James Gill

CEO and co-founder of GoSquared.

London, UK 66 posts

Quick thoughts on watchOS 7

Speed

Everything’s faster – it feels so snappy – like having a new watch. Every animation, every tap, every interaction feels almost instant.

Hand Washing

Hand washing – it works. Features like this truly change behaviour. Try as I might – I have not been washing my hands for 20 seconds every time. Just as I love to close my rings, this is another habit I’m now far more inclined to build.

Sleep Mode

The set up for everything sleep related was fantastic. There were a lot of options, but everything was extremely clear. I experienced “Wind Down” last night as my iPhone and Watch were both telling me “James, get to bed now, for heaven’s sake!”

One example of the helpful Sleep setup process.
One example of the helpful Sleep setup process.

The Watch went into a mode similar to Theatre Mode where the screen is switched off and unresponsive. You have to wake it by hitting the Digital Crown and then turning it a satisfying amount to unlock. And notifications are removed from you Lock Screen on iPhone to keep your bedtime routine as distraction free as possible.

Sleep Tracking

Sleep tracking – I tried it last night, and I’m not totally sure what data goes where, now that I have about four apps all helping me sleep better. Needs further investigation.

No more Force Touch

Lack of Force Touch – haven’t felt the loss of it at all in my first 24 hours. All interactions I stumble on regularly have been replaced Force Touch with a button or other interface element that’s easily visible.

Installation

I still find the instal process for watchOS updates pretty convoluted. Maybe I’m too keen and should just let it install overnight while I’m sleeping. Yesterday I spent part of my lunch hour messing around with ensuring my Watch was on its charger, charged more than 50%, on WiFi, that my iPhone was close, and it also was connected to WiFi. And then I just waited. Progress seemed slow. I did something wrong, or something went wrong – either way, it wasn’t perfectly smooth.

Thankfully, eventually, it was all done, and as if by magic I had watchOS 7 ready for the evening. It felt like I had a new Watch.

Go get it

Every year, iOS and watchOS get a little bit better. This version of watchOS is a delight on so many levels. Go install it if you haven’t already!

Move fast

“A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin

I shared the above quote in my last piece on Silent Meetings, but it continues to be at the forefront of my mind.

I’m in the last year of my twenties, and I’ve been thinking a lot about time – it’s a rather limited resource.

The longer I’m on this planet, the more I realise that the time it takes to achieve things is very often an attitude or a viewpoint, rather than an immovable fact.

Somewhat proving this point is this list of “examples of people quickly accomplishing ambitious things together” from Patrick Collison of Stripe.

Patrick’s list includes the first version of Amazon Prime (six weeks), the first iPod (approximately 290 days), and Disneyland (366 days).

This weekend I also read a profile on Elon Musk in Rolling Stone – this quote stood out to me (emphasis mine):

Beyond all this, most maddening or exciting for Musk’s employees, depending on which one you ask, is the time scale on which he often expects work to be done.
For example, one Friday when I was visiting, a few SpaceX staff members were frantically rushing back and forth from the office to the parking lot across the street. It turns out that during a meeting, he asked them how long it would take to remove staff cars from the lot and start digging the first hole for the Boring Company tunnel. The answer: two weeks.
Musk asked why, and when he gathered the necessary information, he concluded: “Let’s get started today and see what’s the biggest hole we can dig between now and Sunday afternoon, running 24 hours a day.”
Within three hours, the cars were gone and there was a hole in the ground.

Not everyone is comfortable moving fast, but I don’t think there’s any option when running an internet business: you have to move fast or you die.

When someone says something will take two weeks, you can either take them at their word, or you can challenge them to think: what would it take to achieve this in two days? What needs to change?

The folks at Basecamp made this point better than I ever could in this short chapter of their original book Getting Real – keep time and budget fixed, be flexible on scope.

How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time. —Fred Brooks, software engineer and computer scientist

Speed isn’t the only thing that matters when running a business, but it’s often treated as optional, and it’s easily lost one hour at a time.

Hours add up to days. Days cause weeks to slip. Weeks drag out into quarters. Quarters impact entire years. And we don’t have many years to waste.

Silent Meetings

Since remote working became default, we've all been trying different ways of working – from those adopting Slack or Teams for the first time, to doing one-on-ones over Zoom.

There's never been a better excuse to try radical changes to team collaboration.

The weekly kickoff

Every Monday morning we start the week with a kickoff.

We have a Notion doc that everyone has access to, with a clear agenda and structure.

The person who owns each “department” of the business outlines how they're doing against their objective for the quarter, and their action plan for the week to get closer to achieving it.

We used to do these kickoffs in person in our office. And then one of the team moved to Scotland (who can blame them!), so we started do do our kickoffs with one person on a video call and the rest of us in the office.

And then 2020 hit and we were forced to all join our Scottish colleague and communicate via Zoom in these Monday morning meetings.

Lack of engagement and no lack of chaos

We started to notice a few trends in these meetings:

  • Some people would speak for more than they needed, while others would speak less.
  • We saved questions to the end and found many of the team would not have the opportunity to ask what they needed.
  • Regardless of Zoom it was often hard to digest numbers and explanations on the spot when spoken aloud.

Most of all, we started to question the very purpose of these meetings – what's the point of us all getting together at the same time on a call if we aren't going to interact? If we are just going to speak at each other?

Meetings are expensive.

“A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin

Take an hour for the meeting (assuming it starts on time and finishes on time), plus the hour before to prepare, plus the 30 mins after to fully get back into your flow, multiplied by the number of people in the meeting.

Add all this up and you quickly realise you're taking 15+ hours of the team’s time.

Every member of the team is incredibly skilled, ambitious, and driven. One resource that is impossible to replace is their time – once it’s spent they’re not getting it back. So I try to be extremely cautious of any time we take from anyone on the team. In that time, does every member of the team feel like it was valuable to help them grow, perform better, and achieve their goals? Or do they feel like that meeting just robbed them of an hour of their life?

15 hours is a lot of collective team time, and when you also consider that everyone is being paid to be there, a lot of money being spent too.

Efficient, well run meetings not only matter morally but they make financial sense too for

Trying out Ulysses

Screenshot of Ulysses on Mac
Screenshot of Ulysses on Mac

I came across Ulysses after asking on Twitter if there was a better way to write blog posts on my iPhone or iPad, instead of relying on the Ghost web interface.

It appears there is – it’s called Ulysses and it’s what I can only describe as a delightful native app for iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS.

It’s so great, the (rather talented) developers would rather you paid for a subscription.

Subscribe to an app for writing? Really?! It’s a very reasonable subscription (£5 / month), but it still feels weird to pay a monthly fee for an app to write when so many free options exist.

I took the plunge and I am going to see how it performs – if I write more because of Ulysses then it’s easily worth the 2 coffees a month for the experience.

I’m writing this in Ulysses right now and the writing experience on both iOS and on my Mac is just delightful. I love Markdown and I love the balance they've found between complexity and simplicity to make an overall experience that is easy to get started with, but advanced enough to cater to every need I've had so far.

Speaking on the Scaleup podcast

The Scaleup podcast is led by Charlotte, CEO of Equalture, as she chats with other founders and CEOs from all over the world about their journey of building a team and the impact that their teams have on their businesses. Milestones, failures and lessons learned.

I was honoured to speak with Charlotte earlier in July, and we had a fun discussion about some of the highs and lows of running GoSquared, about mistakes we've made along the way, and we dug into the back story of starting GoSquared in the first place.

Be sure to check out the full series for many other honest and open discussions with founders.

Thanks to Charlotte for inviting me on the show!

GoSquared Automation

A quick intro to Automation from yours truly.

This week we introduced a new product as part of the GoSquared platform – GoSquared Automation.

For the first time, you can now send emails to your contacts using GoSquared, without needing any external tools or integrations, and benefit from the wealth of data, insights, and segmentation options that we've been building for years.

Automation has been a long time in the works.

I remember when we released Customer Data Hub (at the time, we called it People Analytics) – back in 2015(!) – one of the top requests we received from customers from that point onwards has always been: I want to use the data in GoSquared to send better emails to customers.

It's exciting to have this huge new set of functionality in the platform. So many hours of hard work across the team went into this release, and I am so proud of what we've all achieved together to get to this point.

If you run a software business, and you're in the market for a better way to engage with your customers, you should take a look at what we've been up to.

I ran the marathon

Today is Sunday 26th April – the date of the 2020 London Marathon. Except it's not happening today.

Last year, I ran the marathon – for the first time, and it was one of the best days of my life.

Before the memories of the day blur too much, I wanted to write them down. Perhaps someone else is thinking about taking part on this incredible day once the world returns to some form of normality.

Here's my story.


The build up

“Good luck! I’ll be watching from the pub.”

This was the first person I saw after leaving the house – a black cab driver – on my walk to East Dulwich station. What an appropriate way to start the most London of days – by bumping into someone with the most London of professions.

It was early. It was quiet. And it wasn't raining. Not hot, but also not cold. Perfect running weather.

It was eerily quiet – was it really the right day? Was this just a dream? Can I return to bed?

I had nothing but nerves. I could barely speak from the moment I woke up.

Should I drink more water?
Should I drink less?
Have I eaten enough?
Should I eat more?
I don't feel hungry! I don't want to be sick!
Will my top rub?
Will my knee hold out?
What if I trip?
Are my trainers going to be OK?
What if my timing chip doesn't work and my times don't get counted?
What if my bib number falls off?
Did I actually register everything OK?
What if I injure myself and have to pull out – my whole family are following me from the app?
Am I going to get there too early? Too late?

Once I reached the station – the platform was quiet, but a handful of other runners turned up. Clearly they've done this before. This is the correct day! This is the correct time.

When I arrived at London Bridge Station, the atmosphere became real – it was busy, despite being so early on a Sunday. People were shuffling around, following coloured flags to different platforms.

When I reached the top of the escalator up to the platform for the train to Maze Hill there were plenty of police around and lots of runners. The helicopter in the sky set me off – this is real. This is the London Marathon – and I am taking part in it.

Police were everywhere – looking after the runners, helping guide everyone to the right place. An immediate wave of positivity, of excitement, but also of collective nervousness diffused through the air.

London Bridge is where you must say goodbye to anyone you've been travelling with up until this point. You're on your own from here. I had to disconnect from the warm reassurance of Lauren. What I'd do to go and sit in a cafe and have a bacon roll right now...

The train journey vanished past, and before I knew it, we were at Maze Hill station.

The

Sticking to a routine

Since the start of the year, I’ve been sticking to a simple routine every day.

I've written about my morning routine before – and it's evolved (and become simpler) since then.

Each morning, I have a checklist of a handful of items I try to complete before the rest of my day starts.

They are:

  1. Drink a glass of water
  2. Have a shower
  3. Do 20 press-ups
  4. Write up what happened the day before

Each item is intended to be inexcusably simple to complete.

After three months, it’s becoming a habit.

I’ve found this to be incredibly helpful for starting my day well, and giving me structure at a time where most of normality has evaporated.

I have particularly enjoyed writing daily – to myself. My only wish is I had started this earlier.

I long for the future where I can read my diary entries from this time and be grateful it’s over.

Featured on BBC News

GoSquared on BBC News

It's not every day we're featured on BBC News, but after a quick back-and-forth with Katie Prescott, the GoSquared team made an appearance in article about the unexpected shenanigans of conference calls today.

The screenshot was taken on my birthday when the team sang happy birthday to me via Zoom.

See the article on the BBC

A few updates to my blog

Updates to the look and feel of the blog.

While spending my weekend indoors – as we all are right now – I've spent some time updating my blog.

What's changed?

  • New navigation to the left of content.
  • Homepage now features more of each post – rather than just snippets.
  • New "About Me" page with a currently miniscule amount of information about me.
  • New "Email Updates" page to sign up for, well, email udpates for new posts.
  • Improved typography throughout – and now using the wonderful Inter font.
  • New styling for links in posts.
  • Improved styling for footnotes.
  • Removed a bunch of extraneous cruft.

It's been a rewarding project, and it's a pleasure working with the Ghost blogging platform.

Hopefully I can now focus more energy into writing in the knowledge that my blog is looking a little more polished.

The best laptop hinge ever designed

iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard

I haven’t used it yet – as far as I’m aware, no one outside Apple has.

But the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro looks fantastic.

Sure, it has the trackpad that many have been clamouring for for many years, but it’s the hinge that blew me away.

I felt the previous keyboard covers for the iPad were some of the most confusing products Apple has ever made – the hinge and flaps were so complicated. They always reminded me of when you have a large map and you try to fold it back up to put it away and can never quite fold it exactly as it needs to be.

This new hinge – with the ability to adjust the screen on multiple axes – appears to give the user more options in viewing angle than any current laptop.

It begs the question – if it's great for the iPad, would a "floating cantilever" not be great for MacBooks too?

A first look at Pitch

I am so excited for this product. What a beautifully made, perfect teaser video.

I really want to get my hands on this – I get the feeling it's going to make Keynote and Powerpoint feel like they're from the stone age.

Their full post has some more information about a few features, and the rollout of Pitch – a rethink on presentation software.

NetNewsWire – Just the news you want, and nothing you don’t

NetNewWire icon
There’s never been a better time to get back into RSS. – John Gruber

I recently started using NetNewsWire on both my Mac and my iPhone to consume news via RSS feeds.

I made the change just before everything kicked off and the world got turned upside down, but it’s proved to be good timing.

I had previously been using Apple News to both keep up to date with the wider world, as well as follow specific sites.

But right now I can’t take it – the sensationalist headlines, the click bait, the fear mongering. I don’t need more of that in my life.

RSS isn’t a new technology, but it’s making yet another resurgence, and for me it’s because of one app – NetNewsWire.

NetNewsWire – the beautifully simple RSS reader for iOS and Mac

NetNewsWire for macOS
NetNewsWire shows you articles from your favourite blogs and news sites — and keeps track of what you’ve read.

It’s like podcasts, but for reading.

If you’ve been going from page to page in your browser looking for new articles to read, let NetNewsWire bring them to you instead.

NetNewsWire is free for both platforms, and it’s open source. Don’t be fooled by the term “open source” – it can often be misconstrued as synonymous for “designed by developers and decided by committee”, but that couldn't be further from the truth here.

NetNewsWire is an unbelievably great piece of software – opinionated , fast, light, accessible, and beautiful, and it’s unapologetically native. [1]

It’s apps like NetNewsWire that make me want to learn to code – to think that one day I could build something as great as this.

If you’re looking for some serenity in your news reading habits, and you’ve got an iPhone or a Mac, I implore you to go check it out.

Learn more about NetNewsWire


  1. Opinionated software tends to trump "please everyone" software – especially when you agree with the opinions of the decision maker. Brent Simmons, the creator of NetNewsWire has a fantastic blog where he shares his thought processes for many decisions he makes in bringing this wonderful app to life. ↩︎

Remote possibility

I'm not sure what the future holds, and I very much hope we can get through the Coronavirus pandemic as quickly as possible. I long for the world to return to normal soon.

As with many companies, we are transitioning to remote working at GoSquared from this week onwards.

When we first started working on GoSquared, we were all at school. We used to design and code away from our homes, communicating primarily through Google Chat.

We used to catch up at school, but while building interfaces, writing code, and inventing copy, we'd each be at home, focused obsessively on building something great.

It was only when we started to "grow up" that we moved to London and got together in an office. It felt like the proper thing to do – what big company doesn't have a head office? We were excited.

And things stayed that way – we've been based in London with one central location for almost a decade.

We've hired remote team members, and built experience of working with people all over the world.

But now, it's all changing – we're all going remote.

It's going to be different. It's going to be new. Some things are going to break. But I am excited for what will be better.

I’m intrigued about a few areas where my life will be different – one area in particular that excites me is getting two hours of my day back.

My commute

My normal commute is approximately an hour door-to-door.

What can I do with an extra two hours in my day? I can use this for work, for pleasure, for fitness, or for something totally new.

A few ways I'm contemplating making use of my extra two hours a day:

  • Running – will a run to start my day transform my energy levels? Will a run at the end of the day be a perfect way to separate my working day from my evening?
  • Sleeping – will an extra 30-60 minutes in bed change my focus and energy throughout the day?
  • Eating properly – more time to cook, to use fresh ingredients, to plan my meals.
  • Writing – distraction free time to focus on writing.
  • Drawing – time to draw and sketch at the end of the day.
  • Reading – an opportunity to read an extra chapter, or consume another blog post at the start of my day.

The next few weeks and months are going to be challenging for everyone – but I hope there are many positives we can take from the ordeal we face.

Create better. Consume better.

Last year, my goal was to create more, and consume less.

Every year, the pressure to outline dramatic resolutions mounts as January looms.

But every year I grow older, and hopefully a little wiser, and this time I’m not throwing out my previous resolutions, I’m just evolving them.

Consume better

I feel extremely fortunate to be in a position where I can choose what to buy and where I buy it from.

In the last few years I’ve grown increasingly aware that I can vote with my wallet and choose to actively seek out the shops I want to support, the products I want to buy, and to actively choose to avoid the businesses I don’t agree with.

This year, I intend to focus on this further – rather than just consuming less – less meat, less alcohol, less plastic, less electricity – I also want to ensure the meat, alcohol, products, and energy I consume are better.

Better for me, better for the environment, better for everyone involved.

Create better

Last year I tried creating more.

Creating more certainly helps you build habits, and it helps you maintain your craft.

But I couldn’t bring myself to meet the schedule I set to myself – I found myself creating just to hit a self-prescribed goal. Perhaps I aimed to aggressively – trying to write something new on a daily basis for a few weeks.

I’m done with creating in quantity for now. I want to focus more on quality – on deeper thought, on more unique writing, art, and design.

This year I want to create more, but not too much more. What I really want to do is create better.

General Magic

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to see one of the first screenings of General Magic in London.

Since seeing the movie, I've been telling everyone I meet about it.

It’s a story of one of the greatest teams of product, engineering, marketing, and leadership people coming together to build a device eerily similar to the iPhone, but in the early 90s.

Sketches of the original Genral Magic device

The movie pieces together with original footage how this incredible team came together, worked their socks off, and ultimately failed to deliver what they set out to achieve. It’s a story that makes you question the definition of failure – a ridiculous number of people from General Magic went on to practically define the world we live in now, and the ideas behind the device were spot on – they just took longer to get here than orignally thought.

Just a few of the people who were involved with General Magic:

  • Tony Fadell – joined General Magic as an intern, co-inventor of iPod and iPhone, founder of Nest.
  • Marc Porat – the CEO of General Magic, and visionary of the original device.
  • Megan Smith – became CTO of US, and VP at Google.
  • Andy Hertzfeld – member of original Macintosh team, also co-created Google Circles.
  • Joanna Hoffman – another member of original Macintosh team.
  • John Sculley – former Apple CEO, also launched the Newton to compete with Genral Magic.
  • Kevin Lynch – former CTO of Adobe, creator of Dreamweaver, VP of technology at Apple.

Huge thanks to Emma Sinclair for arranging a screening of this movie, and to Sarah Kerruish and Steve Jarrett for the fascinating Q&A after the movie.

If you're interested in the history of computing, you want to see a wealth of on-the-ground footage from one of the most influencial teams of people in technology, or you just want to be inspired by the willpower and hard work of an incredibly smart group of people, you have to watch this movie.

Learn more about General Magic the movie

Quantity and quality

You can rarely have both.

At the start of this month I tried writing every day, but I can’t do it.

More importantly, I feel I shouldn’t do it.

I believed by forcing myself to write every day I’d naturally improve, but after two weeks, the pressure to write every day, without fail, was forcing me to churn words out that I felt were a compromise on quality.

I was inspired by Seth Godin’s recent piece on “streaks” – where he’s written over 3,000 posts over the course of his blog. Very few people can claim to have that level of stamina for writing.

But I am not trying to be Seth Godin. I am trying to write to articulate my thoughts more clearly, to help me form my own thoughts, and hopefully to share any lessons I learn with others.

So far, by trying to write every day, I’ve learnt something valuable – that it doesn’t encourage me to do my best work.

Instead, I’m going to change my goal – try to write more, but try to write better, longer, more thoughtful pieces.

My new goals for writing:

  • Go deeper.
  • Don’t try to write every day.
  • Spend more time thinking, before the writing.
  • Once a week > once a day.
  • Read what I write. Edit. Read again. Publish.

I also took some time to update the look and feel of the site. I love the Ghost platform for blogging, but I was frustrated to still be using essentially a default theme.

Great design is near and dear to my heart – it runs through everything in my life – so I don’t wish for any part of public presence to look substandard.

I can still do a whole lot better with the design of my site, but for now I’ve taken a few cues from the latest updates to the GoSquared brand, including using the wonderful Inter typeface, and working on a stylised version of my initials for the first time.

I treat this site as a test bed for my design, writing, and for sharing my thoughts. I hope you’ll like what’s to come.

Give praise

It’s so easy to take the hard work of others in your team for granted – to just expect people to do great work day in day out.

It’s also so easy for good deeds to go unnoticed, and to simply say “thanks” and move on with your day.

But think about the last time someone specifically spoke to you to tell you how much they appreciated something you did. It felt good, didn't it?

Being aware of what you think and what you actually express to others will likely cause you to realise that others around you aren’t aware of how much you appreciate them.

At GoSquared, for a long time we’ve put specific time aside each week to share thanks and praise within the team.

Every Friday it’s the best way to start the weekend – knowing others on the team appreciated something you did.

Next time you’re wondering whether or not to call someone out to thank them in front of the team, don’t wait, don’t hesitate, just do it.

Be your own customer

It’s so easy to think you know what your customer experience is like.

Whether you sell a piece of software, you run a government department, or you’re putting on an event, it’s all too easy to think you’ve catered to your customer’s needs.

But we are all customers. And we know how many businesses don’t cater to our needs.

Today I had to go to the passport office in London.

I had an email to the head to the apartment office – it told me I had an appointment to collect my passport at a specific time, and to get there no earlier than 10 minutes before my appointment, and obviously no later.

But upon arrival, I found there were two entrances – one for “appointments” and one for “collections”. Where does one go for an appointment to collect their passport? For those waiting in suspense, the answer, apparently, is collections.

The whole situation made me realise – it’s so obvious in my shoes how this could be improved. But within the organisation – especially one as complex as the UK passport office – I assume nothing is obvious or easy.

I would imagine very few people speak to each other between departments, and I would imagine it’s a rarity that anyone who can impact the situation ever experiences the flow from a customer’s perspective.

The same concept applies to almost every business – at your event, is the agenda clear upon arrival? In your cafe, is it clear where the restroom is? In your restaurant, do you sit at a table or wait to be seated? When you sign up for your software product, is it clear what you should do first to get value?

It’s not hard to know what your customer experience is like, but it’s very easy to think you know it.

Try being your own customer today and see what you find – you’ll be glad you did!

Apple’s storytelling

If there was an event where Apple expressed the importance of telling stories, it was their services event earlier this year where they launched Apple TV+. Every other word at their March event was either “Services” or “Storytelling”.

But everyevent features storytelling from Apple. They’re incredible at storytelling. And I always enjoy seeing the stories they want to tell with each product announcement they make.

Yesterday’s event was no different.

From a product perspective, it’s hard to get excited about year-over-year device upgrades these days – when phones are objectively “more than good enough” for the overwhelming majority of customers.

How do you make people want something new when what they have is good enough? You tell a great story and make sure millions of people hear that story.

Here are the stories I took from Apple’s September event:

  • iPhone 11 Pro: this is a professional video and stills camera in your phone. Stop thinking you need a camera and a phone and get this.
  • iPhone 11: the new iPhone is tough as nails and the battery lasts longer. It’s also a bit cheaper. What more do you want from us?
  • Apple Watch: this watch will change or save your life, or both. And we’ve got the watch for you – pick from a thousand variations.
  • Apple Retail: everything is fine despite Angela Ahrendts leaving. To prove it, here’s two new initiatives and a beautiful redesign of our most famous store.
  • AppleTV+: We are taking this content thing seriously. We’re not messing about and one way or another you’re going to end up watching these shows.
  • iPad: This is a platform of its own now. It’s not a bigger sibling of the iPhone. We’re going to keep pushing the price down at the low end and keep pushing the tablet paradigm to its limits at the high end.
  • Apple Arcade: Families, we get you. Don’t worry about the slimy games out there trying to nickel and dime you. We’ve got fantastic, exclusive games for you, and for just $4.99 / month you don’t need to worry about your children racking up a huge credit card bill for fake coins ever again.

The stories Apple didn’t tell

  • The Tile competitor: a new way to find the stuff you own. Never lose another gadget or item around your house. Seamlessly integrated with your existing Apple devices. Tiny price compared to the iPhone you’ll be buying soon – why not buy a pack of 10 Apple Tiles? They’ll make a great stocking filler.
  • The pro story for anything other than iPhone. Mac Pro, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro all are waiting for their time to shine.


By innovation only

Every September, Apple announces new iPhones without fail. Here’s a QuickTake of the 2019 iPhone event.

Intro animation

Apple kicked the event off with a beautiful introductory animation that many would describe as an artistic homage to the soon-to-depart Jony Ive. Regardless of the meaning behind this animation, it's utterly delightful.

Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade

Apple's first focus was to talk about Apple Arcade – the gaming subscription service announced earlier in the year. Some great games, nothing too much new other than official release date and official price of $4.99 / month.

Because Apple controls everything here, it’s going to be available in 150 countries on launch. Relatively easy for Apple to do, very hard for anyone else.

AppleTV+

See – a new show coming to AppleTV+

Apple’s Netflix competitor was also announced earlier in the year, and Apple has been teasing more and more trailers in the last few months.

Nothing new to report from the event except: Apple is aggressively pricing this. Not only is the service $4.99 / month – half of Netflix – but they’re also giving everyone a free year on any new purchase of an Apple device.

Aggressive pricing is perhaps required here – Apple is playing catchup, and their catalogue is tiny right now. They’re building from zero.

But with original content there’s a lot to be said for having 10 incredibly well produced and popular shows over 100 mediocre ones. Only time will tell whether Apple’s high quality production will equate to popularity.

iPad

New low-end iPad

The lowest end iPad gets an update. Apple also took the time to remind us that the iPad has its own OS now. I’d expect the really exciting iPad news to be about the iPad Pro which were massively overhauled in the last year – maybe there's time for an October event before Christmas.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 5 with always on display

The headline for the Apple Watch is health. Health health health.

The heartfelt stories Apple shared about customers whose lives had been impacted and / or saved as a result of wearing Apple Watch were nothing but heart warming and made you want to well up. The story is clear: Apple Watch is not a product, it’s a living, breathing example of technology serving the human race for good, not evil.

It's very easy to get caught up in the emotion but then you do need to remind yourself it's a consumer device that costs $399 or more and will last for approximately three years before it needs replacing.

The Series 5 features an "always on" display while maintaining all day battery – I didn’t realise this was possible today with current tech. Very cool to see it shipping in a device that I thought was still at least another generation out.

iPod Nano ad from 2007
Apple Watch Series 5 intro video

It never fails to amaze me how Apple comes up with new visuals to promote

Over-communication

Within a team – whether you’re five people or 500 – bad communication is often the top reason for things to fall apart.

If you can communicate better you can operate better.

But it’s extremely easy to under-communicate. To assume that everyone knows the plan, everyone knows the reason we exist, everyone knows the pricing, everyone knows the roadmap, everyone knows the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learnt from them.

But in reality, most people on the team don’t know the same information. They probably have far fewer things clear in their heads.

If you’re in a position of leadership then you’re probably in a position of immense power to communicate more, and to communicate better, with your team.

I’ve made this mistake too many times – to assume everyone “gets it”. To not repeat what you feel is already obvious.

But what you think is obvious as a leader may be clear as mud to some on your team – especially if they’ve just joined your company.

Communicate the big and important stuff clearly. Communicate frequently. Then make it clearer. And then communicate it again some more.

Communicate the same thing over and over and over until it’s painful to repeat it again.

It’s extremely hard to over-communicate as a leader. And the risks of under-communicating far outweighs the risks of over-communicating.

Obey the rules or exceed the rules

I had an encounter with a business the other day where I felt frustrated by their marketing approach.

They sent me snail mail without my consent, and even had the misfortune to send their mass mailing out with a typo in the headline.

I messaged them to tell them about the typo but also to politely ask them not to send me such mail in the future. Aside from being mail I didn’t want, I thought it was against the GDPR ruling we’ve had in Europe for over a year now.

Apparently their approach was still legally compliant with GDPR, and they have no intention of changing it.

But it made me realise – some individuals, and some businesses choose to scrape by and meet the rules.

While some people and some businesses think the rules don’t go far enough – they choose to set the example, and enforce a higher standard than the laws ever could.

Some rules are there to be broken, but some rules and laws are there to protect customers, society, the environment, and more. Those kinds of rules can be obeyed, or they can be exceeded by each of us.

The companies that exceed the rules, tend to exceed customer expectations. And those companies have a bright future.

Stop comparing

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The above quote rings more and more true the longer I'm on this planet for.

So much of our culture, and our social interactions involves comparing ourselves to others.

You can use this comparison to motivate you, but too much of the time it seems to cause dramatically more negative consequences.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” isn’t just a challenge, it’s an uninspiring goal. Stop comparing yourself to those around you, and start comparing yourself to where you want to be.

Focus on your own goals and let them drown out the voices in your head telling you to “level up” against those around you.