Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Learning Experience

Sam Walton, Made in America
I am currently reading Made in America, the autobiography of Sam Walton. Although it is an old story, it is still a good one and explains step-by-step how he got started in retail and built Walmart into the largest retailer in the world.

The first store that Walton owned was a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. After running the store for five years and growing it into the largest Ben Franklin in the six state region, he lost the store because the landlord would not renew the lease. He described his feelings this way: "It was the low point of my business life. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. It really was like a nightmare."

The following year Walton opened his store in Bentonville, Arkansas. He looked back at his experience in Newport as a learning opportunity noting that he read his leases a lot more carefully after that. We all know how the story turned out.

In the early 1980s, I experienced a setback in my personal life that generated feelings of loss, fear, and the pain of rejection. I couldn't see much point in doing anything. At the time, I had just been assigned my first sales territory and was studying to learn as much about the sales process as possible. The book I was reading was How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins.

In a chapter titled Learn to Love No, Hopkins lays out this creed:
"I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed, and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying."
He recommended copying this down on a piece of paper, along with the five attitudes below, putting in them your wallet and reading them every time a risk or move results in less than a win. As corny as it sounds, I did. And it worked. I was able to put my life back together, go on with my work and things turned out pretty well.

Here are the five attitudes toward rejection and failure that Hopkins identified:
  1. I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience.
  2. I never see failure as failure, but only as the negative feedback I need to change course in my direction.
  3. I never see rejection as rejection, but only the opportunity to develop my sense of humor.
  4. I never see failure as failure, but only as an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance.
  5. I never see failure as failure, but only as the game I must play to win.
Tom Hopkins, How to Master the Art of Selling
Hopkin's book is 34 years old and it has been almost that long since I last looked at it. In glancing through it this morning to confirm the wording for these principles, I believe it is worth reading again soon.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ceasing Weekly Publication

After much thought and reflection, I have decided to cease weekly publication of The Creativity Paradox.

Publishing the blog has been a great learning experience and an opportunity to understand the discipline of an unyielding schedule. I hope the readers have enjoyed the posts and found the content useful.

I will leave the existing content in place for anyone who wishes to reference it later. There may be additional posts in the future, but that is a decision for another day.

Best wishes,

Dave

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Construction Paper

Selective Depositon Lamination diagram from Mcor Technologies
If you are the type who believes that printers should stick to putting ink on paper, here is a 3D printer for you! The Iris printer from Mcor Technologies uses an Epson inkjet printer and a stack of 20 lb sheets of paper to build full color 3D parts that look and feel like wood.

Iris 3D printer by Mcor Technologies
In the selective deposition lamination (SDL) process developed by Conor and Fintan MacCormack, each sheet of paper is printed in the area that will become the edge of the final part. The paper is thin enough to allow the ink to be absorbed through the entire thickness of sheet.

Next, the first sheet is placed on the build platform and a layer of glue is applied in the area that represents the solid part of the first layer of the model. The paper is sliced along the printed outline and the next sheet is dropped into position. The process continues, layer after layer, until the entire part is constructed.

When the model is finished, the excess paper is pulled away to reveal the finished part. The finished items are light, strong and brilliantly colored.



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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.






Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Capturing More with Less

Positive Lens by DrBob via Wikimedia Commons
Image by DrBob via Wikimedia Commons
Soon we will all be able to capture beautiful high definition images with the camera on the edge of our iWatch.  That's my vision of the future of imaging after listening to a paper on High Quality Computational Imaging Through Simple Lenses presented by researchers from the University of British Columbia.  The paper was part of a session on Computational Light Capture at the SIGGRAPH conference this week.

The paper, prepared by Felix Heide, Mushfiqur Rouf, Matthias Hullen, Bjorn Labitzke, Wolfgang Heidrich and Andreas Kolb, observes that modern camera optics are complex, heavy and expensive to compensate for the geometric and chromatic aberrations of a single lens. The paper proposes a method to remove the artifacts through a set of computational techniques.

Considering how much the iPhone and Instagram have influenced photography over the last few years, it is fascinating to imagine the impact of capturing perfect images with a single element lens.

Will you be selling your lenses soon?

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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.









Thursday, July 18, 2013

Roads Scholar

The Great Ideas of Psychology
I have written before about using time in transit for learning. A few days ago I discovered some news that makes this even easier. Audible.com is now offering access to The Great Courses from The Teaching Company.

In the past, I have been disappointed in the quality of some of the free audio courses that I have found online. And I have been discouraged from The Great Courses because they seemed expensive.

On the other hand, my Audible subscription has been wonderful for listening to books and the ability to exchange one Audible credit for an entire course from The Teaching Company is an incredible value. The course I am currently taking on the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon is amazing.

What do you want to learn this week?

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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Write to Remember

African Elephant
African Elephant by Terri Williams
There are many reasons to write a blog: the desire to share, to contribute to a community, to attract visitors to a site and to optimize search rankings. I have an additional reason: writing helps me to remember.

In any week, I see thousands of emails, tweets and status updates. I take the time to read dozens of reports and articles in their entirety. When I am in the car, I am listening to an audio book. The result can be a muddy mixture of disjointed facts that appear to be unrelated.

Writing this blog helps distill those facts into recognizable patterns. Before I can write a coherent sentence, I have to form a coherent thesis. Incomplete or questionable parts of the thesis need to be researched and confirmed. This process of organizing my thoughts both clarifies and reinforces the memories.

What techniques do you use to remember?

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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Making Paper

On Independence Day, it is fun to remember that paper played a role in the American Revolution. Boston's Liberty Paper Mill, founded in 1770 by Stephen Crane, provided the paper to Paul Revere to print the colonies first paper money.

Later, Crane's son moved west to Dalton Massachussets to open his own paper company. So a visit to the Crane Museum was on my list of things to see while we were in the Berkshires. The museum features scale models to show each of the steps that were involved in making paper in the 19th century.



Cotton rags collected for paper makingIn 1801, when Zenas Crane launched Crane and Company, almost all of the fiber used for paper came from discarded cotton and linen rags. So the first step in paper making is collecting and sorting the rags.


Scale model of a Hollander BeaterThis is a scale model of a Hollander Beater. The beater would tear apart the rags and break them down into individual cotton or linen fibers.
Mixing chest for mixing paper slurryThe fibers are mixed with water and additives to form a slurry of rag pulp. The tanks where the mixing takes place are called chests.
Vatman dipping a mould into a slurry of cotton fibersThe Vatman dips his mould, a framed wire screen, into a vat of pulp. He lifts the mould out of the pulp and shakes it to drain off excess water. The pulp that remains in the screen forms a moist sheet of paper.

Coucher dumping paper form wire to feltThe Coucher turns the mould over so the damp sheet of paper adheres to a piece of wool felt. He returns the mould to the Vatman.
Layboy separating sheets from feltThe Layboy separates the sheets from the felt and stacks the paper into sets of 144, a quantity referred to as a "post."

Press for making sheets of paperEach post of 144 sheets is pressed to squeeze out any remaining moisture



















Today, paper is made in rolls on machines that do these same steps in a continuous process. The paper is cut into sheets afterward.

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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.