Beautiful Words

When I was a burgeoning writer in middle school, I was taught that the most beautiful word/phrase in the English language is “cellar door”. It has stuck with me all this time because, frankly, don’t get it. The double L and soft C are great, and I could buy cellar as a beautiful word on its own, but door throws it all off. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

In any case, to be filed as one of the most random things you’ll read this week, here’s a list of some of my favorite words, from an acoustic and phonetic perspective:

  • Candle: This is probably my favorite word in the English language. At first it seems as if it will be harsh, opening with a hard C. But the combination of three consonants in the middle of the word has the wonderful sound of warmth.
  • Hush: Borderline onomatopoeic, the aftermath of saying this word fills the silence that it’s supposed to evoke. The bookend Hs really pull their weight here. It also can carry a lot of meaning, working in all emotions, and even as a potential name for protagonists and antagonists alike.
  • Atlas: First, a confession – The inclusion of atlas as a beautiful word may have a lot more to do with my upbringing or affinity for maps than it’s actual construction as a word. But bear with me. The tl digraph here is up there with candle’s trigraph as a beautiful grouping to me. Acoustically, as in candle, the combination of letters also demarcates a new syllable, and I find beauty in that. Together it creates visual beauty, apart the digraph leads to aural beauty.
  • Flurry: Flurry takes the double consonant beauty of cellar to the next level. The F, softened slightly by its neighbor, is a great beginning as well. Upon hearing, it also evokes both ends of the speed spectrum: either a wild throw of punches or the soft falling of winter’s first snow.
  • Salt: This word provides just as much flavor as the compound it represents. Alongside the next word in the list, it’s also one of the hardest sounding words on the list, at least to my ears. But that doesn’t stop it from being gorgeous. Easy to say, easy to read, it’s a fantastic word to utilize in a number of ways. Seasoning, emotional pettiness, the sprinkling of actual rocks to accomplish a task like melting ice. Salt is a real utility player while looking good all the while.
  • Horizon: Perhaps an odd inclusion in the list, as the z in the middle of the word jumps out like an unwelcome blemish on one’s face. But in fact, it’s the ending of the word that truly sets it apart for me. Granted, the worst part of the word is the “or”, which is the same phonetic sound I dislike in cellar door. But the hard I and the flourish of an ending more than makes up for it.

Have you ever thought about the aesthetic value of the words we use regularly? What are some of your favorite words?

Discovering Darkstar

The other day, I had a morning meeting in the NoHo neighborhood in Manhattan. Knowing that I would want a cup of coffee prior, I left a bit earlier than usual to stop into my normal haunt in that neighborhood: the La Colombe on Lafayette. I left the Broadway-Lafayette stop, walked a few blocks, and opened the door to a throng of people. The place was packed, and I was not about to wait in that line for a slightly-above-average cup of coffee.

So what to do? I did a quick Google search for coffee spots between my location and the meeting, knowing for sure that I’d have to settle for subpar coffee. I found a spot only a block away on Great Jones that had solid reviews and decided to stop in. I’m glad I did.

Darkstar Coffee & Espresso is one of my new favorite spots in the city. It’s a sister coffee bar to the next door audiophile store (full of high-end headphones), and they use that to their advantage. Walking in, I heard the beautiful notes of jazz played through a tube amplifier setup. The gentleman behind the counter was courteous, knowledgeable, and personable. Counter Culture beans. My cappuccino was delicious.

And I couldn’t stop thinking about the crowd at La Colombe just a block away. How many people in that crowd would enjoy Darkstar just as much? How many people would enjoy it more? DarkStar, by comparison, was empty. I found out from conversing with the barista that they’d been open well over a year. No crowd. No throng of people. Better experience, better product.

 

They have those God-awful punch loyalty cards. I’m sure they do minimal marketing of some form. But other than that, how does a small business owner in a market like New York get the word out? Word of mouth is the primary channel, obviously.

If nothing else, this thinking has made me even more bullish on what we’re building at Exeq. I’m grateful for an opportunity to build technology that impacts the way we spend as consumers…and the success of fantastic businesses like Darkstar.

If you’re ever in NoHo, check it out. It’s great. And if you see me in the corner, say hi.

Hello World!

I’ve blogged off & on for years, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve spun one up. That said, I’ve a lot of different thoughts in my head that I’d love to get out. If you’re interested in any of them, feel free to add this to your favorite feed reader of choice.  For a bit about what you’re getting yourself into, check out the following:

About Me

I’m the father of 3 daughters. I’m a Christian most of the time. I’m a startup CEO. I love my country dearly. I’m cynical about most things, but also an avowed futurist. Wizards > Prophets. Borderline sociopath, over-the-border narcissist. Closet introvert. I love baths. I can clap with one hand. I love reading and the Nintendo Switch. Cigars are great. I travel a ton and eat even more. I often leave awful first impressions and great thirtieth impressions. Upper millennial living in New York; lower class Southerner.

What I’ll Write About

I’m a firm believer that startup CEOs should work and execute a lot more than they write and philosophize. That said, writing is a huge part of my thought process. It’s a way for to gain clarity on some things I’m thinking through and working on. Considering that, I’ll write on a little.bit of everything, but primarily startup dynamics, leadership lessons, and fintech/commerce-tech. Sprinkled throughout will be cultural notes on what I’ve been reading or listening to. Occasionally I’ll throw some travel notes or life notes in as well. Hope you enjoy!