👋 Good morning from Chandler, AZ! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is Plan Your Next—a Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
Unexpected connections come from building
I'm driving by the enormous wind-powered turbines lined in rows and columns between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. This stretch of the desert would otherwise be forgotten if it weren't for this stand-out backstop feature that I look forward to every time I drive through.
They're large enough to wonder how the hell they were built. It’s a quick Google search away but instead I'll leave it to the imagination as I write this.
I'm often thinking about creating stand-out features for products or brands. Features on their own aren’t useful unless it's connected to helping us in some way. But when you do, it's possible to create magic.
When Steve Jobs was young, a man named Larry Lang moved into their neighborhood. He was an engineer at HP and an amateur Ham-radio operator. He loved electronics.
To get to know the kids and neighbors around him, he put a carbon microphone, a speaker, and a battery in his driveway for anyone to try. By speaking into the microphone, the speaker would amplify your voice.
Just by building this device and letting his neighbors try it out, he didn’t have to utter a word about what he loved to do. He also couldn’t have realized the impact it would make on Steve Jobs and other kids in the neighborhood.
It was created purely as a way to connect with the people around him.
There is an infinite amount of examples of this idea at play:
In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee connected information between scientists around the world, which would become the World Wide Web.
Ada Lovelace is credited as being the first computer programmer, by creating an algorithm to be run on a machine that never actually existed. Her love of math helped develop a relationship between her and Charles Babbage, who advanced the idea that computers could help solve complex problems for us.
A group of painters in the late 19th century found a shared interest in painting everyday life and landscapes. They painted outdoors, using bright and vivid colors, against what was considered popular at the time. They became known as The Impressionists, ushering in a new style and view of the world.
None of these examples started with a plan or a way to monetize. They started from curiosity. An idea. A spark.
Sometimes the best ideas come from a place of connecting with others. Whether it’s a collaboration, or simply to signal you’re a wind turbine in the middle of a desert.
⚡️ Your next creative hit
🎶 45 seconds of Ed Sheehan on songwriting. If you’re starting something new, be prepared to spew shit in the early stages.
🏡 It’s rare for a single photo to stick the landing. “Just add land,” says it all.
🍎 Make something wonderful. A beautiful free ebook on Steve Jobs’ life of creativity, building, and work.
I’ve been in hundreds of meetings when Apple is used as an example for why X company should do Y. When this happens, there’s an image I keep in the back of my mind: The Apple I.
These stories inspired me to stay on a path of curiosity and connection. Too often I feel external pressure to have a plan. During exploration, doing > planning.
Thank you for this 😌