Week 67

While we finished last the last year with a brief break and recharged our batteries, this year starts with a flurry of activities.

While we finished the last year with a brief break and recharged our batteries, this year starts with a flurry of activities.

As Igor and Johannes are heads-down working on a big presentation later this week, I had the chance to put a little time into a research/forecasting experiment. At this point, we’re gathering input from a few friends and colleagues. Too early to go into details, except to say: A big thank you to our participants! More on that when we have more.

Newsletters

Last week, Igor hinted at a premium newsletter we’ve been working on. We’ve been getting quite a bit of interest and valuable feedback over the last week. Seems like there’s quite some demand for “executive summary”-style digests that give a brief overview while putting emergent developments into context. Especially in larger corporations this kind of overview is essential: Those in charge need to process huge amounts of information on a daily basis, and are expected to always be on top of things. “Glanceable” information that makes it easy to decide if skimming is enough or if you need to dig in can help people be better at their job.

Interestingly, one of the big questions here isn’t so much the content, but rather if you’d better go with a one-size-fits-all newsletter or a highly customized one. After all, the economics of these two models differ vastly. We’ll keep iterating on this.

Speaking of newsletters, you can also get this blog (weeknotes + weekly reading recommendations) delivered straight to your inbox. We see more and more people signing up, so it seems worth pointing out once more. (Sign up here.)

Events

A brief update on two events. One, we’re finalizing the speaker lists for Next Berlin, where Igor and I each curate a track. No names before the Next team announces them, but I can tell you that I’m very excited about the upcoming line-up. Two, there’s a Quantified Self event on the horizon. We’ve been working with a great partner on this, so once we’ve locked down the details, you’ll be the first to know. So keep an eye on our blog and our tweets at @thirdwaveberlin.

Interviews

It seems that interest in self-tracking, the so-called Quantified Self, isn’t waning anytime soon. Just a couple of weeks ago, dradio Kultur interviewed us about how and why more and more people track their behavior. Last week another journalist prepared a radio feature on the Quantified Self and how this trend might impact society and the individual. We really enjoy these interviews and practically use them as sparring practice. While we look forward to hearing the result, we’ve also been asked to write a couple pieces on this subject that should be out soon. We’ll provide links once we get them.

Congratulations, Gidsy!

Sharing an office, we’ve had the chance to see Gidsy grow from idea to company to final product, and now we get to see them move on to the next level. Over the weekend, Gidsy announced their first big round of funding. Yes, Ashton Kutcher is among the investors. This is a huge step for any young startup. Edial, Floris, Philipp and the whole Gidsy crew: We couldn’t be happier for you guys. Congratulations! Next step: World domination. Definitively keep an eye on these guys. Or even better, go to their website right now book an activity.

Week 66

In this week note, it is all about vision, insights into how we create our weekly reads and our new product: premium newsletter.

Staying on vision

Back in March 2010, when Peter, Johannes and I decided to start Third Wave, we sketched out a vision for the company. Visions for non-product companies can be somewhat fluid, intangible. For us, it was important to capture how we approach our work, what we want to accomplish and how we want to evolve the company. Like everybody else, we drew a lot of inspiration from our peers and from companies or projects that excel at what they do. Companies like BERG or Near Future Laboratory were on this list. Not because we see ourselves in the same field of operation necessarily, but because their work is also strongly based on pattern recognition. And if that is what you do, there is really no field that doesn’t intersect with your work.

While not everything turned out as we had anticipated, we recently talked about how happy we are about the fact that after more than a year, the vision we wrote down and the way we live every working day is still the same. We sometimes take a different approach than we had planned and we will keep iterating, but it is still about the ‘How do we get there’ instead of ‘Where do we want to go?’

Experimenting with formats

One part of the ‘How’ was and is for us to extend our services beyond the classic consulting work. In 2011 we focused strongly on events. But even back during the planning phase in 2010, we always wanted to go into publishing more. Sharing is not only good for karma, it is also one of the most effective ways to create conversations around what you do and get people interested in your work.

Now, publishing for a company of three people is very hard and it tooks us a while to get to a lean process that works for us. Our weekly reading list is basically a sneak peak into what we want to do. Both for you and for ourselves. Let me get a bit into details.

Even in a small company as ours, it is somewhat tricky to establish a process of sharing and collecting interesting articles without just dumping being into an archive never to be read again. We experimented with different tools and methods, but we knew it would only really work if they integrated well into our workflows.

After a while, we noticed that the common denominator in this specific case was the bookmarking service Pinboard. We defined a tag that we assign to all articles that are noteworthy and potential candidates for our weekly reading list. On Friday, we curate them and publish them on our blog. Clean and simple for us to read the interesting stuff that the others have read and a way to create content based on our own workflows and habits.

The feedback so far has been overly positive and we enjoy the fact that we apparently struck a nerve here. Starting this week, we will only publish the 5 most interesting articles. While having a broad overview can be useful, we believe that focusing on the most important articles can be beneficial for you, our readers. Let us know what you think.

Products

The weekly reading list in itself is a good accomplishment, but we wanted to make more out of it. Right from the start, we thought about creating a premium newsletter.

You might ask now: Newsletter? Really? Yes, really. Contrary to some, we believe that the death of the email is highly exaggerated. It is not so much the number of emails that you receive that is the problem, but how you interact with them.

In some context, getting specific content into your inbox is the most convenient way to follow up on interesting content. Especially in a corporate context. Not that many people use RSS feeds or have even access to a feed reader, nor do they necessarily need to. Still, there is a growing demand of leading employees to be informed on new developments and we want to tackle providing a solution.

So far, we have one client that hired us to create such a newsletter. The fact that we already generate a very extensive and comprehensive archive of relevant reading material is invaluable in this context. It allows us to draw quickly from what we already know, put it into the specific, relevant context for the client and create an income stream with as little overhead as possible.

If you are interested in learning more, consider dropping us a line.

Our Newsletter

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