From Servers, Phones, and Voice Assistants to Space…

Last week I joined my good friend  Den Delimarsky and his colleague Courtny Cotten hosted me on The Work Item podcast. “In this episode, we dive a bit deeper into Charlie’s approach to product ideation and design, discuss the importance of having a principled organization, and ask questions about his most recent adventure around space.” Czech it out here (I love that the transcript is available along with the audio): From Servers, Phones, and Voice Assistants to …Continue reading

Find the Crux by Debating Excellence

No, don’t debate excellence; become excellent at debating. “It is better to debate a decision without settling it than settling a decision without debating it.” – Joseph Joubert Vigorous debate is critical to clear thinking in an organization. Debates garner the full intelligence of an organization. For decisions of great import, rigorous debate depersonalizes the decision. People are predisposed to focus on symptoms or minutia. Arguing over extraneous details is inefficient and is often the …Continue reading

How to be a Secret Agent (of Change)

This post documents some essential tools I’ve collected in my “change toolkit”. By sharing them, I hope more leaders will become even better change agents, or at least be better at dealing with change.Continue reading

I’m Breaking into Space

I exited my last role recently and have been drafting my next chapter. I have decided to make my new mission Space; specifically getting humanity off Earth. Over the past months, I’ve focused on learning about the space industry’s state and meeting people working on cool stuff. I’m convinced there must be initiatives where someone with my experience and expertise is needed. I now need to figure out how to ensure folks with such need …Continue reading

Do Your Job – Don’t Use Placeholder Text

If you are a UX designer, Software Developer, or Product Manager, and you use placeholder text anywhere but where it’s impossible to know what the content will be (user supplied) then you are doing it wrong. And you are not doing your job. I learned this from @joebelfiore: Using placeholder text defers decision making. It’s a cop-out by the person using it and gives reviewers an excuse to also not debate what’s right. It’s far …Continue reading

Open Office Hours with Charlie

Last month I offered “office hours” to anyone who wanted to chat with me. It was an experiment to see a) if interesting people would reach out, b) if I could be useful to these people, and c) if I’d be exposed to domains where I could spend more of my time in the future. All three hypotheses have turned out true. Thank you to all of you who utilized this so far! I still …Continue reading

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 from red or yellow status to green. This post describes the concept and provides some tips on how to be excellent at articulating a PTG. Organizations that routinely deliver great results hold individuals and teams accountable for delivering those results. Ensuring everyone is clear on projects’ status is key to this (e.g., is a project red, …Continue reading

Tenets

This post was inspired by a LinkedIn post by Dave Glick who was apparently the “Godfather of Tenets” at Amazon. Much of the content of this post is from notes I took in a class on Tenets at Amazon. I’ve subsequently used it to teach others how to be excellent at writing and using Tenets. Tenets are a few, carefully articulated guiding principles for a program or business area. They act as a guide for the team, …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 a subscriptions-based business model eventually behave in ways hostile to that company’s customers. Charlie Kindel – July 2019 Woot! I now have two laws named after me. This law was originally coined in a tweet: This law is a law due to companies’ getting focused on a made-up LTV (lifetime value of a customer), CAC (cost to acquire a customer), and churn rate. Especially churn. Once a subscription business …Continue reading