Category: Uncategorized


Form vs Substance

We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” What that means is, substance can be present without us realizing it.

Or maybe there’s another interpretation, that goes “Some things that are pretty on the outside just aren’t worth it.”

Now, from experience, we all know that there are a lot of different products out there that this can also be applied to: movies, video games and music albums are all products where a lot of attention is paid to the cover art.

What about the famous scene in Spinal Tap where Fran Drescher’s character admonishes the band about their cover artwork, explaining that The Beatles didn’t need anything special or unique to sell The White Album?

In an ideal situation, a product would contain both style and substance. A lack of presentation doesn’t hurt the reality of what is inside, but perception itself has a way of shaping reality: Take the example of certain luxury brands that are able to price themselves higher simply based on reputation.

It really is a constant challenge to meet the escalating expectations that people have. We really should spend most of our focus working on creating the best products or services and also reserve some time to think about presentation.

These two can and do work together, and there are many more examples of this from highly functional and beautiful furniture to powerful, stylish vehicles. This also reminds me to mention that substance itself could have a bunch of subgroups for any product or service depending on who the ultimate consumer will be.

This really could be an endless debate if we are asking “Which is more important?”. They work together and the things with an ideal combination tend to dominate the marketplace.

 

 

 

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Mental Confidence

Many factors come into play when discussing success. Some will point to a superior educational pedigree. Others to inherent class advantages. Some like to chalk it up to luck. And then there are those who talk about cognitive patterns that are hardwired into us–obviously, that’s my preference.

We are conditioned into our mindset by those around us and other environmental stimuli.

As the quote goes from Good Will Hunting, “Most people never get to see how brilliant they can be. They don’t find teachers that believe in them. They get convinced they’re stupid.”

I won’t get into the debate over which type of teacher, professor or coach is ideal– authoritarian, authoritative or hands-off. But I will make the bold suggestion that if certain types of people don’t mesh with your goals, perhaps it’d be better to move in separate directions.

In a great article from ExpertBoxing.com on the Mindset of a Champion, the author talks about how our relationships are key to success. Some common pitfalls are listed:

The worst thing you can do is start throwing negativity into relationships before they’ve even been established. Talking behind someone’s back. Arguing with people over nothing. Letting jealousy affect your ability to be professional/courteous/polite. Maintaining or allowing negative relationships and people to stay in your life is another mistake.

No matter how talented someone is, no matter how much potential they have, they can be brought down to the level of mediocrity or non-achievement without the right people around them. The bad attitudes of others rub off and surface as bad habits in you.

Formula One champion Nigel Mansell devotes a page in his autobiography on how himself and his wife actively distanced themselves from friends who were overtly negative about his embryonic efforts in Formula Ford (a feeder league for Formula One):

There were people whom we hardly ever saw, but if something went wrong they would come up to us and say, ‘I could have told you about that. I could have told you that wouldn’t work.’ It’s amazing how many people we’ve run into with that attitude.

Mansell goes on to say that if these people were more constructive in their approach, their opinions would have been palatable.

I have a cousin who has always been negative to me since my childhood. She’s older by about 7-8 years, so perhaps a false sense of superiority or smug condescension blossomed with the age gap. While I couldn’t imagine going up to her and criticizing her prospects at her office job, she’s always had “smart” things to say about writing, journalism and the arts.

I find it ludicrous that this kind of person presents themselves as a direct impediment to mental confidence and then complains when communication breaks down. Worse still is when someone with no context or background in an area wants to pontificate as an expert on the subject material.

As the article from ExpertBoxing.com states, I don’t need an army of ‘Yes-Men’ to fluff false confidence and agree with everything that I do. But I also certainly don’t need prolonged exposure to toxic opinions that offer no benefit to me whatsoever. And neither does anyone else.

Resonance

Sometimes a song catches us because we know how real it is. The Killers “Mr. Brightside” is one of those songs, and it has an interesting back story.

Says vocalist Brandon Flowers, “Lyrically, it’s about an odd girlfriend of mine. All the emotions in the song are real. When I was writing the lyrics, my wounds from it were still fresh. I am Mr. Brightside! But I think that’s the reason the song has persisted – because it’s real. People pick up on those things. And that goes all the way down to the production; we recorded it in a couple of hours, but it just sounds right, you know?”

Of course, the listener feels the emotional resonance. That’s what makes a hit. The artist can’t explain after the fact– the song has to speak for itself.

Back in the day, in high school music class, I noticed an interesting phenomenon: we learned to play instruments with high technical proficiency. But something was missing– there was no emotional attachment to the music. I can only speak for myself, but I never put my heart and soul into playing the notes; I just went through the motions because I was doing what I was told to do.

Creativity is such a personal journey. If you’re working to please the teacher and allow them to overlay their own concepts of good and bad onto you, you’re silencing a part of your own dynamic range. You’ll find a rebellious spirit in every emerging artist worth mentioning because they brought something different to the table.

 

Here’s a good video that gives an overview of a series of studies conducted at Berkley University that demonstrates how those who are wealthier have less empathy or act unethically.

It certainly reminds me of how those with inherent advantages selfishly attribute their standing to actual skill.

Honda Indy in Toronto

This weekend marks a double-header consisting of two IndyCar races in Toronto at the improvised street track downtown. Did a feature on Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe for Toro magazine.

I will also continue to liveblog events from the day’s race at MSN.ca. Check out tomorrow’s blog at ThePassingLane.ca.

Django Unchained

The new Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained, has drawn a lot of controversy. It has also been a top-performer at the box office. I am happy to say that after seeing the film, that it is a great movie, period. Tarantino has shown genius in the past, and returns to form with this action-adventure. Every second of every minute is entertaining; the soundtrack is killer and perfectly synched to the action and the cinematography is top-notch.

The Midnight Show

Have a laugh on the troupe from The Midnight Show on the subject of MMA clothes: