May 03

This post is part of an ongoing series entitled “a post a day for the month of may.” It’s an unfolding exploration of the concepts from the book “Get Lucky.”

If parallax is the means by which we discover those opportunities hiding in plain sight, vantage is the sister effect that moves us to a new viewing angle and exposes those opportunities occluded from our current position. Here’s the analogy:

If you’ve ever hiked in a canyon or a valley with surrounding mountains then you know all about vantage. Your ability to navigate is limited by what you can see at any given time. By hiking to a different point in the canyon or to the top of a nearby peak you gain access to a new view that reveals features and destinations you didn’t know were there. BTW it bears mentioning that the above drawing is from a volunteer talk I did for the Kauffman Foundation Fastrac program two years ago; a talk which serendipitously lead me to meeting the co-founder of my second startup. Here I was, doing a favor for a friend speaking at her class about the concepts of motion and vantage for discovery and unbeknownst to me the effect I was talking about was at work behind the scenes pairing me up with my next co-founder!

This isn’t entirely the right analogy though because peaks beg to be climbed; they’re the obvious points of elevation we could scale to gain a better view of the landscape. Vantage in the context of Motion is different. It’s the fortuitous exposure to pivotal situations (what we would call crossroad moments in hindsight) that comes only from playing, pursuing curiosity or volunteering with no intent for gain. Steve Jobs tells a 3min story of how the Mac typeface came to be as a direct result of vantage from his fascination with calligraphy in college, a seemingly worthless pursuit at the time:

Here’s another example from my last company.

JumpBox is a poster child of the concept of vantage. It emerged from an experiment we started called Grid7 that was basically a group of developers and designers who would meet on weekends to collaborate on projects with the intent of making passive-income-generating projects. Long story short, Grid7 disintegrated but from it emerged an unshakeable idea from my co-founder to create what he called “a project box” – a Mac Mini pre-loaded with a set of open source software to simplify the lives of developers. Our lack of cash, the headaches of dealing with hardware and numerous other factors however conspired to create big brick wall for our fledgling endeavor. Fortunately virtualization was beginning to transform the industry. Kimbro had been planning the internal architecture of the project box and was intending to use virtualizaiton to run a mini virtual network within the machine. The unique position we found ourselves in allowed Kimbro to make a genius mental leap to realizing we didn’t need the hardware at all. We could ship a virtual project box- a JumpBox!

So we have so far as the mechanisms of motion:

  1. Chance collisions
  2. Parallax
  3. Vantage

I would argue there’s one more that, in our uber connected world, matches or even trumps each of these in magnitude of effect. We’ll explore that tomorrow. In the meantime what are the crossroads moments in your life that can be traced back to the effect of motion and vantage?
Oh and change your tune: Nick Drake – One of These Things First

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