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This morning, during breakfast, I spilled my coffee.

I reached for something at the end of the table and kicked over my cup. The coffee spilled over the table and went straight for my crotch. I was wearing white pants, I’m in a hotel in LA, it is the only pair of pants I have with me, in 30 minutes I have to do a super important presentation.

My reflexes are pretty good so I managed to stop the coffee from reaching my pants with my handkerchief just in time. I was saved.

Then I started thinking what would’ve happened if I had spilt the coffee on my pants. Well, I would’ve looked ridiculous with a large brown spot in the crotch area, that’s for sure. But how would it have affected my presentation?

They say it is always good to start a presentation off with a joke. That can lead to painful situations with people who don’t have a sense of humor trying to tell a joke which leads nowhere and only makes the presentation worse. But I do get the point. A small joke, a funny anecdote or a personal story releases tension, and makes the rest of your story easier to digest.

So why would it be so awful to look ridiculous when you start? If you can turn your “coffee in the crotch” story into a funny anecdote, one that everybody can relate too, one that will get you sympathy from the audience, then you are not losing face but winning over the audience.

It seems that sometimes when we do business we try to be as impersonal, perfect and inhuman as possible. We make sure we don’t smell, don’t have hairs sticking out and certainly don’t have any coffee spots anywhere. But what is the point? We ARE humans? We DO spill coffee now and then. It is our little imperfections that make us stand out from everybody else, give us our edge, makes us great entrepreneurs.

When it comes to designing for mobile devices, nothing beats seeing your work on the device you made it for. But before any code is deployed, your best bet is to rely on the highest quality mockups you can find — They’ll let you take advantage of any given product, both its strengths and its weaknesses.

Designing within your constraints saves tons of time in the longrun, and clients (along with nearly everyone else) will certainly prefer a fully-polished look. Most importantly, as mobile devices like smartphones and tablets continue to grow in popularity, everyone from UI designers to web developers should be keeping these new screens in mind.

Here’s 13 Photoshop PSDs and Vectors for iOS, Android, and Nokia devices. Pick your favorite and put them to work!

Ouch. Reed Hastings addressed a room of investors and media experts this week in a bid to reignite confidence in his company. After his curious speech, it’s unlikely many of them will be jumping back on the Netflix bandwagon anytime soon.

During a Q&A in a New York ballroom, Hastings said overconfidence had caused Netflix to resemble the country’s most troubled bank, Bank of America. He later added that Netflix has a new strategy to be “the Moneyball of content providers” a reference to a book about how the low-budget Oakland A’s used a knowledge of stats to compete with much richer teams

Although the session reflected Hastings deep knowledge of the entertainment business, his “better times are coming” message seemed at times to vacillate between an apology and wishful thinking.

Recall that Netflix is in a dreadful bind. The company is burning through cash at a time when content owners — many of which are developing streaming services of their own — are demanding exorbitant sums to share their shows. It is also smarting from a botched effort to split itself into two companies and from a disastrous corporate finance decision in which it blew a bundle to reacquire shares near their peak price. To shore up its cash holdings, Netflix last month had to sell new shares at a much lower price, further diluting its remaining value.

So what is Hastings’s strategy to escape this dilemma? “If you fundamentally believe Internet video will change the world … we’re the leading play on that thesis,” he said. “As long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot anymore, we should be a fantastic opportunity.”

Hastings’s hope appears to lie in the fact that the future will be dominated by streaming, a field in which Netflix has long been a leader. He claims that Netflix and content-rich HBO will become neck and neck rivals to serve consumers looking to stream shows on many different devices. Under this scenario, the two companies would soon resemble each other as a result of Netflix investing in content and HBO investing in distribution capacity. Hastings dismissed Amazon, which is streaming movies to its popular new Kindle Fire tablet, as a serious competitor, saying he sees the market as a two-horse race.

The other potential bright spot for Netflix is international expansion. Hastings repeatedly cited the company’s success in Canada where streaming was introduced this year. But Canada is only one-tenth the market size of the U.S. and Netflix’s larger global strategy is on hold while it concentrates on returning to profitability.

It is not clear when that return to profitability will occur. Hastings deflected a question about a return to profits by 2013 though he suggested the first quarters of next year were promising because Netflix has doubled its content.

Much is riding on this recent content strategy that includes a decision to purchase exclusive rights to a 26-part political drama House of Cards. The problem is that Netflix is in a position where it must pay more than anyone else for content, a fact that Hastings acknowledged. Unlike its rivals, it doesn’t have a vault of its own material that it can swap or license. Meanwhile, new competitors are barreling in all the time, including Verizon which is rumored to be introducing a web video service of its own.

Hence, the Moneyball strategy. Hastings says Netflix is using statistics about user views and other metrics in order to find the optimal amount to pay for each scrap of content. This is like what the Oakland A’s did in the 1990s, obtaining hidden gems that let them win baseball pennants on a shoestring payroll.

It sounds promising but it is worth noting that the A’s finished at the bottom of the American League last year, trounced by rich teams like the Yankees and Red Sox who now have stats gurus of their own. Just saying.

Jack Dorsey is doing pretty well at the entrepreneurial game, given that he’s Executive Chairman at Twitter, CEO of mobile card payments startup Square and, well, a founder of both companies. But have you ever wondered what it would be like juggling two of the tech industry’s fastest growing companies at once? Here’s how he does it.

As CNN reports today, Dorsey has a minute-by-minute plan for pulling everything together, and by his own admission, it requires a great deal of discipline to work a 16-hour day, as he noted during a talk yesterday at the Techonomy conference in Arizona.

Rather than spreading himself thinly across all aspects of both businesses, he zones in on one key area of corporate development, pushing everything else out of sight and, well, out of mind. Here’s what his weekly calendar looks like:

Monday: Management meetings and “running the company” work
Tuesday: Product development
Wednesday: Marketing, communications and growth
Thursday: Developers and partnerships
Friday: The company and its culture

Whilst weekends are a little slower for Dorsey (he hikes on Saturdays), it’s interesting to note that his Monday-Friday routine is applicable to BOTH companies – after 8 hours at Twitter, he literally walks 2 blocks to put in another 8 hour shift at Square.

“There’s interruptions all the time, but I can quickly deal with an interruption and know ‘it’s Tuesday, I have product meetings, I have to focus on product stuff,’” said Dorsey. “It sets a good cadence for the company.”

mobile uiCreating mobile user experiences that delight users forces us to rethink a lot of what we have taken for granted so far with desktop design. It is complicated in part by mobile-specific considerations that go hand in hand with small screens, wide variations in device features, constraints in usage and connectivity, and the hard-to-identify-but-ever-changing mobile context.

GUIDELINES

  • Prioritize and present core features from other channels that have especial relevance in a mobile environment. For an airline, this includes flight statuses and flight check-ins. For cosmetic chain Sephora, it includes supporting in-store shopping via easy access to product reviews on mobile devices.
  • Offer relevant mobile-only functionality (like barcode scanning and image recognition), and enhance functionality using the capabilities of mobile devices where possible to engage and delight users. Old Navy’s app serves up surprise games or savings when users snap the logo in a store.
  • Ensure that fundamental features and content are optimized for mobile. For example, make sure the store locator shows the nearest stores based on the device’s location, and make the phone numbers click-to-call.
  • Include features that are relevant to the business category. For retail websites and apps, this would include product search, order status and shopping cart.
  • Offer key capabilities across all channels. Users who sign in should see their personalized settings, irrespective of the device or channel being used. If certain functionality is not offered on mobile, then direct users to the appropriate channel, as TripIt does to set up a personal network

 

Content credit to SmashingMagazine

This is a great, and very tiny, segment of Steve Jobs speaking about how we perceive the world. It was just shared on Twitter by Dave Morin of Path and we thought that it was worth sharing.

This is a segment of an unknown interview that was aired as part of the recent PBS documentary. In it, a bearded and intense Jobs ruminates on breaking down the fact that the world is built, and therefore it can be remade. It’s probably the best 46 seconds of video you’ll watch today.

If anyone knows what interview this is from, let us know, we’d love to watch the whole thing.

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