Interview with Authority Mag: Homes Of The Future

Jason Hartman recently interviewed me for Authority Magazine. Check it out. Homes Of The Future: “The Future Of Smart Homes” With Charlie Kindel of SnapAV Some quotes: One of the things that really motivates and drives me professionally and personally, is the idea of how technology can improve people’s lives in their homes… I realized then that I was doing it all wrong and that everybody around me was doing it wrong and that they …Continue reading

kindel.com is no longer at home

kindel.com has been hosted on my home network since 1996. Today, I finally moved it to a modern web platform. This includes migrating an OG Active Server Pages (pre .NET) & SQL Server app I wrote in 1997 for decoding Porsche option codes By doing this I finally got to turn port 80/443 off on my home network. It’s been bugging me for a long time because it’s a really bad practice as it makes …Continue reading

Look Back Quotient (LBQ)

Look Back Quotient (LBQ) is a measure of how attractive a car is to the car’s owner. A car with a high LBQ will increase the car owner’s propensity to look back at their car after parking it. Examples of cars with high LBQ: Examples of cars with low LBQ:

Broken Windows – Right Idea, Bad Analogy

It is well understood that no product is perfect and small issues will always exist. Without an ongoing mechanism to fix those issues, not only do they not get fixed, they pile up. Having a clear Lexicon and Taxonomy is critical to getting large numbers of people moving forward towards a vision. Having the lexicon be composed of terms that make logical sense, disambiguate, and are memorable is important. Over the years of building many …Continue reading

Kindel’s 3rd Law

Kindel’s 3rd Law – Amazon will enter every existing business, channel, and market. If said business, channel, or market doesn’t already exist, Amazon will try to invent it. Charlie Kindel – 2019 See also: Kindel’s Law – Every payment system eventually becomes an anti-fraud system. Kindel’s 2nd Law – Companies with a subscriptions-based business model eventually behave in ways hostile to that company’s customers.

Smart Home + PC = Better Working from Home

Since the dawn of time I’ve considered the PC (and related devices like Macs, printers, etc…) to be part of my smart home. For some reason, most traditional smart home offerings have treated PCs et.al. as somehow disconnected. Sometime after the dawn of time (2004), I built MCE Controller (mcec) as a way of ensuring my home PCs could be as tightly integrated as my whole-home audio system or lights. MCE Controller is a little …Continue reading

Mechanisms

Mechanisms are complete processes built around a tool, owned by a leader that gets adopted broadly and regularly inspected and improved to ensure things get done, not because everyone has good intentions, but because the mechanism’s elements structurally force the desired behavior. “Good intentions never work, you need good mechanisms to make anything happen.” — Jeff Bezos I’ve written previously about how Good Intentions are Never Enough and why mechanisms are needed, but I didn’t go deep into how to make mechanisms actually work. …Continue reading

winprint 2.0

Ever since I started programming on an Apple ][+ in 1981, I’ve had a thing for printing. My earliest apps focused on printing and my first money-making endeavor was “Tapes”, which printed casette tape ‘J-cards’ for all the mix-tapes of great ’80s music we made for the girls. Whenever I learned a new programming language or OS, the first app I’d write was Spit, an app for printing my source code all pretty (it “spits” source …Continue reading

Path To Green

A Path To Green (PTG) is a clear, crisp, and complete statement describing a team’s plan for getting a project or task from red or yellow status to green. Organizations that routinely deliver results on time hold individuals and teams accountable for delivering those results. Ensuring everyone is clear on the status of deliverables is key to this. More importantly, teams need to have discipline around how they move projects that are a bit off the …Continue reading

Tenets

Tenets are a few, carefully articulated guiding principles for any endeavor (a program, business area, or project). They act as a guide for the team, stakeholders, and senior leaders to align on a vision and decisions. Tenets simplify decision-making and help with being right more often; they can be used as tiebreakers when making tough judgment calls. Tenets are ultimately aligned with a company’s mission and core values. At the same time, tenets are specific to the …Continue reading

Work Backwards From The Customer

At the 1996 Microsoft Professional Developer Conference (PDC) I stood up in front of 8,000 customers and announced what I’d been working on for the previous two years: the Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM). On stage, in front of all those people, we wrote and demoed code running on one Windows 95 PC talking over the network to code on other PCs. This was back in the day when being able to write programs that worked across a …Continue reading

MCE Controller V2 Released

I spent some time the last few weekends hacking on a product I first developed in 2004: MCE Controller. MCE Controller lets you control a Windows Home Theater PC (or any PC) over the network. It runs in the background listening on the network (or serial port) for commands. It then translates those commands into actions such as keystrokes, text input, and the starting of programs. Any remote control, home control system, or application that can …Continue reading

Have Specific Conversations, not General Conversations

If you are discussing a topic with colleagues, it’s almost always better to have a specific conversation instead of a general conversation. General Conversation Specific Conversation “We need to figure out how to scrub all open bugs.” Followed by a lot of non-specific debate… “There are 42 open bugs. 42 bugs fit on one screen in Excel. Lets look at them all right now and see if there’s a pattern.” “Customers are angry. We need …Continue reading

Kindel’s 2nd Law

Kindel’s 2nd Law – Companies with subscription-based business models eventually behave in ways hostile to their customers. Charlie Kindel – July 2019 Once a company gets addicted to annuity-based revenue, all it can do is focus on the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer, the cost to acquire a customer (CAC), and churn (the rate at which customers unsubscribe0. These things are the opposite of customer obsession. Eventually, the motions of the company become dominated …Continue reading

Taxonomy and Lexicon

How many times have you been in a heated discussion only to find out that the two sides were talking past each other because they were reading from two different dictionaries? I bet you can also remember situations where just a little more structure got everyone aligned quicker. Creating, explaining, and re-enforcing a strong Taxonomy and Lexicon is a critical skill for all leaders (reminder: everyone in our business is a leader, not just managers). Taxonomy …Continue reading

One-Way and Two-Way Doors

Effective decision-making starts with understanding; in the long-term, very, very few things actually matter. The vast majority of the decisions made day-to-day are either minutia or easily reversible and can be made quickly. However, a small number of things (about 1 in 10) matter a lot (in the long term) and are worthy of serious pondering, discussion, investigation, investment, and decision making. A mentor (Chris Jones) introduced me to the pithy phrase 90% of the decisions you make don’t …Continue reading

Mental Models

A secret to clear thinking and decision-making is to learn, invent, and adopt mental models. You’ve probably noticed effective leaders can frame complex ideas simply. They’ll lead conversations like this: “Well, I think there are three things we should focus on and they are…” “Folks, I think there’s another way of looking at this problem. What if we viewed the problem through these four lenses…” The key to simplifying the complex is to be intentional …Continue reading

Lead Without Authority

There are two forms of influence in the world: Influence by authority Influence without authority When a ‘boss’ (a manager or someone with a big title) attempts to influence change or drive action using only their authority, it is rarely successful in the short term, and never in the long term. “Because, I told you so” may work a few times on a kindergartner, but doesn’t inspire confidence or long-term results in the business world. …Continue reading

Focusing on users is not Customer Obsession

Let’s talk Customer Obsession and how it is different than user obsession. My definitions: Customer: An individual (or entity) that pays you, directly or indirectly, for value you provide. User: An individual that is forced to use something you provide. Users fall into three buckets 1) people unhealthily addicted to something (heroin), 2) employees forced to use something in order to do their job (IT systems), or 3) people who are products of services that sell them …Continue reading

Debate Tenets

I’ve long thought having a set of guiding principles for any project is important (see my blog post “the 5Ps”; Purpose, Principles, Priorities, People, Plan). At Amazon I learned there was a synonym to the word principle: Tenet. I’ve heard Jeff Bezos say repeatedly “A team can never spend too much time debating their tenets.” Why is debating tenets so important? First, debating (and writing down) tenets ensures everyone is in agreement about critical questions that can’t …Continue reading