Jeff Sass has had an interesting journey, and the jumping point that led him through the rest of his career (so far) was a stint at Troma, a studio that has for 40 years made gloriously bad movies. His book, Everything I Know About Business and Marketing, I Learned from the Toxic Avenger, came out in May.
He's been ahead of the tech curve a few times, including having the Toxic Avenger (a Troma superhero) do an online Q&A in 1994, creating CD-ROMs, getting into virtual reality in the late 1990s, creating an online/SMS price comparison tool in 1999/2000 and getting into the top-level domain space as soon as ICANN opened it up in 2011. He gives us a look at what he thinks is coming next.
He is currently the chief marketing officer for the .CLUB domain.
We talk about the book, including the process and tips for people who might want to write a book; what Jeff thinks is coming down the pike in the tech space; and finding the one thing that makes you love your job, your partner or anything else that you might not be feeling passionate about.
We're also giving away a copy of the book; listen all the way to the end of the podcast to find out how to win.
A couple of corrections/updates: We name the author of Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit Steven Pressman; it's the great Steven Pressfield (whose work is mentioned with some frequency on this podcast). Also, Alphabet (Google's parent) announced it sale of Boston Dynamics after this podcast was recorded.
Hop on in here around 55 minutes and give it four minutes or so. Ryan Singer and Johnny Z are discussing how we deal with each other, and right before the 58 minute mark, Singer comes up with this analogy:
"It doesn't matter if the pizza box changes, it's the pizza."
The pizza box, he says, is technology and society and who is president at any given time and what sorts of structures we live in, but we're the pizza.
It doesn't matter how fancy the box is, if the pizza doesn't change, it's still the same old pizza.
Singer's point here is that you can dress us up any way you want. You can make us high tech, you can let us read minds, you can make us invisible with mirrored clothing. Unless the change happens inside, we're still the same ol' same ol'.
The country saying for this is lipstick on a pig. You can dress it up all you want, it's still a pig.
If you're an asshole, you can put on a shirt that says "peace, love and tie dye" and go to yoga class and say "namaste," but you're still an asshole.
It doesn't matter what's going on on the outside.
Last Tuesday, June 13, was a quiet night at work. It might have been the quietest night of the Trump administration. The Calder Cup final wrapped up (that's the AHL championship — minor league hockey), but there was little else of note in any of our markets.
In the Giffords shooting, the gunman had shown anti-government leanings, posting about mind control and that kind of things. He was out to get someone in the federal government and an opportunity presented itself with the Giffords rally.
In the Scalise shooting, someone who was politically active in a traditional sense — the gunman had volunteered on the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Sanders didn't equivocate on his views here) and had left home to be closer to Washington, where he apparently thought he could be more useful as an activist — went looking for Republicans to shoot.
In the Giffords case, the shooter was paranoid and looking for a way out. In the Scalise case, the shooter had tried to take a traditional route and given up.
The problem with dialogue in this country for the most part is we're no longer listening to each other. We're waiting for the other person to stop speaking so that we can start.
I'm generalizing, of course. There's good discussion and reasonable debate happening every day in every city.
It's just rarely on display in public. And never at the federal level.
Reaction since the Scalise shooting has been a little different. Apart from the partisan wrangling over guns — some of course calling for tighter gun control and others saying we should allow Congress to carry weapons — there have been calls for partisan unity that have been muted, where normally these are empty and grandstanded.
"We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish," Speaker Paul Ryan said. "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us."
Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, warned about a "deterioration in the manner we talk to each other."
Even President Donald Trump, not exactly known for muted responses and calm, non-partisan rhetoric, had only this to say:
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.
This is a good time for a period of reflection for all of us. The seasons are changing. If you're reading this the day it publishes, the solstice is tonight just after midnight Eastern.
Take a couple of days and decide if you're going to spend the rest of your life speaking at — or worse, shouting over — people you disagree with, rather than actually listening to what they're saying and perhaps even taking it to heart, and letting it change your mind if it strikes that chord in you.
It's certainly time for our national pizza to evolve. Is it time for your pizza to change, too?
Had a crazy busy work week, so please forgive the short post. I think it still has some impact and a good lesson for businesses. And if you're in Savannah, a good burger, too.
There are a lot of high-energy, high-impact posts coming.
I first heard about Ben's about six months before I moved to Savannah. We had plans to move here, had visited a couple of times, and were still formulating a plan.
We were keeping up with things we might enjoy through media, tourism websites, organizations and also things like the Brew/Drink/Run podcast, where I first heard about Ben's when owner Nick Lambros made an appearance on the show.
It slipped my mind for a while when we moved here, but then we moved close to the restaurant, and so we make an effort to go at least monthly.
The first time was when we were scouting the neighborhood. We had a good burger and a reasonable experience.
The next time we went was just a couple of weeks before we were moving, when a hurricane tore through town. When we came back, we went there for lunch on our way into town. It was the middle of the afternoon, so the place wasn't real busy.
Nick came over and introduced himself and welcomed us to the neighborhood. (Aside: Why does Nick own's Ben's? Because it's Ben Franklin on the door — entrepreneur, beer enthusiast and all around awesome guy.)
A little while ago, I decided to treat myself to a delicious burger after a run in the rain. It was right about noon when I got there, and the place was crowded. I pulled up a stool at the bar, greeted Bob (not her real name, but that's what we call her), asked for a beer and a burger, and noticed a couple of guys at the end of the bar from a distributor with new beers to offer Nick to start carrying.
Even in a packed restaurant, Nick came out from helping at the grill to make time for them, even if the time was brief. He was friendly, patient and polite, even though there was one empty table in his restaurant.
Before he made that time for them, he stopped at the bar, shook my hand and said it was good to see me again.
That's the reason why he sees me again (and again).
Lesson for a business: You're never too busy thanks for spending your money here instead of somewhere else.
Lesson for a customer: You're special. Take your business where it's appreciated.
Lesson for a hungry person: Go get yourself a grass-fed burger and a beer at Ben's. If you're going to spend $20 on lunch somewhere, that's the sort of place to do it.
Here is my very brief political take on the move; skip this paragraph if you want to skip the politics. "The only countries to do X are the US, Nicaragua and Syria." If I'm going to join a small group of countries in doing something, I'm not figuring those two are good role models for the US.
The rest of this post is going to be some combination of my observation and hopes, hopefully with some scientific backing.
Glass Beach is a small section of shoreline in an industrial area of 'Ele'ele on the island of Kaua'i. It gets its name from all the glass in the area.
It has for years been used as a dumping ground for things like engine blocks and industrial tools. The salt water is helping reclaim some of the metal into the lava rock along the shore. Here are a couple of photos of what this looks like.
While we were on the island, a few thousand acres were burned in a wildfire that was started by sparks from a pickup truck.
While no structures were threatened, dozens of emergency workers put their lives on the line to make sure the fire only affected dry brush. I'm sure over the coming months and years, new vegetation will grow in its place and before too long, no sign of the fire will remain.
Let's agree that engine blocks, industrial tools and pickup trucks are manmade things that would not otherwise be found in nature, and so we wouldn't have things like fires started by sparks from a pickup truck or engine blocks tossed on lava rocks without some sort of human intervention (objectively speaking — no judgment attached, just the fact that humans need to be involved at some stage of the process to reach this result).
In some amount of time — sooner for the brush fire than for the lava rocks — there will be no sign that anything out of place happened.
The Earth will always find a way to balance whatever happens to it. The thing is, the Earth doesn't care about anything but equilibrium — if a species or two or 16 needs to be eliminated in order to reach a sustainable balance, that's what will happen.
I think the Webb Military Museum may be one of the more overlooked historical spots here in Savannah.
It's a private collection that's been turned into a museum, and includes items from the Civil War all the way up through the Iraq War of the 1990s, with new pieces still being acquired. Here are some eye-catching items.
If you go: Park on the street, pay a meter. If you read everything, it'll take about 90 minutes.
One morning, there was a dead frog in the driveway, missing a leg and a half.
Not as a threat. It was just there.
We've heard frogs from the drainage ditch adjacent to the property, and the evening before we'd had a torrential downpour. There were plenty of puddles. The ditch was probably flooding, the frog hopped up the drain on our side of the fence, and probably met one of the cats that runs around the property.
And then the neighbor probably drove off and the cat ran away and left most of a dead frog in the driveway.
This was the same day that, just an hour or so later, I was heading to the doctor's office to get a prescription for epinephrine auto-injectors, since my previous ones had expired.
It's nobody's best day if you need to use epinephrine. Here's a story of the time I found that out.
I guess I was pretty close to dead, if I was knocked out for a few seconds but it felt like 20 minutes and the awake people in the room were calling the paramedics (except for my wife, who was observing in shock and panic).
Maybe this next one's better.
"I'm talking to her, and she goes, "Daddy, does the earth go around the sun?" And I was like, "yeah." She goes, "does it do it all the time?" And I go, "yeah." She says, "will the earth always go around the sun forever?" And i was like, "Well, no, at some point, the sun's gonna explode." She's seven years old. Do you understand how horrible that is? She started crying immediately. Crying bitter tears for the death of all humanity. And here's how I tried to save it. I go, "oh, honey, this isn't gonna happen until you and everybody you know has been dead for a very long time." She didn't know any of those things, and now she knows all of those things. She's gonna die. Everybody she knows is gonna die. They're gonna be dead for a very long time, and then the sun's gonna explode. She learned all that in 12 seconds at the age of seven. She took it pretty well. I was proud of her."
It's a reminder that death gets to everybody, so if you want to be remembered as someone who lived, get to living.
I have a hard time leaving dishes in the sink when I go to bed. Waking up to yesterday's dishes puts me in mind of yesterday, and, frankly, whatever happened yesterday can't be changed. It might be OK to reflect on it if doing so improves today, but why not just take the five minutes to do the dishes and not have the reminder — or the work — waiting for you in the morning?
Yes, I definitely leave some chores for the next day. Sometimes I'll wait until I go to bed to run the dishwasher or put the last load of laundry in the dryer. Maybe it's the fact that these are longer activities that cover an aggregate of days. Maybe it's the fact that when I have a new day, the dishes or clothes are newly refreshed.
Not yesterday's grimy mess come back to haunt me — the physical, mental and emotional.
The point, here, is, remember that you're going to die. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not for a century. But if you keep putting off stuff until tomorrow, eventually one of the tomorrows you've been waiting for isn't going to show up.
Because you'll be dead. It's just how things go for us. It's something GoogleXer Mo Gawdat — who lost his son during an appendectomy, is an engineer and wrote a book on happiness — discusses with Lewis Howes.
If you want to be remembered for something you aren't doing, now's a really good time to start. As Kelvin and I discuss in this episode of JKWD, once you're dead, your chances at success go down a lot.