starving for substance

real artists ship

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 28, 2010

“real artists ship” is the retort steve jobs shot back to an irate apple designer complaining about something.

“real artists ship.”

this evening my roommate and i sat dejected, staring at a tv screen filled with professional basketball players, many with little-to-no-college educations, many younger than us, and all making more money than we could ever dream of.  the thoughts verbalized themselves many times.  “why did we even bother with college?”

“real artists ship.”

i sat on my couch for an hour today despairing about how many stupid products are out there, how anyone with half a brain could make something twice as good.

“real artists ship.”

i sat there thinking about all the ways i could make something better except for the fact that i don’t know anything about manufacturing technology/programming websites/writing software applications/blahblahblah.

“real artists ship.”

i thought about the fact that i have no money to start anything, how i barely have enough money to get to next week let alone start something new.

and i think i started to realize how much truth was in the words of mr. jobs when he said “real artists ship.”


the day that everything changed

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 26, 2010

when i took a creative writing class, my professor gave us an interesting talk about writing short stories.  to paraphrase:

when you write stories, you focus on one point in the character’s life, the “holy s–t everything changed” part of the character’s life.  that’s all that’s interesting, that’s all the reader cares about.

bible stories are a perfect example of this.  the story of noah jumps full swing into noah receiving his calling from God to build an ark, be faithful while everyone mocked him, and to repopulate the earth.  it sounds pretty intense and can leave us wondering “how come God doesn’t tell me these things so my life can have this kind of direction?”  yet it’s so easy to miss the first part of that story.

for 500 years, noah walked with God.  the true test of christian character is in those 500 years, not those 40 days and nights.

Picky Picky

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 24, 2010

most korean parents seem to go through a health phase.  this is where they start making brown rice with beans in it, eat more kimchi, and have fruit for dessert.  this normally lasts for a couple weeks until the lure of white rice proves too much but most korean kids live in dread of those health binges (they happen about a couple times a year).  i still have horror stories of myself as a kid, sitting in front of an unpalatable plate of brown rice, the dishes long since cleared, my mom forcing me to eat every bite on that plate.  my dad would offer helpful tidbits of advice like “your grandpa says it’s a sin to waste a grain of rice!”

my dad has other fun phrases he likes to say, like “eat it and then i’ll tell you what it is” (no thanks, i’ll pass on the bbundegi) or if i already like eating something, “you don’t want to know” (but i won’t stop eating soondeh…i hope…).

a couple behavioral quirks came from this experience:
– i have a hard time throwing away uneaten food.
– since anything tastes better than plain, cold brown rice, when confronted with anything else, i would eat it.  voraciously.  this often came into conflict with the above quirk.
– when i see picky eaters, i die inside.

this isn’t to say that i have my limits…i could only choke down a couple small bites of dog and it took almost 23 years and the encouragement of a japanese exchange student to finally eat a fish eye.  in retrospect, both weren’t bad, there was just a lot of cultural barriers inhibiting enjoyment.

this also leads to weird mental pictures i have of my future wife…like running a marathon then pigging out at a sushi buffet or standing on the coast of korea, dipping still wriggling bits of octopus tentacles in some gochujang and throwing them down the hatch.  romantic, right?  at least let me dream….

i think a sad thing that i’ve noticed happening over the past couple years is that i stopped treating people the way i treat food.  i’m less willing to dig down in the trenches with people, get to know the fish eyes and brown rices of the world, and more willing to just sit back, turn up my nose, and say “ew.”


most of what you know is wrong

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 17, 2010

when someone looks in the mirror and despairs that their stomach is too big, one of their first reactions is to crank out some situps.  the kicker is that situps don’t burn enough calories to make you lose weight, and you can’t spot reduce fat.  so if you’re built like a sumo wrestler, it’d take years of situps to get you to the point where you look like michael phelps.  the real way to lose weight is to get a good pair of running shoes (i highly recommend the nike free) and run your butt off…quite literally.

sometimes the opposite is true.  a scrawny guy will lift weights and watch his diet in attempts to “get big.”  the sad thing is that muscles have to come from somewhere, so if you’re not eating tons, you’re doomed to be scrawny no matter how much weight you can lift.  the extreme example is body builders who pack on the pounds in the offseason and then lose fat before competitions to look “cut.”  so bodybuilders are actually at one of their weakest states while they look their strongest.  it’s hard to have your cake and eat it too.

the college of business at the university of illinois graduates a crop of honors students every year.  these are the supposed cream of the crop, they have their own dean, have exclusive trips, and get to personally meet every big name speaker that comes to this campus.  they should be destined to become titans of industry but more often than not, the only future i see for them is as a big cog in a well oiled machine.  something happens to people who find success from following the rules in school that ultimately limits the success they achieve.  bill gates was a college dropout but warren buffet was a pretty good college student.  what was more important is that they found unconventional solutions to very big problems, and this type of thinking isn’t usually bred in the halls of higher learning.

every successful organization will get to a point of hardship that seems insurmountable.  seth godin calls this “the dip.”  if a company can get through that dip, it will be taken to unparalleled heights.  if it doesn’t, it will fade into obscurity.  the only way a dip can be overcome is extraordinary amounts of creativity, hard work, and discipline.

heuristics will never make you great.  most of what you know is wrong.  not every problem has an obvious solution.

get to work.



Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 14, 2010

i’m a big believer in the idea that less is more.,17246/

great onion title…poor onion article.



Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 13, 2010

i’ve been doing a lot of reading on marketing and product development and the general consensus (or at least the opinions of those that matter) is that you have to be the best at what you do to be remarkable.  you know that supercool dyson vacuum cleaner (it’s got the ball that makes it super maneuverable)?  designing that thing took years.  james dyson built 5127 prototypes before finally being satisfied with a design that worked.  it took him years, it almost bankrupted him, and in the end, he’s a billionaire.

while i’m inspired by stories like that, it makes me a lot more thankful for the simple requirements of christian life.  because someone was already the best, you just have to finish.


make God laugh

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 8, 2010

a missionary in mexico once told our team “if you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.”

when i came onto the u of i campus as a freshman, i had 3 things in mind.
1.  graduate with a masters in accounting in 5 years
2. have a job at a big 4 accounting firm
3. leave with a girlfriend.

as my time in champaign appears to be coming to an end i can almost hear God laughing as i
1. graduated in 4.5 years with 2 bachelors degrees but no desire for higher education in accounting
2. have no job at any firm, let alone an accounting one or a big 4 one for that matter
3. leave with the sense that me getting married is one of the events involved with the ending of the world.

in life, you gotta learn to love lemonade