Get Unstuck

Inspired by I thought I could make a variant. We’re no longer talking about a coder and an interviewer, we’re talking about a solution provider and their client.


Get unstuck.

Sometimes you’ll get stuck. Relax. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Keep in mind that the client usually cares more about your ability to cleverly poke the problem from a few different angles than your ability to stumble into the correct answer. When hope seems lost, keep poking.

Draw pictures. Don’t waste time trying to think in your head—think on the board. Draw a couple of different test cases. Draw how you would get the desired outcome by manual effort. Then think about translating your approach into product.

Solve a simpler version of the problem. Not sure how to find the 4th most important demographic in the market? Think about how to find the 1st-most-important and see if you can adapt that approach.

Launch a naïve, inefficient solution and optimize it later. Use brute force. Do whatever it takes to get some kind of launch, traction, or engagement.

Think out loud more. Show what you know. Show what you thought might work and why it won’t work. You might realise it actually does work, or a modified version does. Or you might get a hint from the client.

Wait for a hint. Don’t stare at your client expectantly, but do take a brief second to “think”—your client might have already decided to give you a hint and is just waiting to avoid interrupting.

Think about the bounds on time and effort. If you’re not sure if you can optimise your solution, think about it out loud. For example:

  • “I have to at least look at all of the items, so I can’t do better than market testing.”
  • “The brute force approach is to test all possibilities, which is incredibly lengthy.”
  • “So, because the answer will contain n^2n​2​​ items, it follows that I must at least spend that amount of time.”


Thanks to Parker Phinney and Cake Labs. No intent to violate

I be seeing you at IBC2014.

By Christian Van Der Henst S. ( )

Photo by Christian Van Der Henst S. ( )

As some of us get ready for IBC2014, remember:

You will have scheduling issues, so be flexible.

If setting a meeting, or attending one, be considerate and try to keep in contact with each other.

You rarely need to see, or present, the first 6 slides of your deck.

The slides are there for cold prospects, not set meetings with your clients. Skip them.

You will walk circa 15,000 steps per day, so get your wearable/tracker ready.

Is this the most exercise you will get all week? Likely, sadly.

The WiFi will suck, your roaming won’t work or will be expensive, so get a MiFi and a local SIM.

It has always sucked, and will always suck, until a major serious vendor and sponsor get behind it.

You will run out of battery on your phone every lunchtime, so at least carry a cable so a kind soul like me with a 10,00mAh battery pack can charge you up.

And get your own battery pack. With two USB ports. Right now. Shipped to your hotel.

Get to bed before 2am. No meetings before 9am.

I’m not your dad, but surely this is common sense; aber IBC kommt nur einmal im Jahr….

Have enough time to just walk around, see new things, and meet new people.

I would never have met the university researchers working on vector-based video had I not bumped into their poster presentation.

by Christian Van Der Henst S. ( )

Photo by Christian Van Der Henst S. ( )

The best networking, the best intel, the best gossip, and the best deals happen when you least expect them.

Go for that coffee. Or that beer, that glass of rosé in the afternoon sun. Go for a ride on a boat. Listen to what others see as the hot topics.


Your thoughts? Your tips?



Is everything fake?

Why strive for authenticity?

Because authentic stories tell themselves, over and over, without needing to be propped up.

Any agency worth its salt can make a viral-style campaign that’s really convincing.

  1. Make it rough, by using actual amateur DOPs, not expensive ones who just shake the camera.
  2. Take off smooth edges. Get rid of your expensive DSLR EXIF data, and replace it with bogus consumer info.
  3. Don’t export your video from the web straight from Final Cut Pro. The comp name will be in the file!
  4. Build, slowly, a small network of interrelated blogposts. Don’t be evil, just push for Googlejuice and connect up your idea to tastemakers and taste arbiters.
  5. Go find some raw talent, pay them a daily rate, and shoot them. No, wait: then they’ll just blab on their Myspace or Facebook. Get someone “in” the industry you are campaigning for to find real talent who can go off on holidays for a few weeks while you launch.
  6. Don’t get caught. Or, if you are crafty, build up the picture to make it seem as if someone else did it. Sigh. No, you should just build a great concept, slowly, which bursts out rapidly and has a verifiable “trail” behind it.
  7. Use digital media extensively. Build a profile of images, text, blog posts, stories, real-world/online mashup games, found objects, image-hosting pools, “cool kids only!”, invitation only, Facebook groups. Why not get your intern(s) to spend a day or three doing this, rather than making them pick up drycleaning, making them stuff direct-mail envelopes, or making them go to the store for “multi-coloured paint”.
  8. Be faithful to the client, brand, or business. Do a deal: we get caught in the first two weeks, you don’t pay. We miss our conversion targets, you pay 25% less. We exceed our targets, we get 20% more. You’ll soon realise whether you’re actually any good at what you do.
  9. Join the real world to the virtual one. Want to sell shiny green Converse? Is red a good contrast colour? So, why not…have them seen and photographed on a red carpet? Too simple? Why not get the online marketing manager for a complementary green (“eco”) brand to be seen wearing them to work, every day for a week? Then be “crude” and buy up the adwords for “green converse” for searches from your target locale and demographic. Still too simple? Well, then engage me, and I’ll show you how to go one-louder, for each of these points.
  10. Why hide? Why lie? Because you need to, because you didn’t hide your agency and agenda well enough. Try hiding it a layer deeper, and getting some white-hat hackers to try to unravel “the viral” 4 days before launch. Then use their findings to hide it more, just before launch.
  11. There is no eleven.

Naked was caught…well…naked. Because everything seemed a little not-quite-real from day 1 of it appearing in public. Hey, I don’t slag people off: but even they must realise that the negative backlash is not the outcome they wanted.

Let’s all end on a high note.

I Work For You

I tried to offer my services via Twitter, and had zero takers. Fair enough, maybe my circle is too small.

So, I blog it here, out in the open.

Contact me, and I will do your work for a day, for free.

You could take this opportunity to “hand me the keys” and go to the beach.

Or, you could take the chance to get some project work done, or done faster.

You could use me as an extra pair of hands.

No, I will not be a slave, Man Friday, or workplace masseur, or anything similar.

My offer is serious, if you want to take me up on it.

Location: Sydney, or you pay me the cost-price of travel to/from your preferred location.

What do I do?

Read on after the break for details. Continue reading