Real artists ship.” - Steve Jobs

Where you decide to put your time and attention says a lot about who you are. It says a lot about you as a human being.” - Merlin Mann

It was 2009 when I first heard about Merlin Mann. I somehow stumbled across the audio of Merlin and John Gruber (no relation) giving a talk called HOWTO: 149 Surprising Ways to Turbocharge Your Blog with Credibility!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to that podcast (I really can’t remember it’s been so numerous). It’s hilarious. It’s spot on. If you work on the web and have an ounce of desire to a.) not suck at it, and b.) not be a jerkface about money while trying to create something, it’s worth a listen.


Image from Seth Godin's book, Linchpin.

Fast-forward to 2011. I’m still a Merlin Mann fan and listen regularly to his podcast, Back to Work. There are quite a few nuggets of insight from Merlin’s podcasts and I wanted to keep them around for a good kick-in-the-pants. The problem is, they’re audio – scrubbing through hours of podcasts isn’t the easiest way to access them. So I had an idea: why not transcribe my favorite quotes and stick them on a website?

That idea came in June. I purchased a domain name.

And then I did absolutely nothing.

I have this friend at work, John Williams, who likes to write in his spare time. He’s actually written quite a bit but not many have read his work. Why not? Because John and I had a lot in common. We had these ideas, perhaps we had even worked on them a bit, but we never “shipped” them. They never got out the door for anyone to see.

On Aug. 23, after telling John about my idea for a website of Merlin’s quotes, he challenged me to have it online by Sept. 14. I challenged him to something similar: get your work out in the world on the same day.

The Shipping Challenge was born.

Along the way, we picked up one other “contestant,” my friend, David Eldridge. David has gotten into designing bumper stickers as of late. He’s into politics and history, and threw together some designs that speak to the current political climate. Not many people have seen him and he’d be the first to admit that he wasn’t really shipping. He joined us with the challenge to have something released to the world on Sept. 14.

I’m happy to announce that we all reached our goal.

John Williams

John has made three short stories available at his website, Off Yer Rocker.

David Eldridge

David’s website,, has his origin designs of philo-political bumper stickers. David also designed the website.

Yours Truly

That’s Fine for Merlin …, the curation quotes of Merlin Mann, developed (and transcribed) by me.

The great thing about each of these projects is that it doesn’t matter if you like them. It doesn’t matter that you hate them.

What matters is that we each shipped. We each had an idea, we set a date and then we shipped.

There are loads of reasons of reasons we could not have shipped. John hurt his back two days ago. My sewer line broke last week, causing me to spend thousands of dollars on repair, time off from work, and tons of stress. David’s at the beginning of a transition from one job to the next.

But with that deadline looming, and encouragement, and the understanding that nothing needed to be “perfect” to ship, we all met our goals. What a fantastic example of Parkinson’s Law in full effect.

And now we’re dreaming of the next Shipping Challenge. We’re thinking Oct. 25 as the deadline.

Want in?

One thought on “Shipping

  1. Josh Davis

    Good post Eric. I have said before that projects without deadlines rarely get done, so the idea of you three coming together with a “Shipping Deadline” makes a lot of sense, and even better you all delivered.


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