Steven Kovar

Co-founder of ViralSweep.

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Flat Thinking

“Flat design” and the new age of design accessibility.

To me, the obsession over the flat design trend is an indicator we have strayed off course. It’s not a matter of taste, but an understanding that this style of design is just a veneer; with a little use, the veneer rubs off and you’re quick to discover just how well something is designed.

Accessibility to templates and frameworks has given the option to use this flat aesthetic to virtually anyone who wants to create something. I would argue the rapid utilization of these assets has outpaced the education of design fundamentals, resulting in a lot of lazy, thoughtless, and - dare I say - flat design.

Thinking deeper about design

There is a subtle distinction I think both designers and developers should wrap their heads around, which I touched on in a Hacker News thread about flat design.

Many designers seem to chase a style before...

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Be Happy With Yourself

This is a raw stream of thought posted by a close friend. His own personal “coming of age” is something each of us have to endure on our own—that punch to the gut and moment of sudden clarity reminding us about what is really important in life. It’s authentic, it’s unfiltered, and I think we can all benefit from seeing someone else’s lens on the world. Emphasis is mine.

At some juncture in our lives, we reflect back on all of the things that we have done up to this point. We evaluate the good and the bad, the regrets and truimphs, the successes and failures. What I realized is when I reflect back on my short time here, I lived, at least to some short extent, a fulfilling human experience. My life experiences of sadness, anger, and hopelessness is balanced with feelings of accomplishment, happiness, and simple gratitude - and with that, no regrets.

One thing that I personally learned...

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Fail Forward

Our concept of failure is broken. We fear failure, feel defeated by it, and can be discouraged by just the prospect of failure alone.

To many, the term “failure” is a simple heuristic—a mental shortcut that we create early on—representing an end-state of humiliation, shame, etc. This is completely backwards: Failure can be one of our most powerful tools.

It starts at a young age. As children we are taught to strive for success and that falling short isn’t acceptable; non-success is quickly associated with punishment as a bad grade is given in school or a starting position in sports is given to the better player. With a little intuition, we can resolve that different people react to and anticipate failure in varying ways. Take this excerpt from a 2008 study, The Social Dynamics of Mathematics Coursetaking in High School:

Members of a social context can influence an adolescent’s...

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Leverage the situation.

In 2009 my roommate, Daniel Goetz, and I were both student entrepreneurs attending the University of Texas. We were trying to build businesses that required savvy and connections beyond our limited years. Saying we were woefully ignorant seems an understatement in hindsight, but at the time we acknowledged this state of naiveté and relished in it.

We were free from convention.

Dan founded GoodPop from our living room, where we hosted more refurbished freezers over the course of the year than we did people, prettying them up before placing them in grocery stores as gorgeous display units. Today, GoodPops can be found nationwide in Whole Foods and other retailers.

1. GoodPop freezer in action. 2. Dan showing his ware in Whole Foods.

My bedroom served as the storage and creative space for my ill-fated t-shirt company, focused around raising funds and awareness for disasters and charities; the business died before the idea could flesh out, but I think...

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Destined to Fail

This is the story of Bill.

Bill is a field technician working as a contractor for Time Warner Cable. He doesn’t know it yet, but he is assigned to my cable installation today (thanks to him I am able to write this—thanks Bill!). What he does know is that my experience with him will be painful as a customer, and enraging as an entrepreneur.

It’s 6:30AM. Bill wakes up this morning destined to fail.

He stumbles across his house getting ready for work, drinking some water to prepare for the warm Texas weather, avoiding caffeine or any chemical-laden beverage, “because I sweat on the job; it’s gross—it’s not good,” he’ll tell me later in the day after I offer him a Diet Coke. After dressing in the same uniform he wore yesterday, and probably the day before that, he heads to his employer’s warehouse to pick up today’s assignments, his tools, and his work van.

It’s 7:15AM. Bill arrives at...

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Advice & The Recency Effect

A few things that bother me regarding the echo chamber of social media and the idolization of ‘experts’.

The Recency Effect

Most advice you get from someone will only come from a pool of concepts floating at the top of their mind—ideas they’ve been thinking about recently. This is known as the recency effect:

The most recently presented items or experiences will most likely be remembered best.

This isn’t necessarily bad; often times a new insight from an innovator is very timely for everyone who keeps their finger on the pulse of an industry. This is partly why tech news outlets are important—for accelerating new ideas.

But for those trying to make their way to the forefront of their industry, this insight might not be of much applicable value. Let’s imagine you’re just starting out. This grey line is your hero’s past, and each point illustrates one of four key “insights” they’ve...

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