2 min read

Do It With Excellence

The theme this week is what it means to do it with excellence. Excellence takes many forms - one weekend I stayed at a 5 star resort and ate 4 course dinners; a couple days later I had pizza from a guy who put a wood-fired pizza oven into a modified shipping container. Both things were excellent, and both things had subtle indications that they would be excellent prior to the first bite. At the 4 course dinner, it’s in the plating of the food - delicious food doesn’t have to be presented well, but an excellent gourmet restaurant has to not only make great food, it also has to present that food to the diner in a way that suggests the food’s greatness. The pizza, on the other hand, wasn’t really plated at all...but I could watch the pizzaiolo wield the wooden paddle that he used to place the pizza in the oven and remove it, and he did it with this casual precision that let me know that the paddle was almost like an extension of his hand. It was an indicator of excellence.

The actual wood-fired oven in the actual shipping container (source)

These indicators of excellence had two different purposes: one was meant to be noticed, the other wasn’t. I think we often overemphasize the former and overlook the latter almost entirely. But the truth is, the barely discernible indicators of excellence are the ones that make the noticeable excellence possible, and often those little noticed elements are reflective of the level of care taken by the creator. When, as is so often case, there are many creators working together, there’s always a risk that we fall to the lowest common denominator of care and excellence. There are 2 ways to counteract that temptation: to make sure that even the lowest common denominator is high, and to challenge each other to uphold a standard of excellence.

In the work of creation, we are going to need - and let’s be honest, to want - a few of those external indicators of excellence. Our users are going to appreciate them. But to be able to make that flex, we need to put in the work of the small, daily acts - of upholding excellence. Remember: functional is never good enough; we always want to find ways to make it feel magical. There’s no recipe or secret sauce for how to do that - it comes from vision, empathy, and attention to detail.