One of my favorite ads of all time was an ad for the Economist Magazine that goes: “Potential is great, if your twelve.” Chuckle — Just thinking about that today.


2013 Shanghai F1 Race Notes

1. I quite prefer watching the F1 Race in DVR, provided I don’t hear about the result beforehand. The commercials are such a buzzkill, that it makes it hard to continuously shift focus. This might be the first race I purposely watched on a delay. And as I think about it, with exception of the Canadian Grand Prix where there was a four-hour rain delay (where DVR) would not have taped it, it turns out to be a good way to go.

2. After Sebastian Vettel’s comments, I wish him the worst luck. So, seeing anyone else win is good. Alonso has shown himself to be a great champion–in defeat last year, and for his management of that season, and a bad car. It’s great to see him win today.

Similarly, it’s great to see Lewis Hamilton’s continual development at not be in the headlines trashing his team, complaining like a child, talking about his personal life or other distracting stuff other than watching him race.

3. Ferrari clearly has the best understanding of how to run a team and have an authentic one-two driver relationship. It’s clear that Massa’s early race was better than Alonso’s but he dared challenge his teammate, not to stress the tires or under team strategy. This understanding has to be made ahead of time and it is, in retrospect, an understanding that has been made clear behind the scenes in the aftermath of such comments in past races like the one where the race engineer asks Felipe to “confirm Alonso is faster than you” … We all know what that means. You’re the #2 driver.

On the other hand, the by all measures caustic relationship at Red Bull has reach a toxic nature, where each individual’s respect for his role in the team has fallen away, instead of becoming more cohesive over the same time as the previously discussed relationship at Ferrari. Webber, has not proven he could be a #1, whether it’s falling away during qualifying or not effectively managing the race, he’s not a #1. And he’s a bastard to pass almost under any circumstance even when he’s not in competitive form.

That said, it really isn’t Vettel’s place to say Webber “doesn’t deserve” the win in the last race. Quite the opposite: he doesn’t deserve the treatment he’s received–and the team’s mismanagement of his qualifying immediately after a three-week break must really be a bee in his bonnet. For all of Schumacher’s flaws at Ferrari that many seemed to harp on (as the most dominating talent in the post-Senna years), he showed proper respect to his team and any cues (team orders) one way or the other were decided in advance.

But, as some great F1 pundit has said about him in the past: to be the #2 on the best team must still be better than being the #1 on a team that doesn’t rate (ask Kovalainen). And this is why the situation is so intriguing. We might all say we wouldn’t put up with Vettel’s brat wunderkind behavior, but outside of going out there and just winning, what are you going to do?

4. The Bahrain race is exactly what’s wrong with F1: the only politics of F1 is money, which I can accept, but the celebration in a country with its publicized revolts is unseemly.

6. Watching Jenson Button is like watching paint dry, but the diversity of driving styles is great as an overall concept and in practice for watching races and absorbing the strategy as it plays out. He’s a master of driving stints and managing tires. Truly professional. He was a great foil for Lewis Hamilton at MacLaren, and I still wonder about the effect of Perez to the team’s results.

7. Massa, early on, looked to take the fight for the race lead, but eventually fell away to that second tier that he has languished for oh, so long. Race pace, or that something extra special just may not be there–and Ferrari knows it–justifying the halo around Alonso. I would like to see Massa NOT pass Alonso early on AND still lay the hammer down. That would help disprove this dynamic.

But, this is F1, the most advanced motorsport on the planet. And driving a Ferrrari (and having them pay you) is nothing to sneeze at. Massa, compared to just about anyone else, save about 20 individuals is still walk on air good. But he’s more Barrichello good, than Schumacher good.

Proof that not just anyone can come in there and be a #2, much less a driver of any stripe was watching that stretch where Luca Badoer drove for the team after being a longtime test driver. Even he didn’t have the pace. So respect has to be shown to the dynamic of being a #2 driver.

8. Must at least be a consolation for Esteban Gutierrez to say he “Schumachered” the back of someone’s car and ended his own race. Takes the heat off of being a rookie–a little bit.

Ray Lewis: The Trump Card

Ray Lewis -- King Card

I knew when my Mom called me twice during the AFC Playoff game between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens last Saturday, the game had hit a chord with the wide populace of Baltimore. My Mom barely watches football and she called to tell me that the game was a “miracle” for the Ravens. Well, I was certainly impressed with their spirited play tying and beating the Broncos on the road, but I kinda thought it was more like a blown coverage at the worst possible moment for Denver allowing for the Flacco bomb to reach paydirt. That said, an amazing game.

Whatever one wants to call it: miracle, heart, never-say-die etc., Ray Lewis has always been able to elevate his game — and inspire the team to do so at the right time. That is truly an aspect of his greatness, in that he inspires it in others. Thus, even as good as he has been throughout his career, he was always been more than the sum of his parts. And the team has been more than the sum of a stat-sheet. A factor often difficult to account for when betting against he Ravens.

Is The Prospect Of A Dope-Free Tour A Harbinger Of Things To Come?

Reading the NYT, I saw an opinion article on the slower times in the Tour De France:

“For example, the fastest riders on three of the last climbs in the Tour, including the famed Alpe d’Huez, were still three minutes slower — a lifetime in cycling — than many of the fastest riders on the same climbs during the 1990s and 2000s.”

Seeing what would be seemingly realistic results is a relief. The last number of years has been something and they aren’t over, with a case lingering in appeal over last year’s Tour. Recent admissions of by cycling legends have added to a level of relief that puts what seemed unreal in a real perspective. And I’m glad for it, without blame. I looked up a listing on Wikipedia on cycling and drugs and it stretches the length of the entire history of the sport. Why would now be any different?

The margins of success are so close — this year’s winner having missed out on a large degree of occasions — not to mention this year’s runner up Andy Schleck, having come in second three times.

Even so, the fan lauds that ostensibly (fingers crossed) what’s being done seems real … For me everything seems so unreal. But, as it turns out, so were the gifted investments of Bernie Madoff, Enron’s balance sheet, the whole tech boom, the Major League Baseball home run race and the record, and the over-heated and almost unreal housing bubble which had people buying houses in my neighborhood without getting inspections at one point out of fear that the house would be sold too quickly.

According to Wikipedia, the “Gilded Age” was a term coined at the turn of the 19th century to represent the rapid economic growth during the post-Civil War society and the term belies the superficiality that existed to the age. Would it be completely wrong to have thought of the recent timeline to be one that had its own gilding?

Also, I had a conversation with friend recently about the

Concepting Greatness… (& where Spec Work Fits In…)

The contest culture has boomed with shows like The Apprentice or Survivor and other shows like Project Runway and Chopped for instance. The interesting wrinkle of this is given that they are shows (and even in other contests), there’s no need to account for the rights of the people involved. (Like creating a fashion line on Project Runway may mean it is owned by the show… I dunno). But my larger point is that in the knowledge economy, it’s important for designers to be conscious of the economic value of giving away work (I argue for a strategy like planned giving is better than giving every dollar away to every cause, etc.), pricing work based on copyright ownership, corporate size and use. An example of the retention of rights is that the ad agency for GEICO (The Martin Agency, I think) retained the rights to the cavemen and at one point, optioned them to a television show.

Regardless of how people felt about the spec work issue, I’d like to see designers thinking more about the possible value of copyrights of created materials, which may have little value in this case, but as an overall point is a point of entry for discussion in this enormously weighted, but perhaps undiscussed issue.

I ran by an RFP by an ad agency the other day where ostensibly the company would hire them at good money and the first thing they would do is hold a contest to design the logo for a company. Thinking about that i realized that many folks grow up with an eye to the ad world where the idea and art is used to “sell” the product and bring in the client. Of course, now we see that weekly with Mad Men and for those who know the agency background, we are accustomed to the notion of “paid-for” pitches. I think what designers need education on is the notion that they need to be more fastidious with their rights when entering contests here and yon.

I came away from the RFP thinking there is a number of camps where logo design (and good design, in general) exist. (Not counting the camp that doesn’t see the value of design or presentation, at all). There’s a commodity camp that feels design, printing, marketing et. al is good enough to be like everybody else and the type of business relationships those folks pursue are a confirmation of that thinking. I mean, most of the modern world recognizes the value, of say packaging, or letterhead on a minimally-functional level. This group doesn’t realize the gulf between one product and the next is very little nowadays. this group reminds me of Stalin’s famous quote: “Quantity is a quality all its own.”

A second group that recognizes that creating good design is worth it for the parties involved. But they aren’t sure why. Just make it nice, but can’t assess the value of those decisions. So, they think designers, printers, etc. are purveyors of “black arts” in that they go behind the curtain and make decisions that may or may not help the product or service, all in the interest of making it “nice”, but perhaps unconnected to its intrinsic mission. This group recognizes how much “nicer” nice approaches are, but doesn’t fully trust that the clarity of great design is fully absorbed in the product’s acceptance and clarity.

I think a third group is the conceptually-focused group that thinks that the details aim the design in a particular direction, a particular approach, or point-of-view. A mitigation of that approach weakens the conceptual perspective and weakens the design. Strongly addressing the design, by contrast, creates legendary approaches (or at least aims to) that aren’t always reflected in designs and strategies that part the Red Sea, but designs that clearly answers the question, closes the sale, or makes the point in a big way.

Now, not being the kind of “walk-on-water” designer who can do that everytime out, or what have you, I am constantly making the effort to not be in the first or second group and fighting to make my clients be in the third group with me, or finding new clients that want to be in that first group. What this means is less pedestrian approaches to design work. But more committed approaches… This approach takes the kind of commitment where the client tells me this version “sucked” or that is “conceptually off” to make the product, not just acceptable, but transformative. Transformative because transformative sells… big. Highly successful means much, much more than “okay”, so much so that “okay” isn’t really “okay” anymore. My feeling is that more often than not , contests promote one of the first two than the last one.

Googling Michael Schumacher and the Apple iPod and you’ll find tens of thousands more hits and followers than googling Jos Verstappen or Philips MP3 player. If the concessions to educating designers about the rights management of their work-product were made more often, we’d have an educated community on an issue such as this. Just a thought on the issue…