Customer service quick hit: Ben’s Neighborhood Grill & Tap

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.

Josh: The Podcast, Episode 61: Balance and being in the world

Nice seeing this in person. Finally got down to @servicebrewing for a tour and tasting #beer

A post shared by Josh Shear (@joshuanshear) on

A short episode today on balance, re-entry and experiencing the journey as life instead of achievement.

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Links:
Be Here Now Network
Red Bull TV's "Visions of Greatness" series
Jeff Sass
Mike Dobbs
Reminder Publications
Troma Studios
Service Brewing

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The Earth will fix itself, with or without us (see also: without us)

I've been kicking around this post for a while, so it's just as well that the president pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord last week to give it some salience.

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.

If those species are the star-nosed mole and Pan e Vino figs, the planet doesn't care.

If those species are strawberries and humans, the planet doesn't care.

Keeping the climate habitable for humans isn't something people do for the Earth. It's something they do for people.

Josh: The Podcast, Episode 60: Kaua’i oddities, plus love > fear + anger

Back from Kaua'i with stories of zip lines, small planes and feral chickens, plus the realizations we get from sitting on the beach watching the sun go up and down.

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Links:
Astonishing Legends
Gooselove
JKWD Episode 51: Aloha
Inara
Seth Horan's podcast
Wild Kaua'i Chocolate
Josh on Facebook
Pod Save the World with Bill Burns
Rem Dass
Eckhart Tolle
The Dalai Lama
Notes on Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

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Webb Military Museum, Savannah

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.

Josh: The Podcast, Episode 59: No one gets out of this life alive (Schrodinger’s episode)

Did I make it back from Kauai? Was it voluntary? Who knows? Guess we'll find out soon...In the meantime, this is short, deep and meaningful.

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Links:
Schrodinger's cat
Reminder: You're gonna die
Memento Mori
Thanks, AppleCare Urgent Care
Tim Ferriss

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Reminder: You’re gonna die

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."

Tim Ferriss speaks to several podcast guests about having memento mori around his home.

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.

Go. Do. Be. Love.

Josh: The Podcast, Episode 58: Hiroo Onoda and the art of purpose

While I'm off on a tropical island, listen to the story of another guy who was off on a tropical island, hiding in the woods for almost 30 years.

Two things:

(1) Yes, I know Hyundai is a Korean car, not a Japanese one. I'm just a racist, that's all.
(2) Every now and then I say something pretty cool, like, "You're the only one who has to live with you."

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Links:
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
PERC Coffee
Hiroo Onoada

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Lessons in exponential growth from Bold by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

In 1976, Kodak invented the digital camera.

You could be forgiven if you forgot all about Kodak. I had. Wikipedia says that, as of this writing, the company still has a bit over 6,000 employees. The company had to sell off a lot of its assets in 2012, and managed to make it out of Chapter 11 in September of 2013.

The company started way back in 1880, when George Eastman started manufacturing dry plates. It grew into film and then added cameras and eventually became a company that sold you a camera, the film and the developing.

And then they built the first digital camera. They owned the intellectual property on the technology.

They didn't care. They were early, and thought it was going to be a bust.

What happened? Peter Diamandis outlines it simply:

Kodak was married to the “paper and chemicals” (film development) business… their most profitable division, while the R&D on digital cameras was a cost center.

They saw the digital world coming on, but were convinced that digital cameras wouldn’t have traction outside of the professional market.

They certainly had the expertise to design and build consumer digital cameras -- Kodak actually built the Apple QuickTake (see photo), generally considered the world’s first consumer digital camera.

He would later write in Bold (co-written with Steven Kotler) that Kodak didn't take into account Moore's Law — which predicts the acceleration of processing speed — or the convalescence of other technology that would not only make digital photography viable, it would all but eliminate the film processing market.

In a city of 100,000 people (not big but definitely not nothing) and an art school, I know of one place to get film developed on-site. Anyone else who offers film developing sends it off for processing.

Probably to Kodak.

"Don’t be tied to your history," Diamandis goes on to write in his blog post, outlining a series of don'ts to help avoid your business being disrupted. More importantly, though, he offers tips for disrupting your own business, the way Kodak had the rare opportunity to do.

He suggests starting with adjacencies. If you make printers, look at ink. Look at what Apple did to the accessories market a couple of years ago, changing its charging sockets.

I won't rehash his post. You should go read it.

As you might imagine, if a blog post is full of great insight, a book that merely begins with the general premise of the insightful blog post must be something really worth reading, right?

Right.

Following are some of the more important takeaways, at least from my point of view.


As a business, grow exponentially. Use clear vision and big goals to motivate, and look toward major innovation. Here are some definitions and tips.

Exponential organizations spread exponentially through networks and are disproportionately large compared to the number of employees, while linear organizations have to add employees to add customers.

To think about this in action, consider, say, Facebook or Twitter. They can add a few hundred thousand customers and need to add a few people to technology support and security. If your local grocery store added a few hundred thousand customers, they'd need to add thousands of employees to help keep the shelves stocked and get people checked out.

Crowd-sourcing as much as possible can help an organization go exponential. Tim Ferriss talks about testing the title and subtitle of The Four-Hour Workweek on Google Ads, setting up unique URLs with "Under Construction" pages and seeing which title and subtitle combination drew the most visitors.

On the product side, Quirky calls for designers to submit products and the most popular ones wind up in their shop, with enough funding for fulfillment. It crowdsources product R&D while giving designers a place their stuff will get sold without having to deal with it themselves.

"Goal-setting is one of the easiest ways to increase motivation and enhance performance," he writes, noting that having goals increases performance and productivity 11-25 percent.

While having big goals is important to driving innovation — improving something 10 percent keeps you stuck with the same tools and limitations, he writes, while going for a 10 times improvement requires you to invent something — lining goals up with values can lead to some amazing work.

In 1943, the US Army charged Lockheed Martin with building something entirely new to help defeat the Germans, whose jet fleet was increasingly becoming a major threat in World War II.

Since improving existing technology only a little was not going to be a good strategy, Lockheed sent some engineers into isolation — where they would be uninfluenced both by the other work going on in the company and by distraction — and they created something brand new in a month.

They innovated and delivered a new jet months quicker than the Army even managed to get them a contract.

That project, the Skunk Works, still exists as an innovation team.


Other notes

Gartner hype cycle.

The Gartner hype cycle details the commercial success arc of new innovations. It peaks early and then crashes, but then works its way back up.

While the hype cycle research has been around for a while, we can see it clearly in recent technology, even in the internet age. Think about Friendster and MySpace. They peaked early, and while they're both still around, they didn't make it for the long haul, really.

It also puts me in mind of virtual reality. Remember the movie Hackers? Fisher Stevens' character stands on a VR platform with goggles and gloves. It's been around a long time, and is only just now — decades later — starting to get near to being in many homes.

The great Kevin Kelly thought virtual reality was coming in the 1990s. He tells Chase Jarvis he's not real sure it'll be in every household this time, but there's a reasonable chance he'll be wrong a second time.

The Six Ds of emergent technologies and exponential growth

  1. Digitalization — Anything that can be digitized can be subject to Moore's Law
  2. Deception — The first steps appear small, but if we think the early steps at .01, .02 and .04 all look like zero, we miss that we're getting toward one, and once we hit one, we're 20 steps from over a million
  3. Disruption — New technology comes along deceptively slowly then blows up
  4. Demonetization — The shadow economy in plain sight. Think Google giving away office tools (like Docs and Sheets) in exchange for data instead of dollars, or Linux being entirely free
  5. Dematerialization — Goods disappear, so do services surrounding those goods (think about Apple getting rid of the headphone jack)
  6. Democratization — Costs drop so low that (almost) anyone can afford them

Google's 8 innovation principles

Here are the ways that Google looks to grow:

• User focus
• Share everything
• Look for ideas everywhere
• Thing big, start small (iterate)
• Never fail to fail
• Spark with imagination, fuel with data
• Be a platform
• Have a mission that matters

Think at scale

These are the things that Larry Page (Google), Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink), Richard Branson (Virgin) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon, Washington Post) consider when growing their businesses:

• Risk-taking and risk-mitigation
• Rapid iteration and ceaseless experimentation
• Passion and purpose
• Long-term thinking
• Customer-centric thinking
• Probabalistic thinking
• Rationally optimistic thinking
• Reliance on first principles (fundamental truths)

Make stone soup

You're probably familiar with this old tale of soldiers who get a village to chip in to make a good soup from nothing.

You can throw something out there, and if it has a good foundation, others will chip in to help build your product.

Other resources

A few places you can connect with Diamandis and his projects:

Abundance Hub
Singularity Hub
Singularity University

Josh: The Podcast, Episode 57: On a chair in the sky

I'm on my way out of town for a little while, but don't fret. You'll see me around in the normal places. Unless you're used to actually seeing me.

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Links:
JKWD: We're amazing!
Josh on Twitter
Audible
Kauai

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