Productivity’s Worst Enemy

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In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers (highly recommended), Gladwell reasons that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become an expert at your craft. The world’s greatest musicians, business tycoons and programmers practiced for nearly 10,000 hours before reaching “rock star” status.

How many hours per week is that?

10,000 Hours / 10 Years

1,000 Hour per Year

19 Hours per Week

According the Gladwell, if you want to become phenomenal at something in less than 10 years, it requires less than 3 hours per day of practice.



Who has an extra 3 hours a day? According to Nielsen, Americans spend 34 hours a week watching TV. (view study) In other words, in the amount of time we spending watching TV over 10 years, we could become world class at 2 different skills. If we cut our TV time in half, we could still master our passion.

Imagine if Bill Gates spent his time watching M*A*S*H instead of programming.

What if the Beatles tuned into The Beverly Hillbillies instead of picking up guitars?

What could you accomplish if you cut your TV time in half?

Scrum Methodology – Scrums That Don’t Suck – Company Culture

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Scrum Methodology

It’s 9am. Time for today’s scrum! For those unfamiliar with scrum methodology, a scrum is a daily meeting where participants discuss what project they’ll be working on and any blockers that stand in their way. Scrums are a necessary evil to keep small teams on the same page and help to highlight problems before the become larger issues.

scrum methodology

Scrum Gamification

At Owler, we decided to take a different approach to the scrum methodology by introducing gamification. Each day during the scrum discussion, each team member must select one achievable goal within the next 24 hours. During the next scrum, if they’ve accomplished that goal, they get to roll the dice and advance on the scrum board. If not, they must skip a turn.

The board contains inside jokes from the office, special task cards, team photos and more. The game encourages goal-based scrum methodology and that behavior spreads throughout other company operations. The average game takes about 1 month to complete and the winner receives an Owler related prize.

Are you ready to turn a dull morning meeting into something your team loves? Try gamified scrum!

5 Inspirational Movies for Entrepreneurs

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We enjoy movies that are relatable. We LOVE movies that inspire us. Why not shoot for both? As a kid we don’t stop and analyze why we’re attracted to certain movies and not others. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized what the majority of my favorite movies had in common: entrepreneurship. These 5 movies have inspired me for years (decades in some cases) and I trust you’ll enjoy them as well.

1.) Aviator (2004)

Aviator Entrepreneur

“I’ve got a tiger by the tail here and I’m not about to let go!” – Howard Hughes

From movie producer to aviation innovator, Howard Hughes has done it all! Despite all the eccentric behavior, Howard Hughes was one of the greatest visionary entrepreneurs of all time. With Leo’s Oscar nominated performance and Scorsese’s masterful directing, Aviator is a must have on any entrepreneur’s shelf.

2.) Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry MaGuire Entrepreneur

“Show me the money!” – Jerry MaGuire

Jerry MaGuire is not only one of the most frequently quoted movies of all time, it’s also an emotional goldmine. The most defining moment of an entrepreneur’s life is taking the “leap” from a secure job to an emotional roller coaster. Jerry MaGuire captures this experience in an authentic and powerful way.

3.) Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

Pirates of Silicon Valley Entrepreneur

“Maybe fun is just fragments of existence with better packaging.” -Steve Jobs

At times it’s cheesy as hell, but Pirates of Silicon Valley is a tech entrepreneur classic! If follows the early days of Jobs and Gates as they launch the personal computer revolution. It’s inspirational, funny and leaves a lasting impression. It’s also incredible how far Apple has come since 1999, when the film was released. It’s also 1 million times better than “Jobs” with Ashton Kutcher.

4.) The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network Entrepreneur

“We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!” -Sean Parker

The Social Network is my favorite movie from the last decade. The screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin (known for the West Wing and Newsroom) and it was directed by David Fincher. The 120 min. movie is paced so well that you won’t want to blink.

5.) Wallstreet (1987)

Wallstreet Entrepreneur

“Greed is Good.” -Gordon Gekko

Welcome to the dark side of entrepreneurship. Michael Douglas’ portrayal of the blood thirsty Gordon Gekko is brilliant. This film is packed with lessons on family, friendship and of course, entrepreneurship. It was released in the 80s, but the advice is more relevant than ever.


Taking Advice | Here’s to the Crazy Ones

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Ford Faster Horses

HP once said no to personal computers.

Henry Ford said no to taking over the family farm.

The original owners of Starbucks said no to selling brewed coffee.

Xerox said no to the mouse.

The McDonald brothers said no to opening multiple restaurants.

Whether you are new to startups or you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, it can be hard to discard advice from the people you respect. Sometimes, even when you are not looking for it, business advice comes knocking at your door. Well-meaning family members, friends, colleagues, investors and more will offer input. Whatever the case and whoever the source, all advice should be taken with careful consideration before you act upon it.

Advice is like the FREE bin at a yard sale—a lot of it is garbage. It’s important to take what’s relevant and ignore the rest.


AirBnb’s Bootstrap Story

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airbnb obama os

Outside the Box Fundraising

Who would have thought that renting spare rooms to total strangers right in one’s own home would work? But for Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, it was an idea that couldn’t have come at a better time.

The two guys moved to San Francisco with no money or business concept to start with, yet they stumbled across a golden opportunity. A design conference was underway downtown, and the visiting participants had filled the hotels in the area to capacity. Brian and Joe thought it worth a shot to offer air mattresses in their place for rent to conference attendees.

It was a win-win deal: the attendees got an affordable place to crash, while the guys made some money to pay toward their own rent. Only three people agreed to the idea, but for Brian and Joe, that was a huge success, and it sparked a business idea that would soon become Airbnb.

In order to get the funding they needed to make their idea a reality, the guys had to figure out how to keep the ball rolling. So as resourceful entrepreneurs, they decided to sell cereal boxes for seed money. Yes, it’s all about perseverance, and the belief that they had something big going for them!

They bought generic cheerios and designed their own boxes of cereal, which they called “Obama O’s” and “Cap’n Macs”. They sold the boxes for $40 each.  The Obama O’s sold fast enough to raise a seed fund, while the Cap’n Macs didn’t do so well – so, they ate them to save on groceries. A true example of out of the box fundraising.

To keep things going, Brian even made the decision to leave his apartment and literally live out of a suitcase in more than 30 locations offered on Airbnb. This enabled him to experience the service himself and make process improvements whenever necessary.

Through hard work and perseverance, Airbnb’s luck has changed.  It managed to secure a $7.2 million funding from Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners, aside from the seed money that they already had. But that didn’t really change how Brian and Joe live their lives.  Knowing how it is to live with little means, they invested their money wisely by continuously expanding their business.

As of July 2012, Airbnb had more than 200,000 listings in 26,000 cities.  Not to mention that they can be found in 192 countries and boast over 1,000,000 hosts and travellers.

With fond memories of how they started, Brian Chesky summarizes his learnings with four thoughts:

“Thinking out of the box definitely saves the day.  If we are to become successful, we must break free from the conventional wisdom that we have grown accustomed to.  Doing something new doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something stupid.  You’re simply discovering things no one else has thought possible.

Being broke is not such a bad thing after all.  It teaches you to summon an enormous amount of discipline and focus just so you can keep yourself afloat.

In business, the early struggles and what you did with them impacts what kind of company you’re most likely to have in the future.

When you solve other people’s problems, you are solving your own as well.  And by doing so, you create opportunities for yourself that can give value to other people.”

For a company that seems to defy all logic and common sense, Airbnb has really come a long, long way. These guys are bootstrapping superstars.

Solve a Problem and Stop Flipping Burgers!

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George Foreman

It was October 30, 1974. Undefeated world Heavyweight champion George Foreman was knocked out by Muhammad Ali in the eighth round of what some argue to be the greatest sporting event of the 20th century.

Fast-forward 20 years and picture the legendary Foreman wearing an apron with a big smile as he happily cooks his reduced fat burgers. What happened?

Before the early 90s, it was difficult to grill burgers indoors while allowing the excess fat to drip away. In most parts of the country grilling outdoors is a seasonal activity and requires the burgers to be flipped frequently. Grilling burgers indoors in a pan traps all of the extra fat inside the burger. That’s a problem.

The George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, or more commonly known as the George Foreman Grill, is an electric-heated grill for indoor use.  And since it was first introduced in 1994, more than 100 million units have been sold worldwide.

The grill was invented by Michael Boehm and Robert Johnson. Known for his appetite for hamburgers, Foreman used his personal brand and agreed to sign up with manufacturer Salton, Inc. as the grill’s endorser. Since its debut in 1994, over 100 million grills have been sold.

Foreman himself is proof that knockouts can happen anytime. Developing great products is difficult. Sometimes you need to roll with the punches and see what pure determination can do.

Candy Crush Game: The Recipe for Addiction

posted in: Examples, Gamification HQ | 0

It was just another mobile game spamming my Facebook feed. Family and friends urged me to join them in what appeared to be yet another Bejeweled clone. I gave it a week… then another, but the popularity of the Candy Crush Game continued to spread.

This is hardly the first time a mobile game has gone mainstream. Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and others have quickly turned mobile gaming into a billion dollar industry. So what causes apps like the Candy Crush Game to explode in popularity? How can we use these gaming mechanics and apply them to our own games, businesses and personal lives.

The 5 Ingredients for Addiction

1. Social


Adding social functionality to game is not only the easiest way to increase users, it also enhances the game’s engagement. In Candy Crush, the game begins by encouraging the player to connect to Facebook. This accomplishes two things: First, if gives the game a marketing outlet by asking the player to invite his/her friends. Second, it shows the scores of the player’s friends, urging the player to repeat levels in hopes of crushing their friends’ scores. Candy Crush also uses friend invites as an alternative form of payment for in-app purchases, drastically reducing their cost per user acquisition.

2. Set Goals


Like Angry Birds, Candy Crush has level based gameplay. After completing a challenge the player advances to the next level, always curious about what’s coming next. We’ve been subconsciously trained to be a task-oriented society. Knowing that there’s more to accomplish gives the player a sense of incompleteness. Candy Crush also uses a 3 star system for each level. So even after the game is complete, there’s a score based goal on each individual level.

3. Competition


Competition is key. In the Candy Crush Game, players compete against themselves, their friends and other Candy Crush players for the high score. After each level, the game reports the player’s score and shows them how it compares to their friends. Never underestimate the power of pride among peers.

4. Unlockables


Who doesn’t like presents? The Candy Crush Game uses virtual presents or unlockables to enrich the gameplay experience. The unlockables range from powerups to score boosters and often appear after a few levels have been completed. Players get addicted to the special gifts and will often pay real money to keep them coming!

5. Simple

Although the gameplay evolves overtime, the concept is simple. Players must connect at least 3 candies of the same color in a row. When new dynamics are introduced, a guide appears on the screen and quickly explains the new RULE. Not RULE(S). It’s important to start simple and gain complexity over time. If you try to introduce too many dynamics at the beginning of the game the complexity will overwhelm the player and they won’t stick around to learn. If the game never evolves the player will get bored. It’s a constant struggle to find the balance, but when found it’s extremely powerful!

Looking for more addictive games? Check out Business Insider’s 12 Incredibly Addicting iPhone Games

Gamification Got Me Drunk – Bar Gamification

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Bar Gamification

Bar Gamification

A few weekends ago I was in Seattle visiting some friends. We stumbled into a bar called Von’s on Pine St. Immediately I noticed a giant wheel mounted on the wall in the back of the restaurant. It read, “Wagering Wheel is spun every 30 minutes. Ask your server for a spin.” Each set of pegs on the wheel corresponded to a different drink special.

The Result

The three of us sat there for 4 hours, watching the wheel randomly select 8 different drink specials (prices ranging from $3.50 to $5.00). Each of us took a spin at some point. We tried to cheat the system and land on specific drinks. At the end of the night, the restaurant didn’t care. They had three very satisfied customers with a $200 tab.

Why It Works

1.) Random

There were a total of 16 different drink specials on the wheel. The random outcome provided an engaging level of excitement and kept us there for hours.

2.) Winner Every Time

In reality, the drink specials were far from “special.” The restaurant only discounted the drinks .50 to 1.00 in most cases. It didn’t really matter, the discount still made the drinks taste like a deal. Spacing the spins out every 30 minutes gave us time to finish the drinks before the next option was available. Genius.

3.) Group Participation

Not only did the waitress give us the ability to physically participate by spinning the wheel, the entire restaurant watched as the wheel slowly chose their alcohol fate. After all, the special would apply to them as well. The group mentality kept in fun for everyone, not just the spinner.


Adding sometime as simple as a wheel could convert your one round guests to ten round patrons. What could you add to your restaurant or bar to encourage specific spending and increase engagement?

Social Media Showdown

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Social Media Showdown

Facebook VS Twitter VS Pinterest VS Google+

Social Media Showdown

Short History


Facebook was initially conceptualized for Harvard University students as a way for them to connect online. The service was later expanded to include colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League and also Stanford University. It later opened its doors to other colleges, universities and high school students. In February 2004, it was officially launched by Mark Zuckerberg, together with Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.


Originally named as twttr, the idea came during a brain-storming session by the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, then a New York University undergraduate, shared the concept of a platform where an individual could share short messages to a group. It was created in March 2006 and was launched formally in July of the same year.  It was said to be inspired by Flickr and the American SMS short codes.


Pinterest began development in early December 2009, and the beta version was launched in March 2010. The idea was similar to David Galbraith’s project called “Wists” in 2005. Initially, joining Pinterest was by invitation only, but as of August 2012, the wall was removed and invitations are no longer required for registration.


Owned and operated by Google, Google Plus (or Google+) was launched on June 28, 2011. It was initially called Google Circles, as a way to emphasize that it is about creating online friendships amongst users. Same as Pinterest, it was initially an “invitation only” site, but this was soon removed and anybody 18 and older was allowed to register.

Additional Details

Social Media Details

Launch with a MVP! Minimum Viable Product

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You start with an idea. After countless hours of brainstorming with friends, your once simple idea has morphed into pages of notes and possibilities. It might seem like a good idea to incorporate as much as possible to score the largest possible market share. Resist that urge. We’re slowly changing into an iPhone minded society. We have no patience for instructions or complicated products.


• Instagram
• Twitter
• Groupon


• Google Wave (Failed)
• MySpace (Failed… Twice)
• Microsoft (Failed)

I know what you’re thinking, “What about Facebook?” It’s easy to forget that Facebook started out simple before hitting critical mass and adding new features. When the iPhone originally came out there was no multitasking, no MMS, there wasn’t even real GPS. You can always evolve with your community, but you need a community first.

Minimum Viable Product

Roger’s Adoption Curve illustrates the five stages of product adoption. If your MVP crosses from the “Early Adopter” stage into the “Early Majority” stage, you should have enough customer feedback to help drive your product to critical mass.

It’s easy to assume that you know your customers’ wants, needs and how to market to them. Start-ups are usually formed based on assumptions and some intelligent guesses.

After an unsuccessful launch, finger pointing becomes the default response. Pain and frustration often leads to blame-storming – yes, sitting together as a group, discussing why the product or project failed. Adding a variety of new features is rarely the solution.

Minimum Viable Product

Eric Ries, the Father of Lean Start-ups, and Steven Blank, a successful entrepreneur, popularized the Mininum Viable Product or MVP. It is a strategy where start-ups are directed to maximize and allocate their resources more efficiently. It calls for faster market testing. Products are deployed in the market with only the basic features that will make them functional. An MVP is not actually a product per se, but the process of creating and selling a product to consumers, and testing its viability for business success. It helps start-ups answer the question, “Will consumers actually buy or use my product?”

Eric Ries put it this way, “Entrepreneurship in a lean startup is really a series of MVP’s.”


Yahoo initially launched as a directory of web listings. They’ve now expanded into news, email, advertising and more.

Virgin Air

In 1984, Virgin Air started with a single Boeing 747. This project took off literally and expanded with more planes and destinations.

Start small, prove your concept and expand.

Recommended Reading

The Lean Startup

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