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How to Live a Life of Daring-Do

Step 1

When an opportunity comes along, take it.

When an interesting person comes along, have a conversation.

When something goes wrong, learn from it.

When you have a question, find the answer.

When things are going well, celebrate.

When things are going badly, celebrate.

When you discover a solution, share it with the world.

When things are not as they should be, change them.

Step 2

Write about these things.

Update: December 11, 2016

I think that Step 2 part was meant to be kind of a joke, but it makes sense, in the ‘we’re all better off when we share what we’ve learned with each other, or at the very least share our unique perspectives on things’ sense.

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Tetris, Hula Hooping, and Coping With Your Awesomeness

I’m going to tell you something really important, and I think you might want to sit down.

Are you sitting? Great. Try not to be too intimidated, because it’s really quite the spectacular revelation.

I really don’t want you to treat me any differently when I tell you, either. You’ll probably be tempted to bow down, worshipfully throw rose petals in my wake, etc etc etc.

I urge you not to do these things. Because followed by this announcement will be an equal and opposite announcement that will be just as impressive in its own way, perhaps more for the lesson learned than for the matter/anti-matter reaction that you will no doubt have upon learning both new things I have to tell you.

Are you ready?

Okay.

Deep breath.

I, Colin Wright, am really, really good at Tetris. Like, super-great at it in a way that people stop and watch me play and their jaws drop they’re so in awe of my god-like Tetris-playing abilities.

And now the counter-point. Have you recovered from that first one yet? Okay, I’ll wait.

Good? Alright, here goes:

I, Colin Wright, have gotten so good at Tetris that I am starting to get bad at Tetris, so much so that I don’t let people watch me anymore because it would be, to them, like watching an angel fall from the sky, hearing an orchestra play one golden note before collapsing in a cacophony of metal-on-metal and broken strings, or seeing a baby bunny get punched in the face.

Let me explain.

There comes a point with any skill where the masterfulness of one’s ability starts to overshadow the capacity of the skill to provide new challenges. In this example, regular Tetris could no longer satiate my desire for new challenges, so I began to make up my own games.

I tried handicapping myself, seeing how high I could pile the pieces in random designs, usually getting all the way up to the top, before doing my best to dig back down to the bottom, minor-sacrifice and single-line-point at a time.

Then there’s my ‘Tetris-Only’ version of the game, where I would see how long I could play by only getting 4-line scores (‘Tetrises’). This one lasted for some time, and there are moments when I accidentally set myself up for failure early, but generally once you know what not to do and how to set up the field of play, even this starts to be less of a challenge and more of a waste of time.

You’ve probably reached this point with some skill set as well. You enjoy hula hooping so much that you go on a 14-year hula hoop binge, crashing in your mid-20’s with nothing to fill the void. You can hula those damn hoops like nobody’s business, but it’s just not enough any more.

What do you do next? How do you replace that hula hoop shaped hole in your heart? In your very soul?

I personally have yet to find that timeless, aesthetically-Soviet, very-special, casually-played puzzle game that will make me feel the way that Tetris did, but maybe that’s okay.

Maybe in life, unlike in Tetris, every gap needn’t be filled.

Maybe it’s time to find a new game that will be judged according to new standards and new rules. Maybe it’s time to let the past be the past and clear the way for the future to establish its own, novel point system.

Are you clearing the way for your future, or are you letting the reasons not to pile up and up and up until…game over?

Update: December 11, 2016

“Maybe in life, unlike in Tetris, every gap needn’t be filled.”

I laughed out loud at this line.

I still beat my own high-score sometimes on my laptop-based version of Tetris, but the last time I played the arcade version? A version on which I have achieved high-scores on several machines around the world? I was defeated by a casual player. The joystick/buttons combo is just super-different from the keyboard, and the timing of piece-movement and graphical lag is more important than you might think.

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The Business of Throwing People from Planes

I was coerced into going skydiving while I was spending a weekend in Queenstown quite recently, and though the jumping out of a plane thing was a pleasure, the branding of modern skydiving companies is somehow even more impressive.

Consider all the hurdles a company like the one I used needs to jump (no pun intended) in order to reach a potential customer and turn them into a paying, proselytizing, repeat client.

There’s the chance that you might die, for instance. Many people consider skydiving a risk not worth taking. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to die, why not peacefully in your sleep? Or having sex with someone much more attractive than you? Or, I don’t know, doing anything except slamming into the ground at terminal velocity?

This biggy goes along with other stigmas, like the fear of heights and fear of flying, to create one super-fear, capable of scaring most sane people away without even starting the pitch.

There are also many expenses that go along with running a safe and secure skydiving operation that must be accounted for. How do you justify charging a premium on throwing people out of a plane? How do you make a solid enough profit to distinguish yourself from all the other throwing-people-out-of-planes businesses out there (especially in Queenstown, the high-risk activity capital of the world)?

Here’s what they do.

Most skydiving companies embrace the fear. They’ve created an entire industry around being a badass. They’re comfortable saying ‘this isn’t for everyone, it’s for people who aren’t pansies.’

This posturing and reposition of the ‘death problem’ has had a huge impact on the industry, and allowed these companies to make their clients sign any number of forms waving their rights to sue and emerge from the experience in full, working order, all in the name of being hardcore.

So that’s how they got the fear thing under control, but how about the money? Doesn’t it cost a ridiculous amount to hire experienced people, fly them around all day, pack and repack parachutes (good parachutes, hopefully), etc?

Yes it does. And they’ve handled this little quandary by offering up personalized memorabilia from your few hours of being a badass.

You know those photos you can buy after riding a particularly startling roller coaster? You know, the ones they snap right as you’re at the most uncomfortable part of the ride? Yeah, they have those for skydiving, except they’re a bit more intense than that.

Essentially, you can order a set of photos and/or a video DVD of your skydiving experience before you head out to the airstrip to go up and jump out. If you do so, another person will jump with you, and this person will be loaded up with whatever camera/camcorder materials they need to capture your adventure, from your initial briefing, to getting suited up, to landing.

They then take this footage and slap it into some templates they’ve got pre-built, and voila, instant multimedia package.

The packages they sell are the real money makers, because although a premium jump costs upward of $400 and getting a DVD only costs $180, thy skydiving itself comes with a whole lot of overhead that needs to be handled, and I would imagine that their income from that is almost nothing. The $180, on the other hand, is almost pure profit, with a chunk taken out to pay the photographer/videographer for their time, but the rest is automated. The video uploads automatically, the DVD is all set up an ready to go (with a whole lot of stock-footage and advertisement filler), and all they have to do is hand it to you to make their money.

So here’s the question: is there something negative about your industry that you can flip around and turn into a positive? Further, is there any service that you can offer to your clients/customers that would supplement your current offerings, but bring in a whole lot more profit?

Update: December 11, 2016

I totally paid for the DVD. I figured if I was going to do the thing, I might as well have moving pictures of me doing the thing and looking ridiculous while doing it. And I did look ridiculous, but also surprisingly calm.