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All posts from August 2019

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628: What The World Beats Out Of You, Sets You Apart

Whether you’re a founder, designer, project manager or customer service rep, the world beats some things out of you.

And it’s the things it beats out of you, that set you apart…if you can hold on to them.

Traits that slip

It remains a fascination to me how things like decorum, decency and honor – things we should extend to all human beings anyway – are so frequently deemed stand-out features among leaders.

Being a good person… looking for the best in others… going the extra mile… showing respect whatever the weather… these things shouldn’t make us special.

Yet they do.

Most teams are riddled with those who lose these traits. Yours need not be one of them.

During the storms

Storms will come. They do for every business.

How we behave during the storms is all that matters.

It’s easy to be nice when everything is nice. It’s easy to be fun when everything is fun. It’s easy to be glum when everything looks glum.

Leadership kicks in when we change the way things are, to how they should be.

The world may try to beat you down, but we choose whether to let these traits slip, and we choose how to behave during the storms.

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627: Bigger VS Better

SurveyMonkey spent almost a billion dollars in three years, didn’t grow, and still posted losses. How come?

Bigger isn’t always better.


We like ‘bigger’. Bigger gets you on the cover of Inc Magazine. Bigger makes you move to Silicon Valley and go on hiring sprees. Bigger is “successful”.

But bigger isn’t always profitable. Often the opposite is true, training a team to get good at spending money for a living, rather than earning it.

And bigger isn’t always impactful. Usually, cause-driven contributions are not only absent, but an immoral misrepresentation of investor funding.

So if ‘bigger’ doesn’t help you generate profit and make an impact, what’s the alternative?


We don’t often look at ‘better’ very much. ‘Better’ doesn’t make headlines in quite the same way.

There may not be as many zeros in ‘better’s earnings report. And spending time away from their core competencies to create a sustainable, meaningful impact in the lives of their team and their communities doesn’t move them any close to making those zeros happen.

But it’s ‘better’ that tends to change the culture. ‘Better’ is what takes responsibility for real problems, with the freedom to tackle them without shareholder judgement.

Being both ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ is also an option. But your culture is determined in part by how you’d choose, if it were a choice.

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626: Bring Emotions To The Conversation

Ever heard someone say, “Check emotions in at the door”?

We hear it regularly during discussions about sales calls, client meetings, and the like.

It’s missing the point entirely:

Their emotions are the point

Those you wish to serve have a problem. One that is felt.

Felt strong enough to drive them to search the web, ask Siri, or pick up the phone to make the problem go away.

If there were no emotional connection with the problem, you wouldn’t be having that conversation with them in the first place.

To suppose emotions do not belong in that conversation is to suppose the conversation shouldn’t happen. Or indeed, that the act of solving it might be extraneous. That doesn’t bode well for the future of your business.

Your emotions are not the point

Because it’s not about you.

Whether you relate to the way they describe the problem or not isn’t the point. There’s something to be learned there.

Whether they understand – or value – the way you solve the problem isn’t the point. There’s something to be taught there.

Empathizing with their emotions – while keeping yours out of the picture – not only helps with closing deals and serving clients, it’s also the respectful thing to do.

They’re hurting.


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625: Paying The Best Rates Is A Losing Battle

We all know that trying to be the cheapest option in the marketplace isn’t a good strategy.


Because people won’t choose you because of who you are, or why you do it, or indeed for any reason at all aside from the fact that you were cheapest.

If we look at the ‘talent poaching’ plays of Silicon Valley, we’ll see the precise same thing happening at some of their largest brands.

How so?

Because people don’t choose their team because of who they are, or why they do it, or indeed for any reason at all aside from the fact that they paid more.

Offering affordable products and being paid for your skills are both important. But alone, they’re both short-sighted plays that lack vision, mission, or the gift of belonging to something that matters.

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624: Will You Still Be Here Tomorrow?

Comments on most blogs are rarely all that interesting.

But one discussion, covering updates to a popular banking product, really caught my eye this weekend.

The product was regarded as being the most feature-rich outside of unfavorable, bloated alternatives. It was described as being the individual’s top pick.

But they then went on to describe how a product with fewer (even basic) features, that was less fit-for-purpose in their particular case, was fast becoming there new market preference.

How can this be?

A case for trust

The ‘lesser’ competitor was not winning in features and functionality. But they were starting to win on trust.

They had transparent development practices and roadmaps, so everyone knew what was coming and when. They had a very small – but active – community with strong engagement and support. You knew what was going on, and you knew people cared about the work.

A case for tomorrow

The lacking of these elements led the commenter to fear their former-favorite tool could “close down at any moment”, citing they had consequently spent years also using a backup product “just in case”.

Paying twice, to use two products, “just in case” the favorite/popular option disappeared. All because there was no transparency and no perceivable community.

The quality of the product is only a part of one’s decision to take action.

The world surrounding that product – trust in the company, trust that others care, trust they will still be here tomorrow – matters even more.

Will you be here tomorrow?

It’s one of the reasons why companies like have such loyal supporters – there is transparency from the company and there is a promise to still be there tomorrow.

Similarly, it’s one of the reasons why we roll our eyes when Google announces another messaging platform – they tell us nothing, and they’ve a track- record of terminating their work without warning.

Will you be here tomorrow? Does the market know that?

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623: The Accidental Scammer

Can an internet scammer be so, accidentally?

I wrestled with this question in an attempt to reconcile the delta between how businesses behave and what businesses believe. Of those who appear to be scammers, “Surely, they know what they’re doing?”

Some know what they’re doing

Of course, some know precisely what they’re doing.

They’re intimately aware of the psychological marketing tools available to us, many of which can be used to manipulate and coerce resources out of the hands of others.

And so they do.

The resource matters more than the reputation. The money, more than the moral justification for finding a better way.

Some don’t know what they’re doing

You may be – or may have been at a point in time – in this category.

The ‘accidental scammers’ don’t know that they’re in this category.

The businesses who found their product or service to be undesirable in the market, or those who found a modicum of success but are struggling to increase their numbers.

These folks, in an act of well-meaning ignorance, sometimes start trying every trick in the book to get you to do the thing they want you to do.

They begun inadvertently setting traps for those they claim to have a heart to serve, succumbing to the sensational, baseless falsehoods of pop-marketing in an attempt to move the needle. All with good intentions, but without realizing the damage they’re doing to their reputations along the way.

Some wake to the idea of showing up for those they wish to serve, and serving them. Of helping people in order to help them.

Others remain trapped in a web of ‘low-stock’ eBooks and unrelenting pop-ups.

Each of us makes the choice. Do we look for ways to serve and make a real difference, or force short-term sales at the expense of a long-term vision?

You can always get money back, service back, opportunity back, strategic advantage back… but it’s much harder to get reputation back.