Small Pleasures by The School of Life (Part 2)

Sunday Mornings. It is a quiet morning and you do not have much to accomplish or do. Sundays are the days for us to explore ourselves and to rediscover ourselves. In the past, Sundays were set aside for religion. However, your time on Sundays are special and should be protected. It can be frustrating if your day is filled up with distractions. One has the opportunity to re-engage with the wider horizons of one’s life. We can focus on the silent and the eternal. This is a place of tenderness and beauty. Sunday mornings are our distinct, unusual time which should be guarded at all cost.

You’re briefing liberated from the pressure of watching the clock; you don’t need to keep up. No one will be expecting anything of you until tomorrow morning. – The School of Life

A Beloved’s Wrist. The skin on the inside of the forearm is smooth and delicate. Looking at your beloved’s wrist can renew tender feelings. It can lead to remember why you first fell in love with them. You can trace to their hand actions and remember things from their past which triggered them to perform as such.

A Favorite Old Jumper. It’s one that you hardly wear. There is a hole in it now. However, you know that it has been through a lot with you. It was lovely to wear it. People will come to love us precisely for the small things.

With the jumper we rehearse something key. It is a transitional object that helps us along the path not from childhood to adulthood but towards old age. – The School of Life

Holding Hands with a Small Child. We try to be encouraging and sweet to the little ones we once were. You are fascinated by how charming the kid can be. You become fascinated with the world, just like the kid.

And for a brief pointed time one is astonished by the utter strangeness of the course of human experience which gradually takes everyone from childhood to death. – The School of Life

Old Stone Walls. You do not know the exact date the walls were built, but centuries of harsh weather has affected the stone. It has been around for ages. Time usually brings things to ruin. Thins can be get better as they age. The old wall looks better as it ages. The idea of a wall is something we welcome with a feeling of joy.

The old is a good image of ageing and endurance: it’s not getting worse; strangely, it’s nicer because it is older, counteracting our fears that to be old is to be worn out, unlovable, useless and ignored. – The School of Life

Realising You Both Dislike the Same Popular Person. Somehow, you have learned to be cautious and avoid certain types of people. Sometimes, you don’t like those who keep accommodating and prefer those who speaks their mind. Shared antipathy can bond people together. You feel bonded over the hatred for someone.

It’s lovely not having to explain or defend one’s feelings in a hostile environment. It’s a relief not having to politely nod in supposed agreement just to keep the peace. – The School of Life

Feeling at Home in the Sea. It might require some courage to dip yourself in the ocean, but you gradually realize that it isn’t too difficult. You will bob up and down. You use a mask and snorkel, which enables you to breathe. Now, you can be yourself underground. Shapes and things look bizarre underwater. You are now thrilled by the adventurous part of you.

And when you emerge, dripping and pleasantly tired, and make your way to the warm beach, you bring that part of yourself with you back from the sea, where it had been living in exile, waiting for you. – The School of Life

“Bad” Magazines. You would probably not want to buy such magazines. You wouldn’t want to be seen outside reading it too. It can be oddly pleasing. We are encountering different ways of being. By reading these magazines, we can get more in touch with our other selves. We also become less dismissive of others after reading about them. It is a small pleasure.

The lives we actually lead are tiny slivers of what is imaginatively possible. A slight shift in the past could have led to a very different kind of existence. There are lots of ways we could conceivably have turned out. – The School of Life

The Song You Want to Listen to Again and Again. The song has grown on you. You might have heard it before but have forgotten about it. But now, you want to listen to it all the time and can’t get enough of it. But we can’t explain why we love the song so much. Our brains take cues from sounds. ‘Ave Maria’ enfold us in tenderness. Music has the power to move us and influence us. Hey Jude lyrics – Don’t be Afraid is very powerful indeed. Some songs encourage us to recognize the vulnerability in others. Mozart’s music can be gracious and sad.

A Book That Understands You. A book gets you. The author never knew you but it seems like he did for a long time. Everything is on target. You might feel lonely even though you are surrounded by people and loved ones. Such a good book will tackle problems which you normally ignore. The book can actually validate your sufferings, telling you that it is okay to be who you are.

Our weirder sorrows – or enjoyments – are recast as valid parts of human experience, which can be met with sympathy and kindness. – The School of Life

Crying Cathartically Over the Death of a Fictional Character. Why do we mourn their deaths? Lovely things might seem weak. Things can be transient. We feel sorry when we disagree with them. We often do not express our love fully when the person is still around. We are angry at the idiotic randomness of death. No one deserves to die. When it comes to death, death reorganizes our priorities.

We may only realise the full extent of our love for people too late. We are being agonisingly alerted not just to a possible loss, but to a failure of our own. – The School of Life

Pleasant Exhaustion After a Productive Day. It is 9:45pm and you are happy with your work progress made. Your body is aching slightly but you feel good. You make a nice cup of tea. Your brain has done its work. You thought that it couldn’t be done initially, but you accomplished it nonetheless. You feel confident about solving your own problems in your outside life, come what may. We feel honourable tiredness. It is pleasant tiredness and feel like sleep is our reward.

The pleasure we feel after a good but hard day’s work is linked to a positive experience of willpower. It was tempting to break off; you could have put it off until tomorrow, but you didn’t. You stuck with the big thing. – The School of Life

It’s also to do with a sense of mastery: in anticipation we slightly feared the task. But we got on top of this tricky thing and we tamed it. – The School of Life

We’re capable of rousing ourselves, of focus and of sustained effort. We can stick with something difficult and keep going through the temptations to break off and seek distraction. We’ve been just a little bit heroic and we know it and it feels nice. – The School of Life

Old Photos of One’s Parents. You spot a young photo of your mum, when we was about 8. What was it like to be alive back then? You also spot a photo of your dad when he was much younger. By from these photos, we realize that we hardly know them when they were younger. We know that our parents are trying our best. Our parent’s life wasn’t mainly about us.

Whispering in Bed in the Dark. You are talking to your partner in the dark. Whispering feels sexy. Deep privacy can be very liberating. Whispering in the dark is important. We need the assistance of cues. You can be tender without much fear. You are joining forces with your childhood self.

And this what gives whispering in the dark its special place in our lives. We have all the liberating benefits of being alone – but we are also with another person. – The School of Life

Cypress Trees. You have a soft spot for them, just that you didn’t know. They feel both shy and aloof. They feel private. The tree is a sermon of endurance and can live for ages on end. It will be around long after you are gone. The trees can grow well in places that are not hospitable. It is an image of resilience.

A tree is stuck in the single place where it was planted or where the seed happened to fall into a little crevice. Naturally, we’re attracted to the idea of being able to alter our condition, but sometimes we just have to put up with difficulties. Our bigger commitments tie us to a situation. – The School of Life

News of a Scientific Discovery. It can be charming. All science is interesting. However, scientific discoveries are linked with progress. Nature is a dark mystery but we like to investigate it. We can work together towards these discoveries. It is not by pure luck. Thorough research went into the research. This is the collective power of humanity. A lot of areas have been researched on and understood. Hopefully, these discoveries will be translated into textbooks and synthesized for the young.

Feeling Someone Else is Wrong. Sometimes, we know deep down that someone else is wrong. We feel good because we are absolutely right and they are absolutely wrong. We get an appreciation of our own intelligence. For most of the time, we don’t know for certain whether we are right. It is satisfying to us. You can cope with your terrors and can hold your own in conversations etc. We feel a sense of cognitive progress.

The Teasing of Old Friends. You don’t mind being teased by friends and are okay with it. A lesson is delivered in an interesting form. We do not see it as a form of criticism. However, if knowledge is wrapped in a wrong way, we may reject learning it. You know your friends are not malicious but only want you to learn. We despair knowledge and love – being united. However, when it comes to friends, it is possible to find the sweet spot. You can also tease them back and you know that they won’t mind at all.

Getting Over a Row. You got angry because you wanted to make a point which they couldn’t see. You don’t want to apologise. As we cool down, we might experience small pleasures. At work, you do not dare to be angry because you fear to be so. It also feels good to have cleared the air. You can look at them in a more measured way. At least, you both tackled the troublesome issue. Forgiveness is also important. Sometimes, we can just make do with small problems.

A relationship has to include the madder, more unreasonable parts of ourselves. If I can be overtly angry with you, it’s because you have made me feel safe enough to be so. – The School of Life

Conflict is a pretty much unavoidable part of living closely with another person and being involved in big, complicated mutual undertakings. But we’re all right now and that’s nice – until the next time. – The School of Life

Planning the Ideal Routine. It is nice to write out a plan for your week ahead. Having a schedule means that we should be using our time wisely. We should assign the tasks to distinct slots. You can also include tasks like napping and thinking. Make time for thinking about your past etc. For chores, plan them at one go in a week, followed by a small reward after the chores. A routine can keep you on track and on the ball. You always wanted to be more organized, productive and a routine will help you get there.

You won’t have to decide to do them and summon a special burst of willpower: after the first dozen times they start to become semi-automatic. The day begins to flow. You’re not always prodding and badgering yourself to get on with what you should be doing. – The School of Life

Finally Gaining the Respect of a Previously Suspicious Colleague. Now, your colleague smiles at you. They are happy to see you around. They have sweet sides for you too. They wanted to see if you could prove yourself. Prove yourself you did. It is normal for people not to warm up to you from the start. But that’s okay.

This person’s goodwill is worth having because they don’t give it away automatically. They have warmed to you because you have proved yourself. Their approval is a measure of your own development. – The School of Life

‘Getting’ A Great Work of Art for Yourself. We are worried that we will seem ignorant. Why should one even care about art? Sometimes, you might find works that speak to you. Mood is a crucial ingredient in the experience. In the right mood, things look great. Understanding a piece is a very personal thing. The works exists for you.

That’s why getting one work of art opens a door to the enjoyment of many others. Because you’ve discovered in yourself the key to engagement. – The School of Life

Midnight Walks. You need to get away from something. You glow in the night. The street lamps seem fascinating. You try to touch the moon. Midnight walks help the brain to think. In reality, there could be many things bugging you. Select one to think about when you are walking. Avoid jumping to conclusions too quickly. You don’t really know what is going on in another person’s mind. Our complaints are endless but a stroll in the night will lead you to forget that. Our life’s problems are legitimate and normal. We are mapping some emotional terrain. Learn to define the need. Why am I really stuck with an annoying partner? Sometimes, you must understand that not everything is in your control. Life is short and yet humans want to feel important.

But at midnight, away from others, we can briefly get enough distance to recall the strangeness of being human. We are deeply peculiar organisms; we are mysteries to one another and to ourselves; we don’t really know why we ourselves do what we do half the time. – The School of Life

In the night it’s a little easier to keep in mind that the human condition is sombre; we are frail creatures inhabiting the outer crust of a minuscule lump of rock orbiting a very average star. – The School of Life

But at other points it is sweet to feel that maybe our actions don’t matter – they will be lost in the greater tides of human existence, and all our follies and errors will melt away very soon, as if they had never been. – The School of Life

Flirtation. You often have to speak to someone else from another company over the phone. He seems to be flirting with you. It’s a flirtatious moment. You might flirt with an old friend at a party. Flirting is a mating ritual. However, it might not be erotic in nature but more aligned with friendship. Not everything should be viewed as foreplay. We need reminders from others that we are lovely. Flirting can be also seen as a demonstration of kindness and interest. Flirtation is safe in a workplace environment. It is a safe version of seduction.

Essentially, when we flirt we are showing another person that we like them and find them attractive. – The School of Life

The First Day of Feeling Well Again. You were sick for the past few days. Being unwell sucks. Someone bought you a gift to make you feel better. When sick, you suffered from low energy levels and didn’t bother much about work. Your sexual appetites waned and you felt calm. Feeling energetic is important. Your appetite is now back in order and you feel much better. When sick, you start to imagine things, just like a child.

Daisies. They are simply too small and can live from year to year. It is one of the nature’s most charming colour arrangements. The petals close up when in the dark and re-open in the day. Like the daisy, biological factors dominate and control us too. We get affected by events and it affects our moods etc. Daisies are abundant.

We disdain the daisy for an unfortunate reason: it is abundant. It’s a victim of the unfortunate idea that to be special something has to be rare. – The School of Life

Figs. You might encounter it once in a while. You don’t think much of it. However, it seems charming and tastes pleasant. Rituals are important. It provides a sense of appreciation in order to get us into a valuable state of mind. The ritual comes as a timely reminder for us. Rituals are usually developed over a large period of time. Similarly, small pleasures need rituals. The pull of it is smaller and that is why we need reminding.

The pull of small pleasures is much weaker than that of sex or video games or drinking wine or wolfing down a bar of chocolate; these are pleasures we need no reminding of, and we often have to painfully struggle to limit their sway in our lives. With small pleasures it’s the opposite. We’re more likely to lose touch with them. They easily get crowded out. We actively need to build up their presence in our lives. – The School

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Schiit Happened by Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat (Part 2)

Isn’t the Symbol for USB the long flat rectangle? We transited from a headphone amp to a DAC/amp company. We are like both a hardware and software company. The problem with hardware are manufacturing while software is about service. A restaurant has both of these problems. When you talk hardware, you are talking stock. You will need capital upfront and also the added costs of personnel, facility, testing, shipping etc. For software, it’s about the salaries for programming staff, admin costs etc. However, distribution is easy. However, you must make sure your software can work with the existing OS. It is an ongoing business, where you need to keep upgrading. There are too many things that can go wrong with a restaurant. With Bifrost, we are a software company. We wanted 24/192, which needed Windows support as driver installation was a must. Firmware is not expected to change much. Software usually requires constant upgrading. Try not to allow pre-orders as if you can’t deliver on time, Schiit happens. The Bitfrost shipped out late. It was a nightmare as we ran into problems, one after another.

Although I’m a foodie, I have exactly zero desire to ever open a restaurant. Why? Because restaurants combine the problems of manufacturing with the problems of service with an extra problem of the stock actually goes bad. No thanks. – Jason Stoddard

Technical Help via Time Warner, and the World’s Most Irritating Failure Mode. Tony was our second employee and our first technician. It was late 2011. We have 4 products, Asgard, Valhalla, Lyr, Bifrost. Mike recommended Tony. He was laid off. He was a fast learner. The problem with employees are that they only do things by the book, have a stunning lack of initiative, prima donna-it is. It would be better to ask why and how they did something, rather than what. Tony was a great employee. However, one day, he pointed out that the Lyr was popping. The problem only happened with the back chassis on. We used brute force to fix the problem. However, that was the only batch of equipment with that issue. We might never know what the problem is.

Because people can’t be distilled down to a 2 page resume and a 1 hour interview. There are a ton of candidates skilled in the art of looking good on paper. There are plenty who can be friendly, intelligent, and make all the right noises in response to the standard interview questions. – Jason Stoddard

Selecting people with potential and ambition beats experience every day. – Jason Stoddard

DAC in a Toilet Paper Roll. One day, Mike showed me a USB card, which had RCA jacks on it. It was a USB DAC. Although Mike wasn’t fond of USB, this was an excellent device. We could get the chassis cheap and sell it for USD 99. This is for people who really want portability. It would be simply plug and play. Modi and Magni showed up in Dec 2012. Developing simple products take a lot of time. Modi needed a new chassis design and had to be simple as possible. It required huge production time too. Most companies would have just iterated on existing products to milk the cash out of them. We’re not like that. We set a price target on the chassis. Assembly would be simple at all costs. In the end, we only used 7 screws instead of 16. Modi was built in a steel case. We chose to save our own money rather than borrow money to grow. It might not be the best, but that’s the direction we took. We decided on a Schiit stack, a little DAC that was less than $99 or less too.

Assembly time is a function of chassis design. The simpler the chassis, the lower the assembly time. – Jason Stoddard

Growth, Garage Style. We mostly worked from our garage too. I was a conservative businessman and did not take funding. People thought we were stupid. My plan was to grow organically. By being picky and conservative, we avoided the web bust and managed to thrive. Even in 2011, I didn’t lease office space. Understand what a lease means. Note the lack of any outs. Subleasing sucks as any issue with the property is your fault. You’ll have surprises, and they won’t be good. There’s less space than you think. If you don’t pay, the landlord will chase you to no ends. We ran out of stock very quickly, and that was good. We didn’t need a lot of space. Mike were planning Mjolnir and the Gungnir. These were balanced amp and DACs, higher end things. It was the start of 2012 now.

The lease doesn’t give two craps if your business is in the toilet, if your cash flow sucks, if your sales forecast was wrong, or if you’re late on your mortgage as well. Pay us. Every month. Until the end. – Jason Stoddard

Leasing a space is very much one of those invisible lines in business. Once you do it, you won’t go back. Nor will you back out. So you’d better be damn ready to do it. – Jason Stoddard

Resurrecting the Circlotron and Other Mid-Centuryisms. This chapter is highly technical. Designing a balanced amp was ambitious. Some people argue for single-ended while some prefer balanced. There are pros and cons to both, just like everything in life. Whys, wherefores and design goals. Every car has its disadvantages too, there is no perfect solution. There are trade-offs. Single ended has lower noise and easier to connect. However, high rail voltages are required for high power and balanced input is problematic. Balanced has 4 times the power for the same rail voltages. No us, balanced offers better sonic performance. First law of audio: you can never have too much power. Second law of audio: see the first law. More power usually means higher noise, greater need for protection and paralleled output devices. I have a soft spot for circlotron designs for amps. There were none in the market at the moment. Our company is contrarian and I liked it. Some of the designs include JLH, Lin/ Blameless, CFA/ Current Feedback, Supersymmetry, CSPP / Circlotron, Chip / Integrated. Circlotron uses only P channel, however, it requires a complex power supply. We focused on the high-voltage VFT front end and the MOSFET output. Class A amplifiers run on the time and never turn off. They are hot and big and heavy, and no more than 25% efficient. Class B isn’t used for audio, the output transistors turn off as soon as they cross zero, because they are completely unbiased. Class AB, with bias on the output transistors so they run Class A sometimes. This is the most popular audio output stage and more efficient, with good performance. Class D are switching or PWM amps. Class H are class AB with voltage rail switching. Mike challenged me to include single ended option in the amp too.

Today, orthodynamics are actually becoming more efficient, so the need for extreme power is abating. The headphone amp power war, which never really existed, will probably seem silly in a few years time. – Jason Stoddard

The Pinch-Off Problem. We were developing the Gungnir analog stage. We ran into problems of our prototype boards. We had a pinch-off problem. We chased down the source of the distortion. Swapping parts didn’t help. Analog isn’t the real story. It is important to segregate the analog and digital sections carefully. We needed to look at clock regeneration too. We use one stereo DAC per channel, giving balanced hardware. However, the components cost twice. Digital music has to be stored. There are different formats of music. Lossless audio preserves the original bits. These use the PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) format. DSD encodes using a pulse width modulated datastream (PWM). The DAC wants to see the bit clock, word clock and data. That means 3 or 4 BNC cables. However, nowadays, we only use 1 cable because the clocks are buried in the data. This is SPDIF. Optical is a flavor of SPDIF. However, it has its limitations and can sometimes can only accommodate up to 24/192. Coaxial is another flavor of SPDIF, however, it usually performs better than co-axial. USB is not a SPDIF, but a packet-based system. Bandwidth is no issue with USB 2.0 and up. There is a reception to process the signals. Some manufacturers choose to upsample everything to a specific data rate, this eliminates clock management. However, asynchronous sample rate conversion (ASRC) is not bitperfect. For a bitperfect DAC, clock management is needed. For digital filters, bit-perfect transfer dies. 99.9% of DACs use delta-sigma technology. It can support up to 24 bit or even 32 bit. However, it is not bit perfect either. Some DACs are analog also. Philosophy is the most important (why you do something). Without knowing your why, your company is rudderless. Therefore, there is a need to ask the why and there is a need to be very specific over your answer too. At Schiit, we want to make fun, affordable products that are as true to the musical source as possible. For delta-sigma, the best you can do is to reduce the jitter.

Every Road is a Dead End, Early Adventures with Magni. There is value in starting all over. There is a need to always be adaptable when coming up with new products. We wanted the amp to versatile for almost any headphone. We wanted an aggressive price point too. We planned a simple topology and a switching wall wart. We didn’t want Class A as there was too much heat for the chassis. The noisy power supply was killing my ideas. The Lin amp would work well with an AC supply. I turned to Alibaba for supplies. The AC wall warts were cheap enough. I played with many PC boards and found that they worked.

The HOA Problem. We were working on Magni, Modi, Gungir and Mjolnir. We were growing bigger now. HOA means Homeowners Association. The HOA prohibited operating a business out of your home. They would start complaining. We cracked 7 figures in sales. When you have your own business, you can’t say ‘That’s not my problem’. You have to deal with every problem. Everything becomes your problem when you start a business. It’s a ton of work, but it can be satisfying. We need to look to rent a space. I tried a space, however it was not meant for manufacturing due to zoning rights. Valencia, California is master-planned. It was zoned as a commercial space, not industrial. We are now in Valencia Industrial Center. However, I managed to convince the guy to let us look at his space.

We started this with $10k. 18 months later, we’re into 7 figures annually. In a garage. This isn’t interested to be bragging. This is intended to be inspiration for you. Starting your own business is absolutely doable – without taking loans, leasing tons of space etc. – Jason Stoddard

But don’t start a business because you think it’s going to be easy. Or because you think you’ll have more freedom. Because, if it’s your business, it’ll always be your problem. Until you decide to sell it and get out. And when you’re small, everything is your problem. – Jason Stoddard

You Catch a Cold, We Die: Bigger Products, Bigger Problems. It was the second quarter of 2012 now. Our supplier screwed up and couldn’t make the Gungnir and Mjolnir chassis. We had to learn to number the parts. We had to give specific revisions for the metal parts maker to edit our stuff. It is important to set up a parts numbering system that covers at least every custom part. You will also have to document your changes and revisions made. The chassis was too deep and they couldn’t bend it. Eventually, we settled on a three-piece chassis. Instead of pre-orders, we wanted to do an interest list instead. The metal was crap and the supplier disappointed us. They did a rush job but the quality was not good. The Mjolnir launch was delayed because of the metal supplier. Even with a big bugger between announcement and scheduled ship date, things still screwed up. We were not planning to do pre-announcements anymore.

When your vendors catch a cold, you get sick. When they have a problem, it’s your problem. Your customers don’t care about excuses or The Reality of Making Things Today. They want their stuff. When it was promised. Period. – Jason Stoddard

Introducing the Schiithole. We took a bit of risk in the commercial space. We got the space. In Feb 2012, we moved into the office. There are many hidden expenses in running a business which can bite you. DIY might be cheaper, but it is definitely different from production. When you run a business, there are expenses like liability insurance, facility lease, upkeep, equipment cost, bookkeeping, tax, sales or VAT. We needed to spend on renovating the new space. We were afraid that the city inspector might come. The place was incredibly dusty and messy. The place we leased was a Schiithole. Once you spend a lot on rental, it will kill you. You should only spend on the things you need. You need a functional space, effective places to work, equipment for your work, right connectivity for your business. Don’t buy high-end office chairs. Learn to pick the tolerable and cheapest chair. You must control your spending, or you won’t last long in business. Start-ups shouldn’t have private offices. I was burning out from doing 14 hour days. We needed to hire again.

The moment you build a palace is the moment you die. Now, it may take many years for that palace to kill you. You may end up with some very good years there. But the moment you start focusing on business wants, rather than needs, you’re dead. – Jason Stoddard

And that’s why we ended up with a space that was really nothing more than a large production floor, with no offices, in an ugly, run-down building. Because it had what we needed. And nothing we didn’t. And it was cheap. – Jason Stoddard

And I was quickly burning out from the long days. You can do 14-hour days for a while, but they’ll eventually kill you. – Jason Stoddard

‘I didn’t know people in the private sector were as lazy as incompetent as the people in schools’. We wanted to hire our first manager. Some level of management is necessary. You can’t do everything and you shouldn’t do everything. You can’t outsource everything enough. You still need to oversee some aspects to ensure things are going well. Hiring a manager will incur overheads. Why do companies have too much management? It is because of the 20/80 rule, where only 2 people are doing the work and the remaining 8 are hiding. Some people also think it ‘ain’t my job’. There is also a problem of title inflation. We needed to hire an operations manager. Rina’s own business was taking off and she had less time to focus on Schiit. Rina suggested Alex, Jen’s husband. I decided to give him a shot. He seemed smart enough. However, he worked in a school and I thought these people were lazy. Alex worked hard and suggested improvements and didn’t complain at all. He was the perfect candidate. Alex was an example of good management.

Management layers in a business is a necessary evil. Extra layers should be avoided at all cost. Like nuclear waste, you don’t want to get too much management on you. – Jason Stoddard

And that really is the challenge, more and more: not letting your company fall to the 20/80 rule, where a handful of good people do most of the work. Not letting the bozos on the bus. – Jason Stoddard

You can’t tread water. You can’t stand still. You have to sacrifice your babies. You need to look straight-on at cannibalizing your own products. You always have to be asking, “What can we do better, less expensively?” Even if it lays waste to your entire lineup. Because, you know what? If you don’t do it, someone else will. – Jason Stoddard

Getting Our Schiit Together. It was the summer of 2012. We now try to predict demand and buy ahead to meet it. The landlord wanted to spruce up the place. He suggested that I get the whole building. It was a reasonable and cheap price. I used to haggle in the past, but it has its disadvantages. To know whether someone is charging you fairly, you must know the general price of the product you’re looking for. You should do your research if you don’t know the general price. You should be aware of what is too good to be true. You have to be upfront too. I said yes to renting the whole building. The renovator hired by the landlord did a shit job. Finally, the space was ready and we were acting like a real company. Our space looked decent. Alex improved the business in the some aspects: 1) planning and scheduling; 2) facilities layout and production flow; 3) Shipping logistics and relationships; 4) General operations and vendor communication; 5) employee management, specifically hiring and training. However, on the planning front, we ran into some difficulties.

Dead Media Ain’t Dead: NYT Strikes. Learn to push the limits, common wisdom and experience. The Internet was a big push for Centric. We ignored much of the conventional press when we were at Schiit. We got money to do Adwords. Social media seemed like the leading edge of marketing. For an entertainment company, social marketing is definitely a must. However, if you are not, social marketing is dumb, with little returns. To capture your customers, you need a memorable brand and fast responses to queries. Invest in AdWords and constantly improve your product and not spend too much time on social media. If you are B2B, you need to focus even less on social media. You rather spend your money on advertising and PR. If you want social media, ask yourself, who’s going to create the content? Who’s going to respond to comments? Who’s going to decide what’s okay to say? Who’s going to measure and manage it all? Most of the content are posted by bots nowadays. It is more about crowd-sourced advertising. Paid advertising in big-name venues is here to stay. I said yes to the NYTimes, who wanted to review my product. After the article on NYT, customers posted a lot of newbie questions to us .It hit the print. Because of it, our Bifrost sold out and was on back-order. We had a huge backorder because of this news article. Old media isn’t dead, by any means. The mass media can be really powerful. The Magnis and Modis are targeted at first time audiophiles. One audio magazine gave a glowing review, but it didn’t bring much sales. Always stay open to traditional marketing.

Nobody is perfect. No matter how many degrees they have, no matter how high they scored on their IQ tests, no matter how many years of experience, no matter how many companies they’re launched. Period –  Jason Stoddard

And, while I’m absolutely for introducing everyone to great sound, we’re going to meet plenty of people who don’t care. And we have to be careful not to be tiresome proselytizers. – Jason Stoddard

Well, call me biased, call me old-fashioned, but I believe it will be done in only one way: with quality products made at a price that’s fair for its performance, construction, and looks. – Jason Stoddard

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Schiit Happened by Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat (Part 1)

Foreword – Christmas Presents Until the End of Time? We were wondering whether our products could sell. Schiit Audio is about following gut feelings and not following the herd. Firstly, the name of the company was impressive. They did a direct sales model with no outside funding. Everything is manufactured in the US. Jason is the co-founder of Schiit and Mike is the business partner. Mike has experience in entrepreneurship and in audio. I am a science fiction author and a veteran of the marketing wars at centric.com. The key to our success is that we picked the right niche. You don’t have to make everyone love you, you just need to make some people love you. Go direct in your distribution. If you want venture funding, this book ain’t for you. However, your one big idea might not get any funding and fail in the end. This book is for those without any venture funding.

Bottom line, there are plenty of billion-dollar ideas out there. Making one into a real company that succeeds isn’t just a lot of work. It’s about money, luck, connections, money, luck, money, and luck. And more luck. – Jason Stoddard

The Line is Down. Here’s an Undocumented Test Rig. Fix It. It was first day of work at Sumo in 1989. There were many resistors, capacitors on the workbench. I was asked to fix it. The MOSFET matcher was down and it was affecting production. There was no schematics also. Everyone was staring at me, waiting for me to complete it. I wanted to be in audio and I had a speaker company on the side. Business Lesson 1: Say you can do it. Then deliver – at all costs. I managed to fix is as the connection was faulty. In 2 years, I was promoted to be chief engineer in designing amplifiers. Once, their products was faulty as it might catch fire, I ordered them not to ship them as it would have safety implications. However, customers kept sending them back to us to service. Thus, this took up a lot of our time. Business lesson 2: Don’t ship stuff that blows up. Ever. Never sell anything you haven’t made yet. Don’t lose customer returns, or use them to fix other customer returns. Don’t try to go too broad. Business lesson 3: Don’t dwell on the negatives – learn from them. I believe in subjective-objectivism in audio. This means that measurements are important to some extent. Amps with similar specifications might not sound all the same. Business lesson 4: Don’t discount personal experience. Mike was working in Theta and their profit was at least 8 times of Sumo. Business lesson 5: Be open to meeting new people, and transformative ideas. I started moonlighting for Theta. We wanted to create an inexpensive DAC. We made the Cobalt 307, a combination of our expertise. It sold like hot cakes. Selling direct wasn’t feasible in 1993. Theta Gen 5 was the first discrete output DAC that was made by them. Business lesson 6: Take a chance, do crazy things… a lot of times it’s worth it. The magazines at that time only liked to feature expensive DACs and amps. Mike eventually went to start Angstrom, a company into Surround Sound.

Fifteen Years on the Marketing Front Lines. What has marketing got to do with engineering? I wanted to make audio stuff all along, but somehow I returned to marketing. I founded, Centric, which does marketing for tech companies. We certainly can’t afford those SuperBowl advertisements. Tech companies do not have huge marketing budgets. Advertising agencies primarily develop and place advertising. Interactive agencies can do the above but also some web and mobile development. There are also social and design agencies, PR agencies, marketing agencies. Why is marketing necessary, you may ask? I started Centric when I was 28. It was fun as Centric rode the dot com boom in the early 2000s and went into web development work too. The fact is that most companies are too terrified to be effective at marketing. Don’t be scared to stand out from your competitors. If you keep second guessing what your competitors do, you might think that you are not able to come up with anything better and do nothing instead. Don’t benchmark yourself into mediocrity. Most companies have no idea what to do in marketing. Marketing should make money and the effort should be focused on the most effective and measurable tactics. Fear is the mind-killer. Kill the fear before it spreads. It is not necessary to have the products with the best specifications. Marketing is important, but don’t do it blindly. Focus on the stuff that works only. Don’t simply believe everything an agency tells you. Forget about chasing new/ easy/ cheap. Your best bet is to stay online, measure, refine and do better. Microsocial almost always works, unless you’re a dick. Find the small passionate community that you are interested in. Measure everything you do. Your website and e-commerce system are the most important thing. Get featured on the press, online and offline. Online ads are tricky, but find those that you can track all the way to your sale. I am a published science fiction writer now after my wife pushed me to write books.

Pay lots of attention to microsocial, and be prepared to post, respond, meet new friends, piss some people off, delight some others, and become part of your specific niche. – Jason Stoddard

Who’s going to kick you in the can? When will you do your writing, or company-building, or adventuring, or whatever you want to do? – Jason Stoddard

From Death, Rebirth: Armageddon 2009. All Great Things Come to an End. Centric was in trouble. However, after Centric, we got Schiit. I started writing after Centric started to grow again after 2009. Writing means time without distractions. When I was at home, I paired a pair of tube amp with my AKG 701s and I listened to blissful music. Headphones didn’t need that much power and Class A was possible. I tried the Cobalt DAC too, and the music was a lot more detailed. Was it possible to manufacture something in the US? And how would you go about selling it? Selling direct cuts out the distributors/ dealers. 48% to 65% of the cost can be in distribution. The dealer route was old fashioned and it was easy to start an e-commerce site. Let’s make it work.

You Always Say You Have Schiit to Do, Why Don’t You Just Call It That? I was out of the audio game for so long. There were a lot of questions when we started Schiit. Thank goodness the cost of electronics came down in recent years. We wanted to start with 10k funding at the start. Google gives a lot of things away for free. Google is really an ad company. Only recently did we get into 3D CAD drawings. We designed our products in a cheap simple and minimalistic box. Amps need heatsinks, especially Class-A amps. Instead of a heatsink extrusion at the back of the amp, we used the chassis as a heatsink. In the end, we went for a fairly thick aluminum. How were we going to make the DAC inexpensive? We could have bought the machinery to make it ourselves, or contact with someone who can supply finished parts. However, the second option has its problems as the metal supplier might screw up. Furthermore, most of them did industrial instead of commercial products. My wife suggested that I call the company schiit. That name would certainly catch the attention of others. We wanted to be unforgettable. There, the name was born.

$800 in Screws? The failures of building prototypes never bothered me. We didn’t have all the parts we needed. We were reliant on a critical part from one company and that company screwed up. I wondered if people would think we were a joke? There will be days you feel like quitting. We would try hand-soldering ourselves. We would try doing it in our garage. We would start building inexpensive products first. My wife helped with the soldering too. We did a WordPress template to our own custom design. We linked it to an easy-to-integrate payment processor. Next, our website was up and we were thrilled. Selling online is getting easier by the day and is definitely worth trying. Now, let’s talk business. Business plans are a waste of time. This is because it often sounds too intimidating to start. Venture Capitalists also know that business plans are bullshit. Business is evolving too quickly that a business plan can seem obsolete very quickly. Learn to pay more attention to the market instead of your business plan instead. You can write a short business brief, which is okay. Just incorporate a corporation, not a partnership etc. You should do it because of limited liability. My partner and I decided that we would not draw salary for 2 years.

If you start a business, there will be doubts. Lots and lots of doubts – Jason Stoddard

Trust me, if you don’t have a working product that’s making money, you’re not getting capital even if your business plan was written by the clones of Hemingway and Rockefeller. – Jason Stoddard

What will this company do that no other can do? If others can do this, or are doing this, how are significantly better? Why would someone pay money for it? How will they find out about it? How much money do you need to start it –  Jason Stoddard

The First Order Is… For Something We’re Not Selling. You can pick the date to launch the product. When you launch something, you bare yourself to the public. You don’t know how the public will react to your product. It was June 15, 2010. Perfect the product before launching. Find your press contacts and get their emails. Write a short article to them. We got the audio sites to cover our product. Our products were well received and priced to be affordable. Jude from Head-Fi called us and had some questions for us. He was surprised how we managed to keep the costs down. Jude liked the Asgard. The orders kept coming in and we had to keep shipping. The Valhalla metal came in and we were in for a big shock.

Launching a product isn’t like live theater in one respect: at the theater, you’ve got a play date. The show’s gonna go on, whether you’re ready or not. It doesn’t matter if all the costumes were lost because a drunk truck driver them down a ravine. You need to get on stage and do something. – Jason Stoddard

Metal Debacle, Valhalla Style. I hated the chassis that was made. They were all unsellable, some were cracked and the supplier tried to fix it. Your metal vendor will screw up eventually. I couldn’t find a metal supplier on such short notice. We started looking for a new metal shop. We finally found one that was suitable, but we had to wait for their products. There are many ways to finish metal, graining, bead-blasting, etching etc. It is important to work with an inexpensive chassis. We were facing back-orders for the Valhalla. Thank goodness the metal was great. The quality of the metal was acceptable and we were lucky. Now, we received positive feedback on the Valhalla. We were invited by Jude to showcase at CanJam.

If you’re looking for a get-rich-quick, work-two-hours-a-week-from-home deal, making things ain’t for you. Stuff will go wrong. You will have to deal with it. – Jason Stoddard

Bringing a product to market is like screwing a gorilla. You aren’t done until the gorilla’s done. – Mike Moffat

We Screw Up Sennheiser and Insult Some Big Guys. Trade shows are very tiring and have long hours. Setting up is actually very tedious. Even in this Internet era, trade shows are popular and people still like to visit. If you sell via distribution channels, trade shows are good for you. If you sell direct, then no. What could possibly go wrong at CanJam? We were late. I shipped the amps we were supposed to bring. However, Sennheiser couldn’t find them. The audio industry has grown a lot recently. Rina finally got the amps and we were all set. We had our fair share of interesting visitors. Schiit had its set of loyal followers. The ‘Made in USA’ label seemed very attractive. There was an anonymous guy who appeared to be jealous that our products were so good but they were not made in China.

Powering Up: Lyr. Product roadmaps are important. It is a product life cycle in the market. How would one product fit with the other? Is it upstream or downstream? You would need to refresh the product line also. We wanted the Lyr. There are Class A, Class AB amps. Class As are usually big, hot and heavy. Class AB introduces non-linearities in the end. Class A and Class B are well understood, but something in between is not. We looked to the past for inspiration and kept tweaking things. We didn’t have the capabilities to hand-make the products anymore.

Engineering is a lot of heads-down work. There’s not a lot of heroics or drama. You know, like everything in real life. – Jason Stoddard

Our First Employee, Our First Board House. Having employees is a line crossed, and it’s hard to go back. You can have a successful business without employees. However, it limits your growth. You have to meet payroll and have additional responsibilities once you have an employee. Can you afford employees?  With employees, you have more admin costs. We modified our house and added storage space. After Lyr, we needed help. I had a friend who wanted to help. He was Eddie. We hired him. He was meticulous and was okay being made the number of pieces he made. We wanted him as a contractor and not an employee, as being a contractor would mean we didn’t have to give so many benefits. Eddie was happy to work for us. Eddie also tried to improve our processes. He was a great friend. We outsourced the making of PCB Boards and they were in terrific shape. There are some things which you don’t have to do yourself.

USB Sucks! Or, Mike Joins the 21st century. We are in early 2011 now. It was time to talk about Mike. Mike was the guy who invented the DAC. We eventually invented Bifrost. Mike’s idea for a DAC was the Yggdrasil, one that costs 10 times more than Asgard. Mike didn’t like USB ports. However, most people only use laptops as their audio source and would need it. USB 1.1 and 2.0 were about the same. Sometimes going the grain is not the best idea. Mike was eventually ok with the USB, but he wanted an upgradable system. Like, you can upgrade the DAC when the technology changes. We got Dave on board to work on Bitfrost. It was a modular DAC and we went with the AKM chip. We took a long time over the USB input. The different type of USB modes concern data rate, not audio. 1.1 can transmit data up to 12Mbps and transmit audio up to 24/96. 2.0 can transmit up to 480Mbps and transmit audio up to rates like 32/768. USB Audio Classes are standards used by the industry and are not USB modes. USB Audio Class 2 usually requires drivers. 24bit is 144db dynamic range and the limit of the Stanford analyzers. Toslink is better than USB. Bitfrost was a truly unique DAC to be invented. You should be aware of what your competitors are doing and improve from there. However, how do you know your ideas are better than prevailing wisdom and can be realistic to implement? There are pros to doing what others are doing. You get the product out faster. However, if you do that, you expect disappointment from customers. You will just be like everyone else, with no ideas of your own.

Schiit Goes Evil? We received an email and it caused us problems. Schiit hit the fan on Head-Fi. NwAvGuy accused us of building dangerous amplifiers. He said our products were misguided and sloppy. There was some turn-on transient problem with the Asguard. We defended our products on Head-Fi. There was a discrepancy in our DC offset. Later, we added a relay mute on our Lyr. Anyone who wanted to return our Asgard to us could do so and we would give a refund. I wanted to pull the plug on Schiit as we weren’t making much money. Mike said we would add the relay and kill the current run. For future Asgards, we would add the delay. The problem occurred because we relied on a memory of a measurement that was incorrect. NwAvGuy’s complaint forced us to improve as a company and improve our products. We welcome feedback like those by NwAvGuy. We learnt that we don’t have all the answers.

We have a “live and let live” attitude at Schiit. We don’t think we know it all, and we don’t believe that our answers are always the best ones. We know how much work it takes to bring something to market, and we salute every company out there. – Jason Stoddard

Because no business, no matter how great the engineers, no matter how skilled the production team is, no matter how solid the logistics guys are, no matter how enlightened the management is, is infallible. You screw up. Bad things happen. And you make them good. – Jason Stoddard

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Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Part 1)

‘The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.’ – Apple’s “Think Different” commercial, 1997

Introduction. How This Book Came to Be. The author has published other famous biographies. Steve was an incredibly intense guy. He launched his ‘Think Different’ campaign. Steve was an extremely persistent guy. In 2009, he had to go on medical leave due to his cancer. Finally, Steve approached the author and wanted a biography. Thankfully, he was also brutally honest. Steve changed 6 of the following industries: ‘personal computers, animated movie, music, phones, tablet computing and digital publishing.’ He is the epitome of innovation and invention. Think differently.

I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics. Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do. – Steve Jobs

Chapter One: Childhood

Abandoned and Chosen

The Adoption. Paul Jobs was a mechanic and dated Clara Hagopian. Eventually, they got married. He was a calm and gentlemen. Eventually, Paul settled on being a used car salesman. Due to Clara being unable to conceive, 9 years after their marriage, they looked to adopt a child. Joanne was pregnant, but only wanted her child to be adopted by college graduates. Another couple rejected Steve Jobs as they initially wanted a girl. Steve got adopted by Paul and Clara eventually. He was named ‘Steven Paul Jobs’. Steve was aware from young that he was adopted. His parents assured him that he was the chosen one and was ‘selected’ and not abandoned. Because of this, Steve had the strong urge to be independent. Later in life, Steve also abandoned another kid (Lisa). Even in his life, he occasionally acted cruel to others. This stemmed from his tumultuous past. He saw Paul and Clara as his true parents, not the biological ones. Paul exposed Steve to mechanics and cars when young and Steve didn’t really like mechanical work. His dad thought him to do things right. Steve liked hanging out with Paul. However, it was electronics which got Steve very interested in. He was inspired by the housing designs by Eichler. Paul tried being a real estate agent but failed. Steve admired his desire to try. Paul had a very respectable and resolute character.The tech industry at Stanford University was very big.Intel moved from memory chips to microprocessors. Moore’s Law. Steve Jobs was inspired by how developed Silicon Valley was. Steve soon realized that his parents didn’t know everything and that he could be smarter than them eventually. Paul was very good at mechanical stuff. His parents accommodated for that fact. Steve hated reading and studying in school and did not respect authority. Often, he played pranks and got into trouble. To his parents, the school was at fault for failing to stimulate his interest. A teacher used bribes to make him do homework and it worked. The teacher known as Imogene Hill changed his life. Soon, he became to change and even do work without the bribes being present. He managed to skip a grade. However, he found it hard to interact with kids older than him. He was often bullied in school. Eventually he dropped out of school. He was also appreciative of organic fruits and vegetables. Steve Jobs hated church and never wanted to go back. Instead, he spent time studying and practicing the tenets of Zen Buddhism. Steve was fascinated when he saw that a calf could walk a few minutes after it was born. Soon, his pranks involved electronics. His parents instilled in him the fact that he could anything easily. The first PC he fell in love with was the HP 9100A. Soon, Steve worked in an assembly line for frequency counters. Steve also worked as a newspaper delivery boy. Since young, he had an entrepreneurial spirit. He got his first car at 15. He was fascinated by paying for something with his own savings. In that same year, he tried marijuana. He didn’t give up on that so quickly. Steve had an artistic side to him and listened to music, read Shakespeare etc. Jobs never respected authority and was deeply rebellious in nature.

Steve Jobs was usually off in a corner doing something on his own and really didn’t want to have much of anything to do with either me or the rest of the class. – John McCollum

Knowing I was adopted may have made me feel more independent, but I have never felt abandoned. I’ve always felt special. My parents made me feel special. – Steve Jobs

I love it when you can bring really great design and simple capability to something that doesn’t cost much. – Steve Jobs

Both my parents got me. They felt a lot of responsibility once they sensed I was special. They found ways to keep feeding me stuff and putting me in better schools. They were willing to defer to my needs. – Steve Jobs

I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me. – Steve Jobs, on his high school teachers

Odd Couple. This was the time Steve met Stephen Wozniak. Stephen was one of the top students and was very geeky. His dad was Francis Wozniak, a graduate from Cal Tech. Woz’s father explained a lot of electronic stuff to him when young. In a business sense, Woz was not brought up to be as ambitious as Steve. Woz spent a lot of time assembling stuff and reading electronic journals. He started building calculators. He was an extreme hardware guy who often played pranks on others. Similar to Steve, Woz was quite a loner at school. They both shared passion for music, esp from Bob Dylan. Their pranks included screwing the tv signals, so that it became difficult for their friends to watch TV. Woz designed a digital Blue Box from scratch. It was incredible. It worked and they could make overseas call for free by replicating the phone company’s signals. They even pretended to be Henry Kissinger and tried calling the Pope at Vatican City. Soon, they were thinking of marketing the Blue Box for cash. This Blue Box Adventure marked their success working together.

I remember him telling me that engineering was the highest level of importance you could reach in the world. It takes society to a new level. – Steve Wozniak

My dad believed in honesty. Extreme honesty. That’s the biggest thing he taught me. I never lie, even to this day. – Steve Wozniak

We had so much in common. Typically, it was really hard for me to explain to people what kind of design stuff I worked on, but Steve got it right away. And I liked him. He was kind of skinny and iry and full of energy. – Stephen Wozniak

Woz was the first person I’d met who knew more electronics than I did. I liked him right away. I was a little more mature than my years, and he was a little less mature than his, so it evened out. Woz was very bright, but emotionally he was my age. – Steve Jobs

The Blue Box adventure established a template for a partnership that would soon be born. Wozniak would be the gentle wizard coming up with a neat invention that he would have been happy just to give away, and Jobs would figure out how to make it user-friendly, put it together in a package, market it, and make a few bucks. – Walter Isaacson

The Dropout ‘Turn On, Tune in’. Chrisann Brennan was Steve’s first girlfriend. She was still a minor at that time. Steve’s crazy antics was what made him attractive. Steve introduced Brennan to marijuana. Steve also listened to Bach music at that time. He was a guy who was cruel sometimes to her. Patience was never one of Steve’s virtues. He was 17 and it was time to go to college. However, at times, he did not even want to go. All along, he wanted to do something which was both artistic and interesting. He insisted on going to Reed College. Eventually he got admitted to the school. Sometimes, he hurt his parent’s feelings and regretted engaging in such actions. Another of Steve’s friends was a guy named Daniel Kottke. Both of them were vegetarians. Steve soon met Robert Friedland. He was like a drug dealer. Robert also believed in enlightenment. Steve often stared at other people. It was like a reality distortion field to be able to mix with Robert Friedland. Robert taught Steve how to market himself and start selling stuff. Eventually, Steve realized Robert was a con man and lost respect for him. He was a gold miner. At Reed, Steve was bored of the classes he was forced to take. Since the college education was very expensive and it was not beneficial, he decided to drop out. Steve had a very curious mind. Soon, he attended a calligraphy class. He learnt about serif and sans serif typefaces and typography. His font was soon to be used in the Macs. Windows had it as well. Steve credited drugs for making him more enhanced.

Taking LSD (Acid) was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important – creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could. – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs refused to go to the classes he was assigned and instead went to the ones he wanted, such as a dance class where he could enjoy both the creativity and the chance to meet girls. – Walter Isaacson

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay. – Steve Jobs

Atari and India

Zen and the Art of Game Design. Atari was a game manufacturer. The founder was Nolan Bushnell. Alcorn was the chief engineer at Atrari. He was impressed by Steve’s work attitude. Steve refused to leave Atari until they gave him a job. Steve met Ron Wayne, a guy who had started a company that built slot machines. He became to realize that it was indeed possible to start your own company. Ron Wayne later admitted he was gay. Robert headed to India to embark on his spiritual journey. His company devised of a way to pay for his trip to India. Over there, he met Larry Brilliant, who later became Steve’s good friend. Steve stayed in India for 7 months, but failed to find a guru. Steve was now 19 years ago. People in India used their intuition. Steve felt intuition was more valuable than intellect. Through his mediation, he realized he could harness his intuition more than others. Steve kept meeting a guy called Kobun and embarked on mediation trips. The adoption had an impact on his and he wanted to seek his natural parents. Steve was super confident and wanted to inspire others to do things they thought were not possible initially. This was the good side of the reality distortion field. Woz was the better engineer. Bushnell wanted a single player of pong and got Woz and Steve to design them. Steve kept the bonus from the work and didn’t tell Woz about it. They were actually quite different people. Steve is actually a complex guy with a manipulative side. Eventually they let this issue go. Steve was a guy who didn’t accept no for an answer.

I learned the truth of the Zen saying that if you are willing to travel around the world to meet a teacher, one will appear next door. – Steve Jobs

Then he puts on a tape of Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, lays his head in my lap, and goes to sleep. He had the attitude that he could do anything, and therefore so can you. He put his life in my hands. So that made me do something I didn’t think I could do. – Elizabeth Holmes

If he decided that something should happen, then he’s just going to make it happen. – Elizabeth Holmes, on Steve Jobs

There is something indefinable in an entrepreneur, and I saw that in Steve. He was interested not just in engineering, but also the business aspects. I taught him that if you act like you can do something, then it will work. I told him, ‘Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.’ – Nolan Bushnell

The Apple I (Turn On, Boot Up, Jack in)

Machines of Loving Grace. The 1960s were a time of cultural explosion. The hacker subculture were born. There was also a hippie movement. Steve Jobs practiced mediation in the morning. LSD aided Steve in the creation of the first PC. Hackers envisioned a PC and not everything under central control. The whole earth catalog inspired Steve. This was when he saw the phrase: ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish’. Steve gathered a group to discuss about building a PC. Woz thought of a microprocessor and the idea of a keyboard, screen and computer all in one package. The problem were that microprocessors were often made by Intel and would later be incompatible with Apple’s. On June 29, 1975, Woz managed to type something on a keyboard and this was displayed on a screen. Steve wanted to try and sell this product. At first, Woz wanted to give the Apple I away for free. Steve rejected this idea. Bill Gates didn’t like this idea of charity too. Steve wanted to sell printed circuit boards. They had to raise money to fund it. Apple was thus born. They had to think of a name and eventually settled on Apple. Apple denoted simplicity and it attracted the attention of many. Woz left HP after some persuasion to join Apple. Steve-Woz-Ron had equity in the following percentage 45-45-10. As partners were liable for their debts, Ron backed out and received his money back. The two of them were too crazy for him. The audience, except a guy named Paul Terrell, was impressed with the Apple I. Terrell became Apple’s first customer. Woz was shocked by this news. Steve got their friends to help out with the order. The garage was converted into a lab. Woz wanted to sell at cost but Steve wanted to make a profit. In addition to the Altair, there were other competitors. At that time, their product was not as good as their competitors’.

The people who invented the 21st century were pot-smoking, sandal-wearing hippies from the West Coast like Steve, because they saw differently. The hierarchical systems of the East Coast, England, Germany, and Japan do not encourage this different thinking. The sixties produced an anarchic mindset that is great for imagining a world not yet in existence. – Bono, from the band U2

Steve is just that sort of person. I mean, he knew how to talk to a sales representative. I could never have done that. I’m too shy. – Steve Wozniak

Every time I’d design something great, Steve would find a way to make money for us. It never crossed my mind to sell computers. It was Steve who said, “Let’s hold them in the air and sell a few.” – Steve Wozniak

Even if we lose our money, we’ll have a company. For once in our lives, we’ll have a company. – Steve Jobs, to his co-founder Steve Wozniak

I was on one of my fruitarian diets. I had just come back from the apple farm. It sounded fun, spirited, and not intimidating. Apple took the edge off the word ‘computer.’ Plus, it would get us ahead of Atari in the phone book. – Steve Jobs

They were very different, but they made a powerful team. Jobs at times seemed to be driven by demons, while Woz seemed a naïf who was toyed with by angels. Jobs had a bravado that helped him get things done, occasionally by manipulating people. He could be charismatic, even mesmerizing, but also cold and brutal. Wozniak, in contrast, was shy and socially awkward, which made him seem childishly sweet. – Ron Wayne

I never wanted to deal with people and step on toes, but Steve could call up people he didn’t know and make them do things. – Steve Wozniak

We were participating in the biggest revolution that had ever happened, I thought. I was so happy be a part of it. – Stephen Wozniak

The Apple II

Dawn of a New Age. PCs need to be in a complete package, not just the processor. Woz tried to build the Apple II. He created colour this time. This was slow to be released to the market. Steve had to get new sources of funding to build it. Steve was hurt when Woz’s dad criticized him for not giving Woz more of the profit. Steve wanted Woz to take the whole Apple. But Woz refused and knew the power of the team. Steve would help package the Apple II. Steve got someone to design a plastic case for the PC. It was simple, yet elegant. He persuaded another guy to design the power source. They created a switching power supply (alternating current). The PC came with slots which allowed users space to upgrade. Steve looked weird and thin and this frightened off potential investors. Markkula thought about investing in Apple and was excellent at marketing. He was made rich after a stint at Intel. Markkula impressed both Steves and furthermore, he liked the Apple II. He had a strong moral compass as well. This guy had big dreams and wanted to bring the product into the mass market. Markkula pumped $250K into Apple and the shareholding was now Steve (25%)-Woz (25%) – Markkula (25%)- Future Investors (25%). Woz initially did not want to leave HP completely. Woz did not want to leave engineering. After much persuasion, he came on board Apple as an engineer. The company was incorporated in Jan 1977. Markkula was like a mentor to Steve. Mike wanted Apple to live by these qualities ‘Empathy, Focus and Impute (Creating a Good Impression + good marketing)’. Regis McKenna was a publisher for IT companies and had good outreach. Steve was persistent about getting Regis to publish about Apple. McKenna worked with the logo with a bitten apple. ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. They spent a lot of marketing. Both Steves were given wardrobe makeovers. During a trade show, they got a first deal from Japan. Steve was becoming rude to his staff. Mike wanted to bring Mike Scott ‘Scotty’ as the new Apple president. He was brought in to manage Jobs. Steve wanted to be in control of everything. He took offence at not being #1 in the badge number list. Steve was a product perfectionist as well. Steve and Scotty had many conflicts regarding design. Steve was not practical at times regarding his demands. VisiCalc produced word and spreadsheet software for Apple II only.

You don’t deserve shit. You haven’t produced anything. – Jerry Wozniak, to Steve Jobs

Mike really took me under his wing. His values were much aligned with mine. He emphasized that you should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last. – Steve Jobs

He became increasingly tyrannical and sharp in his criticism. He would tell people, that design looks like shit. – Mike Markkula

Steve was too tough on people. I wanted our company to feel like a family where we all had fun and shared whatever we made. – Steve Wozniak

Woz designed a great machine, but it would be sitting in hobby shops today were it not for Steve Jobs. – Regis McKenna

Chrisann and Lisa (He Who is Abandoned). Chrisann was together with Greg Calhoun. She and Greg also headed to India for a spiritual journey. Soon, their relationship soured. Steve got her pregnant. However, he didn’t care about it and didn’t know how to deal with it. He lived in denial. He knew he didn’t want to take care of the kid. Steve didn’t want her to place the kid up for adoption. Steve was 23 then. After the girl was born, Steve named her Lisa Nicole Brennan and left to go back to Apple. Steve, under law, had to pay money to support the girl. He kept admitting he was not the father. Looking back, he regretted how he handled the situation. Steve put aside drugs and his strict vegan diets. Still, he had the child-like streak in him.

I was all in favor of her getting an abortion, but she didn’t know what to do. She thought about it repeatedly and decided not to, or I don’t know that she ever really decided – I think time just decided for her. – Steve Jobs

Xerox and Lisa

Graphical User Interfaces. 210,000 units of Apple II were sold in 1981. Steve didn’t want to live in Woz’s shadow. He wanted to impress others as well. The Apple III was a failure. Jobs wanted to name a new computer Lisa. Bill Atkinson was putting life into ‘Lisa’. He created Pascal, a programming language for the Apple II and to develop a program for tracking a stock portfolio. Xerox PARC’s engineers began to create a GUI. Every pixel would be retained in memory and more computing power was required. Steve was interested in Xerox PARC. Steve allowed Xerox to buy Apple’s shares for a discounted rate and in return Xerox had to share their new idea. Apple went public a year later. Xerox got the worse end of the deal and revealed too much to Apple. Eventually, Steve was amazed by their technology. Smalltalk showed how computers could be networked and how object-oriented programming worked. Apple raided on their idea. It was how Apple used the Xerox PARC idea. If Xerox had commercialized their invention, the whole computer industry could have been theirs. Execution is just as important as innovation. Apple improved the GUI as well. The modern day desktop interface was formed. Atkinson designed windows that overlap with each other. Steve dismissed people who were not ambitious and doubted their abilities in life. Mike Scott and Mike Markkula aimed to control Jobs with a reorganization. This relinquished operational control from Steve Jobs. He was made non-executive chairman of the board.

The Apple III was kind of like a baby conceived during a group orgy, and later everybody had this bad headache, and there’s the bastard child, and everyone says, ‘It’s not mine.’ – Randy Wigginton

‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it. People who are serious about software should make their own hardware.  -Alan Kay

“Picasso had a saying – ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’ – and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” – Steve Jobs

Everything you’ve ever done in your life is shit, so why don’t you come work for me? – Steve Jobs to 2 Xerox engineers

I was upset and felt abandoned by Markkula. He and Scotty felt I wasn’t up to running the Lisa division. I brooded about it a lot. – Steve Jobs

Going Public (A Man of Wealth and Fame). By end 1980, Apple was worth $1.79 billion. Daniel Kottke didn’t get stock options because he was paid by the hour. He pleaded with Steve Jobs to give him options. Steve didn’t bulge. ‘Steve is the opposite of loyal. He’s anti-loyal. He as to abandon the people he is close to.’ Steve lost a friend because of this. Woz, on the other hand, gave some options to his other employees so that they could be rich. He even gave Daniel and some others stock options. Morgan Stanley was the underwriter for the deal. By 25, Steve was worth $256 million. Steve was anti-materialistic when young when he pursued the Zen way of life. However, now he had a love for material objects. He tried his best not to let money change him. He set up his own foundation.

I never worried about money. I grew up in a middle-class family, so I never thought I would starve. And I learned at Atari that I could be an okay engineer, so I always knew I could get by. I was voluntarily poor when I was in college and India, and I lived a pretty simple life even when I was working. So I went from fairly poor, which was wonderful, because I didn’t have to worry about money, to being incredibly rich, when I also didn’t have to worry about money. – Steve jobs

I watched people at Apple who made a lot of money and felt they had to live differently. Some of them bought a Rolls-Royce and various houses, each with a house manager and then someone to manage the house managers. Their wives got plastic surgery and turned into these bizarre people. This was not how I wanted to live. It’s crazy. I made a promise to myself that I’m not going to let this money ruin my life. – Steve Jobs

The Mac Is Born (You say you want a revolution). Jef Raskin wrote the manual for the Apple II for $50. The Macintosh was born. It was a screen, keyboard and computer all rolled into one. Burrell Smith was a brilliant engineer who worked on the Mac. Raskin didn’t believe that if you just had passion, you could design anything you want. Raskin used the underpowered Motorola 6809 microprocessor. Jobs wanted to use the more powerful Motorola 68000 chip. Eventually, he got his way. Also, Steve wanted a mouse whereas Jef wanted a keyboard. Some engineers found Steve very difficult to work with due to his desire to introduce politics and tension. Mike sided with Jobs this time. Raskin was forced to leave. Andy Hertzfeld started to work on the Mac as well. Steve had a personality that convinced some of the top engineers to join the Mac team. Woz had a crash in an airplane and decided to take a break from Apple. Steve wanted to name the Mac the bicycle. This failed. A few weeks later, Jobs managed to push Scotty out as president of Apple. Mike Markkula took over as interim president and Steve was free to explore with the Mac.

I think he likes people to jump when he says jump. I felt that he was untrustworthy, and that he does not take kindly to being found wanting. He doesn’t seem to like people who see him without a halo. – Jef Raskin

Very often, when told of a new idea, he will immediately attack it and say that it is worthless or even stupid, and tell you that it was a waste of time to work on it. This alone is bad management, but if the idea is a good one he will soon be telling people about it as though it was his own. – Jef Raskin

The Reality Distortion Field (Playing by His Own Set of Rules). Steve had super ambitious goals and was living in his own world at times. It is not wise to get caught in his distortion reality field. It was like a force of nature. He had the power to transform others. It was almost hypnotic. He felt special and super rebellious at birth. Just like Gandhi. He felt rules did not apply to him. People’s work were either brilliant or totally shitty. You were either a god or a shithead. Although he might see your idea as being shitty, he might actually come back to you later and claim it was great. Steve could adopt your position as if he was his own. It was essential not to react to his extreme positions and be affected by it. Those who were criticized by him improved along the way. Steve actually respected people who stood up for themselves. ‘This is shit’ actually means ‘tell me why this is the best way to do it.’ Steve had the ability to look at the big picture. The Mac turned out to be a great product. He had a good way of motivating employees.

In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules. – Bud Tribble, on Steve Jobs

His reality distortion is when he has an illogical vision of the future, such as telling me that I could design the Breakout game in just a few days. You realize that it can’t be true, but he somehow made it true. – Steve Wozniak, on Steve Jobs

It was a self-fulfilling distortion. You did the impossible, because you didn’t realize it was impossible. – Walter Isaacson

It’s a common trait in people who are charismatic and know how to manipulate people. Knowing that he can crush you makes you feel weakened and eager for his approval, so then he can elevate you and put you on a pedestal and own you. – Joanna Hoffman, on Steve Jobs

I’ve learned over the years that when you have really good people you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. The original Mac team taught me that A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B work. Ask any member of that Mac team. They will tell you it was worth the pain. – Steve Jobs

The Design (Real Artists Simplify). Steve liked clean and simple designs. He poached Lewin from Sony. He really believed less is more. Once again, he was very focused on the packaging. He wanted bright and pure colours, and products with top technology. ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. Soon, he was thinking of a flat laptop. He didn’t want a boxy Mac, but rather, a curvaceous one. Steve would keep improving on the model. He didn’t want ovals or rectangles but rectangles with rounded edges. Steve used his typography knowledge to design the Mac. He placed heavy emphasis on getting the fonts right. He also designed the Mac’s calculator. Hartmut Esslinger would be Apple’s designer. Even the circuit boards had to be designed well. Quality and design must be consistent throughout. He kept making people re-do their designs.

I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it’s inside the box. A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it. – Steve Jobs, on the circuit boards in the PC

Building the Mac

The Journey is the Reward. Steve dismantled the IBM’s PC and analysed it. Apple was overconfident and tried to taunt IBM. To him, IBM was not innovative. Steve wanted his Mac to compete with the Lisa. It became unhealthy. The people working on Lisa thought Steve was destroying Apple. His software etc was all over closed and not compatible with other products. For the Mac, a user could not open the motherboard. For the hacker, this was bad. He wanted utter control over the user’s experience. He didn’t want people to open the Mac up. Steve was soon featured on the Time Magazine. Lisa eventually died a natural death because sales dried up. Apple had to turn to Steve Job’s Mac. It was 1983. Steve asked weird questions at interviews at ‘Are you a virgin?’; ‘How many times have you taken LSD?’ ‘It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy.’ He didn’t treat the Japanese well. Especially those who had crappy hard disk drives. Steve wanted a disk drive designed by Alps and not imported from Sony. Time was running short. Hertzfeld disobeyed Steve by using Sony instead of developing their own disk drive as the Mac was due for introduction soon. Steve thanked him for it.

If, for some reason, we make some giant mistakes and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter sort of a computer Dark Ages for about 20 years. – Steve Jobs

It would be as if someone off the street added some brush strokes to a Picasso painting or changed the lyrics to a Dylan song. – Walter Isaacson

No, because customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them. – Steve Jobs, on the need for market research

Enter Sculley

The Pepsi Challenge. Mike didn’t want to be president and started looking for someone else. John Sculley from Pepsi Co came to mind. He and Steve met a few times. John was excellent at marketing. Sculley was thrilled by Steve’s ideas and visions. Sculley was also a perfectionist by nature. They went on long tours together. Sculley realized he couldn’t reject him. Steve had the uncanny ability to say something which could convince others. Steve and Sculley were incredibly similar. Eventually, it became a recipe for disaster. Steve kept praising Sculley. However, when he couldn’t meet his expectations, things started to go downhill. Steve had big mood swings. The first disagreement was on how to price the Mac. Sculley priced it too high and Microsoft dominated the market then.

Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water (Pepsi), or do you want a chance to change the world? – Steve Jobs, to John Sculley (the future Apple President)

We’ll have to solve those problems, because you’re the best person I’ve ever met. I know you’re perfect for Apple, and Apple deserves the best. – Steve Jobs

We all have a short period of time on this Earth. We probably only have the opportunity to do a few things really great and do them well. None of us has any idea how long we’re going to be here, nor do I, but my feeling is I’ve got to accomplish a lot of these things while I’m young. – Steve Jobs

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Timekeepers by Simon Garfield (Part 1)

How the World Became Obsessed with Time

Introduction. The fisherman the author talked to didn’t want to improve his haul and fishing productivity and didn’t see a need to. Our modern world is filled with ambition. Do we want to be tracked by time all the time? Time is aggressive and dominates our lives. Everything is fast now, but we want them to be even faster. This book is about our obsession with time. Most people look at their phones for the time at least multiple times a day. This book will not deal with science fiction or time travel etc. This book will cover the more cultural and philosophical aspects of timekeeping.

Do we want the fishing life or the clock life? We want both. We envy those with a carefree existence but we don’t have time to examine it for long. We want more hours in the day but fear we’d probably only waste them. – Simon Garfield

The Accident of Time. There is saying that comedy is tragedy plus time. My son and I went to watch a football match. We had to decide what to eat etc. Should we leave the game early to avoid congestion but risk missing out on any last minute goal? Suddenly, while cycling in Hyde Park, I fell and injured myself. Time seemed to slow down and it took ages for the ambulance to arrive. My elbow was disfigured. I veered my bike in the wrong direction to avoid hitting a woman. This is a flashbulb moment in my life. The amygdalae in our brain causes the time to appear to slow down because it has the ability to capture vivid memories. While in the hospital, boredom hit me and time seemed to pass slowly too. Was everything by chance or was everything fixed? Can we lose control of something we had created? Seneca advised people to live life wisely and didn’t like the way most people spent their time in life. Most existence is merely time. Time gives a sense of order in life. The watch I was wearing was losing between 4 minutes and 10 minutes a day. However, I didn’t want time to conduct my life. The elbow surgery went well and I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Time waits for no man and that it was important people didn’t waste it. It suddenly dawned on me that everything was time dependent, like for instance, current affairs.

A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than one’s own. – J.B. Priestley

How the French Messed Up the Calendar. Ewan was an artist who was interested in time related works. The items chosen would decay at different times. She was trying to recreate the French Republican calendar. The calendar was only used for 12 years in late 1700s. The French reinvented the day with a clock with only 10 hours. She made the clocks to recreate history. The clocks are notoriously hard to read. Carl Linnaeus once proposed a clock made of flowers which would open and close at different times of the day. The French calendar was political and didn’t last long. The French calendar was also off because it did not build on religious calendars in the past. The Mayan calendar was also political and religious in nature. So were the Aztec calendars in the past. The Julian and Gregorian calendars are the ones we use today. Nostalgia was deemed as a disease in the past. Some people can’t bear to see their current state of living change. In modern days, we do not see it as a disease. We appreciate retro and vintage things. There is also a trend towards slower living and incorporating mindfulness concepts etc. There were people in the past who tried to halt the passage of time but obviously failed. It was a fanciful idea in the past.

The Invention of the Timetable. The Mallard was a fast British steam locomotive. To make it, you can purchase the instructions. All 30 pieces of the instructions will cost you a thousand pounds. The Mallard was built to reduce travel time. Mallard was revolutionary at the time. It hit one of the steam train records during that time. Train speeds have progressed through time. Now, trains can easily hit 200 mph. The steam train was invented in the 1800s in UK. It changed the world and hastened the speed of ideas and industry. It would do away with horses. The railway changed the value of time. The economy and everyone was excited at that time. The issue was that different cities had different times and you had to adjust the time when you got to the new city. There were reference times on the trains you could follow. The railway station clocks had to be synchronized accurately. Later on, the idea that time along the train route should be the same no matter where a passenger alighted or departed. This was the notion of standardized time. Later, it was an offence to display the wrong time on buildings. The German trains were very efficient. Germany adopted the precision of Greenwich. In the US, before standard time was formed, timing was an issue too. Standard time was introduced in the US in 1883. Railway timetables were commonplace by then. There were also conferences held twice a year.

The Beet Goes on. Symphony 9th was first performed in 1824. It was revolutionary. Beethoven composed it when he was nearly deaf. He conducted the piece with gusto and bravado. How could someone who is deaf compose something so majestic? The Ode to Joy in the 4th movement is simply epic and grand. He didn’t specify the timing for the movements. The composer gets to determine how long the piece will last. The tempo was first derived from the human heartbeat and the human stride. Presto means very fast. Beethoven didn’t comply with the idea of tempo. The metronome was invented at that time and it was revolutionary. Beethoven made use of the metronome. The metronome was tremendous. Has our measurement of time changed over time? Just how long should a CD be? In the past, LPs could not even contain one full symphony. Later, the CD was born. How much information should a disc contain? The initial playing time was set to 1 hour. Everyone welcomed the CD as you could pause, repeat, scan back, copy etc. The problem is that no more bought CDs when there was SoundCloud and Spotify. The Beatles. At their time, LPs were considered amazing and revolutionary. In some way, the length of musical performances are determined by technical constraints of recording. Before LPs, the sound quality was really poor. In the past, each LP or cassette could only record for a short period of time. The concerto recital and a recorded version might also differ slightly due to vibrato, resonance etc. Lewisohn works and documents the Beatles’ journey.

Should the musical time allotted to a work at a particular period in history necessarily feel correct in a modern, faster life many decades later? Will innovation always date? – Simon Garfield

How Much Talking is too much Talking. In the Time of Moses. I attend a free conference which had free hotel stay etc. I was required to speak for 17 minutes. This was known as IdeaCity. Every speaker was given 17 minutes too. This was the sweet spot and the audience could concentrate on the talk. This was similar to Tedtalks, which gave speakers 18 minutes. Moses ran IdeaCity. 17 minutes is an unforgiving short time. Over time, I practised speaking and got the hang of public speaking. If you ended the talk early, Moses would ask you questions. Time became the enemy when I only had 17 minutes. However, the audience didn’t know that I only had 17 minutes. In the end, I did exceed the allotted time by 7 minutes. However, I realized an over-concentration of time wasn’t really productive for me. Learn to talk it over. Strom Thurmond delivered the longest continuous speech in the history of American politics. He talked for a long time. It was a performance. He argued for why the bill should not be passed. Thurmond spoke to dawn since 9pm. It went on till 1:40pm the next day, a total of 17 hours. At 7:21pm, he broke the record. People were concerned about his health and at 9:12pm, he shut up. In the end, his effects were in vain. Many did not respect him from doing it too. There is an argument that less is more nowadays, and people dislike long speeches. The ideas of all these speeches is not to run out of steam. Nowadays, it is a must to stay on topic.

But filibusters have always been more than just attaining victory; they are about passionate intent, and about intensity of belief; the greater the intensity, it is argued, the more voters and politicians should take note of a cause, for the more it will dominate the agenda. – Simon Garfield

Movie Time. Symbolism is tantalising. LLoyd was famous. Some people see movies as a form of escapism. They show us a version of perceived reality. William Carey Strother was a human spider. There was a lot of technique involved in climbing a building. Oncoming train. In the past, when people saw a train coming towards them on the screen, they were afraid. The concept of time speeded up when people were enjoying the film. In the past, there were silent films. The rates at which the films were made matter as well.

Horology Part 1: How to Make a Watch. A very difficult floor. I was given the tools to make a watch. Christian Bresser was my instructor. A mechanical watch is usually made under the same principles. It usually takes a craftsman more than 10 years to hone their skills. I have only 50 minutes to learn. IWC is a renowned Swiss brand with huge expertise. They are known for their big pilot’s watch. All these are certainly attractive watches. They are not flashy in nature. They make watches for the purists. They invite customers on guided tours of their factory. Watch assembly is relatively easy and can be memorized. On the other hand, watchmaking is a whole new ball game. One of the master craftsman is a guy named Romulus Radu. F. A. Jones brought know how and revolutionized the watchmaking industry. Assembling a watch was a difficult task for me. Aligning the pivot with jewels and inserting a barrel encasing the mainspring were certainly challenging. The intricate parts are indeed very costly. It is also the handicraft and human hands and the knowledge that has been passed down from generations. IWC has faced many challenges in its history, like watch trends, currency markets etc. Now, another challenge it faces is a computer company. It is the Apple Watch. No one knows the impact of the Apple Watch, like whether it can have such a big impact as the quartz crisis in the 1970s and 1980s. Now, some Swiss brands are also working on smart watches. IWC introduced their IWC Connect. Why is the Swiss industry so renowned for their watches? Given that it didn’t invent the mechanical watch? The Swiss watchmaking industry was aided by the arrival of Huguenot refugees from France. The balance spring was created by Christiaan Huygens and Robert Hooke. By 1690, there were many watchmakers in Switzerland. Watchmaking schools also emerged. The Swiss formed trade bodies and certification targets to boost the industry. Export figures were impressive. The Swiss neutrality during the war also helped them as they were not disrupted. There are now strict rules as to what classifies a watch to be ‘Swiss Made’. Nicholas Hacko is a watch repairer. The Swiss have always tried to protect their own watch repairers and do not trust independent watch repairers. Every 3 or 4 years, our Earth’s rotation differs from the UTC by 1 second and it is necessary to adjust. This is known as the leap second. In the past, this would cause mayhem to airports and planes’ schedules.

If you lose or drop anything don’t try to find it, it’s a very difficult floor. We never, ever, touch the movement with our fingers. Why? Sweat. Your sweat will chew into the decoration of the movement roughly one to two months later, and then you can throw the watch away. – Simon Garfield

Watchmaking is another art altogether, something it would takes years rather than weeks to learn, and requires not only steely patience and concentration, and a deep understanding of mechanics, but also practical inspiration. – Simon Garfield

Watch winders are not for lazy people. If you have a collection of automatic watches that are wound by being worn on the wrist, you need to keep them turning with power. It’s also a nice way to show them off. – Simon Garfield

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The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

A lawyer collapsed in the middle of court proceedings. Someone performed CPR on him. I had known Julian for 17 years. He was certainly a successful lawyer. He was often very theatrical. I was also a lawyer but I got to work with him. Julian was obsessed with work. Often, he boasted about being able to sleep little. After a while, despite his wealth, I knew that he became obsessed with wealth. Nothing could satisfy him. He was overweight from his hectic lifestyle. Even now, he left that life was empty. A heart attack brought him down to earth.

After recovering from the illness, Julian chose not to return to law. He refused to allow me to visit him at the hospital. Later, Julian headed to India and sold off his possessions. I grew to like my kids and found meaning in taking care for them. One day, I had a visitor and decided to let him in. It was a muscular man in his 30s and he was full of energy. It was Julian. The man appeared in the peak of health now. He was a model of change.

Was it magic that caused the change? He wanted to rekindle a fire. He was intrigued by the customs of Indians. Along with that, came the joy of living. It was time to reconnect with his spiritual self. Julian started lamenting his pathetic past life. India was really an uplifting place. He was lucky enough to meet Yogi Krishnan. That guy was also a lawyer who led a simple life. He would help others that come and pray. He wanted to look for the monks. The monks were at the Great Sages of Sivana. Julian immediately headed to Sivana and climb mountains. He didn’t go with a guide but still explored the Himalayas. There were doubts whether this life could provide intellectual stimulation. Later, he came upon a man who was carrying a basket of flowers. The man really radiated youth. He was indeed a mystical monk. The sage admired his courage and determination for finding him. Julian was required to share the knowledge with others too.

Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present. – Albert Camus

Every event has a purpose and every setback its lesson. I have realized that failure, whether of the personal, professional or even spiritual kind, is essential to personal expansion. It brings inner growth and a whole host of psychic rewards. Never regret your past. Rather, embrace it as the teacher that it is. – Yogi Krishnan

The scenery was majestic while they were on the way to the temple. Later, they came upon a village, which appeared to be made of roses. Yogi Raman was one of the men in the village. The way of life appeared very Zen and relaxed. It was a way to fill the void in Julian’s life.

I realized that I didn’t appreciate simple joys in life. Yogi Raman was like a father to Julian. They often met and discussed about life. Julian started appreciating the smaller things in life. This brought peace and security. Success outside means nothing unless you have success within. Julian promised to share more about his trip net time. I thought of leaving the legal profession too. Success outside means nothing unless you have success within.

I have learned that self-mastery and the consistent care of one’s mind, body and soul are essential to finding one’s highest self and living the life of one’s dreams. How can you care for others if you cannot even care for yourself? – Julian Mantle

There were orange beads around Julian’s neck when I visited his place. Julian started sharing a lot with me. However, I was skeptical at the start. Julian’s evidence that it was true was in his appearance. He taught me to ‘empty the cup’. I made work my life. Once you benefit from it, remember to pass it on. The Yogi believed in the importance of nature as well. Never overlook the power of simplicity. There are 7 virtues. Julian wanted to share his story now.

It is only when you have mastered the art of loving yourself that you can truly love others. It’s only when you have opened your own heart that you can touch the hearts of others. – Julian Mantle

Treat the garden like a mind. Learn to cultivate it. Worries and anxieties are toxic. Worry injures the soul. Every day, a human experiences many new thoughts. Most of the thoughts are negative and would lead to negative habits. The way you think is the most crucial. The mind is the greatest gift on Earth. Mental mastery is built through conditioning. Learn to dominate your mind and have control over it. There are no absolutes. Crisis is both a danger and an opportunity. Even pain must be experienced. Do not judge, but just celebrate events as they come. Treat everything as a learning lesson. The doors will always open after a while. Learn to expand your imagination. My heart attack would be my wake up call. Do not forget what you were like in your past where you could appreciate simple pleasures. Words can be very powerful. The mind is like a muscle. Use it or lose it. Care for your mind really carefully. Think peaceful and meaningful thoughts. There are no quick fixes. Focus on the destination. Harness the power of concentration. The Sages of Sivana know the power of concentration. Your passion must serve others. People who sleep a lot have nothing to do. Try to make your work play. Start taking risks to get where you want. Discover your real reason to being here. Learn to practice constant self-reflection. Take a rose and stare into the centre of it. Soon, you will improve your levels of concentration. Don’t be too busy to smell the roses. Whenever a negative thought comes, replace it with a positive one immediately. Start to smile and move your body. A small worry will lead to a big one eventually. Nip it in the bud. Imagine your dreams coming true. ‘True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.’ As long as your conscience is clean, it is good enough.

What really separates people who are habitually upbeat and optimistic from those who are consistently miserable is how the circumstances of life are interpreted and processed. – Julian Mantle

No matter what happens to you in your life, you alone have the capacity to choose your response to it. When you form the habit of searching for the positive in every circumstance, your life will move into its highest dimensions. This is one of the greatest of all the natural laws. – Julian Mantle

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all of your thoughts break their bonds: your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive. – Patanjali

Find out what you are truly love to do and then direct all of your energy towards doing it. – Julian Mantle

Once you find out what your life’s work is, your world will come alive. You will wake up every morning with a limitless reservoir of energy and enthusiasm. All your thoughts will be focused on your definite objective. – The Narrator

Trust yourself. Create the kind of life you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into the flames of achievement. – Foster C. McClellan

Pass your wisdom on to others as well. Learn to serve more. Your mind is like a fertile garden. Know your purpose in life. You are happy when you are working towards your goals. Know what you want to achieve in every aspect of your life. Sometimes, quitting your job might be necessary. Take daily steps to achieve your goals. Have the discipline and vision to see through. Goal setting is your first step. Many people dream of becoming happier but they do not pen down their goals. Know your outcome. Enthusiasm is very important. Concentrate your mind on self-discovery. Find your passion and follow it. Painting was a way to de-stress for me. Spend a little time painting each day. Form an image of the outcome. Exert pressure on yourself. One way is to take the public pledge. Learn to associate good habits with rewards, and bad ones with punishment. Have a clear vision of your outcome. Your goal also needs to have a timeline. Create a dream book for yourself and keep it wherever you go. Apply the magic rule of 21. Perform the new activity for 21 days in a row. Bad habits can never be erased, but they can be replaced. The final step is to learn to enjoy the process. Every experience offers something you can learn from. Take complete control of your life.

Never forget the importance of living with unbridled exhilaration. Never neglect to see the exquisite beauty in all living things…Remain spirited, joyful and curious. Stay focused on your lifework and on giving selfless service to others. – Julian Mantle

Happiness comes through the progressive realization of a worthy objective. When you are doing what you truly love to do you are bound to find deep contentment. – Julian Mantle

Always strive for self-improvement. I knew I could trust Julian and everything that he said. Kaizen means constant and never-ending improvement. Self-improvement is the mastery of life. Most people are resistant to change. Those who are open to change then to be more successful. Improve yourself before you can manage others. Courage is one of the most important things to have. It will give you more self-control over your life. Dedicate your energies towards unlocking your human endowments. Pain was a great teacher. You grow most when you are not in your comfort zone. The only limits in life are those you set for yourself. Dare to step outside your comfort zone. You will be surprised at what you are able to achieve. Do the things you fear. When you conquer your fears, you master life. A baby doesn’t have any limits. Fear will destroy your life if you are not careful. Successful people do things which they might not like doing. Sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term fulfillment. Spend more time pursuing meaningful activities. There are 10 strategies/rituals for a Zen way of life. Do it for 1 hour for 30 days straight.

The first is the ritual of solitude. Solitude is ritual for the soul. Find a place of true quiet and beauty. It works best if you practice it at the same time every day. Learn to reconnect with nature. The second ritual is the ritual of physicality. Invest in vigorous exercise. Yoga helps to improve your vitality tremendously. It helps to rejuvenate the body. Try to breathe in more deeply and effectively too. The third ritual was of live nourishment. Control your diet. Nourish your body and you will nourish your mind. Pursue a vegetarian diet. Cut down on red meat. Try eating more greens like salads. The fourth ritual was about abundant knowledge. Learn to have some hobbies. Try to read regularly and the reading material must be nourishing. To learn the most, you must study the book thoroughly. Learn to apply what you have learnt. Learn from books where people faced similar challenges to you. Julian recommended the biography of Benjamin Franklin and Mahatma Gandhi. Think and Grow Rich was also a highly recommended book. Books help you to explore within your self. The fifth ritual is that of personal reflection. Benjamin Franklin practiced self-reflection at the end of every night. Get into the habit of personal introspection. Learn from your mistakes and make constant improvements to your life. The sixth ritual is of early awakening. Sunlight restores your vitality and vibrancy. The quality of sleep matters more than the quantity. Learn to relax just before you head to sleep. It is very important to start off the day well. Think positively and have a gratitude list. Laughter is a medicine for the soul. ‘What would you do if today was your last?’ The seventh ritual is that of music. Never forget the power of music. The eighth ritual is that of the spoken word. Learn to recite a mantra. Written affirmations are a good option too. What you say to yourself is very crucial indeed. Confidence is the key. The ninth ritual was that of congruent character. For this, one needs to take incremental action to build your character. Govern your life by a set of fixed principles. Focus only on activities which are meaningful to you. The last ritual is the ritual of simplicity. Practice everything in moderation. You are one with the Universe. Failure will enable you to learn and grow.

Sure I am that this day we are masters of our fate that the task which has been set before us is not above our strengths; that its pangs and toils are not beyond my endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us. – Winston Churchill

‘When spider webs unite, they tie up a lion’. Master your willpower. Willpower is crucial for a successful life. Never underestimate the value of willpower. Don’t compete with others. Seek to be a better person than your previous self. I knew that I truly hadn’t achieved freedom yet. Willpower will give you the courage to pursue what you want. Mental mastery is the key. Almost everything is in your control. I had an awakening in life. To start developing your self-discipline, start doing things you don’t like doing. Keep pushing yourself harder. Build on the small victories and keep building and growing from there. Momentum is the key for building self-discipline.

‘Well-arranged time is the surest mark of a well arranged mind. – Sir Isaac Pitman

Don’t let others steal your time. Be wary of time thieves. – Julian Mantle

Time is your most important commodity. An hourglass will remind you of your mortality and importance of living purposeful lives. Time is the great leveler. It is fair as everyone has the same amount of time each day. Productive people are efficient with their time. Learn to organize your week and plan the meetings. Start working a little earlier. Plan your week creatively and focus on your priorities. Being busy is not an excuse at all. Learn to spend more time on the high impact activities. A quick nap in the afternoon keeps you energized. Don’t even waste one minute of your life. Live everyday as if it were your last. Listen to your conscience as it tends to be right. Julian had discovered the secret of the Self.

The quality of life will depend on what are your contributions. Give to others. That is a noble and higher purpose in life. Compassion and daily acts of kindness takes you to different places. Make time for your friends. Live your life without regrets.

Julian had to leave soon. Live in the present and savor it fully. Life is a journey, not a destination. Slow down and enjoy the smaller pleasures in life. Seize the moment. Look back at your childhood and see which moments you have enjoyed. Get to know your children better. Don’t allow life to fly past. Spend time with those who matter greatly to you.

The meaning is clear – when you work to improve the lives of others, you indirectly elevate your own life in the process. When you take care to practice random acts of kindness daily, your own life becomes far richer and more meaningful. To cultivate the sacredness and sanctity of each day, serve others in some way. – Julian Mantle

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