The Unknown

I prefer the unknown.

This is pretty simple. Pretty clear. This occurred to me the other day. I couldn’t think of an exception.

Sure, I like to know. I like having knowledge. I’m not a proponent of staying ignorant. I respect knowledge of others.

I am drawn to, I see, I prefer to put myself into the unknown.

I like learning what I haven’t known before.

I seek new people.

I seek new experience.

I seek unfamiliar points of view.

In my work, I operate large amidst the unknown. New ideas. New business models. Unknown markets. Unknown threats. Unknown skills. Unknown rewards.

3/23: Cheryl Platz on “Customer Context” (NHUXPA)

Agenda: Promote NH UXPA & my colleagues and friends, Kyle Soucy and Roger Soucy .
Agenda: Claim I am curious, social, and keep learning from others.
Agenda: Give prospective clients and colleagues an idea of what I do with myself, especially in my area of practice.
Agenda: Increase the chance of being found online by generating more stuff of mine. (Fiddle with my SEO rosary and “Genuflect! Genuflect! Genuflect!”, in the lyrics of Tom Lehrer)

On Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 (via Zoom – what else?)

NHUXPA will present Cheryl Platz, a UX designer, who will propound regarding her research methods for learning “customer context”.

I understand that she developed these out of her practice of improvisational theater.

That grabs me.

I find the pseudo-academic habits of user research limit our esteem and development of other skills of observation and analysis that may shed light on people’s behaviours and be used to understand them, acting and improv among them.

(Other pursuits and performances I’m especially interested in using and borrowing from are: dance, choreography, stand-up comedy, hand-crafts, fishing, tracking, athletic coaching, textile design, weaving, logic, auto mechanics, climbing, sketching. Others, too.)

I expect a welcoming and informative event from Roger and Kyle because every NHUXPA meeting I’ve attended has been so. As far back as…2007?

Cheryl as written about her research methods in her “Design Beyond Devices“*, published last December by Rosenfeld Media.

Join me!

Eventbrite registration link (an eventbrite account is required.)

* NB: I don’t make a buck off this.

“Here’s to Life”, Shirley Horn

“There’s no Yes in yesterday”
– Shirley Horn


Doggybagg: GenZ problem is your dinner

How can I change the world if I can’t even clean my fridge?

This is the way Thorn Miop thought about his own climate crisis.

The 23 year-old college graduate knew he was part of the climate problem. But he didn’t know how to be part of the solution. “I all my casual clothes are plant-based,” he catalogued, “jeans, tees, my Entireworld hoodie. My going-out stuff are…,” he shrugged. “Most of my brewing and steeping drinks are local. Greens, too, and tubers. I’m a global eater, like most of us, so fruits, sauces, cheese—all that is from all over.” He was trying to categorize himself, a typical GenZ habit. “So, I’m doing the right things. But am I doing anything?”

What can a young American adult, adjusting to the responsibilities, constraints and compromises of adulthood, do about the world they find themselves in? Keeping a roof over their head and trying to find a use for their new skills in the labor force is plenty. Getting the fridge cleaned is bonus.

It was one Fall day last year, when he looked in the fridge he shares with his two roommates in a Denver three bedroom apartment, and saw container after container of half-enjoyed ethnic food waiting judgmentally to be enjoyed again – or forgotten – that he thought he saw a way to connect the life he lived with the world he wanted to help create.

“The industry, the food industry, uses portion control to get us to buy what they need to sell – not what we need to eat,” Thorn explained the system to me, and how we play be it’s rules. “When I looked in that fridge of leftovers, I saw meals, surplus meals, for the first time. Not scraps, or take-out mistakes, or potluck excess.”

From Lean Canvas to AirTable prototype took Thorn and his best friend from U Northern Colorado, Natisha Minorson, just three weeks and was born. Or perhaps ready for pick-up would be more on-vision.

“Take-out for less” is the catchphrase they are using for now. With food delivery already considered infrastructure by many in large cities, most of the “operational” work for their pilot could be hired, instead of built. “We really are offering a mindset to the market,” is how Natisha put it when I walked through the doggybagg process with them. It’s a mindset many people are ready to make, if the growth of their demand in Denver is an indicator.

…to be continued…

Mentor’s view: Startups: Building a travel startup amidst acute global uncertainty

Agenda: self-promotion, discuss disruption of markets.

Related broad topics: building a startup, competitive disruption, continuous discovery, entrepreneurship, lean production, lean startup, market disruption, marketing buzzwords, mentorship, product coaching, startup ceo, startup founder, startup mentor

Related article topics: anthropocene extinction, Elaine Glusac, global climate emergeny, holocene extinction, Robert Rodale, regenerative agriculture, regenerative travel, 6th mass extinction, sustainable travel, tourism, travel, travel startup

(The first of an occasional series about what I’m exploring and learning as I work with this startup team since June, 2020.)

Reprinted on

We’re aware of the mortal injuries of the travel and tourism industries from broad lack of customers as well as many restrictions on international and international travel due to our current COVID-19 pandemic due to Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

My work as mentor with the founding CEO of a travel startup (and the founding team) has deepened my understanding of different, narrower market disruption to so-called Sustainable Travel: regenerative travel. This disruption happens – and is growing – even as travel and tourism of all kinds remains stalled.

Regenerative travel is a newer marketing buzzword being campaigned to legitimize a more ambitious, even less common vision of travel and tourism which ostensibly destroys Earth less.

Now, “Regenerative Travel” cloaks itself in the values, goals, ideas and customer attention of “regenerative agriculture“, a term otherwise utterly irrelevant to travel and tourism that was first coined by magazine publisher Robert Rodale and others.

Elaine Glusac reported on regenerative travel trends ideas and business in The New York TimesMove Over, Sustainable Travel. Regenerative Travel Has Arrived on August 27th, 2020.

Startup expertise and negotiating power

  • Agenda: self-promotion
  • subject: expertise as a source of power
  • scenario: startup negotiating for expertise

Every startup founder – and their original team – goes into the world mostly not knowing anything about their “business”.

Many of them are acutely aware of their lack of expert knowledge. In response, they seek expertise outside the firm to supplement their team’s capabilities. To fill the “gaps” in their knowledge.

This seeking help, support, is a sign of self-awareness, a key trait of leaders and terms that can get better.

One consequence for founders and teams of this acutely felt ignorance of “business” knowledge is unconfidence. In a way, this lack of confidence is a positive quality: signifying self-awareness, healthy, durable self-esteem, modesty and respect for others’ distinctive value.

So, why am I writing? What’s my point? To praise mature adults?

I see this, and it doesn’t serve the team, not their nascent business’ future strength: the founder’s unconfidence …

Orbital Mechanics, drawing by Tim Makepeace

Agenda: share a great work of art
Artist: Tim Makepeace
Medium: acrylic on paper

Orbital Mechanics: Galactic Center of Mass- 9 stars v.2
sumi ink, acrylic on paper 49″ x 49″, 2020
By Tim Makepeace

Galactic Center of Mass- 9 stars v.2 sumi ink, acrylic on paper 49″ x 49″, 2020

The Science of discovering Nature’s biosynthetic pathways: colchicine in the flame lily

Agenda: Share inventive, determined scientific experimentation

Whitehead Institute
July 2020 Monthly Roundup
In the News: How the flame lily synthesizes a therapeutic natural product
Read a commentary in Nature by Institute Member Jing-Ke Weng on new research from Elizabeth Sattely’s lab at Stanford on how plants synthesize the medicinal compound colchicine and how this could help engineer organisms to produce colchicine more efficiently.

This flame lily is not a model plant like Arabidopsis thaliana or rice. Little is known about its genetic make-up, and no tools were available that would enable convenient genetic manipulations and analysis. Finding the gene set for colchicine biosynthesis in the total complement of G. superba genes was therefore like finding a needle in a haystack. This is a common problem for plant researchers

Nature Magazine July 22 2020
How the flame lily synthesizes a therapeutic natural product
Jing-Ke Weng
Figure 1 | Part of the biosynthetic pathway of colchicine.
DOI: 10.1038/d41586-020-01675-0
The discovery of the biosynthetic pathway for colchicine, a medicine produced by plants, holds promise for the use of metabolic-engineering approaches in producing reliably high yields of this compound.

My Keywords:
Plant sciences
colchicine biosynthesis
flame lily Gloriosa superba
autumn crocuses Colchicum autumnale
specialized metabolic enzymes
biosynthetic pathway
plant biosynthesis
metabolically engineered organisms
inflammatory diseases
crop plant breeding
enantioselective synthesis
phenol-ring coupling
unprecedented molecular ring expansion reaction
tissue-specific transcriptomics data
metabolomics data
cytochrome P450 enzymes
Nicotiana benthamiana
benth benthi
activity-guided fractionation

Nature Magazine Indexed Subjects:
Plant sciences

New Deal: New Bets

FDR did make a “deal” with the American people, that’s true and the name, “New Deal”, is apt.*

I ask, How did he do the supporting programs and reforms that were his side of his deal with Americans? The dynamic and trade-offs of the deal he struck are interesting. And why they worked is interesting history of policy and political science. But more interesting to me is how he manifested the outcomes he promised to deliver. You could say my question is, how did he govern? Or a better word, how did he administer?

In large part, the answer is: his administration experimented.

I find the fact that this great reform vision was achieved by – making bets and seeing which ones worked and which ones’ didn’t and calling that his New Deal governing.

In his New York Times Opinion column of July 30, 2020, “The Future of American Liberalism“, David Brooks writes these characterizations of the FDR adminitration:
People … want a leader, like F.D.R., who demonstrates optimistic fearlessness.
…willing to try anything that met the specific emergencies of the moment.
…a wanton willingness to experiment.
…a populist revolt that…F.D.R. …mostly he just outperformed them with talent.
If you want to unleash a torrent of action you have to let individual members of Congress drive their own initiatives…
F.D.R. …was so shifting and pragmatic…
…it’s possible to get a lot done…if you are willing to be…openly experimental.


* Stuart Chase, an economist and member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “brain trust” who coined the term “New Deal,” died Saturday [November 16, 1985] … his most famous work, “A New Deal,” published in 1932…

Los Angeles Times Nov. 18, 1985 Chase, Roosevelt Adviser Who Coined Term ‘New Deal,’ Dies

All My UXs are in Texas

  • My Agenda: self-promotion
  • My Role: Information architect
  • The Stage of the Business: Mature
  • Who I work with: CEO & the team
  • How they found me and engaged me: Word-of-mouth

One current client engaged me to provide information architecture advice to it’s client.

The client’s site has a vast number of pages, as well as vast numbers of other sorts of files – mainly written reports, articles, and booklets in PDF form.

They see themselves as a resource. And one implied meaning there is: they are place to go to DO something, take action, make progress. Get what you need.

Pitching to any old investor

This week I attended a set of pitches for capital to investors. Anyone was invited to attend, not just registered investors.

I’ve been working with a number of startups – including helping them prepare their pitch for investors.

I studied this week’s performances with an eye to how they are different from and similar to those I’m helping draft.