Well Made #56 Disregarding Rules with Max Temkin

  • I guess I am technically an entrepreneur: For Cards Against Humanity, we didn’t say it would be so cool to start a small business. It was just something we did.

  • I’m only 1/8th of the story for Cards of Humanity: There are 8 people who created Cards Against Humanity. We all own the company equally. We make decisions by consensus.

  • A formative moment for me: I went to the first Creative Mornings talk by Jim Coudal [You can watch that talk here]. He talked about firing his clients and replacing them with his own projects. I applied that mentality. I tried like 8 things. I gave myself a couple of months to see if anything takes off. Cards Against Humanity was by far the dumbest idea that I worked on. But it was the one that took off.

  • Book recommendation: Rework made a huge impression on me.  

  • The FAQ on your website is great. Where do you find all this stuff? I read a lot. I’ll read something and think damn, that’s great. I wish I wrote that. When I find something really cool I copy and paste it in Bear App

  • Apologizing is effective customer service: Just say you’re sorry. Even if it is not your fault. It is free. It doesn’t cost anything. I don’t understand why every company just doesn’t do that. Cards Against Humanity uses Front App for customer service.

  • Great companies have a point of view: Having a point of view makes decisions easy. You know what’s right and wrong.

  • Blackbox is a logistics and fulfillment company. It was created based on everything learned while building Cards Against Humanity: Cards Against Humanity started out using FBA [Amazon]. There were all kinds of issues. We decided to build our own tools. We thought it made sense to spin it off. To make these tools work for other people. 

  • Why is there a giant animation on the Black Box website? I want people to be curious. There is nothing more boring than a shipping company. Go to other shipping companies’ websites and your eyes glaze over. You’ll see the same things. A picture of the globe. Some packages. It is nice to give people some contrast. To show them that we are thinking about it differently.

  • Who uses Blackbox? Independent artists. We are trying to be dominant on Kickstarter. We want to be the go-to answer for how you ship a Kickstarter project. 

  • Why did you need to build your own shopping cart? Most of the shopping carts on the market were pretty bad. They asked you to fill out form fields we know you don’t actually need to fill out. If I am typing in my zip code why are you making me type in my city and state? You could look that up. That’s my time! Don’t make me fill out fields I don’t need to.

  • There are certain problems that will exist forever: Shipping is an infrastructure problem. People need boxes. They needed boxes in the early 1900s. They need boxes today. As long as there is shipping people will need boxes. 

  • Think about the ideal size for your company: I like the idea from Rework about an ideal size. Most companies shoot past their ideal size. They never stop to ask if this is the right size. Their only imperative is to just grow. 

  • Don’t confuse design with the brand: A brand is the accumulated effect of all the experiences and emotions that a person has with a company or product. You could have an amazing logo. But if you have horrible customer service then your brand is the company that makes people feel defeated. I think a lot of companies would do well to have a more broad understanding of what their branding is. Think about all the ways you can show [and not tell] what your brand is all about.

  • Full podcast here.