Archive of posts from December 2017

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 31 2017

Time to arrival

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?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 30 2017

Business relics

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.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 29 2017


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:

  1. Thinking but not deeply enough to drive any thought, situation, or idea forward. This is ‘worry’ in disguise.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 28 2017


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 27 2017

Changing your distraction

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):

  1. Checking if someone messaged you. ‘Distraction’.
  2. 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?
  3. Reading website things._ ‘Distraction’_ or ‘Fake-work’ – are you doing actual research? You’re doing it from the bed, right now?
  4. Writing notes. ‘Good.’ But isn’t paper better for this?
  5. Reviewing old thoughts. ‘Good.’ But isn’t paper better for this?
  6. Prioritizing. ‘Good’, unless you’re cracking open Project Managment apps, in which case it’s ‘Fake-work’ – see item #2.
  7. 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.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 26 2017


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”?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 25 2017

On traditions

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?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 24 2017

4 Definitions of Finer Goods

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.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 23 2017

You already have it

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?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 22 2017

How to be Rare

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?</p> ##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?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 21 2017

Arguing with yourself

Why did you put that there? Do you need that? What’s it for? What’s a better way of doing that? How could that be easier to understand? Does that fit in? Could you remove that? What’s missing? If you threw this in the trash, what would you do instead? Am I doing my best work? Can I ship it yet?

The more time you spend arguing with yourself, the better your work will become. Without these arguments, you’ll do standard work. You’ll ship later (or never). You’ll deny yourself opportunities to grow in your craft. And you’ll deny your work the opportunity to be great.

Become your own worst enemy and start doing your best work.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 20 2017

A Players and Leadership

“A Players play with A Players. B Players play with C Players” – elitist chant

You’ve likely heard this quote before. It may even have inspired you to do better work. But it’s wrong.

It supposes you’re destined for a downward trajectory unless you’re already the best. And the best don’t get that way by accident. Let’s rewrite the quote:

B Players play with B players. C Players play with nobody. A Players turn B Players into A Players.

Because the best don’t sit in ivory towers. They lead.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 19 2017

Need, Must, and Should

Needs: We do these because we were asked to. We drink water because our body needs it. We deliver great service because we promise it to our customers and clients. We do these things because we Need to.

Musts: We do these things, not from need, but because we decided they’re important enough. They Must get done because they create a change we want to see in the world. We refuse to let these things remain undone.

Shoulds: We don’t do these. We didn’t Need to, and we didn’t make it a Must. Here lives bucket lists and promises we won’t keep.

Everything we do belongs to one of these three buckets. Choose wisely.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 18 2017

Redefining Perfection

Perfection, in its usual sense, suggests the ultimate unattainable pedestal commonly used to excuse ourselves from starting something that matters. Or a romanticized ideal looked upon through rose-tinted glasses.

What if perfection meant something different? What if perfection simply meant that something does exactly what its supposed to do?

Rolls-Royce is often considered to create automotive perfection – the ultimate driving experience.

They perfected making you feel ‘special’.

They did not perfect making you feel ‘eco-friendly’. By that standard, a Toyota Prius is far more perfect than the Rolls. Should that mean the Rolls is lesser?

What if perfection were a journey rather than a destination? The pursuit of making your product do_exactly_ what its supposed to do?

With that meaning, achieving perfection becomes a pursuit focused on our goals. When defined in that way, please, be a perfectionist.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 17 2017

Growing businesses and trapeze acts

“What got you here won’t get you there” – Marshall Goldsmith

The trouble with performing the trapeze act is, if you don’t let go of one swing in order to grab the next, you lose momentum and wind up going backward, quickly.

The other issue is, the second swing is the scarier one–it’s the one you’ve not got a grip on yet. Worse, not grabbing it will send you quickly downward. And you can’t hold on to them both at the same time, or you’ll go nowhere.

In a growing business, we often know what the next swing is in front of us. We see it as we hurtle toward it if our eyes are open. It may be a new skill, a new challenge, or a new opportunity within the business. But reaching it is a bit of a leap.

“I had no idea you could code” – a team member

How often do you hear phrases like this? If ‘never’, it might mean you’ve never let go–perhaps you’re happily swinging backward and forwards on your first swing.

What are you afraid to let go of? What will you need to let go of, to make the leap and maintain your forward momentum?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 16 2017

Net Neutrality & Participation

Last week, the FCC ruled against Net Neutrality, America’s fight for freedom of information. ‘The land of the free’ now lacks freedom of information.

Fascism aside, netizens (that’s us) are partly to blame for this centralized control of information.

We collectively voted to give our data and attention to a select few sites and services. The majority vote went to consuming rather than creating, following instead of leading, and reducing our thinking to 140 characters or less.

Turns out shooting fish in an ocean is much more difficult than shooting fish in a barrel.

The beauty of the Internet is everybody has a voice. Everyone can publish to their own corner of the Internet–and lead change–if they choose to. By simply getting out of the barrel, change is not so easily blocked.

You have a voice and you have the tools, Net Neutrality or not. Will you use yours?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 15 2017

Happy 2017S

‘New Years’ is dangerous. Everyone starts thinking about new things to try or to stop doing by way of a ‘resolution’. Baseless ideals that last for 28 days.

Perhaps what we need isn’t a new year. Maybe what we need is just a better, refined version of last year. Maybe what we did last year isn’t so bad, we just needed to be more consistent, or disciplined. Maybe there’s absolutely nothing new we need to ‘start’ at all.

  1. What should have done more consistently? If you did something that worked, intermittently–for whatever reason–perhaps all you need to do is be more consistent with that activity.
  2. What should we have been more disciplined with? For instance, if you wasted less time on social media, but still found yourself distracted from deeper thinking from time to time, perhaps all you need to do is be stricter with yourself by setting some disciplines.

This ‘New Years’ season, consider not doing anything new at all.

When Apple was done making the iPhone 6, what we needed wasn’t an iPhone 7. What we needed was an iPhone 6S – the 6, but faster.

Never mind 2018. Happy 2017S, everyone: like 2017, but better.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 14 2017

The 2 types of sales person (and the 3 stages of sales)

“Sales is about turning “I’ve never heard of it” into “no” and then into “yes”. – Seth Godin

Sales is a game that belongs to two types of people:

  1. Passionate servant-hearted coaches,
  2. Scoundrels for hire.

The latter’s the one with the reputation. Coaches will try to serve you if you’re a fit. They’ll push for maximum value and service for the lowest possible risk, as an act of service.

They’ll get you to–and through–the “no” because they empathize with you, and understand it’s their job to advocate change for you.

These are people you want to know. You want to buy what they’re selling because if they’re calling, your life is about to get much better.

The scoundrels, on the other hand, will sell anything to anyone to make a buck. They call when you know (as do they) that it’s not a good fit for you. They’ll pressure and coerce you rather than trying to help and serve you. They aren’t on your side.

These are who call our phones multiple times a day from different numbers, trying to peddle unrelated wares that we’re never going to be interested in.

If you want to know more servant-hearted coaches eager to help you forward at no cost to you, read on.

##Stage 1: Never heard of it

This is most people, most of the time. This is part of why these 3 stages exist: to make you aware if you’re a good fit.

And you’ll never know if you’re a good fit until you engage with either 2 or 3 of these stages, right?

When you receive an email, ad or call from somebody in sales, you’ll be able to tell within seconds which type of person you’ve got on the other side of the interaction.

If you feel like you’re being interviewed… coach. These are rare. If you feel like you’re being ‘sold’… hang up. These are very common.

A servant-hearted coach wants to make you aware because it might be a way to level you up. And if it isn’t, they won’t let you past Stage 2.

##Stage 2: No

Everyone has to go through this stage. Because it’s the second stage of sales, and because everybody’s so afraid of it, no wonder people think sales is so difficult.

Except for the servant-hearted coaches, and the scoundrels for hire.

The coach understands you need to go through ‘no’. But they go further:

They’re “no” about you, too. They’re going through the 3 stages with you.

Until they see a clear path to growth for you, and that the path includes what you’re talking about, they won’t let you past Stage 2.

The scoundrels will either blast right through ‘no’ with scripted rebuttals, or they’ll hang up so their automatic dialer can issue them some fresh meat.

##Stage 3: Yes

This is where magic happens. Or when time, money, and opportunity is wasted.

The coach will have equipped you with something to help you grow. And they’ll make sure you get maximum results.

The scoundrel will collect your credit card details and run.

If you’re going to move to Stage 3, you need to be certain you’re not talking to the scoundrel. If in doubt, don’t proceed. The coach will help you move forward in your timing.

But when you’re sure, don’t just say ‘yes’ to the product or service available to you. Say ‘yes’ to the servant-hearted coach: this is somebody you should have on speed-dial.

How many times do you encounter somebody who will genuinely accelerate you toward your goals?

Sales can be a great experience for both parties. It can feel scary–like rescuing somebody from a burning building–but it makes lives better…like rescuing somebody from a burning building.

Know a good salesperson? Call them–see how they can make your life better next.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 13 2017

Write like you email

When you receive an email, you don’t wonder whether or not the words will come. Do you? I don’t. I tend to just start writing.

The question isn’t, “Can I write this?” or “Should I write this?” or even, ”What will they think of this?”

It’s simply, “I’m going to reply to this in a way that answers the question, is helpful, useful, easy to read, and only long enough to provide the value I want to provide.”

As it happens, this is the model I used to write this blog post. It’s long enough to communicate what I want to say, long enough to plant an idea that can be used and taken forward. Which is basically the same as with email, right?

We can write emails all day… each time answering a question, planting a seed, helping someone move forward in some way.

  • What if we published how we emailed?
  • What if it were as easy as writing an email?
  • What if it were that easy for you, right now, from now on?
  • What’s stopping you?
Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
December 12 2017

Impressing Ourselves

I love hearing people who see our products and services say…

“Is that all there is to it?”

We live in a world so full of information, tactics, and hacks, that we soften become curators instead of creators.

“I’d like to learn more.’

“Send me some more information.”

“Let’s have another call.”

We beg for more information. Because it’s far more comfortable than making a decision to start doing, to start creating, to start making things happen.

“Is that all there is to it?” means we’ve made simple what used be complicated. So simple that there’s no more information to send. Now, you must make a decision.

Not to be confused with “Is that it?” which denotes disappointment in your offer. Rather, “Is that all there is to it?” suggests an expectation of something more complicated.

We all appreciate the feeling of explaining complex things or thinking about doing complex things. About impressing ourselves.

I invite you to explain them differently, so that the response instead becomes simply, “Is that all there is to it?

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