Four O’Clock in the Morning

There’s an arc of every day.  It’s part of the rhythm that does not bear toe-tapping, unless you pay obsessive attention to the music of time passing. Having just listened to Rives’  The Museum of Four in the Morning TED Talk, I now know this four-in-the-morning time of day has slipped into our consciousness through an amazing array of songs, poems, births, sound clips and more. But why is it so popular?!

I am not a four-in-the-morning person. It’s clearly after three a.m., and strictly before five. I get that. Five is, in fact, a reasonable time to wake up. Really. Especially if you have logged seven hours, starting at 9 o’clock the previous night. Who does that, though?

Songs and soundbites notwithstanding,  it seems to me that four o’clock in the morning detaches the night from the next day. Absolutely 3 a.m. is still night. But four? It’s a catch… a ladder’s top rung before descending to the waiting earth of the next waking day. It’s the window almost shut or almost open. It’s the glass half full. This, in essence, is its allure. It beckons. It promises. It is Groucho and Billy Collins, and Rives. It’s THE sound bite.

It’s not a time of day that you think about until you do. And then it drives you nuts. Ask Rives.

Publish… or Perish

Paul Nicklen, photographer for National Geographic, states in his TED talk of March 2011 that National Geographic reminds him quite frequently, “We publish pictures not excuses.” As business people, we can only sell our products, not excuses. We can only sell our services, not excuses.

 

The growth and survival of our companies depend on this tenant. In fact, many companies over the years have unfortunately found that excuses kill. Sometimes excuses are the inability to see the changes before their eyes. Example in an eerily related industry: Kodak. Film cameras and film have all but ceased to exist. The successful slogan “Kodak moment” so well marketed, disappeared from the viewfinder, and they must shudder at their lack of vision. (Pardon all the puns.) They have no excuse. Their pictures go unpublished.

 

This week, IBM has had to retrench in a flurry of unexcused excuses. An Apple? Oh, golly our loyalties are fleeting, and trending shorter.

 

All the more reason to keep in mind that you can only publish pictures, not excuses, and if you don’t — perish.