I love the smell of espresso in the morning! The Nespresso is working out quite well. No mess, no fuss. And all of these colored pods? I just go with black, a 10 on the scale of darkness. As far as I know, this device does not go to eleven. No worries though, the beloved Pasquini is still on the ready for special events, or when I make a fool of myself playing clumsy barista.


One of my dutiful weekend duties is providing moral support for Loni’s artistic endeavors. Her dreams are big, and slowly I hope they will one day occupy walls throughout our home in the form of oil paintings. She’s been blogging about it in the Artist Diaries series, which is due for a new video segment soon.

So I go along to class, bringing a stack of work and stuff I need to get done. Surprisingly its an effective work environment.

There is always interesting music, chosen by universally loved teacher Lee Hartman. Sometimes it’s light loungy stuff from the 50s. Other times, big, bold opera. It’s never dull, and is so different than what I normally listen to at home, that it magically transforms my head-space into a different place.

But my favorite part is when she strolls over to Loni’s work area and gives us hugs and kisses. She seems so happy to see us every week. And us likewise. Then she plants her trademark kiss, usually on our foreheads. I know because when we go home we can see the red lipstick marks when we look in the mirror. Lee is passionate about her students, young and old, and her love for painting and teaching others to paint is infectious. Please, though, don’t tell any of my hockey team mates I said that.


Group think can be dangerous and, worse, produce dull results.

Of course, it bestows merits when done correctly. I’ve railed against it before on these pages; something to the mind-numbing, repetitive effect that too many cooks spoil the broth. The iPhone, for example, was created by one or two people ultimately, at least the design. Great art too comes from just a few, usually the one.

I raise this point again as I’ve been initiating several new projects. A few our business-related and a few just personal objectives.

So I try to keep the brainstorming sessions short, and with limited input from a handful of people. Otherwise, at least in my humble view, the result gets too diluted, too boring. Want a march of the Dilberts? Hold a collective group think on a new product with 25 marketing managers. It won’t work. While each of them might individually be bright, insightful go-getters full of good ideas, when you throw them all together in a fluorescent room with a white board, expect the uninspired. My suggestion: break them into smaller teams of 3-5 and let them go for it.

But my other thought around brainstorming is the need for friction or positive disagreement.

Perhaps this is a stage or two down the path of “let’s throw every idea onto the board, all ideas are good!”

At some point you need to pare it down, test validity and assess potential business impact. And that means push back, counter-thoughts, what-ifs. So although it pains me to death to hear everyone throw my ideas under the bus. Or to witness them savagely beaten (with such celebration!). But truth is, it’s much better here, behind closed doors, then out in the marketplace where we’d be positively crushed if our ideas weren’t somewhat battle tested.

Welcome Cy!

You may have read a recent post by Cy Ashley Webb, our newest SSC contributor. I wanted to welcome Cy. She’ll be covering Palo Alto-related stories and events.

Cy has an impressive background in science, medicine and law. She has written articles that have appeared in numerous trade publications. She also sits on numerous boards including Friends of Palo Alto Children’s Theatre where she is also co-president. Cy holds a Bachelor of Sciences from Antioch University (Ohio), a Juris Doctor from Peninsula University (Mountain View) and is currently completing a Masters in Liberal Arts at Stanford University. Now you can understand why she is a local authority in Palo Alto coffee houses.

And here I was just getting the hang of trying to keep up with Loni. Welcome Cy!

Have a great week everyone. Thanks for visiting SSC. Feel free to leave a comment here and there: the good, the bad, the ugly. And the pithy. Or inspiring. Any and all welcome. It takes an asylum is all.

Parting thought: Do we really need to celebrate “Pi Day”?

Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear