Map apps (and GSP units before them) do three things really well:
- Show the best route: am I going where I want to go? Is this the right way for me based on where I’m heading?
- Reroute if there’s a problem: a new route appeared that’ll get me there faster and safer? Take me that way, please!
- Time to arrival: now I know when to start my journey, and how long it’ll take me if I start now.
If you’re planning on doing meaningful work this new year, keep your eye on the best route, reroute if needed, and remember the ‘time to arrival’ only counts if you start now. If you’re unsure, surround yourself with map apps to keep you accountable and on-track.
Where will you and your team be this time next year?
The bank teller should have done such a good job that I didn’t want to bank online.
- Bank tellers lost to online banking, at the expense of a human guide. Tellers should have appreciated their roles as guides.
- Bookstores lost to Amazon, at the expense of expert curation. The experts should have appreciated their roles as leaders.
- Local markets lost to supermarkets, at the expense of the local community. Store owners should have appreciated their roles as community builders.
- Newspapers lost to online news, at the expense of retention and the rise of fake news. Publishers should have appreciated the undivided attention and trust they received.
As they fell in love with their medium, rather than their customers, the transformation into relics began. Had these relics spearheaded innovation themselves, perhaps we’d have modern marvels without losing what made their earlier works so special.
Passionate people put a lot of themselves into their work. While writing about distractions a couple of days ago, I touched upon a parasite of the passionate: ‘fake-work’.
Fake-work is when you feel like you’re working, but you’re really not. It takes time, but without the sensation of forward-motion in ways that matter.
Here are some examples to help you spot it when it happens:
- Thinking but not deeply enough to drive any thought, situation, or idea forward. This is ‘worry’ in disguise.
- Checking and re-checking things at a rate that exceeds practical utility. E.g. checking your email every 15 minutes. This is ‘flailing’ in disguise.
- Unstructured ‘research’ or unstructured reading. E.g. watching an ‘important’ life-hack YouTube video when you should be creating. This is ‘procrastinating’ in disguise.
Work hard on things that matter. Don’t let fake-work steal your valuable time.
What are you worried about, today?
It’s not something we often hear much about, as though the best of us are immune to worry. The truth is, worry–like every other signal your body sends you–can be leveraged once mastered.
Pretending it’s not there won’t help. Take my “Worry-buster” technique and steal it for yourself:
- Define it. What are the things you’re worried about right now? List them out on paper, one per line, leaving a line between each one.
- Bust it. In those empty lines, please, be the voice of reason. Explain why it’s nonsense or redundant (if it is) or show yourself some Philautia if it’s not.
- Learn from it. What can each busted worry teach us? Does something need more rehearsing? Does someone need a call or email from you? Or do you simply need to let something drop?
Worries busted, lessons learned. Thank you, body. Now, let’s move on with our day with clear heads, shall we?
The first and last thing you look at is likely your smartphone. Your glowy little defender against boredom. What would happen if you gave its morning/evening bedside pedestal to a paper notebook?
Let’s break down what you likely use it for in these times (categorized):
- Checking if someone messaged you. ‘Distraction’.
- Checking if there’s a critical issue at work to resolve. ‘Fake-work‘ – are you going to do anything about the issue, or will you just mark it as ‘unread’ and worry about it until later?
- Reading website things. ‘Distraction’ or ‘Fake-work’ – are you doing actual research? You’re doing it from the bed, right now?
- Writing notes. ‘Good.’ But isn’t paper better for this?
- Reviewing old thoughts. ‘Good.’ But isn’t paper better for this?
- Prioritizing. ‘Good’, unless you’re cracking open Project Managment apps, in which case it’s ‘Fake-work’ – see item #2.
- Journaling. ‘Good’; writing worry-busters and organizing thought. But isn’t paper better for this?
If this list sounds familiar, consider swapping your phone for a paper notebook in the mornings/evenings for five days, and see what effects it has.
I had the ‘collector’ bug as a child, appreciating the allure of a complete ‘set’ or rare ‘pull’.
Could they make a “collector’s edition” of your work?
If you provide a service, is there a special edition they could experience and remember, either by choice or as a gift? If a product, is there a version fit for the mantlepiece that recipients can be proud to show off and be thankful for?
There are two key by-products there: being proud and being thankful, to experience your work. It’s what makes a “Snow White Edition Moleskine notebook” desirable to collectors.
We could call works that evoke pride and thankfulness “collectible-able”: things you’d at least consider getting a “collectors edition” of, were one to exist.
Even if you never make a “collectors edition” of your work, how could your work benefit if you made it more “collectible-able”?
As we see our families this Christmas Day, we’re reminded of the traditions we share. Each family is unique, as are the effects of their traditions.
They bring people together in unique ways that you sorely miss if you’re unable to be there.
When building or nurturing a tribe of people, traditions become a bonding agent few ‘perks’ can match. Let’s decode these traditions:
- Intimacy: The traditions bring people together. That mutually desired closeness breeds intimacy.
- Camaraderie: The traditions create shared experiences. The shared pursuits create camaraderie.
- Protection: Without consistency, they’re no longer traditions. Tribe members protect the tradition so that it can continue.
- Fun: There’s no ‘point’ beyond the act itself. Gain or benefit isn’t the point: simply participating is the point.
- Inexpensive: Because we don’t measure the performance and success of these points in dollars and cents.
You can leverage points 1-4 in your tribe, while the fifth makes doing so a no-brainer.
Traditions reinforce and celebrate the difference between being a group of individuals, and being a real team. Which would you rather belong to?
Most of us have experienced the difference between purchasing commodities and ‘finer goods’. The term ‘finer goods’ is often confused with ‘expensive’, but as we define the characteristics of finer goods, we see this isn’t the case.
Certainly, the act of engaging with the creators of finer goods can be more personal, enjoyable, refer-able, and long-lasting. All great things. What makes these things happen?
- Recognition. By reflecting the identity of the buyer, the item becomes about them. E.g. a U.K. customer receives a product sourced entirely from U.K. suppliers.
- Experience. By providing a memorable experience while engaging with you and your work, the process becomes about them. E.g. how jewelers let you watch them set your stone.
- Exclusivity. Rarity, by its definition, suggests that not everybody has it. This makes ownership about them: they get to have one. E.g. limited run items.
- Individualism. By tailoring your work specifically to them, your work becomes unique to them. It’s their name on the front, then yours, instead of just a logo. E.g. a suit being fitted to your body, or a purse having your initials on it.
To make a difference, your focus needs to be on the tribe you serve, and the difference you make. When making work that matters, consider how your work could benefit from being treated as a finer good.
What if you already had your pick of causes that desperately need your support?
What if you already had access to the strategies needed to take your work to market?
What if you already had access to the capital needed to make your idea a reality?
What if you already had access to the buyers needed to grow that idea exponentially?
What if the right people were already available, to recruit or to join forces with, ready to own the change needed to make it all a reality?
What if all you needed was the vision and creativity to put those pieces together?
What are you waiting for?
A box of free-range eggs only costs a few dollars. A Fabergé egg costs millions.
Their rarity, intricacy, and mystique make all the difference. And you can’t even eat them.
In a race to become an overnight success, we frequently observe the rapid commoditization of products, services, and brands. Many appear to prefer being a free-range business, rather than a Fabergé business.
How can you be the latter?
1. Be Different, because ‘rare’ isn’t the same.
- Do unexpected things. Fabergé makes precious few eggs, surely they’d want to sell more? Free-range thinking: ‘more’ doesn’t always mean ‘better’.
- Learn other markets. Most markets use the ‘rules’ of that market, doing things the way everyone else does them “because that’s how it’s done”.
2. Be Specific, because ‘rare’ isn’t wishy-washy.
- Get clear. How clear are people on the distinctive value of your offer before you present that offer to them?
- Choose your own market. And bake it into your marketing. Fabergé isn’t sold in supermarkets because that’s not where their target audience is.
3. Be a Leader, because ‘rare’ isn’t where everyone else is going.
- Write the rules. If a map exists, someone’s already been there, in the exact same way. Find a better way, and draw a new map.
- Forget all you know. And do it better, by instead questioning everything in your market, industry, and process.
4. Be Better, because ‘rare’ becomes more exquisite with time.
- Give back. Benefit a community, market or industry and make your venture bigger than yourself.
- Train, grow, let it show. The best are comfortable revealing their journey of growth. Others get a look at the precision of your work.
What would it to do your work if you accepted it’s not for everyone, and instead became a precious rarity for those you serve?