Understand the problem

One of my first jobs out of school was as a painter. The first day on the job the wise old English accented guy who owned the business said to me, “The problem is not getting the paint on the wall. It’s about keeping it off everything else. Spend at least half your working time prepping the room as you do painting it, and you’ll be fine.”

His words have stayed with me through many roles and projects over the years.

Looking back, what I realize is that he had understood the problem in a way that allowed him to have a simple, yet perfectly correct, solution. This seems to be where many so called “solutions” being marketed fall down. They don’t truly understand the problem they are trying to solve with the product. In some cases, there isn’t even a target problem. Just a product in search of one.

All this to say when I sit down with a founder or business owner to talk about their business, the first place I like to start is the fit between their product and the market, and specifically the problem being solved. Invariably that conversation bears the most fruit in the quest for improvement.


My Dad has Alzheimers. He handles it with grace.

My nephew Sodapop recently did a short documentary on his Grandfather (my Dad) for a school project, which focuses on his 7 year fight with Alzheimers.

It makes me cry to see what this disease has reduced a once vibrant and engaging person to, but at the same time proud with the grace he still handles himself.

If there’s one thing he hasn’t forgotten, it’s how to roll with life.

Keep laughing Vancouver

Had a moment of sadness on my ride to work today, as the rumored sale and removal of the laughing men sculpture looked to be happening.

But, after closer inspection they were only improving their foundations for a permanent stay. It seems Vancouver entrepreneur Chip Wilson bought them, and gave them to our city.

Nice move, Chip.



Dad's first vehicle


My Dad got his first vehicle, a bicycle, at 21 years old. Single speed, he’d ride that thing 100 miles across the rolling English country side to go visit family, or a “lady friend”.

He always scoffed at me and my friends and our plans for the day made 5 minutes out on the phone.

“In my day,” he’d say, “we didn’t have phones, so when you made a plan 2 weeks out to meet your mate on the corner of this street at that time, you were there dammit, unless you were in the hospital”

Posted via email from Matt’s posterous