Categories
parenting

Daddy, if you love me…

I love spending solo time with my kids. And I really want them to enjoy spending time with me. We spend lots of time doing stuff together as a family, but I think there’s something special about the ratio being 1:1 (or 1:2) instead of 5:2.

At least once per month I try to take them out to do something– just the two of us. It’s often something simple. Like a trip to Target or Home Depot or out for a taco. But my goal is always to do something a little bigger. Something that’s really special. (When you live in a tourist destination like San Diego, this is actually pretty easy.)

I also try to mix passions in hopes of passing on some of the things I love. My love for college sports was passed on to me by my dad taking me to Notre Dame football, basketball, and hockey games as a kid. So they go with me to San Diego State football and basketball games. And this year we added the San Diego Padres to the mix because they both seem to enjoy baseball.

In March, Paul and I were walking to the SDSU vs. Utah game. The Aztecs were ranked in the top 10 in the country. The game was sold out. And the country was just discovering that Viejas Arena had become the most exciting venue west of the Mississippi. Paul dragged his feet a little as we walked across campus.

Paul, don’t you want to go to the game? It’s sold out. The Aztecs are awesome this year. And I love sharing this with you.” He got up the courage to tell me the truth. “I really like hanging out with you dad. But we always do things that you love, like sports, and it doesn’t count as a dad date unless it’s something I want to do.

My 7 year old prophet hit me… Right. Between. The. Eyes.

What do you want to do?

In some ways it seems silly to miss this. But I had a default to want to take my kids along to things I wanted to do. And they picked up that I would have gone to this stuff with or without them, so it didn’t feel as special. While they liked the games they wanted me to come spend time on their turf. They felt loved as we went to games. But they would really feel the love if I’d bypass what I wanted to do for what they wanted to do.

Yesterday was case-in-point as we went to the Pokemon World Championships. (Pictures above) Thousands of people geeked out on Pokemon. They spoke a language of characters I couldn’t comprehend. The card games, the collectables, the people dressed like the characters. I couldn’t have been more out of place.

But my kids? It was a giant “I love you” card for them. They couldn’t believe we actually went. (Paul asked me about it months ago but thought I had forgotten.) I didn’t rush them. I just tried to figure it out. I sat and watched as they played in table tournaments. I got excited when they won. I was disappointed when they lost. We took pictures. We wandered around the hotel to make sure they’d seen everything. I learned the names of some characters.

Parenthood is humbling. There’s times you think you’re winning when you are losing and visa versa. For every miss I’ve had– it felt good to get a win yesterday.

Categories
social media Web/Tech

5 Things the App Store Teaches Us

A living exhibit of current apps being sold. Photo HT to Sachin Agarwal

More than 1 billion apps have been downloaded from the iTunes app store. Believe it or not, there are lots of people who still don’t think of it as a serious marketplace. A billion is 1,000 million folks. That’s pretty serious.

Here are 5 things that the app store has taught me

  1. Free is a legitimate business plan.
  2. Financial success isn’t so much about profit margins, it’s about price point.
  3. Traditional high margin businesses with complicated business plans can’t compete.
  4. The one hit wonder is just as powerful today as it was yesterday.
  5. Big business will always manipulate a free market system.

Some brief explanations to unpack the list above.

Free is a legitimate business plan

Would you have an account on Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail if it cost you $2.99 each to belong? Of course not. But how did Google, Twitter, and Facebook get to become some of the most powerful companies in the world without charging you a dime? TV has been doing it for years.

Financial success isn’t so much about profit margins, it’s about price point

When I developed my first apps for YS, the content was valued based on the retail price of the book. Consequently, they never took off. People aren’t going to pay the same $7.99 for an app version of a book that they’d pay for a hard copy because the perceived value is different. The question app buyers are asking is, “Will I get the free version or will I pay $.99?” Remember… all of Facebook, Google, and Twitter are 100% FREE! So your buyer wants to know why your app, compared to what they know is already free, has more value to them than that. To pay more than $.99 for an app you have to demonstrate ridiculous value. Consequently, if you lower your price point or eliminate the cost, you will access millions more customers and potentially make infinitely more money as a result.

Traditional businesses with complicated business plans can’t compete

Traditional media and brick/mortar retailers are struggling to figure out how to take advantage of apps. Look for yourself. Retailers apps aren’t really necessary but are just attempts to have “something” in the app store. An online catalog is pointless because of Google. A store finder is pointless because of Google Maps. Most traditional brands apps aren’t adding value– they are marketing. And people are extraordinarily good at sniffing out marketing thanks to the popularity of bloggers like Seth Godin. Companies with simple business plans are beating them in the app store because simple business plans have lower overhead, can take more brand risk, are more nimble, and will rely less on expensive “experts.” (If an app maker is an “expert” than why would they sell your company something for thousands when “experts” are becoming millionaires? Additionally, the counter-intuitive business strategy of free is nearly impossible for traditional business leaders to comprehend.

The one hit wonder is just as powerful today as it was yesterday

Angry Birds is to the app store what Don McLean is to the record business. Except we live in an age when a company that has a one-hit wonder in the app business will get a royalty checks from Apple for millions of dollars per month. Not bad for some college students from Finland, eh? Take that– Mattel or EA or any of the other major players in the game industry! Each of the original creators of Angry Birds will not only make a lot of money off of Angry Birds… they are now solid gold for life.

Big business will always manipulate a free market system

The editors at Apple have always claimed a certain level of editorial control of the app market. In other words the stuff at the top of the pile is at the top of the pile mostly because it is the best in the marketplace. But, in truth, they have allowed that to be manipulated by some levels of marketing of new stuff. Go to the app store today on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad and you will see ads for featured items. That wasn’t free and it is almost always big, publicly traded companies, who have bought that influence. Consequently, some of the biggest selling apps are not, indeed, the best apps in a totally free marketplace. There has been some manipulation.

Categories
Christian Living learning

5 Spiritual Lessons Learned from Gardening

More than pretty and tasty. These plants are teaching us.

We are new gardeners. Our insane 2010 goal of either growing or buying 25% of our families food from a local farmers market has pushed us into a crash course in agriculture.

In March and April we planted our second season of vegetables as well as double the amount of property dedicated to veggies. It’s out-of-control in a very fun way!

Along the way we’ve been learning some valuable lessons. Interestingly, these lessons have fantastic spiritual significance as well.

Here are 5 spiritual lessons we’ve learned from gardening:

  1. What you water grows. This is especially true in San Diego’s arid climate. Now that the rains have stopped, if I don’t add a plant to my irrigation system, it might as well not exist. The same is true in my walk with Christ. Areas of my life which I pay attention to… grow. Areas of my life which I don’t water… die.
  2. Weed regularly. Weeds are deceptive. You won’t notice them starting, but before you know it they are choking out your veggies, stealing water and nutrients from your plants, and reproducing. The rule in the garden is simple: If you see a weed, pick it! You shouldn’t wait for “weeding day” because by than it’ll be a lot more work and the weeds may have reproduced. The same is true in my walk with Jesus. I have to weed out sin before it becomes habit. Confession and repentance can’t be saved for Sunday.
  3. Sharing the harvest is fun. Being new to gardening and desperate not to fail, we’ve planted way too much of some things. This has lead to some massive harvests! Rather than just let that food rot, we’ve taken great pleasure in sharing our tangerines, lettuce, carrots, and other stuff with our friends and neighbors. The same is true of my time with Jesus. Now that I’ve raised my own food I get the gist of what it means to both give my first fruits to God. (First fruits aren’t always the most choice harvests, but they are the most anticipated!) Likewise, sharing the harvest of stuff God is doing in my life brings others the same type of joy that they experience when I hand them a bag of fruit.
  4. Plant in the right season. Kristen and I have a desire to plant stuff that we want to eat. While that makes sense, and San Diego is particularly forgiving since we have year-round pleasant weather, there is a big difference between something we plant that is in-season vs. something we’ve planted that was actually out-of-season. While both grow– one grows correctly while the others growth is retarded by its circumstances. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planted an idea at the wrong time. My walk with Jesus is a constant battle between my desire to do stuff now versus waiting for the right time.
  5. Space is required for growth. We’ve been learning this the hard way. It’s hard to imagine how much room a vegetable is going to need when you grow it from seed or buy a seedling that is in a 5 inch pot. We have one tomato plant right now that was so tiny I wasn’t sure it would take off. But it has since grown into a massive bush over 5 feet tall that is choking out its neighbors! The same is true in my life with Christ. When I give people enough room (or make enough room for myself) to grow… people fill it up. When I constrict or confine growth is choked out.