Idea Arena Podcast – The Method Method with Eric Ryan

In this interview, I talk with Eric Ryan, co-founder of Method and the co-author of The Method Method: 7 Obessesions That Helped Our Scrappy Start-up Turn An Industry Upside Down.

Method has done what few companies are able to do–establish a premium brand at the top of a well-established consumer products category. In their case, it was soap. Eric says method was established in the wake of two major trends: lifestyle in the home and sustainability and they merely looked for the right opportunity to take advantage of those trends.

The book is a corporate memoir, a celebration of the company’s first ten years. We don’t often get this view into a company or worse, the telling of the story is delayed so long that the anecdotes have atrophied with age and lost their meaning.

The interview lasts 21 minutes.


Download The Interview

Tumbling Todd

Just wanted to let you know that I also have a Tumblr blog where all of my links, twitter posts, and flickr photos get posted.

I also mention it because there are interesting photos, images and videos that I post there that don’t really fit here. Today I posted a great graphic analysis of the color changes to the Crayola over the last 100 years. In the past week, I have linked to a blog that is considering alternate designs for airline boarding passes, a set of college calculus cheat sheets, the fictitious Atari 2600 Avatar game, Sally Hogsheads’ Hog-isms, and a video of The Decade from the Covers of Magazines.

I can be a little noisy, but you might find some other interesting stuff there.

When We See What’s Truly Possible

I studied mechanical engineering in college and in my senior year, I took an elective course in plastics.

In the mid-90’s, there was a big push to use plastic for everything–bottles, trash cans, lawn chairs. No one understood well how to design in these new materials and the answer normally was to make “it” thicker or add a gusset here or there for strength and support.

I remember vividly one of the final lectures of the class when the instructor talked about what the evolution of design would be like.

First, we mimic what was done before. We take what was metal and do the same but in plastic. The object looks the same. The object functions the same. And we likely save some money.

The second evolution is when we truly understand the characteristics of the new material. The object’s function remains, but the form is something completely different from what we could have imagined before.

Cool Hunting yesterday highlighted the Foodpod. Think about the evolution of colanders. Only fifteen years later are we getting around to seeing what it truly possible in plastics

You can see the same thing in the touchpad mock-up of The Sports Illustrated that has been circulating. We are almost to the point that we can envision a new form of media that will inherently function better than what existed before.

a really short moment

There is going to be a moment and
it is actually going to be a really short moment,
in relationship to all this other
yougottadotogettothepointyougettomake the stuff.
But that is the thing that I kinda live for.
It is like there is this one moment where
figure it out,
and you get it,
and you think it is going to be the best thing you have ever did.

And it is really really exciting
and I never get over it
and it hasn’t changed in 34 years
and as long as you can feel that,
you can do it.

-Taken from and inspired by Paula Sher: Type is Image

[hat tip: Signal vs Noise]

SXSW – Kathy Sierra

Here are streaming thoughts from Kathy Sierra on Creating Passionate Users:

It is not about the product–it is about helping them do.

What can we help people kick ass doing?

If you help users be passionate you get the some of the spillover passion.

You need to get past the brain’s crap filter.

Chemistry—people need to feel something, think about how you are communicating…weird, novel, different…keep the brain thinking that it is something important…the brain likes the unresolved. Funny..faces…beautiful…sexy…scary

Conversation beats formal lecture.

Talk to the brain not the mind…

Get people past the Suck Threshold and the Passion Threshold. There is an image of experitse, a meaningful benefit, and a series of steps to get there.

To get people to remember, you need to use emotion.

Need to balance challenge versus knowledge and skill.

How do we keep users in flow?

Get There Attention
Challenging Activity

You need levels to keep people going.

Levels don’t need to be obvious.

Hero’s Journey

  • Life is normal
  • Something happens to change that
  • Things really suck
  • Hero overcomes bad things
  • Return to the new normal

Create Playful Work

T-Shirt First Development – people want to identify themselves with you

Give them something to talk about? Make it ambiguous. Coldplay, Fair Trade, and the two black rectangles…

It doesn’t matter what they think about you…it is about how people feel about themselves.

If spend more time in flow, they have happier lives

Tags: sxsw2006

Lucky You

I bought my brother a gift card to iTunes for Christmas.

The Apple Store At Mayfair made the experience as simple as could be. I did not know buying something in a store could be made more simple and enjoyable.

There was a special iPod desk in the front of the store. I walked up and waited in a very short line (because it moved so quickly). Most folks were dropping $250 without blinking on Nanos. I grabbed the card I needed. The clerk scan my credit card in a Symbol handheld unit. He confirmed my email address (which he already had from my past purchases) and told me my receipt would be sent directly to my mailbox. People buying hardware were told the receipt was already in the box.

The nice man placed a sticker on the top of the card to confirm my purchase. It wasn’t a sticker dot or a roll of tape with repeating Apple logos. No, it was a rectangular sticker with the Apple logo that said “Lucky you.”

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HOW Design Conference Disappoints

I spent the last four days at the HOW Design Conference in Chicago.

I came away utterly disappointed.

I hoped to spend four days with designers and soaking up some of the sensibilities of those creative types. I wanted to become a better client. I wanted to get an idea of how to integrate design better into product and service offerings.

This is what I got instead. There was an illustrator who showed a bunch of work and talked about how he could read auras (his grandmother was a psychic). There was this Austrian designer who clicked through slides of his portfolio. Great stuff, but I don’t know any more than I did when I walked in. The whole conference seemed to be like that for me. Lots of pictures and not much to learn.

I would love to see a gathering of businesspeople where we could talk with designers about how to improve what we offer by using better design. Is there anything like that now?

P.S. There was some upside. I was able to catch dinner with Ben and Jackie, lunch with Andrea and Joy, and spend a few hours in Millennium Park.

Blogging Panel at the HOW Design Conference

I have been at the HOW Design Conference for the past day and a half.

I attended their blogging session entitled “Daily Candy: Is Blogging Good For You? Or Does It Just Cause Cavities?

There were 60 people at the session. This was pretty poor turnout when considering there are about 3500 people at the event.

The moderator Steve Heller started by asking how many people in the audience were bloggers. Six people in the audience raised their hands.

Heller also said that blogs are a part of normal reading now at NYT. He comes into the office now and sees everyone reading blogs. He says it adds about 30 minutes of additional reading per day.

The two blogs that were talked about the most were Design Observer and Speak Up. If you are of the design bend or are interested, you should check them out.