My Sunday muse: a browser share graph




This week Adobe released some browser share stats. I saw the graph and saved the article, thinking it was tweetworthy. The big news was Chrome/Android passing IE for browsing dominance. And I agree, that’s newsworthy. But as I thought about my precious 140 characters and the message that was useful to convey, I realized there was a more-than-140-characters story to tell.

So here’s my muse…



And here’s the thinking she inspired in me today…

When we see a graph like this a typical response is “those idiots at Microsoft were fools for not seeing this and doing something about it. Big companies can’t innovate…sigh.” Let me leave the big company bashing and answer why Microsoft didn’t see this. It was because of how they (the browser team) defined themselves. They were likely looking at graphs like this one:


See that IE share is growing? Does that surprise you, especially when you look at the overall graph then this one? Stats can easily mislead us, especially when we want to believe something. Stats can play tricks on our brain. I’m reminded of an awesome painting I saw this weekend at Robert Lange Studios: Embracing the Illusion


An illusion can be subtle. I won’t belabor this point further; I know you all are smart and get it.

The question is how do we combat it? It is so easy to get caught in our illusions — big company, start up, new product, old product, and even in how we define ourselves. How do we not lie to ourselves and become the fabled boiled frog?

I vote for Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle from Start with Why. What if, for example, the Internet Explorer team started with the why of “we ensure people find what’s interesting to them wherever, whenever”, not starting with their “what” of “we are a browser for the internet”?

Apple did not define themselves as a computer company. If they did, would they ever have come up with the iPod, which led to the iPhone and then the iPad. 

Once the IE team started with the idea of ensuring people find what is interesting to them, they might think about how people define what’s interesting to them. Many people view that as recommendations from a friend. And that might have led them to this study from ShareThis that shows that the mobile web is 2x more social than the desktop web. Wow, if I am in a market where I find a channel with 2x the leverage of my traditional channel — note desktop just becomes a channel for interesting stuff versus the product — I’m going to take it!

So now you know how I spent my Sunday… by the pool thinking about how we all limit ourselves, and what are the ways of overcoming that. Inspired by another of Robert Lange’s paintings, my shirt today says:

Aspiring to be,
free from illusions

If Håkon Kornstad can learn opera, I can write a blog post

I am not even going to start on the fact that it has taken me almost 3 months to sit down and write my “first” post. We are just going to move on from here, OK? Together, right?

So, last night, I was running late and almost decided not to attend Håkon’s show because my to do list was behind me mocking my progress. And, being honest, I was solo, which always adds another barrier/excuse. I tell you this, in case you get in that headspace sometimes too in hopes you remember this story and step away from the computer, hold your own hand, and GO!

OK, so why am I so glad I went? It wasn’t the music, which was fabulous. I was intrigued by mixing jazz and opera which is why I chose the tickets. I like mashups and especially ones that make you think… push your boundaries. I was expecting that, and the performance fulfilled that.

What I wasn’t expecting was to find out that he started opera at thirty two with no prior singing experience. Let me tell you why this is exceptional:

  • Most of us don’t reinvent ourselves or our products.
  • Most successful people wouldn’t take the risk once successful.
  • Most of us don’t see opportunities.

I’m not bashing “us”. I think we do amazing things. But I do wonder — actually I admit it — I believe we have lost opportunity in our amazingness. Let me tell you his story, so you really understand what a risk he took and how beautifully it turned out…

After just releasing his second solo album (you don’t get a 2nd if your first isn’t successful), he went to NYC for inspiration. A friend invited him to an opera. He wasn’t excited about going but did. In the opening scene, he cried at the power of the voices. He became a fan. He happened into a gig with an opera singer. They ended up at dinner. He mentioned wanting to learn to sing and a week after seeing his first ever opera, he was in said singer’s instructors house learning to sing. Months later, he was enrolled in opera school in Norway. And now, he’s a celebrated 2x tenor — tenor sax and tenor voice.

Now, what’s key here is NOT that he’s successful. Though I didn’t talk to him about it, I’m pretty sure from hearing him talk and perform, he would have said, even if he hadn’t found he had a fantastic voice, he would have been a better saxophonist for the experience of attending the opera. He would have been richer again for meeting an opera singer. He would have been richer again for the instructor and the school and the opportunity to try.

Think through all those steps and realize what it took for him to get there. Many little steps following an opportunity. None were guaranteed to work, but each was guaranteed to move him closer to a found passion. Remember when he first went to the opera, he wasn’t going to find a passion. And when he met the opera singer, he wasn’t thinking he would find a teacher from that. All of these things happened because he felt AND observed AND took a step forward. Not a giant leap each time, right? A step following an inspiration, not a plan.

I always encourage folks to fall in love with their customer’s problems, not their solution to those problems. This is such a beautiful example of that… he fell in love with opera, not being an opera singer. But he saw steps along the way to get closer to opera and he took them. Yes, he ended up an artist that mashes up opera and jazz, successfully as a career. He could have hated opera. He could have ended up an opera fan. He could have ended up marrying an opera singer. He could have used it as inspiration for his jazz. So many opportunities from one little problem of missing inspiration. The way it turned out is just one success that was possible!

So, when I first started, I thought what was on my shirt was “inch by inch, life’s a cinch”. But as I wrote I changed shirts, I’m now wearing:

❤ problems

w/o them, we’d have fewer, if any, opportunities for success!