A holiday wish

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30 years ago a new person came into my life. 23 years ago another. Nearly 20 years ago, another. None of these people became who I imagined them to be. They have surprised me. But all of them have enriched me beyond belief. My family is my touchstone. What I wish for you is not … Continued

At Tesla, the customer experience falls far short of the car

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I bought a Tesla. The experience of buying it was terrible. Analyzing the reasons for this is a great exercise in thinking through customer experience. This is not my first electric car. I’m a believer. Six years ago, I bought a Nissan Leaf. My family has been very happy with it. The maintenance costs are … Continued

Reflections on the inauspicious debut of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

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Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is the greatest single piece of music humanity has ever produced. I was, however, surprised to learn that this epochal work, rather than bursting successfully onto the world’s consciousness, had a problematic and stumbling debut and took years to be recognized. There is surely a lesson here for anyone attempting to create. … Continued

An editor’s notebook: coda

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All this week, I’ve looked for lessons from the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve edited in the last few years. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned. Writing is difficult. But with enough practice and good coaching, you can get good at it. Editing is a higher level of difficulty. The editor must understand … Continued

Unfair

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I was a math prodigy. But everything changed when I encountered an unfair problem more like the real world than mathematics. Math had always come easily to me. I majored in math at Penn State, and everyone in the department knew I was a student with special abilities. Math sort of shifts on you. In … Continued

My problem with books

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I have a books problem. My parents read Dr. Seuss books to me when I was a child, and that was where it started. Every weekend they would take me to the library. It started with the books on science and astronomy. Once I had read them all, they introduced me to the grownup side … Continued

I predicted Apple would die: “Wake up and smell the toast”

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It was 1996. Gil Amelio had just taken over Apple Computer. My job at Forrester was to predict the future. I was certain that Apple would crater and I said so in print. Steve Jobs had introduced the Lisa and then, the insanely great Macintosh, in 1984. It made a hell of an impact, and … Continued

Fall down seven times get up eight

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Inspiring, no? People keep using this quote (a Japanese proverb) to tell me to persevere no matter what. No matter how many times life knocks you down, you’re supposed to take it and get up again, right? I have just a few problems with this. First of all, who stays down? Short of suicide, of … Continued