way you take in the qualities of pacing/emotions of the music, but don't need to actually reference the music.
And of course, we all write our code like poets. We rewrite lines that don't fit in well, and we refactor when functions get too long. Or we at least recognize when we're reading something that someone has put effort into crafting.
I'm not sure I'm supporting the argument well, so much as I'm just dumping out thoughts that the idea triggered.
* Surprise users.
A perfect complement to this article is the short film "Resonance - a film about design strategy" by Continuum. http://jonathanmoore.com/post/129160860/resonance
“Sometimes the user needs are to be surprised and delighted. And they can’t tell us how to surprise and delight them, that has to come from us.”
That's it. Place 2 and 2 right in front of my nose, but make me think I'm seeing 5. Then reveal the truth, 4!, and surprise me."
Teller absolutely means this. Watching the Penn and Teller Magic and Mystery Tour, this was the one best scenes in that show or in anything else I watched on Netflix last year:
Yes, Teller is speaking, but that isn't what matters at all. The takeaway for me is that you must KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! This is a magic trick that would not be a magic trick at all if it weren't performed for someone like Teller, a master of his craft. This scene from an otherwise interesting but forgettable show blew my mind.
On a break from my tournament I stopped by Starbucks to properly caffienate and saw Penn and Teller sitting in a corner. I went over to introduce myself, as I would to the spouse of anyone I had just met if I somehow recognized them. Right when I got there Teller gave me the evil eye and said something like "Can't you see we're working here?".
Of course they were just sitting at a Starbucks talking. They didn't have any props or anything. And probably they were hashing out details for the show or something, but I still found it quite rude, especially since I know they greet people outside of the show every night afterward.
But mostly I just thought it was funny to get yelled at by a guy most people think is mute.
The most interesting thing to me is that within the span of 24 hours you ate alone with one partner's wife and the next day got yelled at by the other partner.
Did you talk to them after the show?
I was showing a friend a new card trick I'd made up, fanned the cards and asked him to pick one, remember it and replace it into the deck. As he did that I got confused - I thought I'd gone wrong and, apologising, asked him to pick another card. Fanned the cards again and he looked down at them to pick another one. In the middle of the fan, staring right back at him one card was face up; the card he'd chosen the first time.
I hadn't gone wrong at all, the trick had gone perfectly - I was just confused and thought I'd gone wrong when I hadnt. It wasn't the plot line I'd originally had in mind for the trick, but it blew him away because when he went to pick a card the second time he wasn't expecting to see the card he picked the first time. The surprise was a huge contributing factor to the impact of the trick.
> Here's how surprise works. While holding my attention, you withold basic plot information. Feed it to me little by little. Make me try and figure out what's going on. Tease me in one direction. Throw in a false ending. Then turn it around and flip me over.
This is the secret of storytelling. Hell, it's the secret of art. Music, painting, writing, architecture, wine making... you name it.
Storytelling > story, BTW. That's why P&T can make new with the same old tricks. If you tell the same old story in a new way, it feels unique.
The surprise is not in the content, it's in the experience.
Apparently we are hard-wired to become entranced by stories, but there is a skill to telling them in a way that doesn't break the trance--or, as Teller talks about, leading people to a place where you can smash the trance in a dramatic way for maximum impact.
Storytelling has fascinated me ever since I read that study. I must go find it again.
Observation producing strikingly similar brain activity to participation is why amputees with phantom limb cramps can be helped by observing the opposite limb being loosened up and relaxed reflected in a mirror placed where the missing limb would be.
Second: Teller's advice is echoed by another great... Ira Glass. He talked about how to make it in broadcasting. http://shorty.randallcbennett.com/post/36484012/ira-glass-gi...
The thing with all of this is pretty simple. When you start, you have taste. If you have good taste, you'll know what you're making isn't quite what you want, but it's on the way to being good. If you keep perfecting your taste along the way, you're making positive progress. For startup entreprenuers, that often means starting lots of insignificant companies / working at insignificant companies on your way to perfecting the sense of who you are.
I feel like I'm _just_ starting to know who I am professionally. It's been about 7 years, and now I know that the only thing I want to do is make it so anyone can create TV quality video without a TV quality budget.
Failing in numerous ways has finally led me to figure out who I am. Now, it's time to take what I've learned and actually contribute something to the world.
For Brian, it's kickass magic which people can consume online. For me, who knows what my end "product" will be, but either way, if you don't enjoy the taste refining process, you'll probably both be dissatisfied with your life, but also miss out when you're about to break through.
I hope anyway.
Is it only because the time it takes other fields to adapt to new methodology is longer - or are there other factors?
EDIT: Holy crap, I worded this terribly.
Rewritten: Why does going across domains with new ideas have such high returns? Obviously you're a fresh idea but are there other reasons that influence your success?
Basicly I think its because they have different points of view on problems we can find similarities in.
Perlis, epigram 39: "Re graphics: A picture is worth 10K words - but only those to describe the picture. Hardly any sets of 10K words can be adequately described with pictures."
There are worlds of esoteric knowledge stuffed away in industries that, if applied to other industries would yield amazing innovation.
Look what Apple has done with Technology/Liberal Arts.
Apple took technology, created by developers and scientists ('Nerds' for lack of a better generalism) and not only made it accessible; they made things work the way people wanted to use them. Desktop publishing, graphic design, etc. These were things that normal people would not have been able to easily use without a GUI and the tools in place for the creation of the software.
If you think this is a natural progression of computing, you're really not giving credit properly.
Look how much UX has improved since Google started their redesign initiative. We can sit around an nitpick about whether its good or bad; regardless, its easier to use! Its easier to understand than it used to be! Improvement!
When it comes to applying knowledge across domains, its almost a corallary to the Observer principle (if you'll allow me some metaphorical license). The more accurately you are able to observe a specific detail about a larger system, your observations about other details in that system will be less accurate. If you approach a problem, design or otherwise, with many observational vantages; you're less likely to miss details globally.
Did I talk myself into a hole here?
See also: mbarnett's response. I can't say it better than that.
1 - http://vimeo.com/36579366
As I was once told: "the problem with being a tenured prof in a multidisciplinary department is you have to do tenure-worth work for both sides"
There's a theory / definition of creativity that says that it's simply the ability to connect seemingly unrelated things. This is an example of that.
Hamming suggested it, "You need to get into a new field to get new viewpoints, and /before/ you
use up all the old ones."
I wonder if the same could be said for software engineering. Maybe it's pretentious but I like to think of it as a practical art. Certainly much of what Teller teaches about "how to surprise" could apply to Steve Jobs' keynotes. Withhold information. Tease. Throw in a false ending. LAND the real ending.
Sounds like Jobs had a lot in common with magicians.
P&T have a great show. As the letter, they tell so much more than just clever tricks - they comment on the human condition. Because of its insights into Occam's Razor "Teller Smoking" is my oft-recounted favorite ... Well, that and the bullet trick, but that because I inspected Teller's bullet, shell and gun, and still have the shell I marked and the bullet (also marked) Penn "caught" and spat into my hand.
So yeah, in 1994, a 15 year old and his 12 year old brother were definitely able to figure out their way onto the "Live Internet" (to differentiate from dialup relay like Fido or UUCP)
Then came the convincing of the parents to get a dedicated line so we could leave our SLIP connection up 24/7 so that others could check our finger status, etc....
Even then I knew I was late to the game, Compu$erve was in it's prime, and the grassroots infrastructure was rapidly maturing.
That's what kills me with this guy pulling the "IT Professional" card. 10 years later claiming regular people didn't have email. That's like 100 computer years.
Works well for Apple.