“Lovely to look at, delightful to hold, and heaven to kiss,” is a line from an old song. More than that, it is a fair characterization of how we form opinions. In the initial three seconds of meeting someone, or some thing, we form a first impression that’s almost impossible to dispel. If somebody is lovely to look at, we will then give them a chance to become delightful to hold, and investigate whether they’d be heaven to kiss. In that order. We don’t usually hold them or kiss them first and look at them later.
That’s why makeup artists, wardrobe consultants, cosmetic surgeons, teeth whiteners, hairdressers, and fashions exist. But it�s also why product designers should be in the forefront of any product. Not industrial engineers, or product engineers, who I think are the ones who have the final say on how many familiar products look.
Most kids become aware of how we base impressions on appearances somewhere in elementary school. They beg their parents for brand name jeans, backpacks, and lunchboxes. They want the same haircut as the next kid. And they decorate their rooms to reflect their own ideas of beauty.
So why, when they grow up and become product engineers, do they totally forget all of this (unless they happen to work for Apple) and concern themselves only with utlity?
The number of products that work well but look ugly is legendary — from the Volvo and the Saab (better recently, but with very ugly duckling origins) to the PC, to almost any piece of electronic equipment not designed by Apple or Bose. When I first laid eyes on a Bose cordless telephone (in Europe) I nearly cried because I couldn�t bring it home to the US.
And then we get to the product I’ve been using for the past week: the “grabber.” The grabber is a cross between a claw and a giant tweezers. It is about three feet long, and is designed to help people who have limited mobility pick things up off the floor — like their cell phones and glasses–in the weeks following their titanium hip implants.
The top of my �Grabber� is bright yellow plastic, and functions as a hand grip from which I can control the bottom, which is metal and plastic, or metal and rubber, or something. The dual shaft is metallic.
You may have seen one of these in another color (red) on the infomercial for mobility carts that is currently being shown everywhere.
Never mind that the �Grabber� is downright ugly. It also looks unfriendly, like it would take time to learn to use. Although that�s not true, because it is not lovely to look at, I don�t find it delightful to hold. And then there�s the real problem. Where do you put the �Grabber.� when you are not using it? If you are recovering from surgery, as I am, wouldn�t you like to stand it next to your night table, so when you knock your glasses to the floor you can get them? Well, it kind of does, unless you brush up against it with, say, a pillow. And then who picks up the �Grabber�? I�ve finally figured out that the reason you need someone with you after surgery is just to pick up the �Grabber.�
Another truly ugly tool is the one that helps you put on the embolism-preventing socks. It is bright blue plastic, with a wide spot where you gather the sock (which comes up to your thigh), then slide your foot into the plastic piece, pull up the handles, and supposedly release the sock up your leg. This is a device into which no one has put a single moment of design attention. In fact, the inventor must have been anti-design.
And much like the PC, the sock tool continues to surprise the user. Every day it works a little differently.
When you consider that millions of Baby Boomers are approaching their hip replacements (I am just an early adopter), there will be a major market for these tools, because everyone goes home from the hospital with either one or both. Add to that the people who can�t put on their own socks for other reasons, or live alone and have high cupboards they can�t reach to put away their groceries, and a designed version of either tool would sell like hotcakes. Somebody out there read this and get on it!!!!
Monthly Archives: November 2006
Great story, told in Lon’s own words, of how he invented the first computer software for the disabled.
While you were having Thanksgiving dinner and starting the Christmas shopping, I snuck into Scottsdale Healthcare North and had my left hip replaced. I went in Monday morning at 6 AM, had the surgery at 8 AM, and on Thursday at 2 PM, I was home. There are photos of me recovering at Flickr, and there’s an entire blow-by-blow blog at Francine’s Hip Replacement Blog.
The surgery itself is surprisingly easy, because they have it down to a science for the hospital. Phyicians admitted about a dozen patients a day just to the floor I was on, and I don’t think we were the only hips and knees. And it was right before Thanksgiving. The routines and protocols are established.
The device itself it also pretty much perfected. The new joint I have is titanium and ceramic and plastic. It lasts up to 30 years. It’s really a robotic part, as I could see from the X-ray the surgeon brought to my room after I came out of recovery.
The patient, however, is still the same old imperfect human being. I went into the surgery with a certain amount of trepidation, and when it was over and I couldn’t really move, I felt vulnerable and out of control. At moments like these, it’s all about the nursing care, and that varies. Every eight to twelve hours, another team comes on, and in four days there was only one duplicate on the nursing roster. The most consistent caregiver was the physical "terrorist," who returned every day.
A friend of mine whose wife died after a successful surgery suggested to me that I write down the name of everyone who came into my room and what they did. Instead, I decided to start a blog. I began blogging with the pre-admission process to the hospital, and kept it up all through the stay.
Once the hospital people dicovered the blog, they began making all sorts of conciliatory gestures to me, like asking if they could use it as a tea teaching tool. I immediately realized that this blogging gig could guarantee me better care, and I think I would encourage anyone going to the hospital to keep a blog.
And in case you ever have to go through this procedure, here are the most annoying and enervating parts:
1) the socks you have to wear for a month to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Called "TED" socks, they are long, white stretchy things that are difficult to put on and take off without assistance.
2) Not being able to bend over to pick things up. I had to buy a "grabbing" tool.
3) Giving yourself shots of blood thinner, which you have to inject into the fatty tissue of your own adbdomen.
4)getting up out of bed for physical therapy when you are sore, swollen, and stiff
5) ambulating around the floor dripping IVs with your butt hanging out
6)Being on narcotics and having that unreal feeling that you’re in an Indie film.
Happy Holiday everyone. The bag lady with the walker in your neighborhood Starbucks is probably me!
Michael Gerber’s new site, “In the Dreaming Room” is going to be a great place for all entrepreneurs to become involved with, because he really wants to introduce the concept of “The Age of the Entrepreneur.” He’s a wonderful man, and this makes things better for all of us.
As I contemplate Thanksgiving again, I think about the tag line I often use in my email signature: “It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you come to it.” I borrowed that line from my former psychiatrist, who I think just gave up on me after failing to make me understand what the phrase meant. Years later, the light bulb went off, and I stole the line from him.
This is a good week to evaluate how I come to things. On Sunday, I dumped the third Blackberry in two years into a toilet, because I never remember to take it out of the back pocket of my jeans.
I didn’t curse, and I didn’t swear. I jumped into the car, went to TMobile, and bought a new Blackberry Pearl. It’s only money.
Last night, I came home, opened the MacBook I bought a few months ago, and couldn’t get it to power up. No power. No nothing.This morning I jumped into the car, went to the Apple store, and left the computer to be repaired. $146.00 to replace the connection to the power source. It’s only money.
Last week I got a letter from the developer of a condo I bought two years ago, before it was even built. It’s finally ready for me to close and move in.
The only problem is, I don’t want to live there anymore. Life has changed. When I put the deposit down, I thought I’d walk the dogs on the Biltmore golf course (this condo is on the golf course). Now, I am facing a hip replacement, and for the past year I haven’t been able to walk without a cane. One dog has gone to doggy heaven, and the other one weighs 85 pounds and would sled me around the golf course on my butt if I tried to walk him in my current condition.
So I need to sell the condo, but the real estate market is in a “stabilizing period,” which is real estate-speak for a period with more sellers than buyers. So I will have to close on this condo and won’t move into it. It’s only money. Eventually, someone will buy it.
I did not always think like this. There is an enormous freedom for me in finally coming to the conclusion that money is not worth being in a panic about. For years, I feared starvation (that was the reason to visit the shrink) while building my business. I drove everyone nuts with my concern about whether I was going to have “enough money” to educate the kids, save for my retirement…etc.
Well, NOBODY ever has enough money. That is a mind game. Truly poor people don’t have enough money to keep a car running, but truly wealthy people don’t have enough money to preserve their health and grant them immortality. The rich and the poor get old, get sick, and die.
So I have simply abandoned the fear of not having enough money in order to live a more fulfilling life. And nothing has changed. Miraculously, I don’t have any less money. And probably not any more. Finally, I always seem to have “enough” money. After all, what is money but pieces of metal and paper that we have imbued with sacred status. I’ve come to the conclusion that by abandoning fear, I can manifest money,almost the way I manifest parking spaces.
Because of my attitude toward money, I don’t save for retirement, even though alll day long I hear people talking about saving for retirement.
But I don’t save for retirement because my father dropped dead at age 57, and all the retirement savings in the world didn’t help him.My husband died at 65, despite his savings. I believe all the financial planners and journalists and Suze Ormans who throw the fear of God into people about how they will outlive their money are creating an unhealthy environment for a generation of people who already too materialistic.
So as we all prepare for the holidays and try to think about what we’re thankful for, I know what I will be thinking. I’ll be thinking that I’m thankful to live without those old fears about money.
Here’s a link to the photos from the First Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference! The woman standing in the first photo is me, and the gentleman is Michael Gerber, author of "The EMyth." Between us is his lovely wife, Luz Delia, who is helping him with his new entrepreneurship site, http://www.inthedreamingroom.com/
Have I made people waste their day? Will they like this event? How could I have done this without my friends Joan Koerber Walker, Ed Nusbaum, and Peter Burns? And the guys who signed on to sponsor a "First Annual?" Grand Canyon University, which is starting a College of Entrepreneurship here in Phoenix, the Business Journal, Shea Commercial, and the City of Tempe all gave us REAL DOLLARS to hold this conference. I try to blog as much of it as possible.
Bill’s keynote sets a great tone for the conference, because he talks mainly about how innovation happens by reaching out to people with different ideas. He also talks about how it’s important to work with people you like. In his personal world, there are several entrepreneurs who had to quit working with each other because they found that they really didn’t like each other!
We move on now to a panel talking about how to hire the right service people and consultants for your business, and how to market a service business. This panel has an attorney (my old friend Lucia), an interactive marketing professional (Ben Smith), Julie Johnson, a commercial leasing specialist, and Tim Shaffer, a turnaround specialist. As I walk into their breakout room, they’re talking about personal guarantees and about exit strategies.
They inform the audience that landlords make you sign personal guarantee on a lease because they are putting money into tenant improvements. As it turns out, many in the room are trying to move into a different space within the next year, but I bet they have never thought from the landlord’s perspective.
I bet many of the attendees don’t even know that a commercial broker works for the landlord unless you hire him/her personally as a tenant representative.
And now they are going on to how to market a service business. Interestingly enough, all the attendees in this breakout session are themselves in service businesses. This should help them.
There is actually a twelve-year-old child here at the Conference. He is being home-schooled, and he has a million business ideas, so his mother brought him. This might be the highlight of the entire day for me. I started all my efforts so my own children would have exciting things to do in Arizona, but I didn’t get it going soon enough. Now there are at least two dozen student entrepreneurs here, and one product launch, Jumpbox.com, has taken place here — the company’s founder is the son of an old dear friend of mine. Another student entrepreneur from ASU, Corey Kossack, just wrote a book on how to become a millionaire selling on EBay, and he showed up and brought copies of his book and his mother.! These are the things that give me joy.
Corey is speaking now about his experience with EBay after he became a top seller. They put him on a panel of Power Sellers at their Power Seller convention. He was 19 at the time. Everyone on the panel spoke about the look of their products, but Corey spoke about minimizing costs to increase profitability. Afterwards, he had a huge number of questions from people twice his age, and was offered the opportunity to train EBay account managers in business processes.
That let him to develop a piece of software called ‘Profitbuilder," and then to write a book called "EBay Millionaire or Bust." He credits his success to his "relentless pursuit of guidance from people who walked before him" like Peter Burns, and Joan who helped him publish the book himself. And to his lack of fear. He says many young people feel that older people won’t respect them. That’s wrong. Once you accomplish something, Corey says, even 50-year-old men begin to respect you.
But the highlight of the day was the luncheon keynote by Michael Gerber, author of "The E-Myth and the E-Myth Revisited," who spoke about awakening the entrepreneur within you. Michael was the most incredible speaker, a person who believes that every entrepreneur wants to transform the world and everyone has an entrepreneur within them. This goes right along with my vision of giving entrepreneurship skills to at-risk populations through the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, a foundation we started this year.
Entrepreneurship is transformative…or it should be. For this inspiring speech, Gerber gets a standing ovation. He has given the entire speech while suffering from laryngitis, and the audience does not care. It is with him anyway. Now I can relax. Lunch is over.