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Whether we admit it or not, we love human extremes.

Think about common heroes. Many of them are known for being the BEST at something.

  • Muhammad Ali is known primarily for being the Best Boxer.
  • William Shakespeare is (in English, anyway) something like Original Best Writer, Father of Puns and Innuendo.
  • Paul Bunyan is Best Lumberjack slash Tamer of Blue Oxen.

You get it. All of them are beast-mode at something in particular, and THAT is what everyone knows. The rest is trivia for cocktail parties.

But what happens to people who are, you know, pretty good at a bunch of things? Do they ever win stuff? Do they ever get famous?

The term for this kind of person is “jack of all trades,” and you’ll often hear the reminder: jack of all trades, master of none.

But most people have forgotten the end of the original proverb. Jack of all trades, master of none—but better than master of one.

 

Robert Heinlein put it more bluntly and more concretely:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

 

At Code&Quill, we prefer to be Jack if we have to choose. Because that way, we’re flexible and ready for more of whatever's coming. Because creativity is (in many ways) about drawing unexpected connections—and a wider pool of experience means more room for connections. (And yes, because specialization is for insects.)

Here’s a case in five arguments: why creative, cross-trained, Jack-of-All-Trades people have it better—in life if not also in work.

1. In direct competition, there will always be someone better than you.

For our immediate purpose, an "expert" is someone who chooses primarily to specialize, to deepen an already-deep skill or talent. 

Let's be clear: the world NEEDS experts. We're not about to bitch if someone's curing cancer. Plus, there's the tried-and-sometimes-still-true "go to college and get a real job" case for expertise, since experts are likelier to have real-world perks like:

  • Job security
  • Health benefits
  • Fewer questions at family dinners 

But experts—be they scientists, competitive runners, or rock stars—are also putting a LOT of eggs in that one basket. And if what's most important to them is becoming The Best, as is common for athletes, their margin for success is razor-thin. (Not to mention: think of how much opportunity some people sacrifice to do that one thing.)

Even if you are the bona-fide Best at something in your lifetime, that sacred standing may not last long. What makes a legacy is everything around that monolithic talent, and that's where some of the brightest stars of history have truly succeeded.  

2. People who combine talents are automatically more interesting.

Now think about The Most Interesting Man in the World.
Aside from his pleasing masculine voice and unbelievable handsomeness, consider this possibility: he is The Most Interesting Man in the World because of his insane range of talents.

Side Note: It's fun to notice that he's doing completely-separate Interesting Things in the videos, like stealing foxes and airlifting grand pianos into the desert. 

But, seriously. In real life, some of the most interesting people (past and present) are polymaths, people who were known for a variety of different accomplishments. 

Common examples from history include Leonardo da Vinci, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. (The links are Wiki pages... just skim each article intro and you'll see what we mean.)

Contemporary examples include James Cameron, Richard Branson, and—of course—Elon Musk. (Again, just skim the start of the linked Wikipedia pages to feel instantly inferior.)

 

3. Learning many things makes you better at learning.

Stephen Hawking once claimed that "intelligence is the ability to adapt to change."

For adaptation, a larger body of knowledge (i.e. information) is certainly useful for adapting to a larger variety of situations. But equally useful, if not more so, is the flexibility to learn new things quickly—and with minimal pain or personal damage in the course of failure. 

Over time, educated people begin to understand the "meta" of learning: that there are certain patterns and rules which govern (or at least describe) all teaching and learning, all forms of skill mastery, all types of subject-matter understanding. We do, in fact, "learn how to learn" at a deeper level.

People being educated process information; educated people process how information works and thus give deeper analysis to each piece of the information with which they're provided. 

Sure, expertise is exclusive; if you understand ONE thing better than anyone else on the planet, you might be Grandmaster of that subject. But unless you're a master (or at least proficient) in multiple subjects, you won't be able to explain possible solutions to complex interdisciplinary problems—or even properly describe the problems themselves. 

4. You don't know (what you don't know) until you have experience.

Here's a simple (and slightly embarrassing) example of what we mean. 

Kevin, our Customer Service Chief, likes Mexican food. So far as he remembers, he always has. But for the longest time, he avoided guacamole. One fateful day in college, when he finally tried it, the taste of guacamole about blew his brain out of his skull. 

Maybe you're wondering: what was Kevin's silly reason for avoiding guacamole all thoes years?

Because guacamole looks (sort of) like spinach soufflé, which Kevin has hated all 40 of the times he's tried it from a young age. But only experience could teach him the real, emotional difference between guac and the SS. (One is avocado ambrosia while the other is green demon vomit.)

As oddly-specific as that example might be, it explains a LOT. You don't truly know things (including your own emotional reactions) until you have seen, heard, felt, tasted, or smelled the difference. And then, once you have experienced something, you can speak with authority on that difference because you remember it in a way that's bigger than logic.

Even if (as with spinach soufflé) that "knowledge" is still subject to opinion, it's still a kind of pure and unadulterated knowledge, and it only took you the time you needed to have a bite.

 

5. Mastery is expensive, familiarity is cheap. Both get stuff done. 

Imagine you could be expert in everything. You have an entire encyclopedia's knowledge in your head, and you're proficient or better at every skill imaginable.

Theoretically, you could do nearly anything yourself—even complex, intricate tasks like (A) performing surgery or (B) building a two-story house. 

But there's still one problem: you're still just one person who, for all your brilliance, has no superpowers. You could do anything well—but you can't do everything well. 

In the case of (A) — You can't perform (most kinds) of surgery on yourself. (Sure, you could remove your own appendix like this guy had to, but good luck doing brain or bypass surgery on your own.) 

In the case of (B) — Plenty of people have built their own houses. In fact, there's a guy who's (almost) finished a whole cathedral by himself. But it's probably gonna take a LONG time—and especially if you're doing literally everything yourself, you probably can't do much else with your life while you're building that house.

For projects of any size (or seriousness), there's just no replacing extra hands. Even if some people are "less trained" than others (nurses assisting doctors, foremen directing carpenters, etc.), they can work together. This is why, in virtually any leadership role, cross-training and communication skills are so important: you have to understand people's jobs AND direct them in meaningful ways accordingly.

Even if you're no longer Expert in Everything—and you're back to being a regular "jack of all trades"—familiarity with a subject means that you can have a more meaningful conversation with an expert, should you need their help. 

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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Code&Quill caters to A LOT of creatives.

That's the easy part to say. But what do we mean by that? Who do we mean by that? 

Well, some of our best customers are...

  • Designers (web & graphic)
  • Developers
  • Artists
  • Writers
  • Travelers
  • Photographers
  • Nomads

And so many more. 

Today, we're featuring 7 NEW ways the creatives in our family are using their Code&Quill in day-to-day life.

We've kept the original sets of pics behind them—so if you want to think about how you might use your Code&Quill, take a scroll until something strikes your fancy.

 

Summer 2017

 

 

We WISH we could write (and draw!) this neatly. Is every architect's notebook this pretty?

 

 

IT MOVES! We've featured plenty of @dainsaint's spreads, but this time he shows us the whole notebook full. Drool. 

 

 

Caffeine, coffee, cameras, Code&Quill. Sounds like an excellent way to spend a creative weekend!

 

 

We've featured a couple of @lunarboy's notebook shots on social media recently, but here's something that shows the value: he compares the drawing made in his Code&Quill to the webpage he built from it. Super, super cool stuff. =D

 

 

We're a little jelly, @ariannedonoghue — wish we still had time to study and practice our CS stuff more recently (or to play other peoples' programs on Xbox One). 

 

 

Another one of our regular posters-of-pretty-things, @mnmlscholar — another obscure virtue of glass desks. Did you also realize you can write directly on them with dry-erase??

 

Follow up drawings I added to the travel espresso

A post shared by Mike (@originalcontentbooks) on

 

Alas, we can't draw. Not like this, and not with a nice splash of color. But we'll happily look at others' design drawings... if you've got any that have come to fruition in 3D, send us a picture, like, immediately so that we can side-by-side that s#!t.

 

 

Spring 2017

 

Artventuring again

A post shared by Georgia Rose (@artventurous_george) on

  

 

@artventurous_george knows how to take a Code&Quill to some pretty spots... then draw pretty pictures of those pretty spots. Bravo, and thanks for sending it into #notebooksgonewild!

 

 

 

@techgirlgo is one of our favorite customers. (Y'all are astoundingly good as a group, don't get us wrong, but if we know you by name, you're probably a gem.) And some of our favorite things, too: code, MacBook Pro, cozy-looking socks, and motivation all in one!

 

 

@codeandquill check out my dishes on the left and business on the right 😘 #notebooksgonewild

A post shared by Sam Miller (@optimisticallyreal) on

 

@optimisticallyreal sent in a whole page of sharply-drawn flowers for our #notebooksgonewild social contest! We love examining all the detail you put into both pages we see here. :D 

 

Henry isn't quite as excited about my new notebooks as I am 🐈 #codeandquill

A post shared by Ashley Fielding (@rainey_ash) on

 

@rainey_ash may as well have tagged Henry and this photo in #notebooksgonewild recently! To be honest, we're not cat people — but given our dog mascot's color, we'll admit that's a very handsome kitty. =]

 

 

 

@dainsaint has posted a series of well-worded, sharply-written photos like these. Go check out his page on Instagram to see them all!

 

 

 

@alexraup knows the tech jungle, it seems — cables sprawling about like vines, extra peripherals at the ready — but in the middle, one simple little notebook. Thanks for hitting Twitter with #notebooksgonewild!

 

 

@mnmlscholar certainly has an eye for pens. Not gonna lie, we're a little jealous. Or envious. We always mix those up. The point is... how to put this delicately... please continue to show us your nibs, scholar. They're lovely. 

 

Hey! We're sharing even more sweet features from our community below, and think you should join them! Tag us in your photos on social and let us know how you're using your Code&Quill! Don't have a Code&Quill yet? Check out the perfect tools to feed your creative appetite—made for creatives by creatives.

 

 

Holiday Season 2016

At work with @kateanddesigns

A photo posted by Joan Born (@thejoanborn) on

 

Hey designers—step that game up. @thejoanborn is bringing the PANTONE color swatches to the table.

What are your favorites—and what are you "coloring in" so far this year? 

  

 

Code, colors, and Code&Quill. And Codeland, apparently. =]

Big shout-out to @techgirlgo for repping a couple things we love: all things tech AND sharing the love of what you do with others. Keep it compiling!

 

#codeandquill #fountainpenday #fountainpenday2016 #vanishingpoint #twsbieco #monteverde

A photo posted by hotcupofloving (@hotcupofloving) on

 

Hey @hotcupofloving, you stole our pen! Yeah, we recognize that TWSBI at the bottom! =P  

If y'all like writing with ink, fear not — you might be impressed at how well our paper handles fountain pens. It's all dat 100GSM acid-free paper.

Draw and write to your heart's content!

 

My favorite tools ❤️🍎🖍

A photo posted by Chrystel Paulson (@chrystelpaulson) on

 

And @chrystelpaulson, thanks for the 'gram and good word. We like the clean Mac setup — and we see you doing that UX work. Love it!  

 

 

We shipped this notebook across the pond to @ariannedonoghue. Arianne, we're pumped to see you outfitting it for the field (love the yellow Lamy!) and excited to get cracking.

Best of luck — and don't get addicted collecting Safaris in different colors! 

 

Some people are best in small doses💊 . . . #sorrynotsorry #handwriting #doodle

A photo posted by Mel (@alostnightowl) on

 

A little comic relief from @alostnightowl — and a true statement about anyone's co-workers from time to time.

Need to step away? Limit your people dose. Take a chill pill instead, close the door, and draw something that you're thinking about.  

 

Big notebook, little notebook. ❤📦 📕 #codeandquill

A photo posted by flokat (@flokat) on

 

Filling up one notebook with boxes, diagrams, arrows, and text? Go ahead and re-up! If you haven't bought one in a while, don't forget that you can size up for a Monolith now.

Or, you know, you could buy more than one like @flokat here. That'd be pretty sweet. And at that point, you might consider one of our (discounted) bundles! 

Hey! We're sharing even more sweet features from our community below, and think you should join them! Tag us in your photos on social and let us know how you're using your Code&Quill! Don't have a Code&Quill yet? Check out the perfect tools to feed your creative appetite—made for creatives by creatives.

 

November 2016 

What are you doing today?

Why not crack open your Code&Quill and start a sketch like @anna.rastorgueva?

We bet you’ve heard of #NoShaveNovember, but did you partake in #Inktober?

@Jessicaseacrest busted out her colored pencils and used her notebook for some sweet drawing.

fuzzy heart, coffee filled, and goal crushing wednesday! 👊🤖☕️ •• i'm not going to lie, insta + social média has been a great part of this journey. i have met SO many of you, and have been so happy to help + get shit done together! 💓 •• today, i am being featured on Stay Curious Darling Site (@staycuriousdarling) #WCW edition 😻 • i have been inspired by Brittany for years, and i can't wait to travel + work with this #girlboss 👯🤓💻 - i am humbled, and happy today! hugs to you all! 🤗🤗💕 •• keep kicking ass, and owning it! Ps. Brittany is the most badass, remote worker, digital nomad, and programmer! 🌏 if you have any questions regarding that lifestyle, i'm sure she's the one to ask! 🤓✨ link in bio! PSS. pizza hunting is my hobbie! 🍕😉 •• #happy #staycuriousdarling #blogger #girlboss #feature #happy #humble #workhardstayhumble #entrepreneur #womenintech #programmer #heygirlfriend #youcandoit #codethangz #code #webdeveloper #startuplife #codeandquill #devstickers #motivation #femaleentrepreneur #digitalnomad #travel #freelance #remotework #workhardanywhere

A photo posted by @codegirlcode on

We’ll be honest—@codegirlcode has a special place in our heart. She’s always been supportive of the C&Q brand and team, and loves showing off her notebooks!

However, this post is great because it’s all about goal crushing and growth, which are two of our favorite things.

Keep it up!

We’re not entirely sure what’s happening here, but it involves pizza, so it’s a-ok in our (note)book. See what we did there?

IG user @mbeero uses his creative genius to get the people to vote… on pizza preference, that is!

Ah… organization. Not going to lie, this warmed our hearts a little.

We’ve been tossing around the idea of coming up with a guide for using your Code&Quill for journaling and organization (think Bullet journaling and agendas).

What do you think? Something you all would want to hear about? Shout out to @hickorysoul for the sweet inspiration! 

If you need to pack for survival, we’ll agree with @campingguyinny and say your Code&Quill is a must.

Need another use idea for your C&Q? Head out into the great outdoors and sketch what you see. 

Everything about this video and caption is great.

1. Fresh starts, who needs them? Only everyone.

2. A clean slate to spill ink on? Not much better than that.

Cheers to @sofabedsophia for her positive moves in the right direction and using Code&Quill on her journey.

Want to see your Code&Quill photos featured on our site? Tag your photos with #codeandquill and we’ll be sure to share the love!

Happy creating!

Looking for the perfect tools to feed your creative appetite? Check out our collection of notebooks—made for creatives by creative.

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For a paper company, we spend a lot of time promoting technology.

We don’t just mean recommending certain hardware, or featuring favorite apps and software, or writing about big tech exemplars (though we’ve done all of those).

We’re believers in technology as a way of life. Not only are we nerdy, tech-forward kind of people; former coders or not, our entire careers are now carried out through our computers.

We like digital; we like smarter, faster, automated, spell-checked, and backed up in the Cloud. It’s the best way to work.

But we’re also believers that not all good technology requires circuitry. Even though we’ll spend a lifetime at our desks, plugging away at computers (as at this moment), some of the things we’ll always want nearby do NOT sync with the computer.

Those are the ones we’re covering here.

 

Like Technology (But Not Quite)

You might be asking: where do we draw the line between "tech" and "non-tech" stuff? 

To count as a "non-tech" desk item, something can (1) plug in and (2) have a single switch or button (because that's typical of a desk lamp, which have been commonly used since forever). Any more than that and an item will belong on a different list!  

 

1. Laptop/monitor stand. It's amazing how simple changes, like raising your monitor four inches, can improve your life. For external displays, you can make one for free with any spare books (or other solid boxy objects). 

It'll probably be harder to jury-rig a (good) laptop stand. There are plenty of good ones already out there, but we've recommended the Rain Design mStand (above) for two reasons: (A) it's solidly built and grippy without any moving (read: breakable) parts, and (B) it perfectly matches the MacBook's aesthetics. 

 

2. Cell phone stand. Your phone still needs a home during the day. Your pocket might NOT be the most comfortable or convenient option, and leaving it flat on your desk might not be super useful either.

But stand your phone up and suddenly it's part of the flow of your desk. It's not physically in your way, you can see it at a glance, and it's plugged in!

The plugging-in thing is another important detail. Unless you start with a topped-off battery and you don't use much data, you'll need to have a charger around. If your phone has a home on your desk, it's likelier to stay juiced up and ready. 

You can pay virtually any amount for a phone stand. For something simple but functional, here's a handy $6 piece of aluminum.

 

3. Lamp. You might be saying: but guys, I've already got eight kinds of lights in my face. Between my computer, phone, windows, and overhead flourescent lights, why do I need more photons shooting at me? 

For one thing, it's generous (read: delusional) to assume that you've got consistent good natural light in your office. In any big city, you'd need Lex Luthor's salary to guarantee that.

Otherwise, darkness is default—and neither fluorescents nor computer screens are "friendly" light to your eyes (or your appearance in the mirror). It's time to love you some lamp.

Again, you can spend as much or little as you want. Old-school halogen bulbs with warmer light might not be super-efficient... but hot damn do they LOOK way more inviting. (We've known people with overhead fluorescents in their office who just never turn them on; they use 2-3 lamps instead and their offices look way more pro.) 

 

4. Smart hubs and connectors. Remember laptops 10 years ago? They had enough ports for an army's worth of cables, thumb drives, and peripherals. Then again, they had space because laptops were once the size of a Humvee.

One downside to slimmer, sexier computers is fewer connections. Apple seems to like rubbing salt in this wound; "one port for everything" sounds futuristic, but it's only cool in a future where you've bought all new gear (or Apple's expensive native dongles). 

It was already a bit tricky to convert a laptop for desktop power use. Fortunately, a few smart wires and you're set! 

You shouldn't have to spend much, but it's worth considering versions like this 4-port Anker USB hub which have the looks (and cable length) to be fixed permanently on your desk. 

 

Everything Gets a Home

5. The Pen Cup. You know what we're talking about. The only question is: what does yours look like?

At different times, we've used...

The Mug. Perhaps your alma mater, favorite team, or some sass of choice. 

The Pong/Solo Cup. Very collegiate and temporary-looking... unless you get the melamine ones that are heavier and washable.

The Metal Tin. The square's option is the black wire-mesh one from Office Depot. You could do just as well with something like a miniature bucket.    

 

6. The Candy Jar. And then you have to fill it! Whether it's legit candy or something more innocent like mints, it's surprisingly nice to be able to reach for something tasty. Just take stock of your own taste (and self-control). 

For hygiene, it's probably best to get something individually-wrapped.

For sudden popularity, consider selections like Andes mints, gumballs, Riesen, or something fun like Warheads.

 

7. Coaster(s) for your beverages. This may sound a bit snooty of us... like, who actually CARES about a little condensation?

Ah, but that's only ONE reason for coasters—and not even the best reason.

Coasters hold a spot for a drink. This way, you'll always have an open space AND you'll be less likely to knock the drink over and ruin everything. "Holding a spot" also makes you likelier to remember to drink water—hydration is key to life, people. 

The coaster is also an accessory, a small personal statement. Hence, the nerdy example below: silicone floppy-disk coasters

And yes, they keep water rings away too. 

 

Personal Effects

8. YOUR pen. One of our most popular articles is our intro to fountain pens. One of the main reasons to get a nice pen, we argued, is that the pen becomes a permanent personal effect—not just a pen, but YOUR pen. And that feels cool.

Besides... as we've noted consistently, it's worth investing in the kinds of tools you use every day. True, you don't need a $22 fountain pen any more than you need a cheap Bic ballpoint—but the fountain pen will last, and it'll be way nicer to use the whole time.  


9. YOUR notebook. You should have your own pen because, no matter exactly where, you're gonna need to write with your own hand. 

You should have your own notebook for an equal and opposite reason: whenever you need to write something personally important, it should go in one place reserved for important thoughts. 

Your choice of notebook says something about you.
What kind of place do you want for keeping ideas?

 

Not to mention, of course, that taking a notebook to work can make you a smarter, sharper-looking professional at whatever you do. 


10. Your mascot or miniature friend. Any of the above might reflect your personal taste, but it's helpful to have one thing on your desk that you can talk to. 

No, it's not THAT lonely around here. There's a reason.

If you're not a coder, you might not have heard of rubber duck debugging. Basically: programmers often find it helpful to try explaining their code, line by line, in the process of trying to correct errors. But most of the time, they don't need a real person to listen; they just need to talk it out.

For talking it out, it's helpful to have a "listener," even if it's a $2 rubber duck. (Besides, doesn't it just brighten things a bit?)

 

We'll be back a little later to expand the list! For now...

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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Hey everyone! Let's jump right in. 

Much of our recent work has been invisible, back-end kind of stuff. (Growth is great, but growth requires infrastructure!) Most of that's still boring, so we'll just mention the parts that affect you. 

But still, we've made strides on the exciting parts of our brand: new products, new partnerships, new content, new chances to win stuff, and more opportunities to cast your votes at our table.

We'll even make it easy—scan this article for this color to see confirmed rumors and upcoming insider detail! 

We're sorry for being out of things. Let's talk about it. 

We're sorry. Really, we are. We feel your pain. 

While selling out of something is a "good problem" for us, please believe us: we'd rather have your notebook to sell you!  

So you're in the loop, here are three reasons this has happened:

  1. We couldn't predict the future (well enough, yet). For one thing, more of you showed up sooner than we expected. Also, some things ran out faster than others because we couldn't perfectly predict how each notebook would sell.
  2. Our manufacturing process takes some time, as does transport from manufacturer to here. When you think about it, even a literal factory needs time to fully build, package, and case thousands of notebooks from scratch. Then, that multi-ton shipment has to travel halfway around the world. In all, it takes a few weeks—even if there's no delay. There's usually at least one delay, like customs (which we can't control). 
  3. We've tried to improve product design over a shorter time. Our Travelers have been out for a while. To be honest, we could have ordered more Travelers made a bit sooner than we did. But we knew we wanted to improve the design—and not just for looks, but to "sand off" one of the few areas of the Traveler prone to defects. Why multiply a weak spot for 6 extra months when a 3-week delay might fix it forever?

 

Here are three things we're doing to help it for the future:

  1. We installed waiting-list functionality on our product pages. Lots of people asked if they could be notified when their notebook of choice came back in stock. We've installed that feature right on each product page—so if it's out, drop in your email and you'll get an automatic notification as soon as it's back! 
  2. We're ordering smarter (and bigger). As we understand everyone's notebook preferences better (and have more people's money to work with), we're ordering larger quantities of notebooks to get ahead of your demand. (At least, until the holidays. All bets are off then.) 
  3. We're continuing to diversify. This year, we started with 10 products for sale. We've recently added two accessories and we're getting ready to introduce more stuff (more below). That should help spread things out... unless you just want everything.

What's In, What's Out

JUST IN! — Scribe pocket notebooks in both gray and white
JUST IN! — MORE of the Monolith-sized Quivers (first round sold fast!)

ON THEIR WAY — gray Monoliths with dual indentation rule

BEING MADE — (updated!) Travelers in both gray and white

RUNNING OUT!white Monoliths with dual indentation rule

What's New

Soooooooo... we're finally stocking accessories. =]

We're now carrying the Quiver, a super-awesome pen holder that straps snugly to our notebooks. (Made by the company of the same name.) It comes in two sizes: one for the Monolith, one for the Origin.

 

 

(The Origin-sized Quiver will also fit the Traveler, BUT you need an adapter for it to work correctly on the softcover. We'll be stocking those soon.)

We've also built brand-new bundles for the summer. We think y'all will really like these collections. No leftovers here—we've got our most popular varieties in play AND we're including the Quiver in a couple choices. See which bundle archetype might match you... if you find a winner, it's 10% off just for being awesome. =]

What's Coming Up

Special Editions. We've been saying for a long time that they're coming back... but this time, we've actually gotten special-edition samples made. 

It's an old-world nautical style... deep navy, with goldenrod accent pages and bookmark. Minimal branding—just our ampersand debossed into the corner of the cover, but without any colored infill. 

Those are next in line for our factory—so start setting aside pocket change! 

(And remember... whenever it's a Special Edition, we make them ONE time. When they're out, they're out!)

 

Custom-made content (in collaboration with customers). When we start conversations with customers, we try to listen and think as openly as possible.

For example, we recently had a handful of people ask: how does our paper respond to different inks? We know our product, of course—but we don't know how it interacts with everything out there. And customers weren't just curious about different fountain pens; they wanted to know about things like watercolor, too. We wanted to have informed answers, but we realized we couldn't get those answers except from people who'd know what to try. 

So we wrote them back. We said: we're curious too. So we'll give you something (either a discount or tester notebook) and ask you to test what you've got. Write us back, send pictures, and we'll publish the results. We're sure others are curious, and you'd be helping them out (not to mention us!).

We've already gotten a couple of reports back, and we'll be putting something together on the blog soon. Y'all continue to impress us with your awesome. =]

 

More contests! In the past couple of months, we've hosted two contests on social media: one asking what it means to be a creative, another showing off your notebooks in their natural "wild" habitats. Both were smashing successes—so we're going to keep doing them!

Our plan is to launch at least one social contest per quarter. So keep your eyes peeled and your wits handy, because there will be more chances to win free stuff!

 

New round of customer-survey feedback opportunities. Along the same thinking, we've seen great results from asking our broader customer base to submit feedback. (You can see the roundup from the first Customer Awesomeness Survey here.)  

We're going to be launching another customer survey soon! We'll want you to participate, so we'll be sure to notify everyone by email and social media when it's on. (Like last time, you'll receive something for your efforts.) 

 

 

What's Left?

Want to ask a question or make a suggestion? Shoot us an email! Your best bet is to write Kevin directly—he runs customer service and the blog. =]

And of course...

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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If you're halfway familiar with your own computer, it's not hard to become a power user. 

"Power users" aren't (necessarily) hackers or CS majors... they're just people who are so familiar with their machine that they don't have to think about using it.

The best kind of work is often called flowThis is whenever you can just do the thing you do, without much strain or mental interruption. In the digital age, it's easier than ever to enter that state of mind—but your computer has to work with you, not against you.

Here we're sharing 17 specific suggestions for sharpening your computer to its smoothest possible experience. (Most of these are free and quick!)  

 

Read the Manual, Silly

You might be surprised at what you can find in your System Preferences.

Lots of details there are personal taste—but these might help you work faster or even think more clearly. Don't feel obligated to the defaults; they're adjustable settings for a reason!

Don't discount the value of small or stock changes. Sure, some of these might save milliseconds. But if you save milliseconds hundreds of times per day, it adds up—and if nothing else, it feels like a smoother train of thought the whole time.

1. Adjust your display. Start with what's painfully obvious: the screen you stare at. Minor adjustments can make a big difference to your eyes. Aside from the settings on the monitor itself (e.g. brightness and color settings), take a look in System Preferences > Display (on a Mac) and see what zoom level you prefer. Using the farthest zoom setting on a Retina display might be great for multitasking—but it's less than ideal if you're reading or trying to focus. 

2. Speed up your keyboard. Oddly specific, but you'll thank us. On Mac, go to System Preferences > Keyboard, then turn the "Key Repeat" and "Delay Until Repeat" ALL THE WAY TO THE RIGHT. For things like Backspace, it makes your keyboard seem so much more responsive. 

3. Re-calibrate your mouse and trackpad speed. You don't win any contest for having the fastest cursor speed in the West—but if you have to drag your finger 8 feet to get the cursor across your computer screen, you've got room for improvement. Make it easy on yourself... cut down on motion where computers make you move most!

4. Try out and practice Apple's trackpad gestures. Trackpads were mostly "necessary evils" until Apple made them smart in the past few years. Apple's gestures make the whole experience seem more 3D, like your laptop can "think about" far more things at once. You can even customize the gestures to your liking.

5. Clean up your Dock. Why cram it with every icon you've got when you only ever use, like, 12 programs? Eliminate noise and clutter. To get rid of Dock icons you don't use, just right-click them and choose "Hide from Dock." Then, if you ever need to find something NOT on your Dock, you're just one quick Spotlight search away (see #8 below).

6. Clean up your Notification settings. By default, nearly any program can ping you—but is that helpful? Notifications matter a LOT from some programs—in this office, we yell at each other if Slack messages go unanswered—but never in a million years will we need to hear from the Game Center. Take control of that noise. Under System Preferences > Notifications, turn off the programs who don't need the right to interrupt you. 

7. Hone your Finder's Preferences. Finder is probably the program people use most without realizing they're using it. But it has Preferences too! You can change which common destinations appear on the left and which don't—and you can also right-click the top toolbar or column header to customize those. (In general: start right-clicking things more and see what you find!) 

8. Use Spotlight search (which now includes Siri). If you're not familiar with Spotlight, just hit Command + Space and type something. The little search bar that pops up is your new best friend. It's simple and fast enough to switch between programs by typing, yet it can also help locate any file in your file system. They've even added Siri functionality recently—so just hold the Space bar a bit longer and you can TALK to your computer. We're living in the future, y'all.

  

Protect Your Investments (and Your Health/Sanity)

Nothing sends a day to Hell quite like breaking your laptop (or phone). 

Most days, you won't notice the next three suggestions. But on the ONE day when (very suddenly) you no longer have a working machine, these little preparations become a huge relief. 

9. Get yourself on the cloud. Handful of ways to do this—the best-known being Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. All three options offer limited free storage (a few GB) and cheap monthly subscriptions for anything past that. Get your files on a cloud-storage service, then sync up your computer and your critical info is protected against any kind of local disaster—and you can access those files from anywhere there's an Internet connection. It is absolutely worth a few bucks a month.  

10. Buy an external hard drive for Time Machine. Actually set it up. In a similar way, Time Machine is a lifesaver. You'll need a dedicated external hard drive to use it (meaning you can't use that external drive for anything else). But once set up, Time Machine is basically a renewable get-out-of-jail-free card for as long as you keep that drive connected, since it keeps live, restorable backups of your whole computer. Doesn't need to be a fancy hard drive to save your ass!

11. Occasionally use Disk Dictor or some equivalent. Eventually you might wonder: what's clogging up my hard drive? To explain it simply: your computer piles up extra data over time, but it's not programmed to automatically clear it all out. Even if you clean out old files and empty the trash, space will remain filled that you can't explain. Often, you can open up TONS of space just by eliminating old backups (e.g. iPhone backups) and cache files. You can clear that out manually if you know where to look—or you can grab a tiny piece of software like Disk Doctor that does the hard work for you.  

 

Treat Yo'self

12. Download BetterTouchTool (free 60-day trial, pay-what-you-want from $5 to $50 after that). Tiny program, huge impact on your daily computing. BetterTouchTool is like a programmable "shortcut switchboard" that runs below everything else on your computer. Anything you want to do faster, it can manage—whether that's moving and re-sizing windows, skipping to the next track, or even executing terminal commands. Just tell it what you want to happen, then program a shortcut and it just works, all the time. It's a lifesaver even if all you want to do is move and resize windows.  

13. Look into some useful cables and hubs. Never mind the gold-plated BS—don't waste your money on gimmicks. But don't overlook useful articles like the simple 4-port USB hub, CAT-5 couplers, or simple adapters like Thunderbolt to HDMI. You can find most cables you need on Amazon and many of them are cheap—and if keeping an ounce of wire on hand means you're twice as flexible, it's easy. 

14. Find or buy a monitor/laptop stand. We say "find" first because, for most external monitors, you may already have something that works. (In the case of your humble author: my monitor is propped up by a thick book that kinda looks right on my desk.) Other times, it's still worth spending a little, as for something more custom-built like a Rain laptop stand. Seriously, it's amazing how subtle changes—like elevating your screen four inches—can improve your quality of life, but they can.  

15. Try out new keyboards and mice. As we wrote in our very first blog post (awww, it's kind of juvenile now that we look back at it), peripherals matter because you touch them. Look down at your keyboard for a second. This is how you "touch" what's in your computer! Sure, a cheap keyboard and mouse might direct the same info to the computer, so nice peripherals aren't truly necessary—but if you had to touch something for 8 hours a day (don't make it weird), would you rather it feel like "meh" or like magic?

16. Expand with an external monitor. If you had bad vision and got used to it—but then got glasses or laser surgery—the whole world would look better to you. Well, if you want to see more of the digital world, you just need to buy a bigger (or better) monitor! If you're thinking it'll be super expensive, just remember that monitors, like many pieces of hardware, continue to evolve for the market... you can get a simple (but reliable) 27-inch monitor in 1440p for under $300 these days. Pretty cheap for doubling your "seeing space" where you work!

17. Upgrade your chair. Saved (what is probably) the biggest investment for last. As the sage advice goes, invest in anything that goes between you and the ground. You'll save a lot of future pain if you buy good shoes, tires, mattresses, and bras (for those so endowed). Exact same principle with chairs: if you sit there for eight hours a day, it's probably the single biggest thing affecting your back (for better or worse). 

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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It's really difficult to celebrate the Fourth of July without noticing its clichés and platitudes.

Yet because everyone is celebrating and carrying on, it's an unpopular time to discuss how meaningless certain "American" phrases have become. 

Strap in, because we're hammering one of them anyway. 

Now, let us say this first: we love America, we wouldn't choose to live anywhere else, and we consider ourselves lucky. Let us add that Code&Quill as you know it wouldn't be possible without some of the opportunities America provides. 

But let us say to our fellow Americans: please think more carefully about "freedom" and what it means. 

It is true, for instance, that there are fewer restrictions on your behavior here. More importantly, there are fewer restrictions on you, as a person—far from utopia, sure, but it's a good spot, overall, to let your freak flag fly. America is a good place to create yourself—and to create whatever living you want in your own image.   

But places like America aren't perfect, and even its freedoms cause other difficulties. The main challenge of societies like ours is reconciling YOUR freedom with everyone else's. 

This isn't just politics; it's culture, creativity, commerce, every way that people interact. Sometimes, the blend can get a little strange here. 

So this week, as we celebrate America's Independence Day, we're calling out six places where freedom "rings" in unusual ways.

 

Enemies can still be peaceful neighbors.  

No matter what kinds of groups someone could call "enemies" within America—whether ethnic, racial, religious, or political—there's one thing that keeps the peace.

Everyone's freedom has limits. 

You are allowed to be and do what you want, within reason. But so is everyone else. If you don't like the differences and can't resolve it peacefully, tough luck. 

Maybe it sucks that some people dislike each other, but that can't be changed. But respectful peace is fair, and it's a baseline everyone can live with (literally). Hopefully neighbors, by becoming more familiar, can eventually become friends.

 

The harshest critics can make the best patriots.

On the subject of "whoa, chill with the freedom"—

Maybe you've seen the opening scene of HBO's The Newsroom, where Jeff Daniels delivers a searing monologue against American exceptionalism:

 

He doesn't "hate" America, despite what some people might say. Towards the end of his speech, he's not even angry anymore; he's sad, tired, disillusioned. He knows America can do better—and he delivers the news this way because it's how he can help.  

 

You're not a businessman; you're a business, man. 

Peaceful trade is a good thing. That means: whenever people agree to exchange one thing for another and then honor that trade, BOTH parties benefit. 

If you think about it, that's magical. Good trades are about as close as we can get to literally making something from nothing. You could even say good trades make the world a better place.

Case in point: we like it when you buy our notebooks, and most of you seem to think they're worth it and then some. You're happier AND we're happier. 

Again, this is business as made easier in America—wouldn't be so doable in many other places. Even better: in places like America, we're sometimes thrilled by trades because of the unique qualities and variety possible in a free market. If you've ever eaten delicious things from a food truck, you have some idea of what we mean.  

 

Freedom is wasted on the free. 

Ever heard the expression "youth is wasted on the young"? You can vary it endlessly and it's usually still true.  

The boundless opportunity, variety—and yes, freedom—of a place like America are delightful things. But they do not guarantee that you'll be happy. As David Foster Wallace observed in "This Is Water," the kind of freedom people chase nowadays often ends up isolating people from others, if not also from themselves. 

More broadly, the "progress paradox" of human history is that modern people, who have more freedom and safety than anyone before, don't know what else to do with it. If you're staving off famine and watching winter approach, you'll be focused—but if you've got a house, a job, and the conveniences of modern life, what's left to worry about, much less fight for? 

 

Equals eventually abide the Golden Rule.  

Everyone knows some version of the Golden Rule. (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the one we learned as kids.)

It's a little trickier with, you know, law. How do you make fair rules for government? 

A Harvard professor named John Rawls had a good answer, and he called it "the veil of ignorance." It poses the following question: how would you design the world if you didn't know who you'd be within it? 

Sure, it'd be great to be King of the World—but if you designed the world for him and then entered it as anyone else, you'd hate it. Realizing this, you'd probably hedge your bets and make a fairer world, so that you might be happy as anyone.   

In a "collective unconscious" kind of way, free countries can evolve this way. It'll never be perfect, but personal freedom is one of the things we need to even have that chance.

 

 

For most things, moderation prevails. 

Aristotle made a fascinating point about people.

We think of virtues (like courage) as valuable things. More is better, right?

Not always, says the great pontificator. Too little courage and you're a coward. But too much courage and you're Leroy Jenkins (or George Custer). 

If you think about it, it's the same for other virtues. In life, the right amount is a moderate amount: not too little, not too much.

Liberties are no exception. Too few and you live in a police state; too many and you live in anarchy. Freedom, in other words, is like money: everyone needs it to some extent, and everyone enjoys having more of it, but it distorts you if you get too much (or too fast).   

 

 

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Times New Roman, sized at 12 points and double-spaced. One-inch margins on all sides.

When teachers and college professors required a format like that, they were teaching you some of the basics of typography—but not well, and not for the sake of good type.

They had their reasons. Uniform standards are easier; everyone can refer to them. A common formatting style means students can count finished assignments in pages instead of words, which is simpler. And it's probably not fair to expect young students—who are still learning to write—to present their documents like professionals.

But the “standard formats” we use most in school are unavoidably ugly. They're functional prints of work, but they don't look good. Once we've left school, this becomes a problem overnight. As students, we get virtually no practice using smart typography to present our work well for readers.

So when you do have an original document to design, you might be running short on ideas and practice. This week, we’ve got four suggestions for making your documents sharper—including some pointers on how this works on a typical computer.

 

Start Looking at New Fonts

Your first task is to use something other than the fonts everyone knows. Put simply, there’s no way to use an ordinary, uninteresting font without seeming ordinary and uninteresting.

 

Want an extraordinary vessel for extraordinary ideas? Click below to find yours.

 

That (probably) means no more Times New Roman, Helvetica, or Arial for you. No more Tahoma, no more Calibri, no more Georgia. Your computer probably came with lots of fonts, but most of them aren’t good. Even if you identify the few gems among those system fonts (and you should), you’re going to need outside options.

One good place to start is Google Fonts. As they’re free to access, they’re expectably average—but starting here will give you the opportunity to see a large and completely different set of fonts from your own system fonts.

 

As you browse, you can narrow your selections by properties like category (serif, sans serif, etc.), slant, and weight. Then, once you’ve made a few selections, you can make direct comparisons and, in many cases, download the fonts to your computer.

Be sure to check the license and terms of use for each font you download; while most private uses should be fine, you should always double-check what you’re allowed to do with a font, especially before publishing or sharing a document. (This is true for all fonts, not just Google fonts. Check the terms.)

There are plenty of places you can find free fonts, but you get what you pay for—and when you pay nothing, be glad to find anything of value. Eventually, to get serious about your font game, you will have to spend actual money. Prices range pretty widely; some fonts or collections cost $5 while others cost hundreds. As always, it’s a personal choice of fit and affordability—and as always, shop responsibly.

 

Brush Up on the Rules

Like grammar and style, typography is subjective. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few rules.

Writers lose credibility when they use words incorrectly (hence, grammar Nazis). But by the same logic, they can lose credibility (or clarity, or attention) with each typographic mistake.

Typographer and author Matthew Butterick covers the basics quite well in Typography in Ten Minutes and a follow-up Summary of Key Rules. We recommend you read them both; they’re succinct.

Wherever you review, you may notice that the rules break into roughly three categories:

Some are to-the-point mandates; for example, you use only one space between sentences, and that’s that. Don't expect to bend these without looking stubborn (to the people who notice).

Other rules are guidelines of taste and style; for example, don’t go crazy with font selection, exclamation points, or formatting options like bold and italic. 

The remaining rules are technical reminders, like remembering to use hyphens and dashes correctly; while unexciting, these rules can refresh your technical vocabulary and make your writing more precise. (It really is true, for example, that em dashes—these longer, interrupting ones—are underused in most people’s writing, and simply because people don’t know how to type them on their keyboards.)

 

Practice the Basics

At some point, you have to get to work with your new type toys.

Let’s suppose you open a blank document in Microsoft Word, then type out your text—but without changing any of the standard formatting. It will probably look pretty bland.

Some people would slap a title on it, hit Print, and call it a day. But not you. You can spare three minutes to finish it like a professional. It just needs to look good, and it needs to be easy to read. What can we do?

We've made a few quick suggested changes:

  1. We changed the typeface from Helvetica to Equity, leaving the size at 12pt.
  2. We widened the page margins to 1.75 inches on the left and right, narrowing each line of text. 
  3. We gave each line a bit more height—to be specific, each line is 17pt high. 
  4. We've also justified the text, being sure to eliminate lines with single words (widows and orphans). 

Looks better, right? Here's a little more info on how to do it:

— You can change font and justification in the usual places.
— For page margins, check the Layout banner or Page Setup.
— To adjust line spacing, you'll need to find Paragraph settings, which can be accessed from the drop-down menu via Format >> Paragraph. Then, choose "Exact" line spacing and set a specific number; just remember that it won't automatically adjust if you change the font size for text in those lines.  

 

Keep Your Eyes Open

When you realize how much of the world has type on it, you realize how important typography is to our understanding of information.

You also understand more clearly the silent appeal of good typography and how it influences perception—of the writing and words themselves, but also of the person or entity responsible for them.

Since the world is full of type, the world is full of examples you can assess. You’ll find your own themes, but probably you’ll notice what common sense already taught you...

Don’t overuse anything, and definitely don’t use anything trite or cliché.

Design things to say what you want them to say.

Stand out but don’t be too strange.

Perhaps most importantly: it’s worth it to spend some time on polish. Not only does it enhance the work you’ve already done, but it can mean the difference between being noticed or not. That, in turn, can mean the difference between success and failure.

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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Pricing is tricky. Everyone could have an opinion about what your thing costs.

Even if you price perfectly, some people would be happy to pay double while others will think you're expensive garbage—while on sale, no less. 

We see this a lot in our own office. To our pleasure, plenty of customers (the overwhelming majority) have great Code&Quill experiences and consider their notebooks invaluable.

But we also see consistent comments—on our Facebook ads, for instance—from people who can't see the point because they're just as happy with a $2 bargain-bin notebook. 

For that person, that logic is sound. If you'd be happy with a $2 notebook, why spend $20?

Despite what some claim, we know our notebooks aren't overpriced for what they are. Still, the skeptics' line of thought does beg a fair question: why would you willingly spend $20 on one notebook? 

This article lists some of the reasons we—and our customers—can offer as answers. Sure, we're biased here, but we were people who'd buy $20 notebooks before Code&Quill was even a thing. (And not because we were swimming in money.)

Judge a Book By Its Cover

1. Our notebooks are roughly 10 times prettier than a typical notebook. No one ever stopped mid-conversation to ask about a Five-Star, but we've been interrupted plenty of times while holding a Code&Quill. 

2. Our notebooks can make YOU look 10 times prettier (give or take). Accessories matter—no matter who you are, male or female. The attractiveness of the accessories always transfers, in whole or part, to the person carrying them. It's not just the nice appearance of things, either, but what you can guess about the person as a result—and a classy, understated notebook makes anyone looking guess "sophisticated."  

3. Our notebooks are more likely to be taken seriously from the beginning—especially by their owners. It's way easier to get attached to something, to invest and actually care about a personal possession, when that possession is both attractive and durable. That way, it holds your interest and it will stick around. In Code&Quill's case, the covers are the main reason your notebook can stick with you for a long time. 

4. The cover isn't just cosmetic; it's functional. A Kevlar vest is mighty expensive—but it stops bullets way better than a flannel shirt. Our covers are "awfully serious" for notebook covers—but they last way better than thin, glossy cardboard. And they lay flat!

5. The packaging is part of the Code&Quill experience—and we think you'll appreciate the difference. Presentation always matters. Whether someone is given a ring they'll wear for the rest of their life—or just served their dinner any night out at a nice restaurant—it's the first sight that's most memorable and meaningful.  

We don't advertise our packaging much in advance (on purpose) because we want that to be a fresh experience for customers. Many people have said that our packaging is part of what makes our notebooks great gifts.  


Thinking of someone who'd love using the world's best notebook?
Grab them one!

(How) You Get What You Pay For

6. We use better paper than most notebook-makers bother with. A typical spiral-bound notebook will have paper in the 50-60 GSM (grams per square meter) range. Our closer competitors, like Moleskine, come nearer to 80 GSM. Our paper is 100 GSM, so it's heavier and smoother and less likely to tear. 

7. Notebooks like ours aren't as simple to make as people think. It's just a bunch of paper bound together! you say. But look closely and you'll see how the manufacturing process is really a handful of manufacturing processes in a row.  

We'll go into more detail in a future blog post, but to give you an idea: the paper alone has to be cut, printed, cut again, cornered, folded, and formed into signatures before being sewn into the binding. Meanwhile, the binding (and cover, and patch, and so on) each have to be made separately—and THEN brought together into a notebook.

8. Notebooks like ours aren't as cheap to make as people think. Having read the above, it probably won't shock you to read that, no, our notebooks do not cost us "pennies" to make, even overseas. They're something of an investment, even direct from the factory—and that's not including packaging, quality control, shipping everything from the factory halfway around the world, or everything to bring it to market (which is still quite a bit). 

9. Notebooks like ours aren't as simple to sell as people expect. This isn't a complaint, just a reality you might not consider about brands like ours: if you're aware of our brand and seriously considering our products, you're in a relatively small group of people. 

This is why we're thrilled to "find our people" — 90+ percent of people don't care about notebooks and never will. Then, to make it harder for us, the 10-or-fewer percent who DO care are scattered far and wide. Sure, maybe you technically "found" us, but it took a surprising amount of effort (and some resources) to spread ourselves to the places where you could find us—and that's daily work for a lot of people like us. 

10. Relative to most goods, we're still manufacturing in "small batches." The misconception that our notebooks would cost "pennies each" to manufacture might persist because of what educated consumers know about economies of scale—that companies, especially big ones, can produce goods more cheaply the more they can manufacture at one time. The same consumers understand that this means better profit margins (and/or more competitive pricing). This is all generally true—in fact, it's Econ 101. 

The only "but" is that Code&Quill is still small, relative to the world of manufacturing and its standards for pricing—which just means we're further away from being able to pass along manufacturing savings. (That's the economics of small-batch anything.)

 

Hop on the Bandwagon

11. We have amazing customers who write amazing things about us. It's nice to be liked. And it certainly helps people come look at us.

12. We've been liked from the start. Not in the sense that we won any popularity contest—but rather, in the sense that we were started with crowdfunding. Paper to the people! (Check out our original Traveler/Origin Kickstarter campaign here and our second Monolith Kickstarter campaign here.)

13. We stick close to customers as we adapt. We're always looking for feedback and ideas, whether they're for existing stuff or not. Customer feedback is what prompted our first product redesign; it's driven a lot of our blog and social media efforts; it's a big influence in the development of new goodies. We actively seek out and reward helpful feedback, so chime in whenever!

14. Certain pockets of people LOVE our stuff for their own particular reasons. For example, we've been very popular with programmers, designers, and other technical people because of our classic split page layout. They speak highly of the design in general, but they fall in love with the features that help them think.

15. Our notebooks, and the community supporting them, help people cross interests and think about their work in new ways. Not only do niche specialists like programmers think more deeply in writing, but most any person with a Code&Quill can think more broadly. Features like the slightly-wide dimension, specialty page layouts, lay-flat binding, and paper quality really do relax a lot of minds. 

 

Spacious working, smooth writing, sophisticated design.
Awwww yisssss.
 

Let's Do Some Math

16. One of our notebooks costs way less—per hour of use—than many other kinds of fun, hobbies, or vocational practice. A 200-page notebook could easily take you 50-100 hours to complete. Not only is that a conservative estimate for many of our customers, but that's only the time spent filling the notebook. 

So—in this one sense only—our notebooks really do cost pennies at a time.

17. Similar to #1: you're probably going to enjoy using one of our notebooks roughly 10 times as much, and that's where you'll sense the difference. It'd be enough to say it's a handsome, durable, highly functional notebook—but it's also way more fun to use than a bargain-bin notepad.

There's a reason people smile while driving Ferraris, and it's not because they're driving on better streets than the Fiats; it's because they're driving the same streets with much greater joy and precision. 

18. Most of us spend money which is, by comparison, patently stupid. Ever gotten a parking ticket because you were unlucky (and too lazy to drive 100 more feet to find an open spot)? Well, there goes $30. That's a Code&Quill and a half—in a merciful city.

How much have you spent on drinks out... that you didn't even finish? (You get it.) 

19. If you want a notebook that houses something very important, it's much easier to justify, no matter how miserly you are for everyday notebooking needs. This one you can fill out for yourself, if it applies to you.

20. Our company creates free stuff to assist and amuse people just like you... whether you buy one of our notebooks or not. For this last reason, we get to cheat a little bit—because if you've read this far, you've probably proven us right!

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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A few weeks ago, we introduced you to six barriers between creative people and success. 

Afraid to fail—or look like a moron? We explain why you're probably happier taking a risk.

Under pressure from your peers—or even your family? We give some pointers for talking it out.

Not sure it's all worth it? We suggest some questions to help yourself decide.

 

This guidance is courtesy of our friend Dr. Lyle Sussman, former chair of the University of Louisville School of Business and author of numerous books—the latest being Breaking the Glaze Ceiling: Sweet Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Wannabes, from which we've adapted most of these two articles (with Lyle's permission). 

 

It Gets Personal

As Lyle recounts in the book's Introduction, he has experience from the trenches of entrepreneurship—but he's primarily an academic, someone who's spent his professional tenure in a university setting.

Lyle expected to retire (in the next few years) without having to roll up his sleeves again. Then his daughter Annie came over for dinner. 

Despite her Masters Degree and stable career, she wasn't happy with her work—and she knew what she was going to do about it. With a friend, she planned to start a business selling doughnuts—even though she had zero culinary training. (According to Lyle, Annie hadn't ever been much of a cook or baker—and neither had Leslie, Annie's business partner.)

Annie said she'd even picked out the name: Hi-Five Doughnuts. 

To say the least, this shocked Lyle—and at first, he was hesitant to believe that this could be a good idea. But Lyle realized that Annie had showed him the true opportunity of entrepreneurship: surviving, if not fully thriving, on the work you actually want to do. Lyle got behind her and offered to help her with a formal business plan, among other things (though, in the end, she never actually needed a formal business plan and thus never developed one).

This article is two things in one: a collection of lessons for breaking through the ceilings that aspirational people face, AND a brief case-study of Hi-Five Doughnuts, which has since seen tremendous growth and success by manifesting the breakthrough lessons Lyle illuminates in Breaking the Glaze Ceiling.

 

Glaze Lesson No. 4

Please note: the very man whose name is synonymous with genius, rather than keep it to himself, proclaimed that "everyone is a genius." Many thinkers in history placed themselves above "common" people, but not Einstein. If you're doubting yourself, think about that. 

Consider, too, the profile of the modern success story. Sure, you can still make bank by getting a ritzy J.D./M.B.A. from a prestigious school, or by being one of those turbo-smart people who answer questions no human has answered before (many of whom have Ph.D.s). As the Joker would say in The Dark Knight: "if you're [really] good at something, never do it for [anything close to] free." 

But notice: nowadays, the rising titans are people who made their names by doing, not just by knowing. Consider that one definition of intelligence is the ability to adapt—book info can definitely help, but there's no replacing personal experience. If you want to get "street smarts," just start working and learn from what happens next.

 

Glaze Lesson No. 5

Fear is a killer. And we mean that almost literally: your fears, left unchecked and unchallenged, have the power to literally kill your dreams. 

We're not just being dramatic. Think about it: how do you kill a dream? How do you remove an idea from existence? Well, in simple terms, you kill whoever holds that dream or idea.

And how do you kill a person? If nothing else, you can just wait for them to die. 

This is all figurative, of course, but it still describes your life. The surest way to kill your own dreams is to wait for them to die. All things equal, YOU are likely your own biggest obstacle.

So get out of your own way. If being happy means risking unhappiness, consider that the alternative to that risk is unhappiness by default—or at least, a longing wonder for what could have been if you'd tried.

 

Glaze Lesson No. 6

There is nothing new under the sun. Most ideas, in the end, are recycled bits of other ideas—because, when you think about it, inspiration can't happen in a vacuum.

Having said that, the best ideas are often novel combinations, or ideas that haven't been seen in a while, or ideas that resonate in the present more than they ever have before. But standout ideas, those we can call 'the best' or 'ahead of their time,' are aberrant and unusual by nature.

Let's put this another way: no matter how smart or capable you are, no one is going to hear you if you sound like everyone else. Practically by definition, people who are impressive and/or memorable stand out from others as unique, as something distinguishable from the mass. Isn't that also practically the definition of weird?

As Lyle clarifies in Breaking the Glaze Ceiling, "weird" doesn't mean "dangerous" or "unstable" — those are their own labels, and for people whom you should avoid. Having said that, you should seek out weird people because they'll give you perspective on what you do—and they might be unusually talented once you get to know them.   

 

Glaze Lesson No. 9

A good idea—or a good business—is greater than the sum of its parts.

Here's what we mean... and let's harken back to grunting-caveman-simple levels of business. Let's say two people agree to a trade: Grog's club for Glag's leg of lamb. The "sum of the parts" is, technically, zero; the items traded owners, but nothing was created in the process. But the trade itself was greater than that zero sum because Grog and Glag were both happier when the trade was done.

Now skip ahead to Times-Square-21st-century stuff again. Think about the best brands in the world, perhaps some of your favorites. Let's say you're really into Jordans. Is your love of Jordans (and your valuation of them) high because they're well-made shoes—or because, to you, they represent something much greater than shoes? 

 

 

Everyone—including you—geeks out over something that most people don't see in that special way. You know that feeling, and you know how great it feels to have it. Air Friend with the Jordans is happier every second he's thinking about his shoes. But you also know what it's like to "not get it," as many of us don't about the shoes thing. 

Here's your challenge: you have to LOVE the thing you do to the point that you win others over. Whatever you're nerdy and irrationally excited about, stop caring what other people think and invite them to join you in some experience instead. A legendary brand doesn't really care if everyone likes them; they just care that "their people" love experiencing what they do.

 

Glaze Lesson No. 11

Quite frankly, you can do it all alone. It's just a really, really bad idea. 

If you want to burn yourself out, this is the way to do it. Even solopreneurs have people they call on for help: outsourcers and contractors, perhaps a personal assistant, even just a personal confidante for venting after a long day.

As we've written about Scrum before, what's useful about working with other people is that you can use one another's skills and ideas to solve problems. Sure, you could figure something out if you bashed your head against the wall long enough... but isn't that a waste when Jimmy over there could teach you in five minutes? 

You can do a lot more with others, and through others, than you'd ever expect otherwise. Don't make life so much harder (or drearier) just by failing to say hello. 

 

What do you do now?

In short? You apply yourself. 

Whatever skills, talents, superpowers, favors, resources, ideas, leads, or avenues you have to take your next steps, take them.  

 

Almost always, you'll have options; you'll have some way to move forward on your dream, even if it's small or slow for now. But the lamest option of all—and the one that will prove most anticlimatic to you, of all people—is to do nothing.

The biggest thoughts you have in a day are probably the things you dream about, the things you want most from your life. If they're your dreams, they've probably repeated themselves thousands of times over. But they're worth noting again and again, and when new thoughts come your way, welcome them for how they might help.

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

 

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Today is D-Day, for those of you keeping track. So to stay on theme with today's events in history, we offer a comparison (though most certainly not an equivocation) between that history and our more present struggles. 

 

1. Everyone has, more or less, the same equipment. 

    In War: Everyone has a gun. Some fire little bullets, some fire big bullets. In rare cases, the person’s gun has a plane attached to it. But you get the point. 

    Online: Everyone has a computer. Some are little computers, some are big computers. But they all do (mostly) the same stuff in (mostly) the same ways. 

     

    2. Everyone’s equipment is, more or less, functional by design. They’re working tools.

      In War: Your gun is intended (more or less) to shoot other people who have guns. Whatever else you carry is meant (ultimately) to help you use your gun, or to keep the enemy people from using theirs. 

      Online: Your computer is intended (more or less) to communicate with other people or things who have computers. Whatever else you install is meant (ultimately) to help you communicate more. 

       

      3. This won’t stop you from making your equipment your own—or even having some fun with it. 

        In War: This is my gun. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. When it’s not doing work, it’s one way to have fun—and I want it to look somehow distinct from the others. (If this one doesn’t make sense to you, you haven’t spent enough time in the American South.) 

        Online: This is my computer. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. When it’s not doing work, it’s one way to have fun—and I want it to look somehow distinct from the others. (If this one doesn’t make sense to you, you haven’t spent enough time in coffee shops.)

         

        4. The few things you need are one second away. Everything else is a disorganized mess. 

          In War: Helmet? Check. Radio? Check. Canteen? Check. Toenail clippers? Hell if I know. 

          Online: Today’s work? Check. Music and recent photos? Check. Email and calendar? Check. Last year’s tax return? Hell if I know. 

           

          5. Most things visible to the public are broken—or at least, less than pristine. 

            In War: Lots of anonymous buildings are completely dilapidated. Important buildings (like courthouses), while more likely functional, might look like they’re in rough shape. Everyone sees this disrepair, but no one says anything because it’s just normal.

            Online: Lots of anonymous websites are completely out of date, if not buggy and broken. Important sites (like Reddit), while more likely functional, might look like they’re in rough shape. Everyone sees this disrepair, but no one says anything because it’s just normal. 

             

            6. You’re constantly bombarded with things to worry about, pay attention to, or deal with. (And you can’t ask them to stop.) 

              In War: You’re poised and ready for the next threat. Your eyes dart left and right. You’re not sure when, or from exactly where, but you know more is coming.

              Online: You’re poised and ready for the next notification. Your eyes dart left and right, but mostly to the top-right corner. You’re not sure when, or from exactly where, but you know more is coming.

               

              7. You never really know anyone unless you try. But strangers can still be fascinating—and memorable for a lifetime. 

              In War: You can’t afford to get too attached to people because there’s a good chance that—for whatever reason—you won’t see them again. They’re real people, but for now they’re just a name tag on a uniform, and most times it’s better to keep it that way. Still, you’ll find yourself entranced sometimes by strangers and their stories, and you’ll remember them always, even if you forget the people telling them. 

              Online: You can’t afford to get too attached to people because there’s a good chance that—for whatever reason—you won’t see them again. They’re real people, but for now they’re just a username in some app, and most times it’s better to keep it that way. Still, you’ll find yourself entranced sometimes by strangers and their stories, and you’ll remember them always, even if you forget the people telling them.

               

              8. There’s an entire underbelly that most people will never see. 

              In War: There are far, far more technicalities to war than any civilian can think about. Some of these, like rules of engagement, are simple enough conventions to learn. But there’s also a lot of political brokering that has nothing to do with the usual forces people expect (like ideology).  

              Online: There are far, far more technicalities to computers (and the Web) than any typical user can think about. Some of these, like basic cyber-security practices, are simple enough conventions to learn. But there’s also a lot of political brokering that has nothing to do with the usual forces people expect (like worldwide cybersecurity). To get an idea, read about net neutrality. 

               

              9. The more you understand everything that’s happening, the worse you’re likely to feel about all of it. 

                In War: What person can survive the most extreme of human phenomena—much less become good at it, professionally—without going a little crazy?

                Online: What person can master (one of) the most tedious and technical professions known to man—much less become good at it, professionally—without going a little crazy?

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