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Adam’s Daily Post

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Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 17 2022

The Flow of No

This week I’ve been spending more time with “No”.

With the family news we’ve had this week, it’s challenged me to:

Say no to anything I know I should already say no to… but kept doing because of convenience. Notifications that I should really leave to admin. Calls I’m invited to that don’t come with specific goals, that I should cancel at least until goals are set.

Say no to the things I never thought to but would benefit from… such as ways of doing things or rituals that became culturally normal in my company, but should be shaken off, or projects I should really cancel rather than just pause.

Once you get into the flow of No, you start noticing just how many more things you can say no to, in the spirit of focus and in service of the things that matter most.

Ways of doing things (e.g. my company is totally remote, and totally asynchronous). Requisite tasks (e.g. using software to put any new email sender into purgatory for one weekly touch). Cultural norms (e.g. living within a compound, setting your own hours, or not having Facebook).

You’re probably underutilising ‘No’.

Try using it more. It’s a superpower.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 16 2022

Creators, remember Sturgeon’s Law

Creators. Remember Sturgeon’s Law.

Sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon observed the derisive critiques of his niche (that most of it is bad) could be applied to other fields equally well.

Hence Sturgeon’s Law: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

If you look upon your industry in dismay, remember Sturgeon’s Law.

If you feel like something’s wrong with you as you look back through sketchbooks and drafts, remember Sturgeon’s Law.

Ninety percent isn’t very good.

But we must persevere through the ninety to discover (or create) the ten.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 15 2022

No-Mug Zone

Are you a mug? Are your customers?

The immediate answer is a sharp, “No! Of course not!”

Let’s go deeper:

The open market is often so keen to not feel like a mug by being outbid by a little, that they feel like a mug by overpaying by a lot. The closing call is so focused on closing an uncertain (and possibly unqualified) lead, that it’s not uncommon to observe FOMO deployed as a weapon.

There is an alternative to all this fear-driven behaviour: Create a No-Mug Zone.

Equipping the open market with a useful, valuable service at a fair price, so your choice of market can feel confident in a fair value transfer. Equipping your sales team (or yourself) with the ability to qualify and disqualify fairly, taking qualified losses simply as product development indicators.

No-Mug Zones aren’t an excuse to hide away from your true value, nor an excuse to not show up for your prospects when they need you to show them the way. But they can change lives, create champions, and make you and those you serve feel great about the value you bring to the market.

Maybe they’ll tell their friends. Maybe their friends will tell their friends.

Maybe it’s the start of something wonderful.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 14 2022

Worth it on the other side

Creators often get stuck on what’s possible. What they’re capable of.

But I made my first sale when I was 5, my first complete video game when I was 11, my first collectible card game when I was 13.

Hard things are only hard until you figure them out.

So the question isn’t really what’s possible, is it?

The question is if it’s worth it on the other side of the challenge… if the body of work we’ll end up with is something we’ll be really, really proud of.

Don’t ask if you’re worthy of the task.

Ask if the task is worthy of you.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 13 2022

It doesn’t have to be hard

It doesn’t have to be hard:

A difficult project doesn’t have to be hard. When looked at in small enough steps, each step is easy. If it’s still hard, you didn’t break it down small enough.

A long day doesn’t have to be hard. Every day is the same length, the only difference is our relationship with the time. If it’s still long, change the relationship.

A tricky conversation doesn’t have to be hard. They’re only hard when you’re stuck on a particular outcome – where you’re trying to control external matters rather than simply internal matters.

A challenging creative brief doesn’t have to be hard. It’s either something you know how to do, or not. If you know, do. If you don’t, learn, then do.

There’s a pattern to all of these things: the variable is internal, and thus entirely within our control to change as we see fit.

Hard is a choice. As is easy.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 12 2022

Grow in spite of luck

Ever get lucky? Where projects, teams and life goals just fall into place?

That has not been my experience.

We don’t need luck:

Build in spite of luck. Your project may not go viral. It may take an eternity to find the right support, if you ever find it. It may feel harder to make progress than you ever thought. Build in spite of all that.

Love in spite of luck. Stakeholders, clients, partners and peers may leave you in the lurch at precisely the wrong moment. Life may carry more troubles than you care to share. Love in spite of all that.

Grow in spite of luck. You may not meet or know the right people for the longest times, or discover the teachings that help you elevate your mind until later in life. Grow in spite of all that.

Pity those for whom luck has stolen the opportunity to develop grit, resilience and love.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 11 2022

The opportunity in down markets

Is the market in a bad state at the moment?

Or is it merely sometimes up, sometimes down, and currently the latter?

I can’t bring myself to lament a market in which:

  • Uncommitted creators stop creating
  • Uncommitted community members and traders find something else to do
  • Brand-builders continue to build brands
  • Loyal fans are rewarded by those brands, forging even stronger relationships

In times of change, it’s worth reminding yourself of your focus.

There is opportunity here for those who do.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 10 2022

Creative ceremony

Making cool things sometimes takes a long time.

And when they take a long time, sometimes progress feels erratic.

Sometimes you feel it. Other times you don’t.

Creative ceremony fixes this.

Here are some examples of creative ceremony:

One thing. I’m working on this single thing. Focused attention is like using a chisel with a hammer.

One place. I’m going to sit in this chair in this room to produce this work. This is the magic chair.

One sound. I’m going to listen to this track, or this album, or this genre, or this silence. This is the sound this magic will be made to.

One goal. I’m going to achieve this goal, if nature and fortune permit. I will not be distracted from that goal.

One phrase. When I sit, I will say the magic words that mark the start of this session. Before I rise, I will say the magic words that mark the end of this session.

Add a little to your routine.

Making cool things sometimes takes a long time… and this kind of ceremony might help you focus on the right things while feeling a keener sense of progress along the way.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 09 2022

Talk is now even cheaper

For a long time, talk wasn’t cheap.

The few who represented the many with ‘talk’ — the CEOs, the MPs, the spokespeople — made the ‘doing’ possible for the many.

And the many who did the ‘doing’ didn’t need to talk… they needed to listen.

That’s changing.

Everyone has a voice now.

Everyone is learning to talk. Some better than others… some with original ideas and noble goals, and many others simply ramble incoherently.

But many nouveau-talkers have lost the art of ‘doing’.

The ability to do as they say.

To go where they point.

To prove what they claim.

To deliver what they promise.

The barrier of opportunity is still very low: say, do, go, prove and deliver.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
May 08 2022

Doing work that matters

Today I was asked, “Are you doing work that really matters to you?”

What a lovely question, I thought! It’s a privilege to be able to answer “Yes: I’m doing work that matters to me.”

I’m intimately aware of how profoundly beneficial one of the bodies of work we’re building currently can be to a great many people. I’m mindful that the joy and enthusiasm I give and receive that body of work is not a commodity among us. Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Just that you do the right thing. The rest does not matter.” The culture change in the roadmap is, by all accounts, “the right thing” in this case.

The good fortune of building important things with people I love being around is not a matter I take for granted.

Are you doing work that really matters to you?

I hope very much that you can answer ‘Yes’, too. And if you can’t, I hope very much that you will do something about that.

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