The more time you seem to have on your hands, the more valuable that time is.
The more time you seem to have on your hands, the more valuable that time is.
is to stand up for what you believe in, in the face of near unanimous opposition.
But because the majority is so often wrong there are so many opportunities. Will you step up?
When you're selling to the CEO or president or chairman, you're going straight to the top. And because of this, you think you need to sound and look like a servant, like a sycophant, like a supplicant with hat in hand. You do everything you can to remind him that he's in charge and you're merely offering a modest amount of assistance.
The thing is, they didn't get there where they are by being subservient, sycophantic and begging for business. They got there because they believed that they belonged there and did the things they needed to do to get there.
So you got in the door! What are you going to do to get out of the door with a sale, with a partner, with a relationship of respect?
Dan Ariely talks often about the "pain of paying." He argues that financial transactions where you don't actually see the money dwindling cause less pain, and can lead to overspending. For example, you may stay with a gym that automatically deducts your membership fees from your bank account each month, even if you don't go! Because there is little pain of paying.
But if you had to physically pay with cash from your wallet every month, the pain of paying might make you rethink continuing your membership. His advice: if you're trying to spend less, use cash more.
Unfortunately, spending time is the ultimate automatic deduction. There is no physical currency associated with it. We don't see it happening. Thus when we procrastinate, there isn't much pain of paying. And so we delay.
But pain doesn't just happen to us...we have the power to create it on purpose. Focus on the terrible consequences of procrastination...what will be lost, what will never be gained.
And pain isn't the only motivator. Feel in advance the wonderful feelings of accomplishment too. These two forces combined in the right amounts, can produce the right kind of motivation.
Usually we have a nice cacophony of disagreements and competition going on in any particular industry. In rare instances, you find one voice on one side and the rest of an industry on the other. The lone voice is dismissed as a nutcase, a crazy person just seeking attention.
But listen carefully. They may turn out wrong but they have strong voices. And these strong voices wouldn't sound so strong if others were echoing them in chorus.
When they turn out right, a lot of people find themselves caught on the wrong side of the track and there is a lot of pain from the unwinding and purging. When they're wrong - no one notices. Think about the asymmetry of outcomes and ask yourself if it pays to be a gadfly.
I'll let you judge for yourself:
Georges Van Hoegaerden - Venture Capital Industry
Loren Feldman - Web 2.0
Michelle Rhee - Public Education
Maddox - Everything?
Czech President Vaclav Claus - Global Climate Change
Does anyone know of other gadflies to add to this list?
Today I unsubscribed from over 50 e-mail subscriptions that have been cluttering my inbox for months (years maybe). My Iphone is 2 ounces lighter.
None of them will be missed. All of these companies had a real opportunity...and each one of them blew it. They've had a powerfully direct and instant access of communication to me for years. And how have they leveraged this intimate channel? With irritatingly constant reminders of trivial discounts, promotions, and other "important" updates.
I'm taking a stand and I hope you will too. I've allowed these emails to continue to intrude my inbox for this long because of the simple hassle of clicking through to unsubscribe. But we vote with our actions. And in the eyes of the average mass marketer not opting-out is interpreted as an emphatic vote of "YES".
So I encourage you to go through your inbox and unsubcribe from e-mail subscriptions that aren't useful to you, that don't add value, that you won't miss when they're gone (I think you'll be shocked at how many that amounts to). Send a message to all marketers that your trust and attention is too valuable to be treated so casually.
And even if you're not interested in taking a stand, the reduced stress, frustration, and digital overwhelm of a less cluttered inbox is more than enough reason to do it.
I really mean it. In fact, many of you are subscribed to this blog, and I hope you find it valuable. If you don't, I encourage you to unsubscribe too. This is a privilege...and we don't take it lightly.
There are so many things to do! How do you prioritize?
Before you can ship a great novel, web app, blog post, sales proposal, whatever it is that you're trying to ship...
You first have to ship YOURSELF. The version of you that is the very best. The version that is brave, committed, and generous.
Too predictable and you'll bore them.
Too many surprises and you'll scare them.
The balance between predictability and surprise requires constant effort and and attention to get right. In fact, it can be an exhausting exercise. But when you do get it right, you create raving fans who will reward you with their attention...and more importantly their loyalty.
Malls are dying. You usually have to go see something to believe it. However, if you haven't been to one lately because you do most your shopping on the Web and FedEx visits you more than your friendly postman, this isn't so incredible.
The easy explanation is that everyone is buying everything off the Web. In reality, only a very small portion of your spending is transacted online. You still spend most your money offline. Easy to blame the Web but it isn't the culprit for the death of the American mall.
Malls are dying because they were designed for a different era. They worked marvelously at a time when throngs of people all wanted to congregate and buy the same things. Malls were the ultimate mass market machinery. Every Abercrombie & Fitch store is the same across the land. Every mall housed a Gap. The only thing remarkable about every new mall was how big it could be built to break the previous size record and squeeze more mass market retailers onto every floor.
This isn't about square footage vs. bytes. This is about the masses rejecting mass marketing.
One of the scarcest traits, rarely found, is the ability and willingness to be persuaded.
Strangely, while most people individually will agree on it's value, I think societally we've deemed it a sign of weakness. We seem to glorify those who remain steadfast in their positions and "stick to their guns" no matter what, instead of those weak willed individuals who are sold on an alternate idea and "flip flop".
I think this stems from the experiences we've all had of being manipulated, and more importantly manipulating others. We know both feelings all to well and they shape us.
The truth is this apparent vulnerability is one of the greatest strengths one can possess. True leaders know this. True leaders don't care about the perceptions. True leaders change their minds.
If you're going to have something in your marketing repertoire, use it.
How many companies have blogs attached to their corporate websites?
How many are inactive? Abandoned?
If it shows up, it either has a positive effect or it has a negative effect. Rarely do things have no effect.
How many of these neglected "blogs" are the result of a "social media guru" waving his hands emphatically and convincing their clients that blogging was easy and would result in massive new traffic and business?
Worse, how many of these stagnant blogs are the result of a senior executive looking around at the changing world and deciding that he needed to follow what everyone else was doing?
for god's sake, where's the love?
What about the intangibles? What's the soul of your business? What are undeniable values that you believe in? What's the spirit that's nonverbally communicated by everything you do? Do you stand for something?
Many business people have been avoiding "touchy feely" like the plague for the longest time, but it's turning out this is becoming the greatest competitive advantage.
Now, more than ever, people don't buy what you do...they buy why you do it.
As a rockstar, you have a couple or more opportunities to choose from. Organizations are constantly wooing you to join them or you rock out on interviews and receive multiple offers.
Which do you choose?
If you're like most people, you might make a list of pros and cons.
Or you might take a look at the potential salaries and just choose the one offering you the most moolah. Related to that are the different titles you're being offered so you might choose the title that may be most prestigious.
Or you consider where these opportunities are located. You might want to get out of the big city. Or you might want to go where the lights are always on. Different strokes for different folks.
Well, you're pretty smart so you look at the different industries and figure out which one has the brightest growth prospects. A rising tide lifts all boats. You can't be faulted for making a decision from this angle.
But if you're wise, you'll choose the people behind those opportunities and teams. You'll look for an absence of assholes. You'll look for linchpins. You'll look for good people. Because in the end, teams with good people win more often than not.
There are a ton of factors you can consider before making a choice.
Choose people first. Industry future potential is a close second.
There's a reason why so few music artists become successful actors (or vice versa).
That's because the world likes to categorize us. And once we establish our personal brand (whether it be in our company, our community or on a much more public stage)...it can be mighty difficult to change.
And yes, we all have a personal brand (although some are more defined then others). So one of the most important decision you can make for your career and your life, is regarding your personal brand: over time, will you expand it's scope, will you contract it, or will you leave it the same?
As we mature in our professions or careers, many are compelled to take on more. It might be curiosity, or just boredom, but many feel tempted to venture into other fields, experiment with different roles, expand the boundaries of our expertise.
But from a purely brand perspective, this can weaken your overall personal brand. As Trout and Reis explained decades ago, the scope and power of your brand, run counter to each other.
Think products. As a clothing brand expands into perfume, not only is establishing authority in perfume going to be tough...just the very act of heading into perfume, can ruin the perceived brand of your clothes.
But I don't think we should necessarily manage our lives like we manage products. So I'm not suggesting the only or even the best thing to do is to focus your personal brand. My only suggestion is to decide in advance. Do it intentionally. Or else the world will decide your brand for you.
When I watch my beloved Red Sox play on TV, I sometimes turn the volume off. The experience is completely different while the results remain the same.
The play-by-play commentary adds a layer of story, reason, explanation, learning, jargon, myth, etc.
We don't do enough play-by-play in business. We only see the results and not the story behind them.
We often use ambigous language to shield ourselves from reality.
We say we want get "healthy" because it's easier to say than "lose 30 pounds".
I made "some" sales calls yesterday...hides the fact that we only made "3".
Declaring to our colleagues that someday we'd like to run for a "national office" because we're too embarrassed to say "I want to run for President."
Words are incredibly powerful (much more powerful than most of us will ever realize). They have the power to create and the power to destroy. Often times, the only thing preventing you from making the changes you need to make, is the words you use to desribe them. Choose wisely.
With the recent spectacular success of Zappos, a lot of people are paying attention once again to culture and customer service. Combine the two and you get a culture of customer service.
So you have a lot of corporate executives all of a sudden worrying about culture and launching initiatives to fix their corporate cultures.
There are only a few instances in an organization's life where you can drastically change culture.
The first one is obvious - during the formation of the organization. Even today's big companies were startups once. The founders set the tone and culture is formed.
The next one is during a management upheaval. A new CEO takes the reins and if he or she has a strong enough personality, is aware and desirous of culture change, that CEO can drive it. A lot of heads roll in order for culture to change drastically.
Finally, culture undergoes a shock when there is a large merger or acquisition. This is when two divergent cultures come together and something entirely new emerges.
So what does this mean?
In the above three instances, two of them are dependent on leadership at the top. If you're a leader of an organization and you want to change the culture, you must first change yourself.
It's less like a divine spirit that overtakes your body like the smoke monster from LOST.
Creativity is more like pulling a rabbit from a hat. It looks like magic to everyone else, but not to the magician. Any third rate magician should be able to do it on command...everytime without fail.
Steven Pressfield calls this "going pro." It's the realization that the artist (and we're all artists) has a clear job and that's to produce. He has an obligation to put himself on the line which involves performing his art no matter what. And if he truly does work that matters he should be able to do it consistently, on command...without fail (whether he feels creative or not).
My friend Curtis Williams is an artist. This past summer instead of waiting on creativity, he did something better...he decided on it.
Curtis declared that he would produce one new song, every single week for an entire year. And 32 songs later...he's still on track. It's a simple idea...but certainly a remarkable one. (If you get a chance, stop by Curtis' page, check out what he's doing...and show him some love)
What is creativity? In essence, it's a habit. One that strengthens with use, and deteriorates with disuse. Creativity doesn't precede creation...creation precedes creativity.
If you live in the tech or web startup world, you've probably heard of Michael Arrington remarking that his VC friends are concerned that angel investors prolifically funding companies with small rounds of seed capital are training a whole generation of entrepreneurs to build "dipshit companies that sell to Google for $25 million ."
But who does this criticism serve? Not the entrepreneurs. Nor the angels. Only VCs benefit if the status quo doesn't change. Gone are the days when starting a tech company costs millions of dollars because equipment and bandwidth costs were astronomical. So gone are the days when VCs held all the power.
This is of course not a good trend for venture capitalists. They don't get to play in the seed rounds and they're not needed when Google or Yahoo! or Facebook comes calling with $25 million.
But this trend points to an even more interesting dynamic. $25 million is nothing to sneeze at but it's a small fraction of a fraction of the cash held by giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft. And the mergers and acquisitions game never really played at such small scale. Companies used to sell for hundreds of millions of dollars and the pressure to make M&A work was enormous.
At such small prices, the pressure to make mergers work decreases tremendously. Large companies can afford to make many more such transactions and only need to be right a few times. Gone are the days of AOL and Time Warner making a huge mess of things and thousands of jobs hanging in the balance. Google's acquisitions of Dodgeball and Jaiku didn't work out but that didn't put a dent on the bottom line. Facebook's acquisitions of FriendFeed and Divvyshot might just make feeds and photos exponentially better. Condé Nast swallowed Reddit and the whole company might be getting smarter about making content more social throughout its portfolio of brands and titles. Large companies should undertake more of these inexpensive experiments.
Place your bets Corporate America! Dipshit companies can make winners out of entrepreneurs, angel investors and large corporations. Only venture capitalists lose out on this action. But fear not my VC friends. Find that crazy entrepreneur who won't sell for a mere $25 million and you might just have the next Facebook on your hands.
in the meantime, let us all hope we see more dipshit companies being snatched up by giants or would-be giants.
In an era of information overload, the role of the tastemaker is critical, and extremely valuable.
And in it, both the quantity and quality of recommendations directly impact the power of your recommendation--your Word.
As the number of recommendations you make goes up, the weight of each recommendation goes down. Scarcity creates value. For example if you make one recommendation a year, that creates a very different dynamic than making one recommendation each day.
The quality of every recommendation affects all future recommendations. If your last recommendation was bad...it negatively impacts your next one. If your last 10 recommendations are bad...people probably aren't listening anymore.
If you're a tastemaker, understanding and manipulating how these factors influence your greatest asset...your follower's trust and attention, is one of the most important challenges (and opportunities) on the table.