Archive of posts from January 2019

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 31 2019

All Growth Hurts

Biz magazines prefer to romanticize growth as a graduation from pain. Not so:

  • Growing as a person means becoming a better version of yourself, but also means leaving some people behind. Not everyone’s going to like the new-and-improved version.
  • Growing as a company means achieving new levels of success, but also means you’re always facing new challenges. The problems don’t go away, they simply change.
  • Growing as a cause-driven company means making more of a difference, but also means a greater level of responsibility to your cause.

Healthy things grow, and growth hurts. But what’s the alternative?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 30 2019

The Money Isn’t In The List

It’s an old marketing saying and an old marketing lie. It was never in the list:

  • A list is just a tool. Be it your own email list or LinkedIn’s entire user database, lists are just tools. If having access to these lists were money to you, LinkedIn wouldn’t be offering free membership, would they?
  • A relationship is invaluable. It goes beyond money, often refusing transactions through a commitment to extend only the right options to those in your care. They can be email, LinkedIn, anywhere. Doesn’t matter.

That level of care often translates into higher orders of purchase, thanks to the trust that comes with them. “The value is in the relationship” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “The money is in the list”, though. Shame.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 29 2019

The Gig Economy Isn’t The Answer

It’s just a market response to a broken workplace:

  • Workers like it because it affords them freedom to work on meaningful projects, travel, and be near their families. Problem 1: the workplace was denying people the things that were important to them.
  • Employers like it, particularly in the US, because they can get away with less responsibility for those supposedly in their care. Problem 2: People are being treated as tools rather than valued team members.

The gig economy isn’t all bad for all people. It has its perks. But it reveals some ugly truths: what if our workplace was designed for people to contribute and thrive, rather than ship and sail?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 28 2019

Come Hell or Hail Mary

Every business operating in the marketplace has problems. What’s our relationship with them?

  • Hell: We all go through it. It’s a natural part of the process, as many of us will have learned. What we often don’t learn, is that our Hell is somebody else’s Hail Mary.
  • Hail Mary: We all need these. Somebody who has the answer to address our own Hell. Another team or individual who is able to capably be our market Hail Mary.

One of the beauties of an open marketplace is that your Hell is always somebody else’s Hail Mary.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 27 2019

The Thing About Handouts

…is that they tend not to do as much good as you think they do:

  • They make you feel good. You feel like you’ve done your good deed for the month. But it shouldn’t be about you, it should be about the cause you contributed to.
  • They may not make good use of it. A machine designed to live on hand-outs isn’t usually a machine familiar with the value of a dollar. It just extends out its hand for more.
  • What makes you and your team great, might be what that cause needs in order to be greater. What if what they really need isn’t your charity, but also your ingenuity?

This is not a call to stop giving. Rather, this is a call to give what makes you great. If a fraction of us were to do that–instead of the easy thing–how could that change the landscape of your chosen cause?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 26 2019

TTA, Time To Action

What’s your TTA (time to action) when an opportunity arises?

  • One year, to get everyone’s buy-in regardless of whether or not its important to them. Many reports, pitches, meetings, and studies must be conducted to see if it’s viable or not.
  • One month, to get your internal “ducks in a row” and get things moving, rather than messing about with procrastination disguised as reports.
  • One day, because it’s worth taking action and learning through doing, rather than just sat thinking about what’ll happen if you were to give it a try.

We all have a TTA. What’s yours?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 25 2019

Character Select

We won’t all have the chance to get to know you like you know you. But we will all get to form an opinion about you from your message:

  • Your message will characterize you because that’s what we do to people we don’t truly know. It’s natural. Which one will you choose?
  • Your message is your responsibility, you won’t find it in a guide or a webinar. If you could, it wouldn’t be yours, even if you share the belief.
  • Your message will outlast you if it’s one worth sharing. It’s part of what you get to leave behind. What’s it to be?

Your message is directly connected with your legacy. Pick one that matters.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 24 2019

Access And Excuses

Access to the people–and things–we wanted access to used to be a pipe dream. That became a popular excuse for inaction.

Things changed. But the excuses didn’t:

  • We can contact almost anybody we want. Social networks will let us target anyone in the world. Anyone. Now the excuse is, “I don’t know what to say.”
  • We can access almost anything we want. Our connected world allows us to leverage, barter, JV, finance or trade anything we like. Now the excuse is, “I don’t know what to do.”
  • We can make an impact almost anywhere we want. News pushes real issues in our faces from all around the globe. Now the excuse is, “I don’t look, it’s too depressing.”

It’s only depressing because we won’t stop making excuses.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 23 2019

Avoiding Pain, Business Edition

“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.” – Aristotle

This one’s for the gurus:

  • On breaking it: Most of us haven’t been in business long enough to experience the economy correct itself in a severe way. When it does, the pursuit of pleasure pales in value compared to avoiding pain.
  • On faking it: Parading faux-wealth in the marketplace will only impress you, not those you’re trying to deceive. Masking your insecurities will cost you the financial buffer you’ll need when the storms come.
  • On surviving it: The inevitable market recessions will correct themselves–in part–by drowning those who were taking advantage, as nature would have it. The fakers will go quiet.

We owe it to those we serve, and those we serve alongside, to avoid pain on their behalf so that we can all live to fight another day.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 22 2019

Haunting Success

The things that haunt us have something to teach us:

  • The things we fear to lose show us what we hold dear. Should we protect them better, instead of fearing? Perhaps those we serve in the marketplace need the same help?
  • The things we resent show us what we believe in. Should we do something about it, instead of resenting? That’s where social entrepreneurship comes from.
  • The things that haunt you have something to teach you about succeeding: that growth comes first. They’re pointing you toward what matters.

What will you do about it?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 21 2019

Caring For Your Industry

I drove for one hour today. In that one hour I saw:

  • Three near-miss encounters, one of which I was involved in. When someone’s attitude is, “I’ll get mine, to heck with everyone else”, accidents occur.
  • Two mattresses on the sidewalk, presumably thrown off the back of a truck. When someone’s attitude is, “This suits me just fine, others can get over it”, our environment becomes a mess.
  • Our industries are no different; whether it’s online marketers building a collective reputation for being slimy, or lawn care vendors for being flakey, our actions dictate the state of our industry.

Our competitors are also our comrades: it’s our responsibility to care for our industry since the customer experience begins as soon as they start their search. Are you making your industry a nice place to visit?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 20 2019

Except It’s Not Native

Being a native means “you’re like us”. How native are you to those you serve?

  • Native social platform visuals > fancy TV-style visuals. If we can make the latter, we’re tempted to do it the fancy way. Except it’s not native. We earn attention when things are authentically fit-for-purpose. Asking me to rotate my device to see your landscape IGTV video says you’re just repurposing old stuff.
  • Native email > fancy email. If we can create emails with fancy multi-column layouts, we’re tempted to do it the fancy way. Except it’s not native. We earn more trust when our tools are familiar to the recipient. A one-column, plain email says ‘love letter’ instead of ‘spam’.
  • Iterative > significant claims. If we can create significant gains for those we speak to, you’d think it’s better to tout those gains. Except it’s not native, it’s too far removed from the beliefs of the listener. Don’t promise they’ll do 400 sit-ups. Promise 40 to start with.

Native means relatable. Genuine. Attainable ‘by people like us’. Even if it’s only a fraction of what’s possible for them, start where they are. Start native.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 19 2019

Rule Not Found

Ever wonder why we treat rules like laws in our work? They’re not the same thing:

  • A country can have multiple governments. Hong Kong operates as a democratic region within a communist nation. It was weird once established but became a normal, celebrated piece of Hong Kong identity.
  • A country can leave a union. England leaving the European Union is like New York leaving the US. It’s weird now–unfavorable even–yet it’ll become normal, in time.A team can change the rules. Our work is bound to industry best-practices and market requests only because it’s all the industry and the market knows. That’s not to say it’s the only way.

Rules aren’t laws. You can break rules. Usually, our work is better when we do.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 18 2019

What Will You Make Today?

Ever wake up feeling “ugh” about something you need to do that day?

It might be time to change the question:

  • “I have to do X” is a lousy statement. It doesn’t encourage exploration, divergent thinking, or opportunities to do a great job. A better question could be, “What will I make today?”
  • “I’ve got to write an email to that guy” is a lousy statement. It focuses us on checking a box, not making someone’s day. A better statement could be, “I’ll make that guy an email that’s gonna change his life for the better.”
  • “I’ve got to get through this list” is a lousy mindset. It turns important work into a menial chore. A better mindset could be, “I’ll make a new way for myself to become faster, better, and more disciplined so that I can make better work.”

The questions we ask ourselves, statements we affirm to ourselves, and mindset we operate with, dictate our reality.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 17 2019

Class Comes Free

We all know Instagram is full of people trying to appear as though life is different from reality. It’s because we have things the wrong way around:

  • The wrong way around: In days gone by, only aristocrats could afford the ‘really nice things’, such as luxury vehicles. Now anyone can get them on credit. It costs a lot and says nothing.
  • The right way around: Those same aristocrats would also invest their time and energy into good causes. Things like helping the homeless. Now anyone can do this, too. It costs nothing and says a lot.

Real respect is born out of what we give to the world, not what we keep for ourselves. Class comes free.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 16 2019

Stoic Selling

What do ancient stoic philosophy and ethical sales have in common?

  • Stoics are emotional creatures. They just know how to harness their emotions, rather than allow them to run their lives. Philosophy allows us to respond to emotions, rather than react to them.
  • Buyers are emotional creatures. It’s the seller’s responsibility to harness the buyer’s emotions, rather than having them lead to purchasing the wrong things, from the wrong people, in the wrong volumes, at the wrong frequency.

Teams doing important work owe it to those they serve to ethically harness that which drives us all to action: emotion.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 15 2019

The Path To Progress

…is paved with all sorts of things we wish it weren’t:

  • “This isn’t how I thought things would happen”: It’s very rare for something important to go exactly as planned. Being okay with that is part of the path to progress.
  • “This isn’t the outcome I wanted”: But this is the outcome we’ll get, over and over, until eventually, we don’t. Being okay with that is part of the path to progress.
  • “I expected things to be different”: We all did. We can only do the best we can with what we have (it’s more than we think). Being okay with that is part of the path to progress.

The path to progress is paved with all sorts of things we wish it weren’t:

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 14 2019

Legacy Hour

What happens when we start the day with legacy work?

  • It moves us forward. The day is accomplished, rather than merely completed when we make space for the things that move our missions forward.
  • Even if it’s just one hour. The first hour of the day, for instance. The world can manage one hour without you, can’t it?
  • Hours add up. What could one hour a day, seven days a week, do for your collective cause?

You won’t forget to get back to the world when it comes calling. But you might forget to get back to your mission without a legacy hour.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 13 2019

Making discomfort comfortable

Well, maybe not comfortable, but less uncomfortable:

  • There is comfort in familiarity. Whether that’s binge-Netflix’ing or pursuing our projects, either can be comfortable or uncomfortable based on how often we embrace them.
  • Familiarity with discomfort creates leverage for our important work because the yardstick moves. What was once uncomfortable is now familiar, enabling us to go to the next level.

Discomfort is unfamiliarity and/or growth. We leave more room for growth if we make it more familiar.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 12 2019

The danger of goals

…is that we risk missing lessons taught by pursuit:

  • Goals take us where we want to go, if we focus on making them happen, of course. Disciplined pursuit puts our attention on the horizon.
  • But goals take us away from today if we’re not careful to combine them with an appreciation of all that lies between us and that horizon.
  • Pursuit has its own rewards–grit, camaraderie, culture, character–that we’ll miss if we don’t savor it (or if we skip it by buying on credit).

Without those rewards, your goals are unlikely to be achieved anyway. They lie between you and the horizon for a reason.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 11 2019

When the jobs are all done

One day, all the ‘jobs’ will be done, and material safety will be assured. What then?

  • The power to create will become more important. Not for profit, but for change: humans will find new ways to create problems, leaving room for others to use their humanity to create new solutions.
  • The need to make tribes will become more important: when nobody needs to meet in an office, we need to want to meet around things that matter.
  • The need for the purpose will be just as important. To experience a job well done, growth, grit, and the self-respect they create. The alternative would be to watch AI-generated TV shows all day.

Life on Earth pursues growth. That’s what alive things do. We shouldn’t become an exception.

Are you creating something that matters?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 10 2019


What’s your relationship with crazytalk?

  • “It’s what friends say when I need to wake up.” If this is the case, it might be that new friends are in order. Things may not sound so crazy to those who have already traveled that same path.
  • “It’s a synonym on our team for “annual planning’.” If this is the case, and you’re surrounded by people who recognize “this might not work, let’s try it anyway”, it just might work.

As the late Jobs said, “Here’s to the crazy ones.”

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 09 2019

What comes first

You’re sitting on a goldmine of opportunity. We often find it through testing. Remember what comes first:

  • Testing new products is a great way to test ways to create more advantage to your audience. But until there’s traction, the products we’ve committed to come first.
  • Testing new audiences is a great way to discover more opportunities to serve people we can help. But the clients we’ve already committed to our care come first.
  • Team expansion is an opportunity to support more business and grow our companies. But the team we serve alongside today–and the culture, and the quality of those relationships–all come first.

There is opportunity all around us, more than we could ever handle. As we pursue our goals together, let’s not forget what comes first.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 08 2019

On writing the date wrong

How many weeks does it take you to write the date right after the new year?

I struggle with it for far longer than I’d care to admit:

  • It’s not 2018 anymore. Our hands don’t seem to catch up to that fact until we’ve started writing 2019 often enough for it to sink in.
  • So start writing 2019. Write the story of January 2019; make so many contributions to your work that 2018 becomes a distant memory.
  • 2018’s successes are so last year. It’s time to do 2019’s work, build 2019’s products, and face 2019’s challenges.

Make 2019 so great that you struggle to write 2020 when the time comes.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 07 2019


Not all progress is made equal:

  • Big bookshelves full of things you’ve not read, but speed-read or skimmed. Reading that doesn’t make you better, makes you distracted. Nobody’s impressed by how many books you’ve “read”.
  • Big research where you’ve covered your next project from every angle… but have yet to take any action. More is achieved through thoughtful action than by thought alone.
  • Busy days where much was done, yet no momentum was created. Busy-work is seductive, it makes us feel like we’ve done something important when we haven’t.

How much more could we achieve if we were to avoid the allure of busy-work and vanity-metrics this year?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 06 2019

Not surviving the year

“The wise man will live as long as he ought, not as long as he can” – Seneca

This quote also applies to the work we do in the marketplace:

  • A project or product that lived longer than it ought may be in need of retirement so you can focus on what’s next. Is it still valuable?
  • A side project or responsibility that holds no future for you or your team may need shedding so you can commit to what could.

Some things we hold dear won’t make it through 2019.

Accepting this allows us to focus on what will, rather than merely holding on to the past.

Leave that to your competitors.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 05 2019

Things have changed

From emerging market verticals to better customer service, the old ways keep fading away:

  • What we were doing 2 years ago doesn’t matter anymore. Things have changed, the market wants more from us now than it did back then.
  • What we almost did last year is now make-or-break. We can take the opportunity, or let it become the previous point. Is it worth trying, at last?
  • What we thought we might do next year needs our attention today. Next year will arrive as fast as this one did, and others may have gotten a head start by then.

If we care about those we serve, it’s our responsibility to be the change for their benefit. Our competition can follow if they choose.

Things have changed. What are you going to do about it?

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 04 2019

Some goals aren’t for achieving

Some goals are all about the climb:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk works hard at his businesses with the goal of being able to afford buying the NY Jets. He doesn’t need the Jets. But it’s a goal so big it keeps him moving.
  • My teams work hard helping difference makers make a difference with the goal of being able to end human trafficking. We don’t need to do that. But it’s a goal so big it keeps us moving.

Some goals aren’t for achieving. Some exist simply to propel us forward to do more of what matters.

Gary may never own the Jets. We may never end human trafficking.

But isn’t it worth a try?

Indeed, trying in the first place sets our sights higher and even increases our chances of achieving it, compared to not trying at all.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 03 2019

Post-holiday habits

It’s hard to get back into good habits after the holidays.

Or is it?

  • The road leading to the decision is hard. We tend to agonize over whether we can commit to it, or if we’ll be able to do it, don’t we?
  • But the decision itself isn’t hard. Providing we have a formula to cover the bases. The decision happens in a moment, after which we are released from the uncertainty.
  • The formula is, “I will A, every B, until C.” For instance, I will do my exercise routine, every morning at 7 am, until I find a better routine or my health prevents it.

Maybe it’s not hard to get into good habits at all. Maybe we just need to decide.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 02 2019

Do you love your work properly?

How do we love our work properly?

  • When we enjoy it and want to keep doing it over and over again, that’s indulging, not loving. It satisfies us, but we give it nothing in return.
  • Beyond enjoyment is investment. Here we give as much as (or more than) we get. We care for it, ensuring it grows, thrives.

It’s the difference between the designer who likes to make every website look the same vs the one who says, “This may not work, I’m going to find out and respond accordingly.”

Or the amateur runner who keeps running the same block vs the one who enrolled for the London Marathon while it still scared them.

If you love it, you’ll let it grow.

Adam Fairhead Adam Fairhead
January 01 2019

Still too complicated

The thing about doing business with your team is, it’s still too complicated.

  • “Everyone does it that way” is no excuse. It’s the same for you, but it remains a wall of complexity to those who need you. What’s a “consultation call” mean anyway?
  • “It’s using the latest techniques” is no excuse. That doesn’t mean people will know how to follow them. New TVs are a far cry from the “plug it in and turn it on” days of yore.
  • Opportunity is everywhere because most are fearful of doing things differently. One small change could be huge for you.

The year is new. Perhaps it’s time to see your work through new eyes.

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