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Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 27 2021
One dimensional

One dimensional

You’re not one dimensional, right?

Our social footprints tell a different story:

Publishing only-professional content is one dimensional: we only get to see your keynote, but don’t get to hang out after the talk. We want to see the behind-the-scenes you, too!

Publishing only-expert content is one dimensional: we know you’re not wearing that business suit in the supermarket or at your kid’s game. Friends get to see that version of you. You want to be friends, right?

It’s hard, seeing the story we’re telling through other people’s eyes. Especially when it’s inconvenient for us to do so.

Consider this a loving reminder to keep trying at bringing a 3D you to the world.

I’m trying, too.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 26 2021
A 95% failure rate is a good thing

A 95% failure rate is a good thing

95% of startups fail.

That’s a lot. We often wish the number would be smaller.

But should we?

Failing isn’t a bad thing. It’s a stepping stone toward what comes next.

A 95% failure rate means lots of stepping stones, and lots of things that come next.

Lots of things coming next means lots of opportunities to improve our understanding of the needs of those we wish to serve.

That understanding creates better work, helping more people with more problems, resulting in a greater contribution to the market and to society.

A 95% failure rate represents the entrepreneurial spirit, an opportunity to create better work, and a recommitment to those we make that work for.

That all sounds pretty good to me!

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 25 2021
Pride In Progress

Pride In Progress

It feels great to make something great.

But don’t forget about having pride in the progress:

A great interview is worth sharing… but so is the story of how it came to be. And so is the happy faces that went into producing it, bloopers and all. And so is a teaser for us all to get excited about, joining you on the journey. Invite us along.

A great new product is worth sharing… but so is the journey of discovery while you figured it out. And so are the lessons that you learned along the way, for others on journeys like yours, and for those who are eager for the solution you have in mind. We want to be excited about your work too. Invite us along.

What you’re working on right now may be great.

Be proud of what you’ve done.

But be proud of what you’re doing right now, too.

Invite us along. We want to join you.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 24 2021
Social Media, Sophists and Philosophers

Social Media, Sophists and Philosophers

Question: should you say what gets the most likes, or what is right?

Discussing social strategies today reminded me of reading about the Sophists and the Philosophers back in the days of Socrates and Epictetus.

See, ‘Sophists’ were basically ‘public speakers’ of the day. They’d go from town to town speaking to crowds of wealthy men, saying basically whatever would create the most applause. If quoting Socrates got applause (and money), they’d keep doing it. Then they’d switch gears as soon as a competing Sophist was getting more attention using another message.

In many ways, their pandering to applause was an ancient social media algorithm.

Conversely, the great Stoic philosophers spoke of virtue – courage, wisom, temperance, justice – and of living virtuously regardless of what got applause at the time. They got less ‘Likes’. Yet marvels like Marcus Auralius’ “Meditations” and Seneca’s Letters continue to to be remembered to this day.

To my knowledge, the words of the Sophists are no longer anywhere to be found.

Not always popular, but always on-brand.

As you go about networking and promoting your body of work, consider each time you post…

…Are you the Sophist, or the Philosopher?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 23 2021
The other side of friendships

The other side of friendships

That marketing opportunity you’re looking for? It might be on the other side of a friendship. If you don’t build rapport with others, you won’t build much else with them, either.

That strategic partnership you’re hoping to find? It might be on the other side of a friendship. People who like you share you with people they like.

That product, service, connection, intro or resource, access you’re looking for? It might be on the other side of a friendship. We share what we have with people we like.

Say hi. Be kind. Go first. Eat last. Wonders occur on the other side of friendships.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 22 2021
Redefining Progress

Redefining Progress

I had a very confident email arrive today.

Without naming names, it said, “Why choose us? Let us count the ways.”

None of the ways they counted had anything to do with me. They featured reports they outranked competitors on and research firms that named them an industry ‘leader’…

…But we don’t choose products because we believe they were good for others. We choose products because we believe they’ll be good for us.

Industry awards feel like lovely validations of your work, and are nice morale boosters among the team.

But when we truly know our choice of market, and we create uniquely for them, the rules change.

We may still meet conventional industry criteria, we may not. Making the best conventional product is no longer the point. Making the best for our chosen market becomes the point.

As you and your team pursue excellence in your body of work, consider defining progress as your ability to meet the unique needs of your people, rather than your ability to mirror your peers.

Those in your care won’t need convincing to join, or stay, or to spread the word.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 21 2021
The market isn’t as it sounds

The market isn’t as it sounds

Go on social media and you’ll find vocal proponents and opponents of almost any industry, industry practice or market trend.

We think that’s the opinion of the market. But the market isn’t as it sounds:

Those who speak, can’t not. They self-select from passion. They represent the meta and amplify what they believe matters.

Then there’s the rest. They chose not to engage vocally. Some may listen to what is being said, others pay no attention whatsoever. This is most people in most markets.

The market isn’t always as it sounds.

In our pursuit of meaningful work, we learn a lot from stepping away from the social stadiums and into real, one-on-one conversations with regular, quiet people.

People who belong to that same market.

They need your help, too.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 20 2021
Cooler than fast

Cooler than fast

Hustle is fast. Fast is cool.

Slowing down is cooler:

When we slow down, we empathise better. Fast means we don’t have the headspace to get into their headspace, resulting in relational breakdowns that need intentional repair. That’s not really fast though, is it?

When we slow down, we understand, and are understood. Fast leads to rushing our writing, creating confusion, and waiting to fix the mess on a call at a time that suits everyone. That’s not really fast though, is it?

When we slow down, we create better work. Fast leads to cut corners and suboptimal process, resulting in work we’re not proud of and risks needing us to do it over again. That’s not really fast though, is it?

How can you slow it down a bit this week?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 19 2021
Control your connection

Control your connection

I first started publishing online around 2000.

We would bookmark our favourite sites to go back to. We controlled our connection with each other.

By 2005, RSS feeds and newsletter subscriptions became widely adopted, so we could connect more deeply with our audiences. We still controlled our connection.

By 2010, social media started to rise. We could chat on social media (rented land we had no control over) as well as our email relationships. We (mostly) controlled our connection.

Fast-forward to today. Social is the primary method of connection for most of us. Paying to be seen and negotiating accidental algorithm bans both introduce new boundaries to manage. We have (mostly) lost control of our connection.

I hope we see a bigger return to email and blogs. Creators deserve to connect with their audiences, and subscribers deserve to hear from those they’re interested in.

I have an email subscribe option on this blog. It’s my primary method of connection. Because I want real conversations with you, whenever we want to chat.

Let’s connect – subscribe and reply with your thoughts on the comics. I’m really looking forward to hearing from you!

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 18 2021
Glad to Pay

Glad to Pay

A new customer paid! Woohoo!

But where they glad to pay?

We often treat all payments as equal. They’re not:

Some payments we make because we have to. Bank fees. The piece of software that overcharged you last week and tried to explain it away. No good feelings there.

Some payments were glad to make. I’m glad to pay our email provider because of the relationship we have with them. I’m glad to pay our team because of how much they mean to us and the value they bring.

Not having a conventionally “fun” product or service does not mean those you serve won’t be glad to pay you… if you invest in over-delivering with value and care.

Having a conventionally “fun” product does not give you a free pass from delivering value or showing you care.

Are your customers glad to pay?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 17 2021
The 58%

The 58%

Got a coach?

42% of businesses don’t, y’know.

Those 42% don’t think it’s worth the time, energy or money.

But they do think it’s worth regularly stating:

“If only I’d spotted and done something about that six months ago.”

“I dunno how to get past this hurdle, I guess we just try harder?”

“Man I’ve been meaning to get around to this, but ugh, I’ll put it in for next Monday and see how we get on.”

If you’ve said any of these things, it could be time to try having a coach.

The best sports players have coaches to reach their potential. We all need you to reach yours.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 16 2021
We can do better

We can do better

I’m not into football and I’m not an astronaut. And yet:

Bullying 19 year old Bukayo Saka who performed at the top of his class in a zero-sum game is juvenile. We can be a better example to young people. We can do better.

Quibbling over whether Branson went to ‘actual space’ or based on varying interpretations of “where space starts” mottles the intended message of adventure and potential with mere ego. We can do better.

A predictable, expected 38% spike in domestic violence (since a study performed seven years ago) following the World Cup final this week is a failing on every level. Women deserve better.

Our participation in the marketplace is a participation in society. We get to change the culture with our work.

We have work to do.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 15 2021
Faux-Productivity

Faux-Productivity

Looked for any productivity tips lately?

Watch out for faux-productivity, it’s a place to hide:

Taking your phone to the bathroom so you can clear your inbox and outbox at the same time isn’t a productivity hack. It’s a place for insecurity to hide. A few moments with your own thoughts has become uncomfortable for many these days!

Supposing that more hours at the computer = more work done isn’t a productivity hack. It’s a place for procrastination to hide. If time at the desk was reserved only for actually-productive (or creative) activities (rather than being sprinkled in with the 1-2 topical news sites you can’t go an hour without checking) think how much more you’d get done!

Upgrading your phone for speed gains isn’t a productivity hack. It’s a place for shiny object syndrome to hide. If your greatest limiting factor is how quickly your web browser or mail app opens or shuts down, we’d all love to learn your secrets!

Nothing wrong with work breaks, bathroom breaks and new toys.

But when we recognise them as faux-productivity hacks, that frees us up to engage more fully with genuinely productive tasks – and take breaks as needed – without confusing the two.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 14 2021
Your audience, your stage

Your audience, your stage

When we talk about having an “audience”, we’re often stuck in the past:

The old modal of audience connection: “I am on stage, you listen to me.”

You got permission to get on stage, people showed up, you said your piece.

“Stage” could be a literal theatre stage. It could be on one of the three TV stations available at the time.

That’s over.

The new modal of audience connection: “We are all on stage, we listen to each other.”

We’re all on stage. We do not have a captive audience.

But we can participate in the conversation.

And if we’re lucky, some will stick around to hear what we have to say next.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 12 2021
Issue 2 of Marketing Isn’t About You now available

Issue 2 of Marketing Isn’t About You now available

The second issue of “Marketing Isn’t About You” is now live, as a long-form comic post, and you can read it here.

This issue follows the first issue’s Brand Storytelling comic, covering Storytelling Marketing. It covers how to apply your new storytelling skills to your marketing work.

I hope you love reading it as much as we enjoyed making it for you!

I’m really grateful to have you in our little community here. The long-form “Marketing Isn’t About You” comic posts take a huge amount of time and effort, especially alongside the daily posts here! I hope you’ll enjoy the content as much as I do creating it for you.

Enjoy the issue!

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 12 2021
How ‘hustle’ slows you down

How ‘hustle’ slows you down

Ever noticed how product and business development problems are solved by removing ‘hustle’?

Those who need the sale, struggle to get it. Desperate doesn’t look good on anyone. We like to buy but hate being sold to.

Those who need more opt-ins, get more bounces. The endless pop-ups are easy to escape using the ‘back’ button.

Those who write for algorithms, are read only by bots. People respond when you give them something to belong to.

Those who focus on churn problems, find more churn problems. “Call to cancel” tricks have a habit of making their way onto Twitter.

From less striving for progress, comes less need to strive for it.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 11 2021
Proud of the badge

Proud of the badge

What badges are you most proud of?

Featured in Forbes? Winner of a business award? Certified B Corp? Fair trade?

There are many to choose from. Many to feel proud of.

But what do they all mean?

Not everyone featured in Forbes is a success. Not everyone who shares your certification is of good moral character. We find our pride in badges that associate us with both ideas and strangers. Strangers we claim to be like.

Your brand is the only badge we can really control.

One where it means precisely what it means. One that stands for precisely what you say it stands for. One where you know precisely who you claim to be like.

The badges we can collect have developed meaning.

Perhaps it’s time to invest in defining not only what your brand badge does, but what it means, too.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 10 2021
2 Short Lists

2 Short Lists

Try keeping these 2 short lists today and see how they improve your output.

One is obvious. The other isn’t. Both supercharge with the third step.

List 1: The Actually-Do list. Short, just a few items that you need to actually do today. The push-ups you’ve been putting off. The important task that didn’t get given the priority it needed yesterday.

List 2: The Seriously Don’t-Do list. Short, just a few items that need to not happen today. Not using that negative mindset about that colleague. Not visiting that website you know kills your time and energy.

The third step: Decide what goes on each of the two lists tomorrow.

We don’t need long lists to be productive and create more work that matters.

Sometimes we just need short, succinct reminders to take small steps forward toward our goals, and away from our vices.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 09 2021
The work that doesn’t look like work

The work that doesn’t look like work

Do you struggle with this?

Doing work that doesn’t “look like work”?

Work that looks like work can be batching emails, applying a technical or creative skill, attending meetings, all sort of things. They are commonly considered to be “work”, and so we feel justified in our efforts.

And yet a day with only this kind of work can feel linear, like we didn’t grow, like we didn’t increase momentum.

Work that doesn’t look like work can be thinking. Or reading. Or exploring ideas on paper that don’t work. They are commonly considered to be “having a break” or “procrastinating” or “playing around”, and so we sometimes feel guilty when we do them.

And yet a day without these things can feel linear, like we didn’t grow, like we didn’t increase momentum.

Sheesh: What do we have against asymmetrical returns, growth, and increased momentum?

Maybe it’s time to stop feeling guilty.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
July 08 2021
What to do when you don’t know what to do

What to do when you don’t know what to do

The secret is knowing what to do, when you don’t know what to do.

It’s the only secret:

To build a great team, you don’t need a more exciting industry. You just have to know what to do next.

To create a great marketing message, you don’t need to be a marketing genius. You just have to know what to do next (which is what the Narrative Workshop is for).

To make the best product or service in your market, you don’t need to be a product engineering wizard. You just have to know what to do next.

When something isn’t working, it it’s hard to remember it’s fate dealing you a mortal blow due to a personal failing of yours.

Instead, we simply need to go find out what to do next. The answer probably already exists, and it probably has nothing to do with your perceived personal or industry potential (or lack thereof)

That’s a far less critical, less emotional, less catastrophic place to operate from.

And it might just be the answer to whatever was bugging you this week.

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