The Miscellany of Stewart McCoy

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BRYCE DOT VC: Saturday Morning Soccer for Startups »


When you have as many kids as I do, you spend a lot of life on the sidelines. This weekend was no exception. One of the perks of Saturday morning soccer is that when my kid is out of the game, I can let my mind wander. Being that I have a hammer, nearly every scene I process looks like a startup nail. A few scenes from the sidelines this Saturday struck me as relevant for startups. Here are a few. Feel free to add yours in the comments: 

  • Stop dribbling in the wrong direction- inevitably, this happens in every game. Some kid who doesn’t get the ball much finds it in front of him and he kicks it, not really paying attention to which way he’s going. Caught up on the moment, he continues the chase, swerving, dodging, looking for the nearest goal. WIth visions of glory he hauls off and kicks. Then he realizes that those cheers from the crowd were screams to turn around or pass the ball. Don’t get so excited to have the ball that you lose sight of the your goal.
  • Get open- the hallmark of any kids soccer game is the bunchball. Like a magnet, every kid on the field is attracted to the ball at the exact same time. They run towards it only to find that every other kid is there too. So you have every kid on the field packed together trying to get their foot on the same ball as everyone else. The bunchballers never score goals. The kid who gets open for when the ball eventually pops out- he scores goals
  • Play your position- every kid wants to score goals, but when the goalie is crossing center field you have a problem. Players are assigned positions for a reason. If everyone plays wherever they want on the field all hell breaks loose. Some kids are just better goalies than forwards. 
  • Don’t be a ballhog: every kids soccer team has one these. Yes, they score all the goals but you can see the kids start to resent them. The enthused high 5’s start to wane after about the 3rd time this kid scores in a single quarter. A good coach pulls the kid or has him spread the ball around more.
  • Put your whole foot behind the ball: there’s nothing worse than seeing a kid break out of the pack and dribble up to the goal only to gently tap the ball into the goalie’s hands. The kids who score put their whole foot behind the ball.
  • The game will be over in 60 min: No matter how badly a team is getting beat or serving up a beating, the game ends. There are lessons to be learned and skills to be gained but the time to do that is short. The kids who love it give it everything they have from the first whistle to the last. 
  • Being on the field doesn’t equal being in the game: Every team has a couple kids who wander around the backfield. They count blades of grass or spot different animals in cloud formations. They’re on the field but they’re not in the game. Don’t be that kid.
  • Slurpees are for scorers: We have a rule in our house- slurpees are for scorers. No goal, no slurpee. 
  • If soccer isn’t your thing, go try something else: Some parents yelling at their kids from the sidelines fail to see that their kids just aren’t into soccer. Despite that lack of passion for the game they continue to sign them up year after year and leave the field each Saturday berating their kid for not being any good. Truth is, some kids just aren’t going to be soccer stars but they can be stars at something else. Ballet, piano, science, math, chess, art- let them spend their time and your money on something they love.

And one last one

  • Stop looking at your phone: I’m as guilty of this as anyone. A general rule I try to use is not looking at my phone when one of my kids is in the game. Seems every time I break this rule I miss an epic shot, a goal or some other-worldly achievement. See: the game will be over in 60 min…

“You don’t inspire clients, you convince clients. Learning how to convince people is something you can learn how to do. It is part of your craft as a designer and it’s something that you get from experience.”

What I Did On Summer Vacation, Let’s Make Mistakes with Mike Monteiro & Katie Gillum

“It used to be that designers were taught that designers were auteurs who were supposed to remake the world in their image…Instead…the designer’s role is more of a curator or conductor…it’s our business to know what decisions trigger what kind of reactions and to curate the myriad decisions to create the experience we desire for our customers and audiences. That’s a big change in design. It doesn’t mean that designers become mere engineers of these triggers. There’s still incredible craft and inspiration needed to identify them, choose between them, and pull them into a meaningful whole. But, the intent is different, as is the sophistication we need to address the world through.”

– Nathan Shedroff, in an interview about design education

“Personally, the areas I’m most passionate about these days are health care, alternative and online education, distributed creation systems (3D printing, free agent work platforms), human rights activism, citizen activism (data access, platforms for action), and anything that promotes and celebrates daily well-being.”

Susan Wu, Why It’s Obvious, on her decision to join Ev Williams, Biz Stone, and Jason Goldman on their new venture Obvious Corp.

Design is principally about problem-solving, so we should be asking “what areas have problems worth solving?”, rather than asking “what can I design?”.