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Cargo shorts, practical but uncool?

cargo shorts
Cargo shorts, too ugly to be cool.

Unlike technological innovations, fashion is cyclical — what’s uncool now will be fresh again decades from now.

The latest victim to fall into the uncool category of clothing are cargo shorts. The US and British military created cargo pants in the 1940s to hold more ammunition. Front-pocket cargos are perfect for the gadget-obsessed world we live in today. But practicality can be ugly. Even the GOAT got called out. From the Wall Street Journal article:

In 2012, Michael Jordan was playing golf in cargo shorts at a Miami country club when he was asked to change his pants. He reportedly refused and left.

I grew up in the 90s and just threw my last pair away this year because the pockets ripped. My wife was happy to see them go.

“Men want to be like James Bond. Bond never wears cargo shorts.”

I don’t want to be like Bond — I’m just ‘a dude’ in search of a one-stop shop to help carry all my pocket gear. Can slim jeans do that? But hey, if Jason Bourne wears cargo shorts how out of date can they be?

The New Air Jordan XXXI “Banned”

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Nike is issuing the new Air Jordan XXXI this September for $185. If it is not the most gorgeous looking shoe yet, it is the most innovative It offers both leather and Flyweave materials to give more support and flexibility. They are also stylish enough to be worn off-court.

Nike named the new shoe “Banned” as a nod to the original Air Jordan released in 1985, which the NBA fined $5,000 each time Jordan wore them for violating uniform regulations.

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Air Jordan is in its 31st year. The Jordan brand is a financial juggernaut, bringing in $2.6 billion for Nike in 2014 and accounting for nearly 60% of the basketball shoe market. Jordan is also releasing the first ever soccer boot with Neymar this year and will be joining up with the Michigan football team to sponsor its jerseys with the Jumpman logo.

There are two types of progress:

  • Progress you can make toward an end-goal such as a project with a final completion date
  • Progress you can make against an ailment like OCD which you can never fully defeat

Progress is just as good as perfection. In fact, no one ever achieves perfection. They just achieve more and more exactitude.

“I listened, I was aware of my success, but I never stopped trying to get better.” – Michael Jordan

Imperfection is the game of acceptance. If people are flawless, they won’t feel the need to overcompensate for their flaws which is really the catalyst that makes them great in the first place.

Perfection is boring. Imperfections make life more interesting and ambitious. Life should be a beautiful struggle.

7 articles to read this weekend

Every week I like to collect a bunch of articles on creativity, culture, and tech. Below are my 7 favorites.

1. Team Genius

Behind every genius there’s another partner. People are social animals; they need other people to bounce off ideas and to collaborate with. One could say that the mind engages in its own internal dialogue but a second person is actually needed to get all that work done.

Steve Jobs needed Steve Wozniak. Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen. Genius comes in pairs. I like to think that today’s genius can be defined as a ‘scenius,’ where one person can be influenced by many people because of the strong interconnectedness built by the Internet.

2. Brainpicking

People say sadness is the root of creativity. But as Maria Popova explains happiness or rather “emotional excess” are also powerful contributors to creative work. In short, you don’t need a mental disorder to think differently.

3. Write It Down

The list is only way to keep the motor of life running. The list makes history and assigns new duties. The list is how we remember. “We like lists because we don’t want to die.” Umberto Eco breaks down the everlasting process of making lists.

4. Photorealism

Why waste your time painting when all you need to do is point and shoot? Photography is quicker and easier than painting. There will always be more photographers than painters. But photorealism showed just how replicable photos were and put photography back in its place. Now, painters get the last word.

5. Draw Something

Doodling helps you remember more than rote note-taking. The act of drawing what you learn in pictures is essentially mapping out how it all works together. Personally, I understand the bigger picture when I use mind-maps and understand less when I type note-for-note. **Learning requires reinterpretation**.

6. Faking Confidence

There’s a big difference between competence and confidence. Someone who talks a lot is not necessarily competent. A big mouth rarely equates to skills. All we really just want to know how competent someone is.

As this HBR Podcast explains, confidence is really a distractor.

+ Fast Company:. Don’t let the person with a big mouth taint the meeting with their biased ideas. The most effective meetings require everyone to write down their own ideas first.

7. Utopian Capitalism

Capitalism creates opportunities yet distorts the world. Businesses confuse profits with meaningful work. We can all point the finger at companies that make people unhealthier and dumber.

Utopian capitalism puts forth societal progress with profits instead of cheating workers and consumers in a race to the bottom.

Acceptable

Acceptable is good enough. Acceptable is what gets you through high school and college. Acceptable gets you paid at work.

But acceptable only gets you so far in life. If you want to be remembered, you’re either going to have to do something extraordinary, make a ruckus, or make something different that lasts.

Only a select few people get to be Picasso, Steve Jobs, The Beatles, Michael Jordan, or Mark Zuckerberg. Let them be. Everyone else is just looking to leave a trail of significance in their work.

Today is your best chance to show your work and see what happens. Yes, the Internet is full of noise and you’re unlikely to be heard. Yes, your work will never show up in the top 10 Google results. Welcome to the world of trying!

The good news is that there’s still room for you to build a small tribe. Some people say you need 1,000 dedicated fans to build a reasonable business. That’s awesome! So what are you waiting for….

  • Throw out some Tweets, Instagrams, and drawings to see what resonates
  • Connect with like-minded people
  • Embrace your scenius
  • Show Your Work

You want more than a nod when it’s all in said and done. You’d like people to name a few things you did. Acceptable today is therefore a means for mediocrity. It’ll get you through with little guarantee of being remembered.

Stake your claim.

Playing Past Perfection

The fear of never being as good again is supposed to be obtrusive. The resistance is telling you to keep your lasting image as one of the greatest so you can retire on top.

But the itch to play again is usually stronger than the public’s perception of your invincibility. Most athletes who return to sports or keep playing late into their careers still have the confidence but lose their innate ability. There are ways to circumvent this natural attrition. Michael Jordan improved his shooting game with the fadeaway. He also became a better team leader as he got older.

Wearing down is also true of artists. At some point, artists lose their creative energy and their work output suffers, as does their ability to think outside the box. All good work come to an end. It’s up to you to decide how perfectly indelible you want your lasting image to be.

You may lose your ability as time goes on but the sheer joy and appreciation of playing the game and making art persists.  

Breaking and fixing mistakes

What’s the point of making a mistake if it doesn’t teach you a lesson?

The first time I ever shot a basketball was underhand. But then I learned proper form and practiced every day, inspired by Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

The first time I saw a billboard I got nervous because I couldn’t read it. But then I learned how read and write in school.

We never forget our first moments, when we practiced with little reference and raw skills but continued learning with anxious excitement.  Everything was new.  

But then it finally comes time to play the game.  We have to perform during competition to test our skills against others and see how we match up.  

And it doesn’t even stop there.  There are other variables like teamwork and leadership you also have to master if you want to win consistently.  

In other words, you can’t ever stop learning and strengthening your skills.  And you certainly can’t identify what those weaknesses are until you fail in practice and in the games.  

Experience tends to breed success which creates more passion, but losing questions your durability.  Do you really want this or do you only want it because you see positive results most of the time?  

There’s always room for improvement.  Failure is only temporary if you learn from it and avoid the same mistake again.  People may remember your slips but they are more likely to celebrate with you in your successes.  

Achievement is the end result of years of diligence.  

  • People still listen to terrestrial radio to discover new music
  • YouTube is a significant music discovery source, primarily because it’s free (ad-supported)
  • iTunes is still a major player from a jukebox standpoint.  This doesn’t mean people are downloading music from the iTunes Music Store.  
  • CDs are still relevant, somehow.  I’d love to see a number here for the increase in vinyl sales
  • All this mobile music consumption has created a need for headphones that cost as much as Jordan sneakers.

Check out the rest of the Sol Republic’s report

“One Day…”

is a popular saying typically used for future desires but not necessarily things truly wanted. Life evolves and so do wants and realities.

However, “One Day” is comforting because it creates a feeling of vicarious ownership. “One day I’ll get that job; One day I’ll own that house; One day I’ll write that book; One day I’ll get married.” For a few seconds, you really feel it.

Establishing an expectation builds confidence and is always the first rule to action.

You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them. – Michael Jordan

Still, “One day” falls short of producing short-term action. Envisioning the long-term goal hinders the steps required to achieve it.

What is the “One Thing” you can do today to get you closer to your goal? If you really want it, then you’ll go do it.

Brand maintenance

How much longer are the likes of David Beckham and Justin Timberlake going to be around?

I guess the simple answer to that question depends on how long each play their game.

Anyone can live off past success. Michael Jordan still makes $80 million/year. So too could Beckham and Timberlake if they retired.

The Beckham brand would continue through modeling partnerships and World Cup sponsorships; Timberlake could forget MySpace and just act or join the Jimmy Fallon show with The Roots.

Forced feeding consumers brand relevancy through your previous expertise is just going to backlash. You’re not as good as you used to be. Attrition is inevitable.

Jordan scored 50 points when he returned to the NBA at the age of 40. It was remarkable, a true sign of raw greatness. But his team failed to win; that’s why Jordan won plaudits in the first place.

You don’t need to play the game to stay fresh on people’s minds. If anything, you just may taint your legacy. People remember everything.

The longevity is admirable but if it’s not liked it used to be, why not try something else and extend brand relevance that way?