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650: The Simpler Way

When there’s a simpler way and a complex way, do it the simpler way.

Not to be confused with ‘the easy way’.

The simpler way is always there, it’s just never the one we notice first.

When trying to craft a marketing message, you may find yourself with pages and pages of important things to convey. The simpler way requires sacrificing paragraphs, axing features, and turning the focus away from yourself onto those you wish to serve.

When developing a product for the market, you may dream of all the things it could do, for so many people. The simpler way requires removing many of those things, for many of those people, so it can best serve your chosen few.

When you want to change the world, you may enthusiastically invest in all the areas you wish to create transformation in. The simpler way requires you to focus on that which most needs you right now, and leave the rest for another day.

Looking for the simpler way takes work.

Don’t think you’re doing your work a disservice by ‘lazily’ pursuing the simpler way. The complex way is lazy way.

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649: Answers Aren’t Obvious, Questions Are

How do you transform your thinking?

There are lots of questions we don’t think to ask of ourselves, our peers, or prospects in business. We don’t ask because we deem the answer obvious.

For instance, assuming shoppers at a fashion store will always want the clothes to be cheaper. “Of course they’d want things to be cheaper, that’s a silly question!”

If the question posed to them is, “Would you like cheaper clothes?” The answer will invariably be, “Yes, of course.” The answer is only obvious because the question was obvious.

What if instead the question was something like, “What values do you place on the clothes you wear?” The answer is unlikely to be “Cheapness, I want my things to be cheaper”, is it? Cheapness goes out of the window, now we’re focused on things like manufacturing process, longevity, and sustainability. Suddenly, we’re not looking at price tags anymore.

The answer wasn’t obvious. The question was.

So. How do you transform your thinking, or the thinking of someone else?

Ask yourself – or them – a question that has never been asked.

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648: What’s In The Content Marketing Plan?

There should only be one thing in a content marketing plan.

Regrettably, it always appears to be the last thing to make it into a plan.

Instead we have elaborate articles and sophisticated sequences that omit this one thing.

The process is usually sound, the technology workable, but without this one thing, it’s all for nought. Folks wonder why their content marketing plan fails them, despite constructing things correctly.

The one thing? The recipient.

We sometimes forget that marketing isn’t about you. When we make it about you, it becomes that which you would love to receive. It’s what you’d love to read, or watch, or listen to.

The recipient, though? If it’s not about them, why on Earth would they engage? Share? Care?

If we can remember this one thing, even a feeble content marketing plan can outperform even the most sophisticated alternative.

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647: The Lonely Leader

If a leader has no followers, are they really a leader?

We see this question pop up a lot. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons we’re so often proud of – or lust after – large numbers of followers on social media.

Loneliness has a bad rap. It’s considered to be all-bad. But it serves an important role in the production of leaders and the meaningful work they inspire.

  • Mandela didn’t have any Twitter followers when he stepped into his role of leadership. His eight-by-seven concrete cell had no visitors. But his time alone invariably created margin for the development of his resolve.
  • Branson didn’t turn to legions of fans when he mourned the loss of ventures that failed. From failed vodka and soda lines to failed websites and bridal stores, he’s had more failures than most. But the time he spent on the ground bred the confidence to go for his big wins.
  • Churchill turned to scotch, not Facebook, during his attempts to keep England’s spirits up as Messerschmitts sailed over the channel. Yet he managed to inspire a nation to hold its morale up despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

That which makes loneliness bad, also makes it good: it’s a compass. It’s a call to action; to gather your thoughts, managers, or family together to connect.

Thoughts need to connect. That’s where ideas come from.

Teams need to connect. That’s what puts ideas into motion.

What makes you lonely? Go there and learn the lesson it’s trying to teach you.

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646: Saying Goodbye

It’s hard when someone passes.

Yet it challenges our meaningful work in meaningful ways:

The finiteness of life reminds us to work on things that matter. If you already do, congratulations, you’re in a rare minority. This is the “real 1%”. This isn’t to say every thing you do must always fill you with joy, or there won’t be non-essentialist tasks to come your way. But it does mean that you should keep your focus on the big picture, pursuing works with that in mind, be it a collective or individual goal.

Nature’s rhythm prompts us to remember the present. As a visionary, leader, and “doer of important things”, it’s so easy to live exclusively in the future. We‘re occasionally reminded that the future doesn’t contain us, or those we love dearly. If–as the Stoics said–nothing that is natural is evil, perhaps we can ‘get the message’ that the journey is to be relished. Indeed, it’s the only part of our work we ever truly have.

We’re not here for long. Make it matter.

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645: Popularity VS Respect

Sometimes you can get both at the same time.

Oftentimes though, one comes at the expense of the other.

When the late Steve Jobs asked designer Rand to produce some logo options for his “NeXT” brand, Rand retorted, citing he will make only one. 

And that it will be the best one he can muster. It was an unpopular choice to challenge Jobs. But he earned him his respect. He moved from a consultant to a respected professional endorsed by the co-founder of Apple.

Many musicians, in pursuit of broader reach, will gladly endorse a sugar-water brand in exchange for funds to further develop their brand. Little do they know, for many musicians, that “brand development” simply results in the diluting and marginalization of their brand. They move from “undiscovered musician with a voice” to “just another voice on the radio”.

Sometimes we can choose both popularity and respect.

But when you have to choose, what’s it to be?