Kings Of Ceiling

As promised this time last week. The eBay purchase turned out to be a print of a Kings Of Leon photograph, who shall forevermore survey my office from above.

I suspect there's a very fundable art project in purchasing items from eBay based purely on their physical dimensions but sadly I am far too busy with work to consider such pursuits. (This is also my excuse for a lack of more considered blog posts this week and last. Back to normal soon, I promise.)

Fixing a hole

I have a hole in the ceiling of my office where a section of ceiling tile is missing.

It measures precisely 17x26cm.

Once I have posted this, I will search eBay for '17x26cm' and sort by lowest price. I will then order the item nearest the top of the list which is rigid enough to fill the gap, regardless of what it is.

I shall report back in due course.

Lifting elevators

I had an interesting chat this week with a couple of nice chaps who run a digital agency. They've been honing the way they talk about their company in advance of a couple of upcoming events, and asked for my thoughts on how they might structure a quick verbal introduction—the good ol' elevator pitch.

They pride themselves on doing the best work possible for their clients and by all accounts are very good at it, boasting a portfolio of impressive projects for a raft of big brands. They see this passion and credibility as the obvious starting point for their pitch: "We love what we do. We're the best at it and we've worked for well-known company x, y and z."

I wrote last month about building credibility in your pitch rather than simply stating it. I felt that advice massively applied here; even if their audience believes every word they say this approach does nothing to differentiate them from the long line of other agencies in the same field professing equally strong credentials.

They need to start with something more—a big mission, vision or purpose—which sets them apart, something which can be discussed in the abstract before getting down to the nitty-gritty of what they do and how they do it. (Simon Sinek's 'Start With Why' again.)

But they've already been successful without articulating a greater purpose, by simply doing good work, retaining clients and having new business referred their way. So why bother bolting something on retrospectively?

I think this raises an important point of clarity on what I wrote previously:

  • When someone approaches you because they've heard good things about you, you're in a dominant position and only have to work hard at living up to expectations. By far this is the best way to win new customers (and, for that matter, investment).
  • However, when you approach someone cold to peddle your wares and want to make a good first impression, you're on the weakest side of the equation and have to be much more clever about how you introduce yourself.

The people I spoke with this week have enjoyed lots of the former but are about to start trying more of the latter. To do that, I think they need to stick to the tried-and-tested approach of highlighting a big problem / challenge / mission, outlining their (unique) solution / approach and backing their ability to deliver with some sterling credentials.

I'm not sure I fully convinced them. But have I you? Feel free to disagree...

Sleeping and walking

I flew off to Kraków with the family on Monday, where we've been walking around until our feet hurt and catching up on some much-needed sleep. So the writing will have to wait until next week, and you'll have to make do instead with some photos of our adventures.

Mech Tech

Due in no small part to a subreddit I stumbled upon last month, I have found this month's obsession: mechanical keyboards. 

A mechanical keyboard is one which uses old-fashioned metal switches and properly sprung keys with removable caps, rather than the rubber membranes used on the MacBook and other Apple keyboards. The switches themselves (the German Cherry MX being the brand of ubiquity) are available in a range of flavours, offering different sounds, resistance to pressure and tactile feedback.

They're revered in equal measure by PC gamers—on account of their more consistent and reliable operation—and writers who consider them the best tool for their craft. And they can be beautiful:

Being the sort of person who recognises that having the best tools will instantly transform one in a master of their craft, after some extensive research I placed my order—the Ducky One, 108 key, ISO layout and Cherry MX Brown switches:

I've been tapping away on it for a couple of weeks now. During this time my typing speed has dropped from 65 to 50 words per minute, I've started annoying those in neighbouring rooms with my incessant click-clacking and developed a deep ache in my forearms from angling my wrists up while reaching for its considerably more pronounced keys.

But I fully intend to persevere, not because I feel like an idiot for spending money on something which makes a job harder, but because I know it will help me become a better person. Like a high-performance car which demands more thought and discipline from its operator, but rewards with an infinitely greater driving experience. Or a wood-burning stove which, with all the stacking, chopping and carrying, is considerably more work than flicking on the central heating but delivers a warmth for which there is no scientific measure.