Words of wisdom from Satoru Iwata – Nintendo’s legendary CEO
On my business card, I am a
corporate president. In my mind,
I am a game developer.
But in my heart, I am a gamer.
On my business card, I am a
corporate president. In my mind,
I am a game developer.
But in my heart, I am a gamer.
We always want someone else to change so that we will feel good. But has it ever struck you that even if your wife changes or your husband changes, what does that do to you? You’re just as vulnerable as before; you’re just as idiotic as before; you’re just as asleep as before. You are the one who needs to change, who needs to take medicine. You keep insisting, “I feel good because the world is right.” Wrong! The world is right because I feel good. That’s what all the mystics are saying.… Quotations from Awareness by Anthony de Mello
leeclowsbeard by Jason Fox
“Do you remember the last bullet point you read? Me neither.
Impact requires craft.”
“Consumers really don’t care about your paradigm shifting. Relevancy will always be king.”
“Given the choice, I’d rather push the brand than the envelope.”
“We have nothing to fear but fearful clients.”
“Ideas are only as fragile as the backbones behind them.”
“Did you consider trying this?” No we’re good enough to reject it without wasting time trying it. Your CFO will thank us.
“Plain speech works great in ads and even better in presentations.”
“The better the work, the shorter the case study.”
“In the end, an ad with too many messages has one message: Ignore me.”
“A great ad says one thing, yet accomplishes many.”
“Great ads solve advertising problems. Great agencies solve business problems.”
“A group of 12 people can’t even decide where to go for lunch; why let them decide where to take your brand.”
“Actions speak louder than meetings.”
“It’s called a presentation, not a PowerPoint read-a-long.”
“Creativity can make any message interesting. It cannot, however, make every message effective.”
“In matters of storytelling, “fresh” usually trumps “original”.
“If your single most persuasive idea takes more than one sentence to explain, it probably isn’t single. Or persuasive.”
“Always assume no one wants to hear your what your ad has to say, then give them a reason to.”
“Kerning is caring.”
“I prefer psychographics to demographics. Partly because they are more useful. Partly because they sound dangerous.”
“Just because it’s measurable doesn’t mean it matters.”
“WE SELL STUFF
GET OVER IT.”
All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed … finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began. As civilization came, we suppressed it. We became “labor” because they stamped us, “You are labor.” We forgot that we are entrepreneurs. —Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and microfinance pioneer
In 1955 GM became the first corporation in history to earn a billion dollars of revenue.8 By the end of that decade, GM was a juggernaut so powerful that the Justice Department considered breaking it up.
In the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, Detroit was a crown jewel of America. “The word Detroit is a synonym throughout the world for the industrial greatness of America,” boomed President Harry Truman at the time.
n the 1920s and ’30s firms stayed in the S&P 500 for an average of sixty-five years. By the late 1990s the average tenure was just ten years. John Seely Brown and John Hagel, of Deloitte, report that the topple rate—the rate at which big companies lose their leadership positions—has more than doubled over the past forty years.
The principles of Silicon Valley are the principles in this book. Take intelligent and bold risks to accomplish something great. Build a network of alliances to help you with intelligence, resources, and collective action. Pivot to a breakout opportunity.
Jeff Bezos, founder/CEO of Amazon, concludes every annual letter to shareholders by reminding readers, as he did in his first annual letter in 1997, that “it’s still Day 1” of the Internet and of Amazon.com: “Though we are optimistic, we must remain vigilant and maintain a sense of urgency.” In other words, Amazon is never finished: it’s always Day 1.
Andy Hargadon, head of the entrepreneurship center at the University of California–Davis, says that for many people “twenty years of experience” is really one year of experience repeated twenty times.
A billboard that sat along the 101 Highway in the Bay Area in 2009 put it bluntly: “1,000,000 people overseas can do your job. What makes you so special?”
If you want to chart a course that differentiates you from other professionals in the marketplace, the first step is being able to complete the sentence, “A company hires me over other professionals because …”
Competitive advantage underpins all career strategy. It helps answer the classic question, “What should I be doing with my life?” It helps you decide which opportunities to pursue. It guides you in how you should be investing in yourself. Because all of these things change, assessing and evaluating your competitive advantage is a lifelong process, not something you do once.
Your competitive advantage is formed by the interplay of three different, ever-changing forces: your assets, your aspirations/values, and the market realities, i.e., the supply and demand for what you offer the marketplace relative to the competition.
David Neeleman founded his own airline, JetBlue Airways, and served as CEO for the first seven years. During that time he flew his own airline at least once a week, worked the cabin, and blogged about his experience: “Each week I fly on JetBlue flights and talk to customers so I can find out how we can improve our airline,” he wrote.
After President Clinton left office, Sheryl (Sandberg) asked then Google CEO Eric Schmidt, whom she had met at Treasury, for advice on her next career move. She recalls Schmidt’s reaction as she made a detailed presentation of the pros and cons of her various options: “No, no! Get out of the weeds. Go where there’s fast growth, because fast growth creates all opportunities,”2 he told her. It was outstanding advice: Work in a market with natural momentum. Ride the big waves.
Flickr contradicts the idea that winning start-ups come out of nowhere and ride the founders’ brilliant idea to take over the world. In reality, most companies don’t execute a single brilliant master plan. They go through stops and starts, a couple near-death experiences, and a great deal of adaptation. Pixar started as a company that sold a special computer for doing digital animation; it took a while till they got into the moviemaking business. Similarly, Starbucks originally sold only coffee beans and coffee equipment; they hadn’t planned to sell coffee by the cup.
(Sheryl Sandberg) “The reason I don’t have a plan is because if I have a plan I’m limited to today’s options.”
While you’ll always be tinkering and adjusting your Plan A, should you decide you need to make a bigger change, that’s when you pivot to Plan B. Pivoting isn’t throwing a dart on the map and then going there. It’s changing direction or changing your path to get somewhere based on what you’ve learned along the way. Once you’ve pivoted and are on a new track, that becomes your new Plan A.
Andy Grove, the Intel cofounder, refers to these kinds of events as inflection points. In a business context, Grove says a strategic inflection point is what happens when a “10×” force (ten times bigger) disrupts a business. For example, for a small-town general store, a Walmart setting up shop nearby is a 10× force on the general store. For a midsize financial firm, a huge corporate takeover is a 10× force. Countless once-giants like Blockbuster, Kodak, and the New York Times are all in the midst of environmental inflection points brought about by the 10× force of the digital revolution.
Vinod Khosla, cofounder of Sun Microsystems and a Silicon Valley investor, says, “The team you build is the company you build.” Mark Zuckerberg says he spends half his time recruiting.
what you should be doing—is establishing a diverse team of allies and advisors with whom you grow over time.
the word company is derived from the Latin cum and pane, which means “breaking bread together.”
Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, has marshaled evidence that shows that when it comes to getting promoted in your job, strong relationships and being on good terms with your boss can matter more than competence.
The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.
No story of achievement should ever be removed from its broader social context.
Research shows that a team in the business world will tend to perform at the level of the worst individual team member.
The nuanced version of the story of success is that both the individual and team matter. “I” vs. “We” is a false choice. It’s both. Your career success depends on both your individual capabilities and your network’s ability to magnify them. Think of it as IWe.
Building a genuine relationship with another person depends on (at least) two things. The first is seeing the world from the other person’s perspective… The second requirement is thinking about how you can help and collaborate with the other person rather than thinking about what you can get from him or her.
Discovering what people want, in the words of start-up investor Paul Graham, “deals with the most difficult problem in human experience: how to see things from other people’s point of view, instead of thinking only of yourself.”
A study on negotiation found that a key difference between skilled negotiators and average negotiators was the time spent searching for shared interests, asking questions of the other person, and forging common ground.
Novelist Jonathan Franzen gets it right when he says inauthentic people are obsessed with authenticity.
According to the National Health and Social Life Survey, 70 percent of Americans meet their spouse through someone they know, while only 30 percent meet after a self-introduction.
Helping someone out means acknowledging that you are capable of helping. Reject the misconception that if you’re less powerful, less wealthy, or less experienced, you have nothing to offer someone else. Everyone is capable of offering helpful support or constructive feedback. To be sure, you’ll be most helpful if you have the skills and experiences to help your allies. Pleasant friendships are nice, but the best-connected professionals are ones who can really help their allies. This is what makes a professional network and not simply a social one.
As Ben Franklin recommended, “If you want to make a friend, let someone do you a favor.”
The drip, drip, drip of short, regular updates—even if some border on the frivolous—creates real human connection between you and your online connections. Use LinkedIn to post professional updates; Facebook to post personal updates; and Twitter for updates that may appeal to both groups.
As entrepreneur Bo Peabody says, “The best way to ensure that lucky things happen is to make sure a lot of things happen.”
Steven Johnson says, “Chance favors the connected mind.”
“Keeping your options open” is frequently more of a risk than committing to a plan of action.
Many failures in results can be chalked up to people trying to keep their options open. As my dad once told me, making a decision reduces opportunities in the short run, but increases opportunities in the long run. To move forward in your career, you have to commit to specific opportunities as part of an iterative plan, despite doubt and despite inconvenience. If not now, when?
Of the voluminous research on risk, remarkably little of it actually analyzes how real businesspeople make real decisions in the real world. An exception is a study done by professor Zur Shapira in 1991. He asked about seven hundred high-level executives from the United States and Israel to describe how they think about risk in different scenarios. What he found likely came as a disappointment to architects of fancy decision trees. The executives surveyed didn’t calculate the mathematical expected value of various scenarios. They didn’t draft long lists of pros and cons. Instead, most simply tried to get a handle on a single yes-or-no question: Could they tolerate the outcome if the worst-case scenario happened? So the first thing you want to ask of a possible opportunity is, If the worst-case scenario happens, would I still be in the game?
But the biggest and best opportunities frequently are the ones with the most question marks. Don’t let uncertainty lull you into overestimating the risk.
Nonvolatile environments give only an illusion of stability: “Dictatorships that do not appear volatile, like, say, Syria or Saudi Arabia, face a larger risk of chaos than, say, Italy, as the latter has been in a state of continual political turmoil since the [Second World War].
A decade ago, Bill Gates wrote: “The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
One of the key messages we hope you’ve taken away from this book is that you are changing, the people around you are changing, and the broader world is changing—so it’s inevitable the playbook will evolve and adapt. So start tapping into your network. Start investing in skills. Start taking intelligent risks. Start pursuing breakout opportunities. But most of all, start forging your own differentiated career plans; start adapting these rules to your own adaptive life. For life in permanent beta, the trick is to never stop starting. The start-up is you.
I want to meet beautiful women and love them and be loved and petted by them.
… I have read about them in books, and what it says in them must be true since it is written in such as clear and heartfelt way.
… Funny, silly people have a hard time making friends. People don’t trust them.
School is the unavoidable choker around the neck of youth, and I confess that it is a valuable piece of jewelry indeed. What a burden we would be to our parents, workers, passerby, shop owners, if we didn’t have to go to school! What would we spend our time doing, if not homework!
Our honour, though, is the limits we place on our actions.
…our hearts are like our landscapes: rough, but not infertile.
Music always makes me feel sad, but sad like a sad smile. What I’m trying to say is: friendly-sad.
Writing is about getting quietly worked up.
… being totally in the grip of passion is never smart, but it is beautiful.
Why should I be what I am not, and not be what I am? That would be stupid.
Envy is a kind of insanity. Everyone should respect the situation in which he finds himself: It’s better for everyone that way.
Anyone who speaks the truth is always rude.
I cultivated familiar dealings with everything no one notices.
I did no harm to anyone, and no one did any harm to me either. I was so nicely, wonderfully apart.
“That’s entirely thanks to me” is something a person likes to say.
Immoderate laughter is so pleasant.
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.
—Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz”
“(Leonard Cohen’s) name in the monastery, Jikan, referred to the silence between two thoughts.”
Sitting still = “Real profound and voluptuous and delicious entertainment.”
“(Sitting still) seems to me the most luxurious and sumptuous response to the emptiness of my own existence.”
“Going nowhere… was the grand adventure that makes sense of everywhere else.”
“Going nowhere… is not about austerity so much as about coming closer to one’s senses.”
“Going nowhere…isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.”
“As America’s wisest psychologist, William James, reminded us, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
Henry David Thoreau: “It matters not where or how far you travel—the farther commonly the worse—but how much alive you are.”
“Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.”
“I felt the liberation of not needing to take my thoughts, my ambitions—my self—so seriously.”
Matthieu Ricard: “Simplifying one’s life to extract its quintessence is the most rewarding of all the pursuits I have undertaken.”
Rainer Maria Rilke: “Always there is World and never Nowhere without the No: that pure unseparated element which one breathes without desire and endlessly knows.”
Blaise Pascal: “All the unhappiness of men arises from one simple fact: that they cannot sit quietly in their chamber.”
“After Admiral Richard E. Byrd spent nearly five months alone in a shack in the Antarctic, in temperatures that sank to 70 degrees below zero, he emerged convinced that “Half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need.”
“Researchers in the new field of interruption science have found that it takes an average of twenty-five minutes to recover from a phone call.”
“The one word for which the adjective “holy” is used in the Ten Commandments is Sabbath.In the book of Numbers, God actually condemns to death a man found collecting wood on the Sabbath. The book on the Sabbath is the longest one in the Torah, as Judith Shulevitz explains in her fine work, The Sabbath World. Another part of the Torah, dealing with the Sabbath’s boundaries, takes up 105 pages more.”
“One day Mahatma Gandhi was said to have woken up and told those around him, “This is going to be a very busy day. I won’t be able to meditate for an hour.” His friends were taken aback at this rare break from his discipline. “I’ll have to meditate for two,” he spelled out.”
“One of the strange laws of the contemplative life,” Thomas Merton, one of its sovereign explorers, pointed out, “is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until they somehow solve themselves. Or until life solves them for you.”
“And it’s only by going nowhere—by sitting still or letting my mind relax—that I find that the thoughts that come to me unbidden are far fresher and more imaginative than the ones I consciously seek out.”
“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.
In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.
And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”
Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.
So if you are unable to read all the books in your possession, you have enough when you have all the books you are able to read.
Each day, too, acquire something which will help you to face poverty, or death, and other ills as well. After running over a lot of different thoughts, pick out one to be digested thoroughly that day.
You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.
It is not the man who has too little who is poor, but the one who hankers after more.
“Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.” – Dieter Rams
Jonathan Ive: “The CSV 12 amplifier rotary switch, for example, is perfect. It could not be better, simpler, clearer, or more beautiful. It brings order and explanation to what is a far more complex problem than the user could possibly conceive.”
“ Even at an early age Rams showed himself to be somewhat wilful and stubborn. ‘I was an absolute outsider,’ he recalls, and often got into trouble with authoritarian figures. ”
Rams: “I was always concerned that things should be plain, straightforward. For as long as I can remember that was what I wanted.”
“I wanted to stay in architecture,’ he remembers. ‘I wanted to be a town planner. In fact if I could do it all again, I would have liked to do landscape planning – dealing with the whole system (Gesamtkonzept), not individual elements, such as reclaiming industrial landscapes and uncontrolled urban development. It is all still far too uncoordinated.’ Even as a student he was gripped by the idea of tidying up the world and making it a better place.”
“Indeed, the name Dieter Rams is almost synonymous with that of the German domestic appliance manufacturer Braun. He worked for the company from 1955 until he retired in 1997 and during that time designed or co-designed more than 500 products, from hairdryers and coffee makers to hi-fi systems and televisions, many of which have been hailed as masterpieces of contemporary product design.”
“British designer Jasper Morrison calls Vitsœ’s 606 Universal Shelving System the ‘endgame in shelving’ – as close to perfect design as it is possible to get.”
“His exquisite attention to detail, genius for interface reduction and almost poetic sense of harmony and balance means that few come close, even today, to the level of refinement that he achieved.”
“(Former Bauhaus teacher Wilhelm) Wagenfeld ended his speech by saying that the simpler an industrial product, the harder it is to make, because simplicity comes from a degree of self-assuredness on the part of the designer. A ‘simple’ industrial product has a clarity that is free from the desires and constraints of each of its creators. ”
“…Wolfgang Schmittel, who had redesigned the Braun logo. Schmittel helped define the company’s corporate image until he left the firm in 1980. He developed the sparse, functional graphic style that defined its identity: often monochrome, typography-led print media with images that explained the products to the user. As with the products, this approach was radically different from that of the competition. The starkness of the Braun corporate imagery made it stand out a mile.”
“The PA 1 first automatic slide projector was the first appliance that Rams designed solely. His signature muted chromatic greys, soft edges, superb detailing, colour highlights for button controls and haptic sense for the surface qualities of component materials were all present in this first piece, which came on the market by 1956.”
“1956 was also the year in which Dieter Rams began working on a product that became legendary for Braun, and raised his profile considerably. The super phonograph SK 4, nicknamed ‘Snow White’s Coffin’, was a combined radio and record player that is widely considered to mark the beginning of the modern domestic music system. ”
“He describes the work atmosphere in the early 1960s as being ‘very serious but with lots of energy’. The department, he adds, was like an apartment: ‘you had to ring a doorbell to come in’. The team worked very hard at their individual projects, but communication between them was constant, so there was little need for group discussions. Although Rams was the boss, remembers Lubs, everyone else had a voice. The studio appears to have been rather like a college workshop. ‘If Dieter did not like something, he would say, “Is that good?” or “Do you think it is finished?”,’ he recalls. ‘After work the team socialized together as well,’ he adds, ‘bringing along their girlfriends, going out for drinks, to listen to jazz, celebrating birthdays together … The company had a hierarchy but it was also open house. There was constant discussion, taking and giving, we were all filled with the same goal.’ ”
“The design historian Klaus Klemp states: ‘Apart from his own design work, this is the second greatest achievement of Dieter Rams: establishing a design department within a company, which succeeded for decades in preserving its own individual approach and rigorously advancing it, without really being influenced by changing market interests.”
“When asked to discuss the Braun ‘philosophy’, he talked increasingly about his philosophy and that of his team: ‘We are economical with form and colour, prioritize simple forms, avoid unnecessary complexity, do without ornament. Instead [there is] order and clarification. We measure every detail against the question of whether it serves function and facilitates handling.”
“When talking about Braun design, Dieter Rams often likes to quote a simile that he says came from Erwin Braun: ‘Our electrical appliances should be humble servants, to be seen and heard as little as possible. that one hardly noticed.’ He describes his own approach in equally understated terms: ‘I try to develop appliances for daily use, that do not hurt the eye (or other sensory organs); and I try to make sure that they are then produced and sold for an acceptable price that the normal consumer can afford. That’s about it really.”
“Braun design under Rams was all about reduction and simplicity, but it came at a high price in terms of time and painstaking effort. Rams’s even simpler motto ‘Less but better’ is all about striving for a result that appears as light and effortless as possible.”
Rams: “The composition of these rooms represents the basic intention behind my design: simplicity, essentiality and openness. The objects do not boast about themselves, take centre stage or restrict but withdraw into the background. Their reduction and unobtrusiveness generate space. The orderliness is not restrictive but liberating. In a world which is filling up at a disconcerting pace, that is destructively loud and visually confusing, design has the task in my view to be quiet, to help generate a level of calm that allows people to come to themselves. The contra position to this is a design that strongly stimulates, that wants to draw attention to itself and arouse strong emotions. For me this is inhumane because it adds in its way to the chaos that confuses, numbs and lames us.”
Rams: “Working for me does not mean so much designing in the usual sense of the term, but more contemplation, reading and talking. Design is in the first instance a thinking process.”
“when Dieter Rams went to his boss Erwin Braun in 1957 and asked for permission to design furniture for Zapf in addition to his work at Braun, the response was immediate and positive. ‘It was not usual in those days when you were employed by a company to work externally for someone else as well,’ recalls Rams, ‘but Erwin Braun thought it was a good idea. I can still hear his words:“Let Rams make furniture, it will be good for our radios”.’ But there was considerable resistance to the idea within the company from colleagues and technicians. ‘He [Erwin] was the only one to think outside the box and see that it could only be an advantage. Without his support I would never have been able to do it,’ says Rams.”
“Rams wanted to design ‘utility’ furniture with a ‘variety of functions and auxiliary functions’. The versatility of his system allowed the user to arrange and re-arrange the units to their heart’s content, creating a living environment that can be adapted to a changing lifestyle. His aim was that manual input during manufacture should be kept to a minimum so that the system could be affordable. He also intended for the component aspect of the system to greatly reduce storage and transport costs between manufacturer and customer. Finally, the reduced nature and visual neutrality of this furniture, believed Rams, should also liberate the owner from an environment that is dominated by furniture and allow for freedom of individual expression. ‘My intention is to omit every unneeded element in order to place the essentials in the foreground. Forms will then become placid, soothingly comprehensible and long-lasting,’ he said. Thus, by creating a highly standardized system, he hoped to deliver a versatile, low-cost, bespoke furniture solution that would be available to a large number of people. ”
Rams: “I believe that the secret of the longevity of my furniture lies in its simplicity and restraint. Furniture should not dominate, it should be quiet, pleasant, understandable and durable.”
Rams: “Perhaps more directly than with the Braun products, my furniture arose from a belief in how the world should be ‘furnished’ and how man should live in this artificial environment. In this respect, each piece of furniture is also a design for a certain kind of world and way of living, they reflect a specific vision of mankind’.”
“he wanted to make a new kind of furniture that was above all ‘simple’, not in terms of being sterile and empty, but as a ‘liberation from the dominance of things’. Rams wanted to design a living environment that allowed for freedom of expression. In order to achieve this, his furniture first needed to be free from the superfluous and the fashionable. It needed to be quiet and almost introverted in form and colour, harmonious and well thought through right down to the last tiny detail. The second quality that Rams required of his furniture was flexibility of function, hence the systems and the components that permitted adaptation and change. Third, his furniture had to be of high quality in terms of design, materials and construction to allow for a long life: ‘A Vitsœ furniture system is designed to survive decades of use, extension, alteration and relocation without damage, and it does’. But he adds: ‘Unfortunately, this high quality led to prices that gave what should have been simple, uncomplicated and materially economical fuctional furniture a degree of exclusivity that was never intended.”
Rams: “My heart belongs to the details. I actually always found them to be more important than the big picture. Nothing works without details. They are everything, the baseline of quality’.”
“Between 1955 and 1995 Braun manufactured more than 1,200 products and Dieter Rams was directly involved in designing 514 of them.”
Naoto Fukasawa: “Lately I have become occupied by edges and corners – tiny details that are simplified and smoothened in the millimetre realm to reach a simpler state. These are tiny details but they involve great effort … Industrial designers have to work on the tiniest points and edges to have meaning. Industrial design is a precise job – it took me thirty years to realize this.”
“Few of the products designed at Braun between 1955 and 1995 could be described as colourful. The principal colours used for appliances and other products were white, pale grey, black or metallic and, of course, there was careful reasoning behind this palette. One of the key aspects of Braun philosophy at this time was that products should be what Erwin Braun called ‘faithful servants’; they should accompany and serve an individual over a long period of time without hindering or disturbing through ‘extravagant forms, loud colours or flashy proportions’.”
Rams: “I have always laid emphasis on the fact that a product can be brought to “speak” through good design. My aim has always been to raise the self-explanatory aspect. I never trusted instruction manuals – we all know that most people don’t read them. The information always came through how the product looked – with the colour-coding/labelling. Red is demanding, green is more restrained and so on.”
“The analogue clocks may have appeared basic but their simple appearance concealed a significant amount of engineering and new technology. The delicate transition between sleeping and waking was the subject of much research by the design team. Some of the many experiments with different buttons and switches included infra-red sensors that reacted to a wave of the hand, which Braun called reflex control, and voice control, so that the alarms turned off when the user shouted at them. Many of the clock switches were simply colour-coded with a thin green stripe or dot on the switch to signify ‘alarm on’, for example, or had a Braille-like ridge on one side so the user could locate the switch position by feel alone. These were particularly easy to operate – another concession to the rather vulnerable and unfocused state of the sleepy user.”
“‘Psychological functionality is essential in the detail of a product,’ says Rams. ‘The old mechanical buttons had a concave form because of the pressure needed to push them. But we made the electronic buttons [of the ET calculators] convex, because hitting the right point had become more important than pressure. We got the graphic design details so right that although the technology changed, the design of these calculators remained the same for 20 years.”
“Good design is as little design as possible’ is one of Dieter Rams’s most famous and favourite phrases. He means this in the sense that a well-designed product should be so good that it is barely noticeable. By omitting the unnecessary, says Rams, the essential factors come to the fore: the products become ‘quiet, pleasing, comprehensible and long-lasting’. 1 However to arrive at products with this quality the designer has to travel a very long and difficult path filled with questions, trials, discussion and experimentation.”
“Rams is always at pains to stress that the duty of industrial design is first and foremost to users and the users are, generally, human beings, with all their complexities, habits, ideas and idiosyncrasies: ‘Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design. Function-orientated design is the fruit of intense, comprehensive, patient and contemplative reflection on reality, on life, on the needs, desires and feelings of people.”
“the designer is the user’s advocate within the company,”
Rams: “It is hard to discuss aesthetic quality. For two reasons: firstly, it is difficult to talk about anything visual since words have a different meaning for different people. Secondly, aesthetic quality deals with details, subtle shades, harmony and the equilibrium of a whole variety of visual elements. A good eye is required, schooled by years and years of experience, in order to be able to draw the right conclusions.”
Rams: “It is difficult, strenuous, energy-consuming to live with objects, to be surrounded by objects which are off-balance, obtrusive, confusingly complicated or dishonest”
Rams: “We are convinced that a well-balanced, quiet, clear, neutral and simple design corresponds best to the real needs of the users.”
Rams: “I wanted to clean up, to get rid of the chaos,’ he says of himself at the beginning of his career, ‘But the chaos has got worse since then. Chaos from products, noise and pollution. We are not really in control of anything. In those days I just wanted to tidy up people’s immediate environment. Now we have to clean up a whole world.”
“Rams makes an interesting semantic distinction between users and consumers when he talks about the people at whom his products are aimed. The general term for consumer in German is Verbraucher, which can literally be translated as ‘one who uses things up’ or ‘consumes’ things. However, Rams prefers to use the term Gebraucher, which translates as ‘one who makes use of something’ – the user.”
Rams: “People of subsequent centuries will get the shivers when they look at the thoughtlessness with which we today litter our apartments, our cities, our landscape with a chaos of junk of every description. What fatalistic indifference we have towards the impact of things. Think of all the impositions we endure of which we are only half aware”
“Dieter Rams’s well-known catchphrase ‘Weniger aber besser’ (‘Less but Better’), is at once an exhortation to reduce individual products to the best of what is essential and a clarion call to change consumer culture.”
“His most far-reaching suggestion is a leasing system whereby manufacturers no longer sell household appliances to customers. The products would remain the property of the manufacturer and the user pays to use them. When they have finished using the product or it needs repairing, it would go back to the manufacturer who updates it, repairs it or recycles it. This system, he believes, would dramatically reduce quantity and improve quality since it is everyone’s interest that the appliances work well and last longer. ”
Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design (link)
“By all means reduce, says Rams, but only in the service of utility and the user – not for the sake of aesthetic reasons alone. Reduce quantity, superficiality, greed, waste and excess and at the same time increase: increase humility, quality and the effort to achieve better products, better design and thereby a better world: ‘There must be millions less of things, less words, less gestures, less of everything. But every word and every gesture will become more valuable. If we can put it all into perspective we will need less things as a result’.”
“he was at pains to propagate his message and encourage designers, politicians, business and the public to question ‘unlimited quantitative growth’ and be ‘brave, open and competent enough to orientate ourselves anew in order to massively redesign our lifestyles and with them our future on this planet’.”
Rams: “In my experience, things which are different simply to be different are seldom better but that which is better is almost always different’.”
i wrote on what i learnt from this amazing book here.
“you have a mental dialogue going on inside your head that never stops.”
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind—you are the one who hears it. If you don’t understand this, you will try to figure out which of the many things the voice says is really you. People go through so many changes in the name of “trying to find myself.” They want to discover which of these voices, which of these aspects of their personality, is who they really are. The answer is simple: none of them.”
“much of what the voice says is meaningless. Most of the talking is just a waste of time and energy. The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it.”
“Eventually you will see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems.”
“If you can’t get the world the way you like it, you internally verbalize it, judge it, complain about it, and then decide what to do about it. This makes you feel more empowered. When your body experiences cold, there may be nothing you can do to affect the temperature. But when your mind verbalizes, “It’s cold!” you can say, “We’re almost home, just a few more minutes.” Now you feel better. In the thought world there’s always something you can do to control the experience.”
“You will come to see that the mind talks all the time because you gave it a job to do. You use it as a protection mechanism, a form of defense. Ultimately, it makes you feel more secure. As long as that’s what you want, you will be forced to constantly use your mind to buffer yourself from life, instead of living it. This world is unfolding and really has very little to do with you or your thoughts. It was here long before you came, and it will be here long after you leave. In the name of attempting to hold the world together, you’re really just trying to hold yourself together.”
“You have to break the habit of thinking that the solution to your problems is to rearrange things outside. The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality. Once you do that, you’ll be clear enough to deal with what’s left.”
“Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950), a great teacher in the yogic tradition, used to say that to attain inner freedom one must continuously and sincerely ask the question “Who am I?” He taught that this was more important than reading books, learning mantras, or going to holy places. Just ask, “Who am I? Who sees when I see? Who hears when I hear? Who knows that I am aware? Who am I?”
“When you are an aware being, you no longer become completely immersed in the events around you. Instead, you remain inwardly aware that you are the one who is experiencing both the events and the corresponding thoughts and emotions. When a thought is created in this state of awareness, instead of getting lost in it, you remain aware that you are the one who is thinking the thought. You are lucid.”
“To begin with, consciousness has the ability to do what is called “focus.” It is part of the nature of consciousness. The essence of consciousness is awareness, and awareness has the ability to become more aware of one thing and less aware of something else. In other words, it has the ability to focus itself on certain objects. ”
“True meditation is beyond the act of simple, one-pointed concentration. For the deepest meditation, you must not only have the ability to focus your consciousness completely on one object, you must also have the ability to make awareness itself be that object. In the highest state, the focus of consciousness is turned back to the Self.”
“There is a very simple method for staying open. You stay open by never closing. It’s really that simple. All you have to do is decide whether you are willing to stay open, or whether you think it’s worth closing. You can actually train yourself to forget how to close.”
“As long as you are defining what you like and what you don’t like, you will open and close. You are actually defining your limits. You are allowing your mind to create triggers that open and close you. Let go of that. Dare to be different. Enjoy all of life.”
“The most important thing in life is your inner energy. If you’re always tired and never enthused, then life is no fun. But if you’re always inspired and filled with energy, then every minute of every day is an exciting experience. Learn to work with these things. Through meditation, through awareness and willful efforts, you can learn to keep your centers open. You do this by just relaxing and releasing. You do this by not buying into the concept that there is anything worth closing over. Remember, if you love life, nothing is worth closing over. Nothing, ever, is worth closing your heart over.”
“The alternative is to enjoy life instead of clinging to it or pushing it away. If you can live like that, each moment will change you. If you are willing to experience the gift of life instead of fighting with it, you will be moved to the depth of your being. When you reach this state, you will begin to see the secrets of the heart. The heart is the place through which energy flows to sustain you. This energy inspires you and raises you. It is the strength that carries you through life”
“The reward for not protecting your psyche is liberation. You are free to walk through this world without a problem on your mind. You are just having fun experiencing whatever happens next. Because you got rid of that scared part of you, you don’t ever have to worry about getting hurt or disturbed. You no longer have to listen to “What will they think of me?” or, “Oh God, I wish I hadn’t said that. It sounded so stupid.” You just go about your business and put your whole being into whatever’s happening, instead of putting your whole being into your personal sensitivity.”
“Just commit to not letting the energy draw you in. When you feel the pull, like somebody pulling on your heart, you just let go. You fall behind it. You simply relax and release. And no matter how many times you’re pulled, that’s how many times you relax and release. Because the tendency to get drawn in is constant, the willingness to let go and fall behind has to be constant.”
“There is nothing wrong with feeling the energies of fear, jealousy, or attraction. It’s not your fault that such energies exist. All the attractions, repulsions, thoughts, and feelings don’t make any difference. They don’t make you pure or impure. They are not you. You are the one who’s watching, and that one is pure consciousness. ”
“People don’t understand that fear is a thing. It’s just another object in the universe that you are capable of experiencing. You can do one of two things with fear: you can recognize that you have it and work to release it, or you can keep it and try to hide from it. Because people don’t deal with fear objectively, they don’t understand it. They end up keeping their fear and trying to prevent things from happening that would stimulate it. They go through life attempting to create safety and control by defining how they need life to be in order to be okay. This is how the world becomes frightening.
“Only someone who looks deeper, and questions why we need the events of life to be a particular way, will question this assumption. How did we come up with the notion that life is not okay just the way it is, or that it won’t be okay the way it will be? Who said that the way life naturally unfolds is not all right?”
“The spiritual journey is one of constant transformation. In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same, and learn to embrace change at all times. ”
“You must look inside yourself and determine that from now on pain is not a problem. It is just a thing in the universe. ”
“You will never be free, however, until you get to the point where you are willing to release the initial pain instead of avoiding it. You must learn to transcend the tendency to avoid the pain.”
“In truth, pain is the price of freedom. And the moment you are willing to pay that price, you will no longer be afraid. The moment you are not afraid of the pain, you’ll be able to face all of life’s situations without fear.”
“When you are comfortable with pain passing through you, you will be free. This world will never be able to bother you again because the worst the world can do is to hit the pain stored within you. ”
“Since the analytical mind cannot handle the infinite, you created an alternate reality of finite thoughts that can remain fixed within your mind. You have taken the whole, broken it into pieces, and selected a handful of these pieces to be put together in a certain way within your mind. This mental model has become your reality. You must now struggle day and night to make the world fit your model, and you label everything that doesn’t fit as wrong, bad, or unfair.”
“Imagine a comfort zone that is so expanded that it can easily fit the entire day, no matter what happens. The day unfolds and the mind doesn’t say anything. You simply interact with the day with a peaceful, fully inspired heart. If your edges happen to get hit, the mind doesn’t complain. It all just passes through. This is how great beings live. ”
“You literally define yourself based on what you believe: “I believe in God or I don’t believe in God. I believe in peace and nonviolence, or I believe in survival of the fittest. I believe in capitalism, or I believe in neo-socialism.” You take a set of thoughts in the mind and you hold onto them. You make a highly complex relational structure out of them, and then present that package as who you are. But it is not who you are. It is just the thoughts you have pulled around yourself in an attempt to define yourself. You do this because you are lost inside.”
“You want people to be steady enough so that you can predict their behavior. If they aren’t, it disturbs you. This is because you have made your predictions of their behavior part of your inner model. This protective shield of beliefs and concepts regarding the outside world acts as insulation between you and the people you interact with. By having preconceived notions about other people’s behavior, you feel safer and more in control. Imagine the fear you would feel if you let the entire wall down.”
“You will just be aware that tremendous changes are taking place. You will be aware that there is no solidity and you will become comfortable with that. You will be aware that each moment of each day is unfolding and you neither have control, nor crave it. You have no concepts, no hopes, no dreams, no beliefs, and no security. You are no longer building mental models of what’s going on, but life is going on anyway. You are perfectly comfortable just being aware of it. Here comes this moment, then the next moment, and then the next. But that’s really what has always happened. Moment after moment has been passing before your consciousness. The difference is that now you see it happening.”
“What it means to live spiritually is to not participate in this struggle. It means that the events that happen in the moment belong to the moment. They don’t belong to you. They have nothing to do with you. You must stop defining yourself in relationship to them, and just let them come and go. Don’t allow events to leave impressions inside of you. If you find yourself thinking about them later on, just let go. If an event happens that doesn’t fit your conceptual model, and you see yourself struggling and rationalizing to make it fit, just notice what you’re doing.”
“You must learn to be comfortable with psychological disturbance. If your mind becomes hyperactive, just watch it. If your heart starts to heat up, let it go through what it must. Try to find the part of you that is capable of noticing that your mind is hyperactive and that your heart is heating up. That part is your way out. There is no way out through building this model of yours. The only way to inner freedom is through the one who watches: the Self. The Self simply notices that the mind and emotions are unraveling, and that nothing is struggling to hold them together.”
“When your mind is disturbed, don’t ask, “What do I do about this?” Instead ask, “Who am I that notices this?”
“People tend to burden themselves with so many choices. But, in the end, you can throw it all away and just make one basic, underlying decision: Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy? It’s really that simple. Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear.”
“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy.”
“The key to staying happy is really very simple. Begin by understanding your inner energies. If you look inside, you will see that when you’re happy, your heart feels open and the energy rushes up inside of you. ”
“Stress only happens when you resist life’s events. ”
“You will be surprised to find that in most situations there’s nothing to deal with except for your own fears and desires. Fear and desire make everything seem so complicated. If you don’t have fear or desire about an event, there’s really nothing to deal with. You simply allow life to unfold and interact with it in a natural and rational manner. When the next thing happens, you’re fully present in that moment and simply enjoying the experience of life. There are no problems. It’s all about no problems, no tension, no stress, and no burnout. When the events of this world make it through you, you have reached a deep spiritual state. You can then be conscious in the presence of whatever takes place, without building up blocked energies. When you attain that state, everything becomes clear.”
“Relationships are a great way to work with yourself. Imagine if you used relationships to get to know other people, rather than to satisfy what is blocked inside of you. If you’re not trying to make people fit into your preconceived notions of what you like and dislike, you will find that relationships are not really that difficult. If you’re not so busy judging and resisting people based upon what is blocked inside of you, you will find that they are much easier to get along with—and so are you. Letting go of yourself is the simplest way to get closer to others.”
“The key is to just relax and release, and deal only with what’s left in front of you.”
“To comfortably handle this flow of life, your heart and mind must be open and expansive enough to encompass reality. The only reason they’re not is because you resist. Learn to stop resisting reality, and what used to look like stressful problems will begin to look like the stepping-stones of your spiritual journey.”
“How much love could you give the ones you love, knowing it would be the last time you’d get to be with them? Think about what it would be like if you lived like that every moment with everyone. Your life would be really different. You should contemplate this. Death is not a morbid thought. Death is the greatest teacher in all of life.”
“What actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it. It isn’t any particular event; it’s the willingness to experience life’s events.”
“You have to understand that it is your attempt to get special experiences from life that makes you miss the actual experience of life. Life is not something you get; it’s something you experience. Life exists with or without you. It has been going on for billions of years. You simply get the honor of seeing a tiny slice of it. If you’re busy trying to get something, you will miss the slice you’re actually experiencing. Every one of life’s experiences is different, and every experience is worth having. Life is not something to waste. It’s truly precious. That’s why death is such a great teacher. It is death that makes life precious. Look how precious life becomes when you imagine you only have a week left to live. How precious would life be if there was no such thing as death? You’d waste every second of it because you’d figure you’d always have it. It is scarcity that makes things precious. It is scarcity that makes a simple rock become a rare gem.”
“In the Tao, you are blind, and you have to learn how to be blind. You can never see where the Tao is going; you can only be there with it. A blind person walks down a city street with the use of a cane. Let’s give that cane a name: it’s the seeker of the extremes, it’s the feeler of the edges, it’s the toucher of the yin and the yang. People who walk with the use of that cane often tap from side to side. They’re not trying to find where they should walk; they’re trying to find where they shouldn’t walk. They’re finding the extremes. If you cannot see your way, all you can do is feel for the edges. But if you feel the edges, and don’t go there, you will stay in the Way. That’s how you live in the Tao.”
“To see, to experience, and to honor is to participate in life instead of standing back and judging it.”
He never met anyone he felt like getting to know better, so he spent most of his time in Tokyo alone. On the plus side, he read constantly, more than he ever had before.
You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.
There are certain thoughts that, no matter what, you have to keep inside.
Jealousy—at least as far as he understood it from his dream—was the most hopeless prison in the world. Jealousy was not a place he was forced into by someone else, but a jail in which the inmate entered voluntarily, locked the door, and threw away the key. And not another soul in the world knew he was locked inside
This might sound rude, but I think it’s an amazing achievement to find even one specific thing that you’re interested in.
I don’t have any set, clear goal like you. I just want to think deeply about things. Contemplate ideas in a pure, free sort of way. That’s all.
“The cook hates the waiter, and they both hate the customer,” Haida said. “A line from the Arnold Wesker play The Kitchen. People whose freedom is taken away always end up hating somebody. Right? I know I don’t want to live like that.”
“Everything has boundaries. The same holds true with thought. You shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you also should not be afraid of destroying them. That’s what is most important if you want to be free: respect for and exasperation with boundaries. What’s really important in life is always the things that are secondary. That’s about all I can say.”
Something must be fundamentally wrong with me, Tsukuru often thought. Something must be blocking the normal flow of emotions, warping my personality. But Tsukuru couldn’t tell whether this blockage came about when he was rejected by his four friends, or whether it was something innate, a structural issue unrelated to the trauma he’d gone through.
The world isn’t that easily turned upside down, Haida replied. It’s people who are turned upside down.
Apart from whether I like it or not, I don’t reject thinking about things that aren’t logical. It’s not like I have some deep faith in logic. I think it’s important to find the point of intersection between what is logical and what is not.
You need to use the thread of logic, as best you can, to skillfully sew onto yourself everything that’s worth living for.
“I understand, but maybe it only appears, from the outside, that the wound is closed.” Sara gazed into his eyes and spoke quietly. “Maybe inside the wound, under the scab, the blood is still silently flowing. Haven’t you ever thought that?”
Haida liked looking things up at the library. Generally this meant I want to be alone for a while.
Basically a quick, impromptu brainwashing course to educate your typical corporate warriors. They use a training manual instead of sacred scriptures, with promotion and a high salary as their equivalent of enlightenment and paradise. A new religion for a pragmatic age. No transcendent elements like in a religion, though, and everything is theorized and digitalized. Very transparent and easy to grasp. And quite a few people get positive encouragement from this. But the fact remains that it’s nothing more than an infusion of the hypnotic into a system of thought that suits their goal, a conglomeration of only those theories and statistics that line up with their ultimate objectives.
And no matter how close we once were, and how much we opened up to each other, maybe neither of us knew anything substantial about the other.
But it would take a while for his mind to catch up to reality. It was nobody’s fault.
“But I work for a company, so I can’t just do what I like. There are all kinds of boring things I have to do.”
One other thing I learned from working in a company was that the majority of people in the world have no problem following orders. They’re actually happy to be told what to do. They might complain, but that’s not how they really feel. They just grumble out of habit. If you told them to think for themselves, and make their own decisions and take responsibility for them, they’d be clueless. So I decided I could turn that into a business.
Take your time. I can wait, Sara had said. But things weren’t that simple. People are in constant motion, never stationary.
Still, being able to feel pain was good, he thought. It’s when you can’t even feel any pain anymore that you’re in real trouble.
Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language.
And in that moment, he was finally able to accept it all. In the deepest recesses of his soul, Tsukuru Tazaki understood. One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.
I survived the crisis. Swam through the night sea on my own. Each of us did what we had to do, in order to survive. I get the feeling that, even if we had made different decisions then, even if we had chosen to do things differently, we might have still ended up pretty much where we are now.
Everyone alive has a personality. It’s just more obvious with some people than with others.
No matter how honestly you open up to someone, there are still things you cannot reveal.
It’s just that it’s hard to survive in the real world.
We survived. You and I. And those who survive have a duty. Our duty is to do our best to keep on living. Even if our lives are not perfect.
There are some things women don’t want other people to see.
Don’t let the bad elves get you.
That amazing time in our lives is gone, and will never return. All the beautiful possibilities we had then have been swallowed up in the flow of time.
You don’t lack anything. Be confident and be bold. That’s all you need. Never let fear and stupid pride make you lose someone who’s precious to you.
But months passed, and contrary to his expectation, his heart didn’t stop. The heart apparently doesn’t stop that easily.
Sara said she has feelings for me. He had no reason to doubt it. But there are countless things in the world for which affection is not enough. Life is long, and sometimes cruel. Sometimes victims are needed. Someone has to take on that role.