One of my favorite Zen stories is about paying attention. I read it as a kid, and it stuck with me:

A student said to Master Ichu, ‘Please write for me something of great wisdom.’

Master Ichu picked up his brush and wrote one word: ‘Attention.’

The student said, ‘Is that all?’

The master wrote, ‘Attention. Attention.’

The student became irritable. ‘That doesn’t seem profound or subtle to me.’

In response, Master Ichu wrote simply, ‘Attention. Attention. Attention.’

In frustration, the student demanded, ‘What does this word attention mean?’

Master Ichu replied, ‘Attention means attention.’ [1]

Paying attention is hard…

A few reasons why building a “simple” MVP is hard (but fun)

One day I told my friend, Sean Coates, that I wanted to build a teeny-tiny weather app from servers to pixels. At the time, apart from some HTML/CSS and a heavy dose of gumption, I didn’t have any of the requisite skills. But I wanted to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with only enough bare-bones functionality to make it work well.

In traditional Sean fashion, he replied:

So you just want to build a little bridge.

After months of building a web app from scratch in my spare time, I’m still smarting from that zinger, and learning from it…

An Ode to Project Management

Project Managers ride the dev train while laying the track.

Trouble in Project Management Land

I was hanging out at a barbecue with a fellow digital native over the weekend, and he said his tech company had been experiencing explosive growth. 30 to 85 people in the past year. Sales skyrocketing. Devs all over the US, punching out code. The C-suite making good decisions that pushed them over the hump and into the green hills of profitability.

The only department that had been causing trouble was Project Management (in this story, referred to as PM). …

Matcha (green tea) and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet) in Ritsurin Koen

I sat down to a traditional Japanese tea service in Ritsurin Koen, and I received:

  1. One chestnut-filled sweet little wider than a quarter.
  2. Less than an inch of green tea.

No refills. No second helpings. No nosy “How are you doing?” service. I ordered, it was delivered without comment, and I sat back to enjoy it. If the daimyo of Sanuki enjoyed the same tea service almost four hundred years ago, then I could too. The view wasn’t half bad:

Phil Markunas

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