Change the Game

I saw Moneyball with my father today and recommend it to anyone who appreciates numbers, entrepreneurship, the game of baseball, or sports photography (a lot of Wally Pfister’s camera work was superb). At the heart of the film, protagonist Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) needs to do a lot (build a championship team) with very little (one of the smallest budgets in the MLB) and change the game forever. Almost everyone questions, bashes, and rejects him along the way. Why try to change a game that’s been around for 150 years?

Everything changes. Politics change. Culture changes. People change. The ground beneath our feet changes. Empires rise and fall. Nothing is predictable. No one knows what the world will look like in years. But count on it being very different. You can fight it and fall behind. Or you can beat it and come out ahead. Why NOT change a game that’s been around for 150 years? It’s far more risky to preserve the game than change it. If you are not doing your part to stir things up and disrupt the world around you, you will most likely miss the train. Change the game.

Big Idea, Huh?

We all have great ideas. Wonderful. Can you communicate them? Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Steven Spielberg tapped into this notion when he encouraged movie pitches to be 25 words or less. While Spielberg’s suggestion had a lot to do with the marketability of a film, the 25-word exercise forces you to boil your idea down to its core and communicate it. The exercise forces you to understand your idea more clearly.

Ideas do not need to be simple. In fact, they shouldn’t be. But they will get nowhere if they cannot be communicated simply enough to share with others.

How to Conquer Writer’s Block

L.A. Times sportswriter Walter ‘Red’ Smith said, “There’s nothing more terrifying than a blank piece of paper.” If you set a goal to create, that blank piece of paper is your worst enemy. Starting is always the hardest part.

We stall ourselves with the question, “Where do I start?” It doesn’t matter. Just start. Put something on the page. Do not bother starting from the top, your introduction will come in time. Free yourself from linear thinking. Start at the core of what you want to say, the examples, the conclusion – whatever comes to you first. Free yourself from focused thinking – something irrelevant on the page is better than nothing at all. Who knows what arbitrary thoughts may inspire you?

I started this post with the words, “I don’t know what to write.” Thus, this post was born.

You have no excuses. Go write.

After Hours

What do you do when you come home from work or school? Keep working? Relax? Watch television? Read a book? Write? Work out? Spend time with family? Go to bed?

It is important to keep your body healthy and mind sharp. Family is very important, not to be neglected. Balance is the key to successful living. But consider: your after hours are unencumbered by the expectations of a paycheck or supervisor. You have the freedom to live, the freedom to grow, and the freedom to innovate.

Many of today’s most impactful creations did not manifest at the hands of large corporate teams, wealthy R&D divisions, or policymakers – they were conceived by individuals as hobbies after hours. Henry Ford experimented with his first gasoline engine at home while working for the Edison Illuminating Company. John Pemberton, a late nineteenth century pharmacist, bottled Coca-Cola as a side project. The Wright Brothers assembled gliders in the back of their bicycle shop. Google and Facebook were both parented by active college students. The list goes on.

Live your life doing what you want to do. Embrace your hobbies. Embrace your time. What you do after hours can liberate you.