CrossFit Open

We’ve learned that harnessing the natural camaraderie, competition and fun of sport or game yields an intensity that cannot be matched by other means. The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed, “the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.” It is our observation that men will die for points. Using whiteboards as scoreboards, keeping accurate scores and records, running a clock, and precisely defining the rules and standards for performance, we not only motivate unprecedented output, but derive both relative and absolute metrics at every workout.

– Greg Glassman

CrossFit Open, 3.2.1.go.

Soundscaped

Like many people, I tend to do my best works in ‘Goldilocks’ acoustic environments – not too quiet, not too loud, but just right. In college, for example, I never studied in the library, as I found the silence oppressive, and oddly distracting; I could never settle down to work. Conversely, I’ve long worked well in coffee shops, especially while listening to music through my own headphones just loud enough to somewhat muffle background noise.

But what kind of music? Anything with lyrics and I’m toast. As a trumpet player, most jazz, too, ends up sucking me into following the improvisations more than I intend. And any classical piece I’ve performed myself leads to my fingering the notes of the trumpet part along with the music.

So, instead, I tend to listen to a small number of albums, again and again. Keola Beemer’s White Mountain Journal, for example (much of which was used as score for Alexander Payne’s The Descendants), which iTunes tells me I’ve listened to north of 500 times.

Miraculously, I still like that album. As I still like the others on which I’ve been wearing off the grooves. But new, good choices are certainly a welcome change.

Which is why I was particularly happy to discover Focus@will, a music player serving up non-distracting background music while you work. You can choose from a slew of channels and energy levels, about a third of which I’m finding to be totally excellent for me.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. But if you, too, like to listen to music while you work, and would like to expand your listening repertoire to something less mind-numbing than albums on repeat, check it out. They have a 30 day free trial, so all you have to lose is an afternoon of sub-par productivity while you figure out if it’s a fit.

Them Bones

Sometimes, you learn that a bedrock principle of your life is wrong, and it shakes you to your core.

That’s how I felt, as a former dinosaur-loving kid, when I recently discovered there’s no such thing as a Brontosaurus.

Apparently, there’s a whole long story about the Bone Wars, an early paleontology feud between Othniel Charles Marsh (a fellow Yalie!) and Edward Drinker Cope, and mixing up parts of different dinosaurs (an Apatosaurus and a Camarasaurus). The moral of which is, there’s really no such thing as a Brontosaurus at all.

Holy crap.

Snot Nosed

In my younger days, I got sinusitis every winter. It’s sort of a family tradition, enough so that my father and brother both had sinus surgery to prevent it. On their recommendation, I bought a Neilmed sinus rinse bottle five years back. And nearly every morning since, I’ve sprayed saltwater up my nose. Gross as it initially seemed, it worked, and I haven’t had a single bout of sinusitis since.

Until, that is, this week. In the wake of my Juno flu, I’ve been full of boogers, unable to breathe, and coughing up a storm due to post-nasal drip. I’ve drank fluids, used the Neilmed twice daily, tried to rest and generally followed any get-well advice, all to no avail. Which led my father to share a tip he’d received in turn from an ENT colleague: when nasal irrigation with saltwater doesn’t cut it, research backs adding betadine or baby shampoo to the rinse as ways to knock out the biofilms driving the infection.

Though both additives sounded repulsive, I was getting desperate. So I swung through Duane Reade this evening, and picked up a bottle of each.

Turns out, if you mix betadine with saltwater, then spray it up your nose, it stinks of iodine, and burns a bit, but isn’t too bad.

On the other hand, if you do the same thing with baby shampoo, you end up with a nose full of lather. And, for about an hour after, you have a horrific lavender taste in the back of your mouth like you’re sucking an entire package of violet mints, along with intermittently coughing up bubble bath foam.

Let’s hope this combo works. And quickly. As I’m not sure how long I can stand keeping it up.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
-Henry Ford

Juno Flu

flu1

While the blizzard was a bust, I figured out a good way to spend my snow day nonetheless: in bed with the flu.

Gemelli and Penne have been keeping guard over me, and Jess has been kindly covering nursing duty on top of doing her own work from home.

Working on bouncing back fast!

Sited

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And, still on the Northstar front: we have a new website up that explains a bit more about what we’re up to.

[Relatedly: if you’re an awesome CrossFit coach, or know one, point them to our hiring page. It’s an excellent gig, and we’re staffing up fast.]

In the Mood

We’re gearing up for some Northstar build-outs, designing spaces that live up to the coaching, community and the broader member experience we’ve been developing. To that end, some mood boards we’ve pulled together:

Reception:

RECEPTION

Locker Rooms:

LOCKER ROOMS

Workout Space:

GYM SPACE

In short, we’re shooting for ’boutique hotel’ in the entrances and bathrooms, while keeping the WOD spaces to a gritty, industrial, authentically CrossFit feel. Looking forward to seeing them done!

Baby Steps

Johnny5-5

When we think about the future, we tend to imagine new technologies showing up in our lives fully formed. For example, you might expect that the next car you buy, and maybe even the car after that, will just be regular cars. But then, one car further into the future, you get a car that drives itself. A self-driving car! Out of nowhere! Skynet!

In reality, though, groundbreaking technologies usually arrive in the real world piecemeal, through slow, iterative feature introduction. Consider that self-driving car: your current car is likely already AI-enabled. You call that AI “cruise control,” and it keeps the car going at a steady speed without you having to put your foot on the gas or breaks. More recently, a number of car companies have introduced adaptive cruise control – cruise control that monitors whether the car in front of you is slowing down or speeding up, and adjusts accordingly. And for years, a number of car manufacturers have provided the option of parallel parking assistance – line up in front of a curbside space, and the car automatically backs you in.

Going forward, your car is likely to get slightly smarter still. It might, say, combine those two ideas, for cruise control that follows minor curves in the road, so you can drive a mostly-straightaway hands off. And then, perhaps, cruise control that connects to your GPS, so it can make the correct exit off the highway.

And so it goes. Baby-stepping forward, and arriving at the same self-driving car in about the same time frame as we might have originally predicted. But in an iterative way that doesn’t seem like magic, just the next obvious thing.

So when people complain that technology doesn’t solve big problems anymore, is more 140 characters than jetpacks, I think they’re only part right. Sure, we have more people doing laundry apps and dog walking SAS platforms than perhaps we should. But we also have way more authentic and impactful innovation happening in the things we use day to day in our lives – it’s just coming in slowly and steadily enough that we don’t notice it at all.

Which, depending on your perspective on technology, is either a bit like not noticing how much your children grow because you see them every day, or not realizing that you’re the frog in a pot of cool water on a hot burner, slowly and imperceptibly boiling to death.

Lindy Hop

exponential-growth

Recently, I’ve been obsessing about the Lindy Effect, an observation about the lifespan of stuff like technology and ideas.

In it’s original form, the Effect observes that every additional day of life achieved implies an even longer life expectancy yet.

Or, in plain English: on average, you’re halfway there. So there’s likely another half of the life of an idea or technology still to come.

Applied to startup companies, that means that, on average, you’re about halfway through your growth cycle, about half as big as you’re going to get.

Therefore, if you tell me your company is going to double in size in the future, I should probably believe you. But if you project 10x or 20x growth, I should be dubious.

The problem is, to double in size, you usually only have to do the kinds of things you’re already doing, just a bit more efficiently, or maybe with a little more economy of scale. But to hop up an order of magnitude, you need to do completely different things, in ways completely different from how you’re doing them now.

Psychologically, that’s challenging, the startup version of the Innovator’s Dilemma. You’re running the company the way that you’re running it because it works, because it’s what’s gotten you to where you are. But, to keep growing, to keep from stagnating indefinitely, you have to leave that safety behind, start trying out new things, think in bigger new ways, and risk failure all over again.

Which is hard. And stressful. But also necessary. It’s the only way you can build a company that doesn’t just double once, but somehow pulls off the exponential trick of doubling again and again and again.